‘SECURE ’: A PROGRAMME FOR INDIGENOUS LAND RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Our ‘SECURE ’ programme aims at protecting community members who are the victims of death threats and intimidation and/or experience a spectrum of human rights violations as a result of their direct involvement in the struggle against land grabbing. We generally take action when the risk of physical elimination is imminent, and we need to minimize it. Generally, the first thing we do to prevent impending harm to ‘defenders’ is to facilitate rapid escape (moving from high risk locations to safe places) while assisting them to meet their immediate needs (e.g. food and medical costs).
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Moreover, we support longer-term legal actions to secure justice for the defenders’ families. Furthermore, we extend basic assistance (e.g. food commodities) to the households of those ‘defenders’ who have either been murdered or are forced to stay on hide.
As of August 2018, we are offering safe shelter and financial support to five indigenous land rights defenders, one from Quezon and four from Rizal municipality. At the same time, we continue to assist the wife and children of a former CALG founding member, who was murdered on April 2016.
The story of Panglima Grandeza
Panglima Grandeza, a Pala’wan from Barangay Quinlogan has played a prominent role in mobilizing his fellow community members against land grabbing. On May 20, 2017 he was ambushed, but he luckily survived. On that occasion, the granddaughter saw the assailant moving towards his grandfather while brandishing a machete; she promptly screamed and caused the assailant to give up his plan. Through the support of CALG, a legal case has been filed against the attacker; he is now on hide and is being wanted by police. Because of the possible risk of retaliation by migrant lowlanders, CALG has transferred Panglima Grandeza to a safer location and continues to sustain his food and basic family needs.
The story of Nestor Lubas
On April 13, 2016 one of our CALG founding member, together with his collaborator, was gunned down in the Municipality of Bataraza, while returning from a meeting. Mr. Nestor Lubas (member of the Tagbanua tribes) and Mr. Salamat (member of the Pala’wan tribes) were ambushed while travelling on a motorcycle from Mailigan (Municipality of Aborlan). Mr. Lubas had been in the frontline against cyanide and dynamite fishing. This has caused the drastic reduction of fish stock, with adverse consequences on the livelihood of the local Pala’wan communities. As of now, those responsible for the murder have not yet been secured to justice, but many believe that both Nestor’s and Salamat’s deaths are connected to their strong opposition against illegal fishing operations, which involve powerful people and, allegedly, members of the military entourage.
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Mrs Lubas with his son during graduation
CALG has assisted the wife of Mr. Lubas to file a court case against those who are believed to be the direct mandates of her husband’s murder. As of now, support-initiatives in favour of Mrs. Lubas consist in the payment of tuition fees for her two sons and in the establishment of a small business (a general-merchandize shop), which produces basic income for her household.
We also circulate information on the situation of LRDs in the Philippines through reports and periodical bulletins.
‘SOS HEALTH ’: A FIRST AID PROGRAMME FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
While in the field, our staff is constantly confronted with health emergency which require immediate actions. Low energy intake and low protein-energy ration, in addition to the lack of vitamin A, are major problems shared by the indigenous peoples of Palawan. Overall, there is a nutritional imbalance in favour of carbohydrates with relatively little of the other nutrients. The overall quantity of food consumed is often insufficient, especially during the hungry months.
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The scarce intake of meat, poultry, fish and vitamin C-A rich foods limits the absorption of iron. Iron deficiency, low intake of minerals and riboflavin is widespread and infant malnutrition is often the norm. Because of low immune response many indigenous people are becoming less resistant to malaria, whose symptoms include fever, headache, chills and vomiting and can progress into severe illness and death, if not given prompt treatment. Pollution of previously safe waterways causes the spread of gastrointestinal disorders, which, often, manifest themselves in the form of epidemics. Respiratory diseases, especially during the rainy season are common, and indigenous people, in general, are at high risk of tuberculosis (TB) and have poor access to TB services.
