CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/16 Sept) — The biggest alliance of environmentalists in the country has chided the Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon), which gathers some 500 business leaders of the island starting Friday, for its expressed plan to focus on luring investment in the sectors of agribusiness, mining and energy.
In a press conference called by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a coalition of 270 green organizations, Carl Cesar Rebuta of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK) said these investments almost always translate to human rights violations.
“The common denominator of these three sectors, aside from profit, is that these projects always encroach on ancestral domains of the indigenous peoples,” Rebuta said.
He added that investments should be geared towards self-sufficiency and not only as source for raw materials and market extension.
“Mineral extraction should be for the purpose of national industrialization and to develop the agriculture sector. Regarding energy projects, it should not be to the detriment of an entire lumad tribe or communities,” said Rebuta.
A case in point is the Pulangi V Dam Project that will inundate 80 percent of their traditional communal farmlands, according to Wilmar “Datu Bong” Ampuan, chair of Nasabakan Tarigunay Bukidnon Dut Kalindaan, or NATABUK, a federation of 27 Menuvu organizations of the municipalities of Dangcagan, Kibawe, Maramag, Kitaotao and Damulog in Bukidnon.
“Ang Pulangi kay pusaka para sa amo. Ang gigikanan sa tanang Menuvu nga si Apu Mamalu dinha gilubong. Kun tukuran og dam ang Pulangi sama ra na nga gipapha ang among kaliwatan (The Pulangi is sacred to us. The forefather of all Menuvu, Apu Mamalu, is buried there. If a dam will be built on Pulangi, it will be tantamount to eradicating our cultural heritage),” said Ampuan.
MinBizCon organizer Ralph Paguio, Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OroChamber) president, was quoted as saying that this year’s conference will focus “more on increasing competitiveness in agribusiness, power crisis and mining,” the sectors deemed by business leaders that will propel economic growth to Mindanao. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)