In an assembly Friday at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University here, 35 of these tribal leaders also slammed what they called government “discrimination” against the rights of Subanons in the peninsula.
The tribal conference dubbed “Glumpuk Nog Kobogolalanan Sog Pigsungan Nog Nawan (Assembly of Tribal Traditional Leaders of Zamboanga Peninsula) is part of the roundup of activities for the Mindanao Week of Peace, which started on November 29 and ends on December 5.
“We, in particular, urge the City Government of Zamboanga and the Zamboanga Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Ecozone) to recognize and respect the ancestral domain claim of the Subanon people,” the statement read, referring to the Subanon’s pending petition against the “encroachment” of Ecozone in their ancestral lands in the mountainous villages of Labuan, Patalon and Limpapa in the westernmost part of the city.
Early this month, Subanons from the three villages staged protest actions before government centers here.
At least nine hectares of the 15-hectare Ecozone belongs to the Subanon, said Timuay Noval Lambo, tribal chieftain of the Subanon Council of the Seven Rivers in Zamboanga Peninsula.
The tribal leaders represented the more than 1-million Subanon population covered by the Council and the confederacy of Subanon communities called Pinagsulubukan Bansa Subanon, which covered this region and the province of Misamis Occidental.
“Subanons have a definite native title but to which the local government and Ecozone have interposed their opposition,” said the statement signed by 35 tribal and community leaders who attended the gathering.
But Ecozone general manager and administrator Georgina P. Yu denied the claim, adding Ecozone’s right to the land is supported by Presidential Proclamation 1099 signed by then President Joseph Estrada.
In the same fight for ancestral domain title, the Subanon people also reiterated their strong objections to the inclusion of Zamboanga Peninsula in the Bangsamoro homeland being proposed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF), one of the major talking points in the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the separatist group.
“Respect the ethnic and historical rights of the Subanons on all lands in Zamboanga Peninsula and to, therefore, exclude our (Subanons) communities from inclusion as ancestral lands to be placed under or included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as contemplated in the propose peace agreement,” added the statement.
The Subanons also exhorted government agencies and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to facilitate and hasten the approval of their pending and future applications for Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT).
“Respect the prerogatives and rights of Subanon communities who are occupying lands already covered by CADT,” they said, particularly referring to the exploitation of natural resources by mining companies operating in the region.