In the majority of cases, CALG facilitates the transportation of patients from communities to the nearest hospital, and supports them with the cost of medicines, exams and daily food, until such patients fully recover and are dismissed. We also provide pocket money to the persons in charge of looking after the patients, during the hospitalization period.
On particular occasions, we provide financial support to patients in need of major life-saving surgeries. This was, for instance, the case of Juvy Barak.
On September 2017, a 13 years old indigenous boy (Juvy Barak) was badly struck on his head by the spear of his own own-made fishing rifle. Accidently, the spring of the rifle was released while the boy had slipped on a muddy ground. We brought the boy in severe conditions to a private hospital where he underwent a major surgery. Luckily, the operation was successful and his life was saved.
SITES OF STRUGGLE, PROJECTS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
Most of CALG activities are mainly concentrated in eight Municipalities; five of them are located in the South, one in the North and two in North-Central Palawan.
Central and Northern Palawan (Municipality of Puerto Princesa and Roxas)
Empowering Batak and Tagbanua Communities to Assert and Secure Rights to their Ancestral Domain
CALG supports Batak and Tagbanua communities in the Municipality of Puerto Princesa to apply for Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), as it is mandated by the Indigenous People’s Right Act of 1997 (also known as IPRA Law). This entails assisting local communities in fulfilling complicated bureaucratic procedures, such as those related to the documentation and submission of proofs related to their long-term presence in the area. Such documents include: a) written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions; b) written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institutions; c) pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages; d) historical accounts, including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with others ICCs/IPs; e) survey plans and indicative maps; f) anthropological data; g) genealogical data; h) pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds; i) pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and the like; or j) write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community.
In addition to this, CALG supports both Batak and Tagbanua communities for the preparation of their ‘Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans’ (ADSDPP).
Our on-going ancestral domain project covers six barangays (Maoyon, Babuyan, San Rafael, Tanabag, Conception and Langogan), all located within the Municipality of Puerto Princesa. On April 11, 2015 CALG facilitated the submission of the Batak/Tagbanua CADT application to the provincial NCIP office. This, in fact, is one of the very initial steps needed in order to claim ownership over a certain territory. However, it does not provide exclusive land and resources rights to indigenous communities. On the other hand, it still places them in a safer position, especially during disputes with mining companies and agri-business corporations, and when Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) procedures are violated.
As of now CALG is following all required administrative steps leading to official land demarcation of the Batak/Tagbanua territory and to the awarding of CADT titles.
Within the Batak/Tagbanua territory of Puerto Princesa, CALG is also focusing on the delineation and recognition of a Batak ICCA (Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas and Territories) located within the jurisdiction of Barangay Tanabag. Compared to other neighbouring communities, the Batak Tanabag ancestral territory is still well conserved and sustainably managed. Especially the upper mountain forests have higher ecological integrity and the collection of NTFPs in these areas supports Batak livelihood and well-being. Furthermore, this particular ICCA includes sacred sites of great cultural relevance that are also featured in local cosmology. Overall, the territory of the Tanabag Batak, compared to that of other Batak communities, has a better standing in relation to the five essential elements, defining an ‘effective ICCA’: a) the integrity and strength of the custodian community; b) the connection between the community and its territory; c) the functioning of the governance institution; d) the territory’s conservation status, e) the livelihoods and well-being of the community.
Limestone formation in the Batak ancestral domain
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Batak Ancestral Domain in Bayatao
After setting up various grassroots discussions with the Tanabag Batak, CALG has now completed the mapping of the Batak ICCA, as well as the geotagging of sacred places, hunting locations, swiddens and temporary settlements. This documentation will be essential for registering the Tanabag Batak ICCA with the ICCA Registry of the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).
Livelihood Support to Batak Communities
CALG support for Batak livelihood is implemented mainly in the Municipalities of Puerto Princesa and Roxas. It focuses on three major activities: a) distribution of local varieties of rice and other crops during planting time; b) construction of potable water facilities and other community infrastructures; c) processing of licenses and permits for the collection, sale and transportation of NTFPs [mainly rattan and resin of almaciga (Agathis philippinensis).
a) Distribution of local varieties
Recent years have been characterized by climatic changes and unpredictable seasonal fluctuations often resulting in crop failure. Also upland rice production has dropped dramatically and many local varieties have been lost. Often, during planting seasons, CALG provides Batak with local crop varieties (especially maize and rice), so to ensure that a sufficient amount of native seeds is planted and conserved by the community.
