CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/13 July) – A datu and two women who are among the Lumads from Kibawe town in Bukidnon who have picketed since Monday the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) here had their heads shaved this morning before a crowd of onlookers at a busy downtown street corner.
The Lumads, who belong to the Panalsalan Dagumbaan Tribal Association (Padata) said they wanted to dramatize their demand for the National Commission on Indigenous People to revoke the Free and Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Certification issued to former Kibawe town mayor Ernesto Villalon for a ranch project.
The contested land is a 480-hectare property in Barangays Panalsalan and Dagumbaan in Kibawe.
Villalon has used the property as a ranch through a Forest Land Grazing Agreement based on the FPIC issued by the NCIP after another group of lumad leaders agreed to his proposal.
“These tribal leaders were only used. They are not even from our place,” Ganinay however said, referring to the group of lumad leaders who agreed to the ranch project.
The Padata alleged the FPIC granted to Villalon was “fraudulently acquired.”
The three Lumads had their heads shaved as their leaders dialogued with NCIP officials at their regional office this morning.
NCIP 10 Hearing Officer Becky Pabelic assured the Lumads she will conduct a field inspection at the contested property on August 6 to verify their claims, according to Joseph Coles, Bukidnon coordinator of Task Force Mapalad.
Task Force Mapalad is one of the NGOs helping the lumads in their fight for ownership of the contested property.
“Pabelic assured there will be a status quo until a decision is reached. We will respect that,” Padata leader Alfredo Ganinay said.
Ganinay said Pabelic will see on August 6 the 280 families that are farming the contested property.
Coles said Padata members have decided to lift their picket and return to Kibawe.
But he said the lumads are demanding for the removal of NCIP Regional Director Tammie Labaon for allegedly not acting on their demands.
Labaon denied the allegation, adding he was not even privy to the granting of FPIC to Villalon since he was not yet the regional director at that time. (BenCyrus Ellorin/MindaNews)