Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mamanwa and Manobo tribes rally for the stoppage of Ventura Timber Corp. logging operation

Lanuza, Surigao del Sur—Calling for the stoppage of the logging operation of Ventura Timber Corp. (VTC) in the ancestral domain of Kahugpongan Tribung Mamanwa—Manobo (KATRIMMA), Mamanwa and Manobo tribe members trooped last September 29–30 to the national highway of Sibahay, Lanuza, Surigao del Sur and to the Tandag office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The protesters carried with them placards containing the following messages: "Tahuron ug irespito ang kaugalingon pagdumala sa tribu. Ventura Timber Corp. IFMA hununga na (Honor and respect the self–determination of the tribe. Stop the Ventura Timber Corp. IFMA)!"

The protest of KATRIMMA was supported by multi–sectoral groups such as the Lanuza Bantayan Gayud (LABAG), Lanuza women's organization, parish church of Lanuza, Social Action of Tandag, and Green Mindanao Association, Inc.

This year, KATRIMMA has already twice penalized, customarily known as sala, VTC for ignoring the customary practices of the Mamanwa and Manobo.

The tribal council of KATRIMMA last February 15 released a resolution revoking the Memorandum of Agreement entered into by KATRIMMA and VTC on the grounds that threat, force, intimidation, and fraud were allegedly employed by VTC. The agreement allegedly allows VTC to conduct large–scale logging operation in the ancestral domain of KATRIMMA.

Despite the opposition of KATRIMMA, VTC continues marking trees — a sign that VTC is intent in logging the ancestral domain of the Mamanwa & Manobo.

Myrna L. Caoagas, Bureau Director of the Ancestral Domain Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), received last March 16 the request of the leaders and community members of the Mamanwa and Manobo tribes for NCIP to investigate VTC's logging operation in the Mamanwa and Manobo ancestral domain, particularly in Barangays Mampi and Sibahay, all in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur. Last April 27, Caoagas endorsed the request of KATRIMMA to the NCIP field office for appropriate actions.

Last August 16, KATRIMMA Tribal Council wrote to the NCIP provincial office, headed by Charlyn Gumanoy Binghoy, to facilitate the plea to stop the logging operation of VTC in the Mamanwa and Manobo ancestral domain.

In a document released by Binghoy, she said that "there's nothing I can do because the said logging company has already issued an Certificate of Pre–condition". She added that "only the court has the right to stop the said operation".

Despite the NCIP provincial office's inaction, KATRIMMA, in a statement, said that the organization will "implement the customary laws for our rights into our ancestral domain".

With reports from Nokie Calunsag of Green Mindanao Association, Inc.
First Posted on Inside Mindanao (