DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte on Thursday, February 1, said he would want ancestral domains in Mindanao to be opened to investors.
To do that, he told hundreds of Lumad leaders here that “I’ll do the search of investors myself.”
The president made this remark before hundreds of Lumad leaders from communities across Mindanao at a gathering at the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City.
Duterte, who was aware this idea could spark controversy among the Lumad, told the leaders opening these areas to investors would be a way for them to generate wealth.
“Ang gobyerno naningkamot…karon gitagaan mo ug ancestral domain. Ang problema wala ninyo gamita,” he said.
(The government worked hard now you were given ancestral domain. The problem is you didn’t use it)
During his speech, Duterte showed a document of what appeared to be a list of where these ancestral domains in Mindanao were.
Among those areas, he cited Davao City’s Paquibato district, where he said investors have long wanted to put up palm oil plantations.
Ancestral domains are protected lands as enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA). The law was introduced to protect the Lumad whose concept of owning land is communal in nature.
But Duterte said Thursday that Lumad leaders have to do something about these lands rather than just fighting over it.
“Tinuod it is owned in common, pero ug magsige lang mo ug samok, wala gyuy mahitabo. So ako na’y mamili ug investor,” he said.
(It’s true that it’s owned in common, but if you continue to make trouble, nothing will happen. So let me be the one to find investors)
Duterte’s plans, however, are what several groups representing indigenous peoples have been opposing.
He assured, though that the Lumad communities will be given their chance to decide on what they would want to do with their lands.
“Kung muingon mo dili mag-mina, dili (ta) mag-mina. Kung mag hugaw-hugaw sa inyong lugar, barahon nako,” he added.
(If you don’t want mining, then we won’t do it. If they’ll mess around your area, I’ll block them)
He also added that they would be tapped as partners should he find investors for these lands. – Rappler.com