ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat – A Catholic nun working for indigenous communities has expressed alarm over growing tension in the hinterlands of Sen. Ninoy Aquino town that already claimed the life of a Manobo-Dulangan native and appealed to Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for intervention.

The conflict erupted after a Filipino-American land claimant came over with armed escorts and personnel from the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Sr. Alice Original of the Oblates of Notre Dame (OND) said hundreds of native women and children have started fleeing following the worsening land dispute.

Original appealed to GMA and concerned government agencies to help settle the land dispute between Florence Case-dela Pena and the Manobo-Dulangan tribe in Sitio Blangas, Barangay Midtungok, Sen. Ninoy Aquino town.

Dela Pena and personnel from DAR and DENR came to Barangay Midtungok on May 16 to survey 374 hectares of land she claimed to be her own.

But the natives and Christian settlers refused to give way claiming the area was an ancestral domain.

Local officials, led by Mayor Rafael Flauta Jr and Sultan Kudarat Vice Gov. Donato Ligo, also called on the national government to intervene in the land conflict which has already turned violent.

Flauta claimed the natives who witnessed the shooting of a Manobo-Dulangan native fear for their lives.  Afraid the armed men would get back at them, they decided to flee.

Sultan Malinoy Sipot, leader of Manobo-Dulangan tribe, vowed to defend their rights over their ancestral domain at all cost.

The natives told a local radio station that on May 16, the Manobo-Dulangan tribe and some Christian settlers gathered in a public school when the group of dela Pena and DENR-DAR personnel arrived. 

They told the indigenous peoples about their plan to claim the land after a survey team shall have identified the area being claimed.

The area claimed by dela Pena, who was from Gen. Santos City, covers seven sitios of Barangay Midtungok.

But an argument ensued between dela Pena and tribal leaders when suddenly, the armed escorts of the land claimant opened fire, hitting Robert Rodriguez, 32, a Manobo and resident of Sitio Blangas.

After the shooting, dela Pena and DAR-DENR personnel fled, leaving behind their survey equipment.

Eulogio Rodriguez, the victim’s father, is seeking justice.

He said the area being claimed has been the Manobo-Dulangan ancestral domain as declared by the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples in Southern Mindanao .

Rodriguez said they have been working hard, through the Kulaman Manobo Dulangan Organization, to have their ancestral domain titled with proper government agencies but could hardly complete the job.

A non government organization, Tri-People Concern for peace, progress and development of Mindanao, Inc. and the NCIP-Kulaman office, are assisting the Manobo-Dulangan tribe in securing titles for their ancestral domain and for the development of indigenous peoples.

Sister Original said the natives fear for their lives and nowhere to go should the tension worsen. (Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao )


2.1.4 Ancestral Domain/Claims

Indigenous cultural communities occupy most areas in the forest.  These communities established ancestral land and domain claims over areas and territories said to be their possession, occupied and utilized since time immemorial.  IPs in the Province includes Ata, Manobo, Dibabawon, Mandaya, Isamal, Mansaka, Mangguwangan and others.  DAO No. 102, Series of 1993, provides the recognition and protection of the right of the indigenous people in their ancestral land and domain and to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being. 

The enactment of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) Law on October 27, 1997 has established the IP’s rights and mandates the award of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims. The CADC areas can be claimed in the forestland. The CADC areas are exclusive for the ICCs with the following rules:

·        Safeguarding against encroachment

No person who is not a resident of the domain or who does not belong to the claimant community may be given licence or permit to exploit the natural resources in the area without consent of the community expressed in public hearings and consultations.

·        Implementation of government programs within ancestral domain

Government programs under the control of DENR shall only be implemented in an ancestral domain if there is consent from majority of the recognized leaders of the community.

·        Contracts, leases and permits within ancestral domains

Contracts entered into and permits and leases issued by DENR for exploitation of natural resources inside ancestral domain shall remain in force and effect until they expire. All such contracts, leases or permits shall not be renewed except those issued to members of the ICC through its recognized indigenous leaders.

A total of 102 Certificates of Ancestral and Domain Claims (CADC) covering an area of 65,683 hectares have been awarded to 1,656 beneficiaries (Ata-Manobo Tribe) of Talaingod. The said beneficiaries are now benefiting from projects on environmental resource management (e.g. forest tree plantation, mango orchard, rubber plantation, etc.) and livelihood support projects under PAF III Project.

The projects aim to alleviate poverty in the area. As of this date, a total of 922 hectares have been developed into forest tree plantation, fruit orchard and agro-forestry. Of the total 550 IPs involved, 70% (385) are male and 30% (165) are female.

Although public policies provide women the opportunity to gain access and control over the land, women’s participation in these projects are only limited to nursery operations (seedling production and maintenance), minimal paper works and other lighter works. This is in view of the fact that men are physically stronger than women in doing the plantation establishment (hauling of seedlings from the nursery to planting site, site preparation, planting and plantation maintenance).

At present, 5 more CADC applications are being processed.


What body represents them?

__In fact, there is a very basic problem concerning the programs for IPs that the government is unable to resolve until now—the question of which body really represents the IPs: the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples or the People’s Task Force on Ancestral Domains. “Sino ba talaga?” De Vera stressed on the rift between the two bodies when he served as resource person of the ancestral domain workshop group during a consultation organized by the NAPC on May 24 and 25.

__De Vera said a total of 234,188 hectares of ancestral lands certificates and/or agreements have been issued to indigenous communities. In sharp contrast, a total of 3.64 million hectares are covered by existing corporate agreements for mining explorations. Mining applications alone cover some 10.6 million hectares that reportedly include ancestral lands, compared to only 2.7 million hectares covered by claims to ancestral domain.

__But even if all pending applications for ancestral domain certificates are approved, De Vera stressed that there is still the question of what to do with the CADCs. “What good are these if not converted to titles?” he asked. He revealed that except for a 1,020-hectare community title issued in Sultan Kudarat during the Marcos administration, none of the CADCs issued have become titles.

__As if to reinforce suspicion that the government is not at all serious about giving the IP the rights to their ancestral lands, only P3.813 million of the P1.4 billion allocated for NAPC’s ancestral domain program for this year has been set aside for the “delineation, survey and titling of ancestral domains, including conversion of CADCs to CADT.” Needless to say, P3.813 million, critics dismissed, is “only a pittance.”