Corporate projects in ancestral domains causing conflicts with Lumads, says NCIP-10

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 September) – Conflicts between corporations and Lumads or indigenous peoples were among the cases filed before the Regional Hearing Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Region 10, an official said Wednesday.

Lawyer Trinidad Cardona, NCIP-10 hearing officer said the conflicts involve companies that are using portions of ancestral domains for business projects.

She said one recent case was between a group of IP leaders in Bukidnon and a foundation formed by a fruit company that wanted to implement a watershed project in areas within their ancestral domain.

The IP leaders said they were not consulted about the plan and so filed the case before the hearing office, forcing the proponent to schedule a dialogue with them.

Cardona also cited that some members of the tribes that are Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) holders had sold portions of their ancestral domains to non-IPs, including a foreign national who is locked in a legal battle against a tribe in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

She added that some cases stemmed from intra-clan rivalry involving third parties which talked only to one group leaving the other group dissatisfied.

But she clarified there are really cases in Misamis Oriental that pit whole tribes against corporations.

As of August this year NCIP-10 was handling 22 cases, 18 of them from Bukidnon, Cardona said.

NCIP operates regional hearing offices as part of its functions as a quasi-judicial body.

Cardona said most of the cases were filed by the Lumads themselves asserting their rights to their ancestral domains.

She attributed this to the high level of awareness among the Lumads in Bukidnon about their rights.

The NCIP-Bukidnon office, she added, is being run by “community-active” and practicing Lumads.

She said the high number of cases in Bukidnon was one of the reasons why she asked the hearing office to be transferred to Malaybalay City in July. The office is temporarily housed in the NCIP-Bukidnon building.

The transfer would benefit the parties, especially the indigenous peoples, because it would mean lesser travel expenses during hearings, she added.

Cardona served as NCIP hearing officer for Regions 11 and 12, aside from sharing the job with another hearing officer in Regions 9, 10, and 13.

She said a lot of issues emerged after some tribes in Bukidnon received their CADTs.

Since 1997, a total of 12 CADTs and three Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) have been issued in the province.

Carl Binayao, NCIP Bukidnon community relations officer, told MindaNews Wednesday they received 200 ancestral domain claims this year.

After Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. pledged P10-million support from the provincial government Binayao said they have discussed the idea of unifying some of the claims to reduce the number to around 60 or fewer. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)