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Batal local varieties of upland rice
b) Construction of community facilities
In March 2017, the Batak chieftain of Mangapin (Barangay Langogan) informed CALG about the spreading of gastrointestinal disorders causing illness and death amongst his fellow community members. It was later established that such ailments had been caused by the contamination of customary water sources. A potable freash-water source was then identified at a few chilometers away from the Batak settlment, and CALG financed the building of a small water dam and a cement tank which was connected to the new source through plastic pipes. The water system was finally ultimated and handed over to the community on July 2017. CALG is now planning to extend the construction of water facilities also to other Batak communities, especially in the Municipality of Roxas.
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Construction of a water tank in Mangapin
Our organization is also assisting Batak communities to build their own ‘tribal centers’. These are not only places for social gathering but they are also important venues for engaging in discussions with local government and NGOs representatives, as well as with other stakeholders. Occassionally, such tribal centers can offer an emergency shelter to tourists and trekkers. One of such centers, with associated sanitary facilities, has been build by CALG in the Batak settlement of Kalakuasan (Municipality of Puerto Princesa).
c) Processing NTFPs permits
As of now, indigenous communities in Palawan, such as the Batak are facing serious difficulties in dealing with the complicated bureaucratic requirements related to permits for the collection, transportation and sale of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Batak, in fact, would like to see their role as traditional forest custodians duly recognized by government agencies; unfortunately – this is not happening. The bureaucratic procedures for obtaining licenses to harvest and sell NTFPs are complicated and expensive. As a result, influential businessmen tend to get such licenses rather than the legitimate beneficiaries (indigenous people). This, in turn, leads to the exploitation of indigenous gatherers and to their indebtedness with middlemen. At present, CALG is assisting the Batak communities of Mangapin and Nanabu to process their own NTFPs permits for gathering almaciga resin. We are only a few steps away from final approval.
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Batal girl harvesting bamboo
CALG is also supporting Batak gatherers in a variety of ways. For instance, we provide fund-allocations, which allow them to purchase food to be used during their NTFPs gathering-expeditions. Because of such fund-allocations, several Batak communities no longer need to contract debts with lowland merchants. Revolving funds have now been created and are being managed by the Batak themselves.
Empowering the Batak Federation
The Batak Federation was informally constituted more than 10 years ago as an informal network. However, because of lack of financial resources, it remained inactive for many years. As a result, exchanges between members of different Batak local groups had become sporadic, while social fragmentation and the deterioration of solidarity networks had also increased. Only on 29 October 2014, through the support of CALG, the Batak Federation was legally registered under the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE). Reviving the Federation has entailed the creation of new opportunities for Batak to speak out with a single voice, and to have their problems heard by local government authorities. As of now, CALG continues to invest efforts in strengthening the connection between Batak local groups and to make them active members within the Federation.
Ensuring Batak Political Representation
CALG has also invested many efforts in promoting indigenous political representation at both Barangay and Provincial levels. Specifically, through long and continuous processes of consultation with the indigenous communities, we were able to support the candidacy of Nestor Saveedra. He was appointed as the IPMR (Indigenous People Mandatory Representative) of Puerto Princesa Municipality. It is the first time in history that a Batak acquires such a high-level position at the Municipal level.
