CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/13 July) — A group of lumads from Bukidnon yesterday picketed the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples here to demand the revocation of a Free and Prior Informed Consent granted to a ranch developer.
The contested land is a 480-hectare property in Barangays Panalsalan and Dagumbaan , Kibawe town in Bukidnon.
Talaandigs and Higaonons numbering around 50 and led by Datu Alfredo Ganinay, wanted the government to award to them the property
Former Kibawe Mayor Ernesto Villalon has used the property as a ranch after securing a Compliance Certificate of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from 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 approved the ranch project.
Ganinay and the picketers, who belong to the Panalsalan Dagumbaan Tribal Association (Padata), arrived in Cagayan de Oro yesterday morning aboard a truck.
They went straight to the NCIP regional office at Tiano corner Del Pilar Streets where they staged a small picket.
While the lumads were talking to reporters, around 20 of their companions went inside the NCIP office and dialogued with Regional Director Tammie J. Labaon.
Labaon told reporters he could not do anything since NCIP 10 Hearing Officer Pinky Pabellic would be handing down a decision on the complaint filed by Ganinay against Villalon.
“It will be tantamount to interference into the jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer,” he said.
Ganinay said several of their members were going to shave their heads yesterday to dramatize their plight.
They also decided to camp outside the NCIP office last night and pitch tents on the streets.
Some of them also decided to stay inside the NCIP, a move that made Labaon remark that the building owners will “probably not like it.”
The meeting between Ganinay and Labaon ended around noon but the director stayed inside his office and locked it the entire afternoon.
Labaon left his office around 6:30 p.m. and ignored questions from reporters who waited for him outside.
The Villalon ranch has been a subject of protests from lumads since the 1970s and the former mayor has filed cases against them. ( Bel Dano and Bencyrus Ellorin/MindaNews)