Driven out, displaced Bukidnon tribe to go home soon

By : Bobby Lagsa Mindanao Today/06:25:58am 07/31/2021


The Bukidnon provincial government, NCIP, and DENR in a dialogue with the Manobo-Pulangihon tribe of Kiantig Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon on their return to their ancestral land at the Bukidnon Provincial Zoo in Malaybalay City. The displaced lumad people have been living on the side of the road of Kiantig Butong for five years. (Bobby Lagsa)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Concerned government agencies have now taken steps to resolve the displacement of around a thousand families belonging to the Manobo-Pulangihon tribe of Kiantig Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon after members of this indigenous peoples (IP) community were driven out of the land they maintained is their ancestral domain.

Two weeks after Mindanao Today published the story of the IPs, the provincial government of Bukidnon and the National Commission on Indigenous People-10 (NCIP-10) met them to discuss their return to their ancestral land.

The tribe, led by Datu Rolando Anglao, chieftain of the Kiantig Manobo-Pulangihon Tribal Association, said that since 2017, they are living along the road of Kiantig Butong after the security guards of the Kiantig Development Corporation (KDC) forcefully removed them from their ancestral land.

Quezon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III, who is also the president of KDC, reportedly refused to vacate the 995-hectare land even though its Forest Land Graze Management Agreement (FLGMA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was not renewed.

Lorenzo refused to leave and vacate the land that the IPs are claiming as their ancestral domain despite the fact that Vergilino Alima, head of the Bukidnon Provincial Environment Natural Resources Office (Penro), wrote Lorenzo in 2018 that the land is now under the authority of NCIP, an acknowledgment that it belongs to the tribe as its ancestral domain.

In a July 27 meeting at the Bukidnon provincial complex, Anglao demanded that they be allowed to return freely to their ancestral domain even as their documents for their land claim under Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim with the NCIP-10 CADC-135 is under process.

Lawyer Alberto Lagamon, legal consultant for the Bukidnon provincial government, said that it is a shame that government agencies have not used their mandated powers to eject KDC from its illegally occupied land.

“We are the government here and yet we are unable to remove them (KDC) from their occupation,” Lagamon said.

He said that for the IPs to return to their ancestral land while waiting for the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Territory (CADT), the NCIP should issue a certificate that the land is an ancestral domain.

“NCIP will make a certification through NCIP Commissioner Allen Capuyan that the land is an ancestral domain, but subject to the processing of the land, even as the (land) survey was already done,” the official said.

Lagamon added that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) would issue another certification that there is no Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) issued on the same property.

The DENR, DAR, and NCIP are the three government offices that have the power to issue land tenurial titles.

Overlapping land claims and multiple land titles issued by these agencies often lead to land conflict struggle which, at any point, can result to displacements and even death to those involved in the dispute.

“DENR also issued a certification that this area is now under the NCIP and has no jurisdiction over it,” Lagamon said.

He added that since the property is now with the NCIP, DENR will not entertain any titling claim.

“On that basis, they (IPs) can now enter their land since there is no overlap (claim), but the heart of this is the certification which would be the basis of the certification DAR and DENR,” Lagamon said.

Reymond Pimentel, officer-in-charge of NCIP’s Maramag Community Service Center, said that NCIP-10 would be requesting the NCIP central office for the Certification of Ancestral Domain Application for the 955 hectares of land, which the KDC is illegally occupying.

He however said that only the NCIP Commissioner could sign such document.

“Only NCIP Commissioner Allen Capuyan can sign such document as this is not on our level,” Pimentel said.

Capuyan visited the Manobo-Pulangihon tribe of Kiantig Butong on August 2020.

Pimentel assured that such certification would not take long as the only requirement is the status of ancestral domain Report.

“At this time, their (IPs) book is being prepared, but there are some changes that need to be addressed,” he said.

Pimentel added that the Covid-19 pandemic also affected their operations and the processing of the land claim of the IPs.

Arnel Angcosin, secretary-general of the Kiantig Manobo-Pulangihon Tribal Association, said that they are hoping that the processing of their ancestral domain claim will continue.

“Earlier we saw that our ancestral domain is near, it is just one step closer to getting our land title (CADT),” he said.

Angcosin said that their documentary requirement is complete and submitted and that they have already done the planting of ancestral domain boundary requirement or land survey monumenting.

“We are also published and all favorable documents were given to us by the DENR,” he added.

For his part, Anglao said that hopefully, the government will not further delay their return to their ancestral domain even as the NCIP, DAR, and DENR already issued favorable documents to them.

Anglao, however, is cautious that such NCIP certification can be issued right away.

“That’s the problem, the NCIP gives assurances but they slept on it for years. Hopefully, before August, we can enter and return to our land,” Anglao said.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma, who joined the July 27 dialogue, said that what transpired during the meeting is an example of government agencies alignment to understand each other.

“We can see that the authority was given from DENR to NCIP and it was also clear that DAR will not allow any entry (to the land) and prior right is really for the Lumad,” Ledesma said.

KDC was invited to that meeting but did not show up.

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