Protesting Butuan lumads not keen of removing checkpoint as it enters fourth day today

by Ben Serrano

      October 29, 2010


             BUTUAN CITY- Indigenous people belonging to Mayapay Tribal Council definite on their stand to assert their rights this morning said they are not keen of removing checkpoint they installed at a road in Barangay Bonbon this city saying they will only removed it if government will initiate no non-sense investigation why private individuals were able to purchase lands within their ancestral lands and have it titled.


             The indigenous people claimed some wealthy individuals who allegeldy bought hectares of lands within within their ancestral lands within protected Mount Mayapay even allegedly closely fenced the area and declared it their private property.


            Tribal Chieftain Datu Malingat Aurelio Talibong, Jr leader of the Mayapay Tribal Council  occupying 7,062 hectares ancestral lands within Mount Mayapay told BATAS NEWS this morning they will mot remove checkpoint they install despite some threats from powerful individuals using allegedly the police, military and armed security personnel to dismantle or destroy it.


                  Talibong claimed the Mayapay Tribal Council has 2,500 tribal members governed by set of tribal elders.


 “Until government promised to start initiating thorough, no non-sense investigation for massive occupation and destruction of our ancestral lands, we will not budge an inch” Datu Malingat told BATAS news in a visit early morning today at their installed checkpoint they earlier described as barricade.


            He said they installed the checkpoint to dramatize their cause in asserting their rights in their lands they claimed their forefathers owned since time immemorial hundred of years even before Spanish expedition headed by Magellan discovered the Philippines


            Sorrounding Datu Malingat were 50 young and middle aged tribesmen he described as tribal warriors.


            Malingat explained the need to install a checkpoint at the busy Butuan City road to regulate entrance to their 7,062 hectares ancestral lands which covered eight rural and urban barangays of Butuan City and two sitios within province of Agusan del Norte particularly within Municipality of Buenavista .


            Malingat claimed portion of land areas if not all aside from protected area Mount Mayapay within Barangays of BItan-agan, Nongnong, Dumalagan, Bancasi, Libertad, Bit-os, Bugabos, KInamlutan and two sitios within Barangay Simbalan in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte namely Sinigay and New Bohol are within their 7,062 hectares ancestral lands.


            Malingat said that because of inflow of lowlanders to their ancestral lands especially the government-declared protected Mount Mayapay, the ecology in said areas were already destroyed due to massive cutting of trees, construction of resorts and villas owned by wealthy businessmen mostly contractors who have cornered huge government infra projects by the billions of government money and some politicians.


            “Worst government allowed quarrying inside government declared protected Mount Mayapay ” three other tribesmen present in the interview expressed views.


 “The government declared Mount Mayapay protected because of its historical value aside from its environmental importance yet some of the government officials allegedly allowed quarrying within Mount Mayapay, this owe a deep, independent investigation”, the tribesmen and women added.


Earlier, Datu Malingat said they wanted government to settle the issue as peaceful as possible saying they are only claiming what is theirs because there is a law that guarantees their rights given unto them under R.A. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.


Earlier, DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, Jr and NCIP Chairman Atty. Roque Agton, Jr., in a one page ads published September 8, 2010 over a major national daily, ThePhilippine Daily Inquirer urged the public to respect ancestral lands and domains in the country.


The two cabinet secretaries, who signed the “SO THE PUBLIC MAY KNOW” one page ads, said that “any sale and conveyance of ancestral lands and parts of ancestral domain that rightfully belong to Indigenous People/ICCs is ILLEGAL”


Agton and Paje told the general public in that ads “we must respect ancestral lands and domains”. (-30-)