OFW-MRRD’s roadmap to liberate the indigenous people from poverty and oppression

By : Orlan Ravanera Mindanao Today/07:11:06pm 08/29/2021


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By Orlando Ravanera


“A MOCKERY of the Indigenous Rights Act (RA 8371),” that is the statement from no less than one of authors of IPRA Law when it was enacted in 1997, former Congressman Mohammad Omar Albano Fajardo.

Such conclusion came about after hearing the outpourings of narratives of the chieftains and leaders of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao during the series of dialogues when the former congressman who is now sitting in the MRRD Execom as vice president for international affairs together with his lovely wife, Asec. Ameenah Fajardo, assistant secretary for special concerns, DTI, visited the Indigenous Peoples in Bukidnon and Lanao provinces on August 12 to 15.

The Indigenous Peoples’ chieftains and leaders came in droves in every dialogue, narrating how oppressed their respective tribes are whether Higaonon, Manobo, Talaandig and Maranao.

It was a shock to Cong. Omar and Asec. Ameenah when they visited the Manobo-Pulangiyon Tribal Community when they saw more than a thousand IP families now living in extreme poverty under shattered tents along the highway in Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon.

Why? Because they were ousted from their 1,111-ha ancestral domain by a powerful corporation whose manager is the incumbent Mayor of Quezon, Bukidnon, Mayor Pablo Lorenzo.

For more than four years now, they have been living in so much hunger and poverty, eating only “kamote” once a day or nothing at all.

All of their utensils are taken out from garbage and they are drinking from the river where they are taking a bath.

The children have to be tied-up because three have been hit already by running cars.

The children are all malnourished and suffering different kind of diseases.

They have to reclaim back their rich ancestral domain now transformed into plantations where their ancestors are buried but the armed men of the corporation would threaten them.

There were times when every night, the armed men would fire their guns using fear as a means to control or subdue them.

In fact, the secretary of the tribe, Mr. Renato Anglao, was shot dead in 2016.

But the horrible story of the Manobo-Pulangiyon Tribe is just “a tip of the iceberg,” so to speak.

Early this year, no less than Mr. Ceazar Soriano came with his communication team of PTV-4, documented this great social injustice, among the many social wrongs committed against the Indigenous Peoples which were shown in three episodes in the “Magandang Gabi Pilipinas,” entitled, “AGAW LUPA, AGAW BUHAY.”

In Tagbak, Talakag, the Higaonon-Manobo Talaandig Tribe (HIMATA) has narrated how their 39,000-ha. ancestral domain is being landgrabbed in cohort with local officials and agencies of government and when they would resist, they would be tagged as NPAs.

In fact, one chieftain has been tied-up one whole evening in a nearby military camp for just being tagged as NPA by a barangay captain who is interested to grab his land.

But the grabbing is not just limited to land. Datu Ben Anoos has narrated that sometime in 2005, the water coming from their ancestral domain has been converted into a water system by the LGU but not a single centavo has been awarded to the tribe.

After spending some hundreds of thousands of pesos in their legal struggle, no justice has been done, so they are giving up their struggle for justice because there those who cannot moderate their greed.

In their narration, a total of 63 IP leaders have already been murdered since 2016 including a pregnant woman and a 5-year-old boy as narrated by Bae Merlita Mayantao whose 5,000-ha. ancestral domain has been fenced into a ranch by a powerful corporation in 2016.

When they protested, rain of bullets came one early morning while they were taking their coffee.

Outrightly, three died (including her son) and three wounded (including her daughter who until was not operated, thus, the bullet is still inside her body.)

As mentioned, these are just “a tip of the iceberg,” of the continuing life of oppression of the Indigenous People.

Thus, in one of the meetings, they asked, “Kami po ba ay tao o basura?” Isn’t it that the most oppressed, the poorest of the poor now, are our Indignous Peoples?

NASAAN NA ANG IPRA LAW? NASAAN NA ANG EHENSYA NG GOBYERNO TINATAG PARA MAPAGLABAN ANG KANILANG KARAPATAN?

The visit and dialogues of the Indigenous People with the amazing MRRD-Execom Leader Cong. Omar Fajardo together with Asec. Ameenah Fajardo is a trail-blazing moment that has created a great breakthrough to stop oppression, hunger and poverty.

Cong. Omar has presented the roadmap of liberation, the empowering path to draw IPs into the mainstream of development processes.

What was so amazing is the great trust of the IPs to their beloved President, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte (MRRD).

There was a great celebration when Cong. Omar committed to bring the IP issues to the President himself.

Those who came have been shouting their commitment to the present dispensation and should continue the pro-people leadership stating thar there is no greater grandeur sight on earth than to see a leader who is empowering the poor and the oppressed, fighting poverty as the number one enemy of the country and liberating the nation from the control of drug lords.

The leader has even stopped the second longer war in the world – the Mindanao war.

This truism was reinforced by the presentation of Asec. Ameenah who was appointed by the President to help the OFWs, the peasantry, persons with disabilities, the single parents, the Indigenous Peoples and even the rebel surrenderers.

Ang sigaw po nila, “mahal naming Pangulong Duterte ipagpatuloy po ninyo ang inyong liderato. Kami po ay taos pusong sumusuporta sa inyo.”

Cong. Omar and Asec. Ameenah also interacted with the former combatants of the North Eastern Mindanao Front under commander Bravo in Rogongon, Lanao del Norte.

They have organized themselves into cooperative and by harnessing their collective potentials will now uproot the causes of protracted war through cooperativism.

Asec. Ameenah had put in clear categorical term the road to peace in Mindanao by presenting the programs of DTI not only on providing livelihood, not only in making their lands productive but more on developing their human potentials.

Indeed, developing human capital should be foremost priority to empower the people so that the constitutional declaration that “sovereignty resides with the people and all governmental powers emanate from them” should be put in motion.

Indeed, the welfare of the people is the supreme law!

Never shall we allow the Indigenous People to be continuously oppressed by the Oligarchs in cohort with powers-that-be.

That is the courageous pronouncement of Cong. Omar Fajardo which is now reverberating throughout the land.

That is the OFWs-MRRD’s roadmap to liberate the Indigenous Peoples from hunger, poverty and oppression.


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