Lumads’ voices sought in managing Davao City’s watershed

Avila said there is a need to meet with them and discuss their important role in watershed management.

Avila said they will to listen to the Lumads' issues and concerns especially since there is a growing perception that they have become victims of parties who exploit Davao's forest resources.

He said Davao City has listed several cases of violation of forest laws involving indigenous peoples who were lured to resort to illegal acts because of economic difficulties.

Avila said the forum, set for October 20, is co-organized with a multi-agency technical working group.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government will give inputs on Forest Protection, Laws, and Policies; Trust and Programs of the LGUs in Watershed Management, and Terrain Analysis.

But Avila said an important part of the forum is for  authorities to be educated on the issues and concerns of the indigenous communities on watershed management in their areas.

Tribal leaders from the Ubo Manuvu, Ata, Klata-Bagobo, Tagabawa, and Matigsalog tribes have been  invited to the forum to share their experiences in watershed management.

Representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will also discuss the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 particularly on the provision on Ancestral Domain.

Enrique Plona, NCIP community development officer, said the Lumads are at the forefront of watershed management and should be empowered to maintain ecological balance.

Councilor Ricardo Cabling has proposed a Watershed Code but it is still pending at the City Legal Office. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)