Tribal leader to PEF: Secure FPIC before eagle releases

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/17 July) – Manobo tribal leader Datu Ampuan Jeodoro Sulda has a word of advice to the people at the Philippine Eagle Foundation — secure a free and prior informed consent (FPIC) first if they plan to release an eagle, according to a report from the secretariat of the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN).

Sulda was quoted as saying the PEF needs to undergo the FPIC as spiritual and cultural consultation with the lumads and their ancestors who live in the protected areas.

Two eagles, Kagsabua and Hineleban, which the PEF released to the wilds of Mt. Kitanglad in 2008 and 2009, were felled by suspected lumad residents in the buffer zone of Mt. Kitanglad.

Philippine eagle Kagsabua was released to Mt. Kitanglad in 2008, only to be shot dead and eaten by a man and his neighbors a few months later. The PEF and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) filed a case against the perpetrator who was reported to have violated the Wildlife Act which protects endangered species and wildlife habitats.

Hineleban, a male eagle bred at the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) released in 2009, has been missing since late November. An intensive and protracted search resulted in the recovery of the carcass of a male Philippine Eagle in Barangay Lupiagan in Bukidnon on January 15. The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) has reason to believe that the carcass is that of Hineleban and that the bird was a victim of foul play, the PEF said in a press release.

Sulda reacted directly at the insistence of a PEF staff, identified as Ron Tarayo, who presented at the meeting that they have conducted proper information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign in the areas where the eagles were reported killed.

“The IEC is not enough,” Sulda said as quoted by Eaterluna Canoy, KIN executive director.

He said the PEF must consider the cultural aspect of their eagle releases, when the raptors would be introduced to the community along with its importance.

Sulda has a basis in his reaction straight from home in Pangantucan town. In June 2010, to end the celebration this year of the Aldaw ta Kalatungan, the DENR released a serpent eagle captured in Iligan.

Canoy said the DENR made the release without informing the community. She quoted Sulda as saying it angered the tribal leaders and elders in the area where the eagle was released. She noted that the PEF had nothing to do with the Pangantucan release, but it became a trigger for the tribal leader to raise the point at the meeting.

The PEF, Canoy said, admitted they have never done the FPIC before and quoted PEF executive director Dennis Salvador as saying they would respect the cultural aspect of the eagle releases and will improve their IEC activities.

Canoy said the representatives from indigenous peoples who attended the meeting recognized that they need to re-educate the other members of their community of the Philippine eagle and its importance to their lives.

She said future IECs must factor in the need to reeducate the lumads of the eagle’s role in their culture. She added that IECs must include the lumads in the planning and not only as audience to IECs.

The workshop was conducted to provide updates on the biodiversity and cultural trends of Bukidnon, which are useful in management planning. It also intended to address the main components of the protected area management plan.

Outputs of the planning would be presented in the next Protected Area Management Board meeting for adoption and implementation.

Bukidnon Governor Alex Calingasan vowed to increase the provincial government’s contribution to both protected areas. From P1.5 million for both in 2009, he intends to at least double the funds in his administration. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)