Lunito Dasa, an Alangan Mangyan tribal leader, came to Sablayan Convention Center armed with a mud stained Tagalog manual on the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA). He and the rest of his tribesmen, more or less 30 of them, attended the Project Launch of “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation :Mainstreaming in Agricultural Landscapes” AKA “Biodiversity Partnerships Projects” or BPP. Aside from the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), also present are representatives from various NGOs and government agencies not only from Occidental Mindoro but from their respective regional offices as well. The activity was held yesterday, October 9, 2012.
The chief implementing agency for the BPP is the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). One of the roles and functions of the PAWB is to enter into MOAs with selected National Government Agencies and NGOs as implementing partners in the sites. The bureau is also responsible for over-all management , monitoring and coordination of project implementation according to UNDP rules on managing the project. All over the Philippines, there are 8 BPP projects: 2 in Mindanao, 2 in the Visayas and 4 in Luzon.
In a letter sent to this lowly blogger in his capacity as Indigenous People’s Affairs Office (IPAO)-Designate of LGU-Sablayan, Theresita Mundita S. Lim, National Project Director of BPP stated that, “Mt. Siburan is a Key Biodiversity Area being the habitat of threatened and endemic species such as the Mindoro Bleeding-heart Pigeon, Mindoro Hornbill, among others which are globally significant for biodiversity conservation”. The project aims to assist Local Government Units (LGUs) in the country’s “eco-critical” regions to incorporate the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources in their planning systems and economic growth activities.
Here in Occidental Mindoro, the national NGO partner for the BPP is the Haribon Foundation. They are tasked to provide co-financing for the project and serve as implementing partners in the sites where they are working on. One representative from Haribon also sits as member of the Project Board.
Over couple bottles of beer some weeks ago, Haribon’s Charlou Ormega told me that the target beneficiaries and on-site partners of the project are the 2 LGUs (Municipal and Provincial), the 2 IP groups in the municipality,- the SASAMA for the Alangans and FAMATODI for the Taobuids, local communities and local stakeholders like the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm or the SPPF. Haribon works in Sablayan in various projects for less than a decade now.
By the way, this year commemorate the 40th year of Haribon's existence. We are fully aware that Haribon was instrumental in the formation of other environmental organizations in the country. So my wishes to the Haribon “eaglets” I was able to rubbed elbows with yesterday like Astrid Villanueva, Lira Canals and Ma’am Annabelle Plantilla, their Chief Operation Officer. Ms. Plantilla in her keynote address stressed that then and especially now under Mayor Ed Gadiano’s watch, Sablayan is a champion for the cause of the environment.
After the BPP Presentation by UNDP-PAWBs Ms. Joy Reyes there was an open forum and it became healthy and objective. Lunito and the rest of the Alangan’s also fearlessly and actively participated and shared their views. In the afternoon, there were 2 sets of Consultation Workshops,the Biodiversity-Friendly Businesses and Market LED Opportunities for Green Economy and another for Biodiversity-friendly Agricultural Practices. I joined the IPs and the Haribon people for a separate Focused Group Discussion or FGD.
Before the Kick-Off activity for the Mt. Siburan BPP ended, Ma’am Mutia Bambalan, Regional Technical Director of DENR’s PAWCZMS synthesized its process and announced the activities for the Tamaraw Month this October.
Lunito rose from his seat and put back his mud stained IPRA Manual inside his ‘pasiking’ smiled at me and uttered, “Hindi lang ng Tamaraw, buwan din ng KATUTUBO at ng IPRA ngayong Oktubre. Nalimutan...”