Lumads seek probe on mining, logging in protected watershed

Tribal chieftains and their followers in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga Region) Tuesday requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to facilitate their request for a congressional inquiry on alleged logging and mining operations in 43,601 hectares of ancestral lands in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

The areas mentioned by the lumads are protected watershed under Presidential Proclamation No. 1747, it was learned.

Under the proclamation, the 43,601 hectares of forest lands declared as protected watershed are located in the municipalities of Carascal, Cantilan and Madrid in Surigao del Sur and the municipality of Santiago and Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte.

Leaders of the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes also sought an investigation on alleged mining operations in their ancestral lands in Mt. Agutayan, particularly in Barangay Puting Bato in Cabadbaran.

The tribal leaders also alleged there are irregular environmental practices in a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) in the Sibagat area. They likewise seek the cancellation of EPA-000145-XIII in Cabadbaran City.

In a dialogue with the tribal chieftains at the DENR regional office here, Regional Executive Director Edilbert Buiser assured them that their plight will be properly addressed and immediately acted upon.

The Regional Technical Director for Protected Areas and Wildlife, Coastal Zone Management Service, Mario Eludo, immediately formed a technical team from the DENR along with the tribal leaders to look into other concerns of the lumads, particularly the operation of the Community-Based Forest Management in Sibagat.

In a related development, members of the Mamanwa-Manobo tribes trooped to the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous People on Tuesday to beef up their two-day picket to press for the ouster of NCIP Regional Director Jose Dumagan for alleged inaction on their problem.

The tribe members also asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to facilitate the payment of royalty shares to the tribal communities in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte from the mining operations in the areas. (mb)

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