Comparing mining companies and globalization to Goliath and to sharks, Bishop Jose R. Manguiran of Dipolog enjoined indigenous peoples, who he said are like David and dolphins, to practice bayanihan to fight for their rights.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S WATCH
“Six years ago, GMA [Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] publicly announced during Independence Day in Zamboanga that the Subanen [tribe] will receive a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT)…[and yet] the Arroyo government allows mining in CADT areas.”
Bishop Jose R. Manguiran of Dipolog said this during a forum titled Tongtongan organized by the EED Philippine Partners’ Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (EEDTFIP), Nov. 14 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Manguiran said he has been attending to two tribes, the Subanen and the Muslims in Mindanao.
The bishop cited the logging activities of the Consunji clan on lands that form part of the ancestral domain of the Sirawai Kalibugan indigenous peoples of Zamboanga del Norte. “For 25 years, they have been fighting for their ancestral domain,” said Manguiran.
Manguiran said that Lumad complainants are always in hiding. “More than 30 people have been killed in that area without justice,” he added.
The bishop also deplored the government for exploiting the Lumads and their culture for the entertainment of foreign visitors. Manguiran said, “Government officials wear tribal attire, [at the same time], indigenous peoples are kicked out of their ancestral domain.”
Leaders of indigenous peoples shared the present dangers confronting them.
Jaime Tigan-o Dugao, a Kankana-ey elder from the Mountain Province and chairman of the Movement for Inter-tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD), said large-scale mining threatens their province and the whole region of Cordillera.
He said three exploration permits (EP) cover 8,745 hectares, the Asean Petroleum Security Agreement (APSA) covers 11, 976 hectares and other applications for mining cover 122, 482 hectares in Mountain province, Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
Dugao said, “We are not against development but we have learned from the experiences of our brothers in Benguet.” He revealed that large-scale mining covers 20,000 hectares of agricultural land in Benguet.
Dugao said that mining has been destroying environment since the 19th century. “In Itogon, open-pit mining stripped the mountain of forest covers… Mining nearly wiped out the watershed of Southern Benguet. The forest denudation rate has increased.” Dugao related.
He added that the country’s food security is being threatened by mining activities. While the government gets very small amounts in taxes from mining companies, Dugao said, the cost to the lives of indigenous peoples are immeasurable and could not be compensated by any amount.
“Sustaining our land and resources is our only legacy to our children and grandchildren,” Dugao said.
Meanwhile, Carlito Domulot Sr., president of an Aeta association in Zambales, said mining caused division among the indigenous peoples’ community.
Danilo Salonga, an Aeta from Bataan, condemned the laws that hinder them from utilizing their ancestral domain. He said the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) drove them out of the forest, compelling them to farm in the plains.
Salonga said that when the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act was enacted, they applied for a CADT. But the local government opposed it claiming that the municipality has the right over the forest. Negotiations are still ongoing.
Tony Calbayog, a Mangyan from Oriental Mindoro said there are seven tribes inhabiting the Mindoro islands. As of the 2004 census, their population is around 264,000.
Calbayog criticized the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for declaring that there are no indigenous peoples in Victoria, Mindoro Oriental. The Crew Mineral Corporation is implementing the Mindoro Nickel Project in Victoria, Mindoro Oriental covering 9,720 hectares.
Calbayog said another company, the Agusan Petroleum Mining Corporation is operating in Mindoro Occidental, extracting gold and cobalt in an area covering 46,000 hectares.
The Mangyan leader said foreign mining corporations use bribery and deception to get the approval of some of their leaders.
Leaders of indigenous peoples also raised concern over the intensified military operations in mining areas.
Kankana-ey elder Dugao decried the cases of harassment of indigenous peoples. He cited the enforced disappearance of James Balao, a member of the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
Norma Capuyan, a Tagabawa-Bagobo from North Cotabato said the Arroyo government created the Investment Defense Force (IDF) to protect mining companies operating in Mindanao. Capuyan dismissed the claims of government troops that they are after the New People’s Army. In truth, she said, the soldiers only want to provide security for foreign mining companies.
She cited the intensifying human rights violations in Compostela Valley. She said that the BHP Billiton, one of the largest mining companies in the world, is interested in the mineral wealth of Mindanao.
After hearing the sentiments of indigenous peoples, Manguiran shared three images to convey his message.
Manguiran said, “We are David, we are Mayas, we are Asian and we are dolphins…”
He recalled the great fight of Goliath and David, as described in the Old Testament. “David was very young, he was in a G-string and Goliath, a giant, was clothed with iron. God told David to bring a sling and a stone. Through his faith in God, David defeated Goliath.”
Manguiran also said that where there are dolphins, there are no sharks. “Dolphins go in one community. The shark, because it is very strong, does not need support. The dolphins tickle the side of the shark to drive it away”
In the sky, Manguiran said, there is the eagle and there are also Maya birds and doves. “Is there a law that protects a Maya bird? None, but the Maya has increased.”
Manguiran also cited the Vietnamese, the barefoot soldiers of Asia, who defeated the mighty Americans during the Vietnam war of 1955 to 1975. He said that the Vietnamese won even as the Americans used weapons of mass destruction such as the Agent Orange, a dioxin that is still being used by the company Monsanto in producing parathion.
Manguiran said, “In what way can we exist? Since time immemorial until now, there are two contending forces: the violent versus the humble and simple. The violent does not make a final judgment. The final judgment is guaranteed by Jesus Christ alone. He said ‘I have come to overcome the world, the evil forces.’ When I am weak then I am strong.”
Manguiran said, “In world economics, the strong are also weak. Globalization is much like Goliath; and being Goliath is also their weakness.”
The bishop further said, “The strength of globalization is money. How do you destroy or encounter that? Money is their strength; profit is their objective; competition is their game. We play our own game and do our own roles.”
Manguiran said that people must use bayanihan, networking. “Travel with many people. If there are sharks, we can tickle them,” he said.(Bulatlat.com)