Monday, April 2, 2012

Of Footsteps and Conserved Areas

Two leading Taobuid leaders, namely, Juanito Lumawig and Fausto Novelozo with his aide Poor Galubidan attended the First National Conference on Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) in the Philippines held last March 29-30, 2012. Since Mt. Iglit-Baco was declared by the government as protected area within municipalities of Sablayan and Calintaan, yours truly and Mr. Samson Tejada of Calintaan were there including its area supervisor PASU Rodel Boyles of DENR-PAWB. Almost all of the IP luminaries nationwide attended headed by Datu Vic Saway and Datu Ed Banda of Mindanao, among others. Initiating said National Conference are different organizations here and abroad. On top on the list was PAWB-DENR’s New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP); the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, Inc (FAFID); the Koalisyon ng mga Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI); the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) and ICCA Consortium, an international association for the promotion of recognition and support of the ICCAs.

People from the national government came and among them were DENR Usec. Analiza Rebuella Teh, Sen. Koko Pimentel, NCIP chair Zenaida Brigida H. Pawid and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Etta Rosales. Around 220 participants packed the Assembly Hall of the (NCPAG) at UP- Diliman, Quezon City. Two of the main objectives of the gathering are to generate common understanding among IP organizations, NGOs, LGUs and the national government including all the development partners on the concept of ICCAs, their value to the communities and their conservation to biodiversity conservation. Also to strengthen awareness on the contribution of IPs in the management of the ICCAs; the threats facing their sustainability; and enjoined concerned stakeholders into positive action to address these threats and finding consensus on the National ICCA framework and strategies. As a major output of the ICCA Conference, the so-called “Manila Declaration came into the limelight.

From the National Conference on ICCA opened a new challenge for us LGUs of Calintaan and Sablayan, in our conservation initiatives in Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park. Said conservation area is an ASEAN heritage park. This multi-strata of evergreen forest of dry season deciduous shrubs and trees and habitat of the biggest remaining population of the endangered Tamaraws. LGU-Sablayan, especially now under the administration of Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano, believes that the Taobuids and the Alangan Mangyans in his municipality should be the traditional caretakers and primary end beneficiaries of the forests and its natural resources and the activities toward these economic activity must be anchored on biodiversity conservation. In creating the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Office or IPAO and his championing for the mandatory IP representation in local legislative boards, our local chief executive is all out in empowering the IPs in deciding, implementing and enforcing management decision on projects especially within their ancestral domain. His administration closely coordinates with IP bodies such as the National Commission for the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as well as numerous NGOs working with the Mangyans. As a true believer of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act or IPRA, Mayor Ed hold true to its provision which states that the ICCs have the right to manage their ancestral domains through traditional resource management practices. These principles should immediately turn into local plans, implementations and action. Efforts like those needed continuity. There are still a lot of unfinished businesses for my principal, indeed. He is also supportive of the immediate issuance of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) to strengthen the IPs right in managing the ICCA.In Occidental Mindoro, the ICCA is threatened by the Mindoro Nickel Project or MNP.

Aside from getting ICCA 101, the Conference became an opportunity to meet my new friends and seatmates from DENR-Region III specifically Ma’am Minerva J. Martinez and her staff, Precious Lopez (AKA Apples)and Ms. Grace C. Diamante, Executive Director of Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. or MBCFI.

In parting, allow me to say that the First National Conference on ICCA in the Philippines is this: “Nature Conservation in the Footsteps of Our Ancestors”. Very poetic, isn’t it? Sad thing is, mostly in community projects such as this: the only visible and acknowledged footprints are not those of indigenous peoples and their ancestors but of those in the academe, technocrats, some politicians and bureaucrats.

They are carrying the IPs towards their modern but aggressive Golgothas…

No comments:

Post a Comment