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PIA Press Release

Lumads call off picket rally at DENR

by Herzon F. Gallego

By Herzon F. Gallego

Butuan City (2 February) -- A group of disgruntled indigenous people belonging to the Mamanwa ?Manobo tribe in Agusan del Sur have decided to call-off their picket rally at the regional office of the DENR in Barangay Ambago, Butuan on Thursday after a dialog with the top officials of DENR.

In his report to the Acting Secretary of the DENR Eleazar P. Quinto, the DENR regional Executive Director of DENR Caraga Region Edilberto S. Buiser said the so-called Mamanwa and Manobo "lumads" who are members of the Regional Tribal Consultative Assembly have decided to end their planned picket-rally after they were assured of immediate actions of their demands that concern the DENR.

These demands include a) the ocular inspection by the DENR of the alleged illegal mining activities at Mt. Agutayan, particularly at Barangay Puting Bato in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, b) the alleged irregular environmental practices of a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) holder in Barangay Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur and c) the cancellation of EPA-000145-XIII applied by Abner P. Cagaanan at Calamba, Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte.

The lumad leaders have also requested the DENR to help them in their request for congressional inquiry about Presidential Proclamation No. 1747 which declare an area of 43,601 hectares of forest lands as protected watershed at the municipalities of Carascal, Cantilan and Madrid in Surigao del Sur and the municipality of Santiago and Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte. The said proclamation according to Datu Eddie Ampo violated their rights because there was "no free and prior written consent" made to them.

The lumad leaders have also asked the help of the DENR to facilitate their demands of payment of Royalty Shares to the tribal community in Barangay San Antonio, RTR, Agusan del Norte by the Butuan City Water District.

The rest of their 20 demands, however, were address to the regional officials of the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) headed by Regional Director Atty. Jake Dumagan.

The Regional Technical Director for Protected Areas and Wildlife, Coastal Zone Management Services (PAWCZMS) Mario C. Eludo who presided over the dialog held at the Regional Conference Center of the DENR said a technical team from the DENR which will also composed of the leaders of the lumads will be organized shortly to investigate the reported CBFM operations in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur. Specifically, the DENR team will conduct the performance inventory evaluation of the CBFM holder ITRIFADC to find out if there were violations committed by its board officers.

The DENR will also looked into the reported illegal small-scale mining operation in Barangay Agutayan, in RTR Agusan del Norte.

The tribal leaders and the members of the Regional Tribal Consultative led by Datu Ampo have expressed their deep appreciation to Director Buiser and other senior officers of the DENR for helping them in finding solutions to their problems.

According to Datu Ampo, their tribal council will form a general assembly shortly to settle "once and for all" the major issues and concerns and difference affecting their tribe members to achieve a lasting peace in their different tribal communities.

The dialog was also attended by PENR Officer Rosendo Asunto of Agusan del Norte, CENR officer Raul Rosales of Tubay, Agusan del Norte, OIC CENRO Michael Montalban of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, CENRO Iniego S. Collantes of Cantilan, Surigao de Sur among other field officers of the DENR. (DENR RPAO-13) [top]

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