Puerto Princesa West Coast
Supporting the Tagbanua of ‘Pulang Lupa’ against land grabbing
The local Tagbanua of Santo Niño, Napsan, Bagong Bayan, and Simpokan (Municipality of Puerto Princesa) are legitimate CADT (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title) holders. Since 2015, they have requested CALG to investigate the increasing squatting and opening of forestland by Filipino migrants on their ancestral territory. CALG was informed by local residents that squatting is being orchestrated by a certain Danny Calilong, who is allegedly the mastermind behind various illegal activities taking place on their ancestral land. According to our community informants, Mr. Calilong would like to obtain legitimate rights over 300 hectares of land, for the planting of cash crops. He invited indigenous families from other locations to occupy portions of such land, and this has fuelled inter-tribal friction and factionalism. Fortunately, Calilong’s plan have not received the endorsement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
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Land squatting in Pulang Lupa
As of now, CALG continues to assist the affected Tagbanua communities in documenting systematic squatting on their territory and to request the support of concerned government agencies. For instance, selected actions are being coordinated with DENR, such as the filing of legal cases against unauthorized non-indigenous occupants. Migrants who are unable to prove the legality of their land transactions will be given a deadline for vacating the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua, and their illegally build houses will be subject to demolition.
At the same time, CALG is also training ‘Bantay CADT’ (ancestral domain guards) while assisting them to process all documents needed for official deputation by DENR. Once deputized by DENR, the Bantay CADT team will be fully authorised to carry out apprehensions of illegal loggers, and of all those who are responsible for committing environmental crimes.
CALG has also assisted the Tagbanua of Napsan to obtain permits for the management of their waterfalls for ecotourism purposes. Prior to this, it was the local government to manage the waterfalls, without proper consultation with the indigenous ancestral custodians.
For the same Tagbanua communities we are organizing training, information and education campaigns (IEC) to strengthen local decision making processes, as well as to foster the leadership abilities of potential chieftains. We have also assised local communities to comply with their ADSDPP, which was finally validated by NCIP on September 27, 2017.
Moreover, in Napsan area, CALG has supported the construction of a tribal centre while facilitating the processing of permits for the harvesting and commercialization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), such as rattan.
Municipality of Aborlan
Countering the encroachment of rubber plantations on Tagbanua Ancestral domain
CALG initiatives against land grabbing are also taking place in barangay Colangdanum (Municipality of Aborlan). Here an illegal rubber plantation is expanding on the Tagbanua ancestral domain with no attempts made, on the part of the investor, to secure the communities’ Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), as the IPRA law requires it. In addition to the approx. 100 hectares of virgin forest already been cleared, it is likely that more forest will be cut in the future, in order to expand the existing plantation. As of now, CALG has assisted the impacted indigenous community to file a petition resolution against the owner of the rubber plantation, while parallel legal actions are also being taken in coordination with the concerned government agencies.
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Forest clearing for rubber plantations
Municipality of Quezon
Securing Indigenous Ancestral Domain in Calumpang and Quinlogan
CALG has responded to the call for ancestral land protection and demarcation by the Pala’wan indigenous communities of Barangay Quinlogan (about 476 individuals) and Calumpang (about 389 individuals), both located within the Municipality of Quezon. Both communities are being assisted by CALG in fulfilling the necessary procedures leading to the awardee of Certificates for Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs). The preparation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPPs), as provided by the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), is also one of CALG key tasks in the area. ADSDPPs serve as the basis for IP communities to assert their rights and to realize their development aspirations. In addition to the completion of ADSDPPs, CALG has already fulfilled other related tasks, such as: 1) participatory and digital mapping of the applied CADT area; 2) geotagging of sacred sites, hunting grounds and other culturally relevant locations; 3) completion of traditional leaders’ list of local households and community census; 4) accounts of communities’ history and description of people’s livelihood and traditional resources and land management practices; 5) account of customary laws related to marriage and peoples’ settlement/mobility patterns.
Stopping the “Sun Oil Palm” company
In the municipality of Quezon, CALG has been monitoring the activities of a Malaysian oil palm firm named “Sun Oil Palm” which aimed at converting 10,000 hectares of land into oil palm plantations. Ultimately, we have been able to stop ‘Sun Oil Palm’ operations by appealing to a Municipal Moratorium Resolution on oil palm expansion. This was promoted by CALG, and later approved by the Municipal Government of Quezon.
