CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY ââ Hope was rekindled among nearly a thousand families belonging to the Manobo-Pulangihon tribe of Bukidnon province after the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) took action for them. grant an ancestral domain title covering more than 900 hectares of land.
Arnel Angcosin, general secretary of the Kiantig Manobo-Pulangihon Tribal Association, said the NCIP provincial office told them that the titling process was underway at the central office.
The tribal group recently met for a dialogue with the provincial government, NCIP and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the status of their ancestral domain claim and prospects for their return to their home. community in Barangay Kiantig Butong in Quezon. city.
âWe are optimistic and believe that we can finally return home, to our ancestral land. We hope it won’t be long, âAngcosin told the Inquirer by phone.
Armed men, believed to be security guards for a food company, drove indigenous families from their communities in 2017.
The company based its occupation and use of the 995 hectares on a forest pasture management agreement (FLGMA) with the DENR.
With nowhere to go, families have set up makeshift shelters by the side of the road, with no running water, no electricity and no stable source of income.
Angcosin said they also rarely received help from the government.
The situation has become so bad that parents have to tie ropes to the feet of their young children so that they cannot get off the road and get hit by passing vehicles, Angcosin added.
âOur children have suffered the most. Many of them fell ill because of the poor living conditions. Diarrhea and fever were common illnesses in our children because we were forced to drink contaminated water. It’s so bad, âAngcosin lamented.
A 2019 report by the international non-governmental organization Global Witness linked the murder of tribal leader Renato Anglao to the dispute over this land in Quezon City.
The situation began to turn in the tribe’s favor when the FLGMA expired in 2018.
Angcosin noted that the provincial environmental and natural resources officer Vergilino Alima admitted in January 2019 that “the DENR has lost jurisdiction over the property” and designated the NCIP as the one “who has the exclusive authority to manage and to dispose of the aforementioned property. “
Angcosin said the provincial government of Bukidnon, NCIP and DENR have assured the displaced families that measures have been taken to facilitate their return to their claimed ancestral domain.
âWe can wait as long as we know we can legally return to live on our ancestral land,â Angcosin said.
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