“Respect our Rights” — Brofetrics appeals to LGU, NGO opponents

THE CONTROVERSY surrounding the purported plan of the government to win back the control of the Mount Mantalingahan escalated anew after a coalition of indigenous people (IP) condemned its advocates for being “disrespectful” of their lawful right, culture and political traditions.

In an apparent move to refute the claims of its detractors, the Brooke’s Point Federation of Tribal Councils (Brofetrics), a federation of IPs from the province’s southern corridor, recently issued came out with an open letter that says it is “saddened by the fact that the very people who were supposed to politically lead and socially help them are completely clueless and unmindful of the ways and workings of the IPs.”

Chieftain Renila Dulay, president of the Brofetrics, said “all IP communities under our coalition were insulted by public insinuations of certain quarters, supposedly of honorable and high social stature, that our broad unity against the reclassification of our ancestral domain (Mount Mantalingahan) is spurious.”

This newest development came following a news article published in a national daily that claimed the 28 tribal chieftains who signed a position paper against the proposed reclassification of the controversial Mt. Mantalingahan into a “protected zone” was “spurious.”

Quoting Vice-Mayor Jean Feliciano and the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI), the news article further asserted that the coalition leaders are not being truly supported by the tribes.

“Our detractors’ demeaning statements show how very little their understanding is on the ways of the tribes. They also exhibit utter disrespect of our traditions and processes. In fact, we assert our claim that we were never consulted in their plans to propose the declaration of Mt. Mantalingahan as protected zone, despite the fact that we are the ones who will be immediately and directly affected by their them,” Dulay continued.

The leaders of Brofetrics said the situation has now forced them to show their strength, if only to debunk allegations that they have no popular following. Right now, they want to discuss the matter to their 7,500-strong IP membership network to build up support in their fight for their ancestral domain rights, according to Dulay.

Dulay and the rest of Brofetrics denied too that mining firms exploring and operating in the area have a hand in their opposition to the reclassification of Mt. Mantalingahan as a “protected zone,” saying “we know our fight and we certainly know our rights. If others do not want to respect our unity, the least they can do is to respect our culture and beliefs.”

It is supposed that the proposed protected zone will help preserve the mountain’s landscape and natural resources, which the IPs’ oppose because it is their lawful right and responsibility on how to best manage and take advantage of their lands under Republic Act 8371, or the IPRA Law that empowers them.


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