Halting the implementation of DENR FLUP on Indigenous Ancestral Domain
In 2017, an attempt was made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to impose its own ‘Forest Land Use Plan’ (FLUP) in the area where CALG was implementing its ancestral domain project. However, the IP residents of Quinlogan and Calumpang met this attempt with fierce opposition. As a result, various negotiations were initiated between CALG, DENR and the local communities to identify suitable options for harmonizing DENR FLUP and the IPRA law. It was then agreed that, through their ADSDPPs, the communities would have drafted a community-based forest management plan in accordance with their own customary practices, rather then being forced to abide to the top-down FLUP being imposed by DENR.
Empowering Indigenous Youths
Between July and October 2017, CALG has organized indigenous youths in Quezon. Promising young leaders from Sitio Apo-Apo, Sitio Salong, Sitio Rakid and Barangay Quinlogan proper were identified. On August 7th, about 100 youths attended the IEC (Information and Education Campaign) for ‘Youth’s Leadership Education’ at Barangay Aramaywan. This event was facilitated by both CALG and Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).
The following tasks were achieved: a) community leadership training; b) awareness building on IPRA law; c) assessment of indigenous cultural traditions related to the sustainable management of natural Resources.
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IP youth gathering in Quezon
Construction of a Tribal Centre
In Barangay Calumpang, CALG has supported the construction of a tribal hall. Tribal chieftain Panglima Marlo Dumaan donated a 20 × 30 square meter lot for the building of the so called ‘kolang banua’ (large meeting house), while his fellow IPs provided free labour as their community counterpart, as well as locally available material such as gravel and timber. CALG, on the other hand, financed the purchase of the remaining construction material and provided the payment for the master carpenters.
Municipality of Bataraza
Monitoring agribusiness companies in Tarusan
In Tarusan CALG is monitoring the encroachment of agribusiness companies in Sitio Nara Nara, where 270 hectares of land have already been converted into banana plantations. Because of this, the main sources of potable water for the local communities have been polluted and fish stock and shrimps have disappeared. Furthermore a company guarding station, located at the entrance of the plantation site, now makes it difficult for local communities to reach their upland fields and forest. In Bataraza, while pressure from agribusiness firms is increasing, CALG continues to support vulnerable indigenous communities to submit their CADT applications. We hope that this will provide local communities with better means to defend their ancestral territories from on-going land grabbing.
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Massive land clearing for banana plantations
Advocacy and Livelihood Support to Oil Palm Impacted Communities in Sarong
The indigenous Pala’wan communities of barangay Sarong (Municipality of Bataraza) have seen most of their ancestral domain being destroyed by the activities of Agumil oil palm company.
Over the years, the local IPs have lost most of the areas they once used for hunting, collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), medicinal plants, etc. Through the support of CALG, the affected communities filed a judicial affidavit against Agumil. This was later forwarded to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) and subsequently filed to the Regional Trial Court.
While we continue to provide paralegal and advocacy support to the communities in Sarong, we have also come to the realization that local grassroots-based advocacy, in order to be successful, should be matched by livelihood assistance. In fact, all the communities that we are assisting are not only facing human rights violations but also critical food shortage, especially due to the loss of vital resources being destroyed by oil palm companies.
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Chicken dispersal in Quezon
This is why, between May and June 2017, CALG decided to extend livelihood support to the people of Sarong, through the implementation of two major activities: 1) dispersal of livestock (pigs, goats and chickens) benefitting 46 indigenous households; 2) distribution of fishing nets and a motor-canoe to be used rotationally by several households. The latter serves two purposes: monitoring the coastal area against illegal activities and facilitating communities’ fishing expeditions.
In Sarong coastal area, mangrove forests are being threatened by illegal activities such as charcoal making. Mangroves are an essential ecological niche for the reproduction of many fish species and are commonly used by local IPs for the collection of shells know as ‘tuway’ and crabs (alimango). CALG is supporting mangroves’ rehabilitation through community-based reforestation in Sarong. At the same time, it is facilitating constructive discussions between the impacted communities and the foresters of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) in order to come up with joint long-term plans to safeguard the remaining mangroves.
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CALG team monitoring mangroves’ destruction in Sarong
Municipality of Rizal
Stopping San Andres Company’s Road Construction in Kadulan
On December 2016, in sitio Kadulan (Barangay Panalingaan) – Municipality of Rizal – CALG was able to stop illegal road construction by San Andres. This company is engaged in industrial agriculture and oil palm plantations. San Andres’ road had entered the indigenous ancestral domain and was moving towards one of the Pala’wan most sacred sites: the so-called “Poon it Batu” (literally the “The Stem of the Stone”). The geological formation is reported on the official maps as Pagoda Clift or ‘Tres Marias’. According to the resident community, the underground part of this limestone formation reaches the bottom of the World corresponding, in the local cosmology, to the seventh lower level of the universe. The three outcrops forming the limestone are regarded by the people as legendary deities who committed incest and were metamorphosed by Ampuq manunga (the God creator) into the forms of the landscape.
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San Andres’ land clearing for oil palm plantations
On December 13 2016, CALG received a request for help by the members of the Kadulan community. Our field team reached the area and documented the illegal activities being carried out by San Andres. Then, on January 20, 2017, CALG submitted a petition/resolution being signed by the members of the impacted communities to the government officials of the Municipality of Rizal. This promptly led to a field investigation which was carried out jointly by the Municipal Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Aside from confirming CALG previous field findings, the investigation also established that the forest of the Pala’wan of Kadulan was further being encroached by the illegal slash and burn practices of landless Filipino migrants. Finally, the company was forced by DENR to cease its operations.
Recently, the same company has initiated land clearing in another area of barangay Panalingan (around the Arib range), which is part and parcel of the already declared ancestral domain of the local Pala’wan. Presently, CALG is monitoring the situation in the area, while planning new legal actions against the San Andres Company.
Taking actions against GPPAC and Lion Heart
In early 2016, two major agribusiness companies (the Green Power Palawan Agriculture Corporation – GPPAC, and Lion Heart) began the clearing of parcels of land found within the ancestral domain of the Pala’wan of Barangay Ransang (Municipality of Rizal), without following due Free and Prior Consent (FPIC) procedures. The affected areas being converted into coconut plantations are located in Sitio Malutok, Sitio Sumurom, and Sitio Balinbalin, and include an approximate number of 60 households scattered over an area of about 100 hectares.
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Allegedly, the companies had promised livelihood projects, scholarship programs, health and medical assistance, infrastructure, etc. to local communities. However, as of now, none of these promises have been delivered to them. Conversely, according to local residents, the companies paid prizes as low as 3,500 pesos (69,11 USD) a month per hectare for renting indigenous land, while local labourers have been underpaid.
In response to CALG advocacy, the Regional Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has issued a Suspension Order to the companies. At the same time NCIP revoked a permit known as Certificate of Precondition (CP), which was previously issued to them. Presently, the NCIP Regional Office is in the process of taking a major decision on whether to permanently cancel the Certificate of Precondition (CP) of Lion Heart and GPPAC. If a full cancellation is approved, both companies will have to vacate the area and return it to the legitimate indigenous owners.
Information and Education Campaigns in Rizal
On August 2017, in the Municipality of Rizal, CALG has organized an Information Education Campaign on the impact of oil palm plantations. About one hundred community representatives from 11 Barangay attended the event. A month later, an Indigenous Forum was also held in the same location, in collaboration with the Environmental Legal Assistance Centre (ELAC) and the Non–Timber Forest Products Exchange Program. IP leaders, youth and women, NCIP staff and others attended the event. The forum resulted in the following outcomes: 1) compilation of the IP political structure; 2) a better community understanding of the IPRA law and existing environmental laws.
Livelihood assistance to the Pala’wan of Kadulan
The Pala’wan of Kadulan have seen part of their agricultural improvements (fruit trees such as guava, star apple, mango, jack fruits, etc.) being bulldozed by San Andres company. Because of decreasing livelihood opportunities, the community had request CALG to support them with alternative livelihood options. As of now, CALG has assisted the community to start a small business enterprise for the production and commercialization of ‘native’ brooms (walis tambo). At the same time, we are supporting them to obtain the required legal permits for the collection and commercialization of NTFPs.
Municipality of Brooke’s Point
Asserting the rights of oil palm impacted communities
CALG continues to support the efforts of small landowners and indigenous people, particularly in Barangay Calasaguen, to regain rights and access to their land being converted into oil palm plantations by Agumil. Unfortunately, as of now, the company continues to violate farmers’ cooperatives and small landowners’. Agumil, in fact, has failed to implement the key clauses found in the MOU being entered with cooperatives and landowners. According to one of such clauses, the landowners should receive a percentage share of 800 pesos (15,46 USD) for every hectare of land being converted by the company into oil palm plantations. Unfortunately, this has not materialized and the affected households have now decided to file a new resolution against Agumil.
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IP victims of oil palm plantations
Countering the violations of Ipilan Nickel Mining Corporation (INC)
Always in the Municipality of Brooke’s Point, and specifically in barangay Maasin, CALG has facilitated the collection of people’s signatures against the activities of Nickel Mining Corporation (INC). On July 2017, our field team visited 50 families living near the INC mining tenements. Their land was seized by the company and fenced. As a result, they lost their agricultural improvements, as well access to their own farm lots. The mining company has also destroyed almost five hectares of indigenous land planted with bamboo and approx. 100 hectares of primary forest. Recently, as a result of the petition being facilitated by CALG, and thanks to the vigorous actions of Municipal Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano, the fence was removed and some of the affected families have regained access to their farm plots. More recently, Mayor Feliciano has organized a citizens’ protest leading to the demolition of all INC infrastructures.
Establishing local farmers’ associations
In Brooke’s Point, CALG staff has facilitated the established of a Farmers’ Association, which includes a large representation of indigenous people. The association’s key goal is to support and improve household-based agriculture and traditional crop production.
Terminating unfair agreements with NTFPs’ merchants
Also in Brooke’s Point municipality, CALG has facilitated the preparation of all bureaucratic paper work to stop the activities of Edward Laura, a concessionaire of almaciga resin. Indigenous communities complain that this concessionaire did not give them the promised royalty-share on the sale of almaciga resin. Instead of honouring the agreement, the concessionaire provided only partial and insufficient payments to the local communities. This is why indigenous representatives, through the assistance of CALG, consensually agreed to call for the termination of Edward Laura’s contract.
Inquiries on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples and on Oil Palm Plantations
On 15 August 2017, a National Inquiry on the Situation of Filipino Indigenous Peoples was carried out in Palawan through the strong leadership of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights. This provided an ideal opportunity for CALG to discuss the specific impact of oil palm plantations on indigenous culture and livelihood. A few days early, a ‘congressional inquiry’ on oil palm plantations was also held in Puerto Princesa. This was attended by prominent political figures, as well by representatives of Agumil, the Land Bank of the Philippines (the key financer of oil palm plantations in Palawan), members of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), and by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), etc.
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The hearing was also attended by municipal officials, by the local media and the chairmen of farmers’ cooperative. In this context a resolution was issued requesting the Committee on Cooperatives Development to conduct further investigations on the alleged violations committed by oil palm plantations against farmers’ cooperatives. In response to the issues being raised during the Congressional Inquiry, the Land Bank has decided to restructure the loans to farmers’ cooperatives bringing down the interest rate from 14% to 7%. However, it is very unlikely that this move will allow cooperatives to regain their losses and to continue to pay their monthly amortization. The following actions were also made during the Congressional Inquiry: Agumil has been requested by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to stop further expansion of its oil palm plantations; The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has decided to file a legal case against Agumil for the illegal clearing of forest land. More importantly a proposal was made to annul previous contracts entered between Agumil and farmers’ cooperatives and to come up, instead, with new and fair agreements. CALG is presently monitoring all these developments.