Dialogue set between Lumad, military on Kitanglad bombing

MALAYBALAY CITY  – The Provincial Government of Bukidnon has set a dialogue between the Bukidnon Daraghuyan tribe and the military whom the former accused of bombing their ancestral domain, the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, which is also a protected area and a heritage park of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Bae Intalawan Adelina Tarino, head claimant, said.

Tarino told this reporter Thursday Gov. Alex Calingasan informed him about the dialogue meeting set on May 28 to clarify issues on the tribe’s report lodged before the governor and the Protected Area Management Board on May 7.

Tarino welcomed the schedule of a dialogue after she expressed hope a big ritual should be held before the end of May to appease the spirits.

Tarino said the military should cease bombing their ancestral domain.

“If they noticed something in our area, they should come to us, we can talk about it,” Tarino said in the vernacular.

Calingasan confirmed the dialogue and assigned Provo Antipasado, provincial administrator to facilitate. Antipasado was on leave and could not provide details.

Tarino said the governor told her the military is attending the dialogue. She added that aside from the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, the group helping the tribe, Samdhana Institute will also be attending the dialogue.  When asked if he is attending, Col. Romeo Gapuz, commander of the 403rd Infantry told this reporter via SMS “I am invited.”

Tarino decried earlier that the bombing carried out by the military on Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park last month was “a violation of our culture and an affront to our ancestral territory.”

”Our forests, rivers and other bodies of water, farms, animals, and plants are crying because of the conflict and the bombing,” Tarino said.

She said that on April 21 the military dropped bombs on suspected rebel positions in Dalwangan, particularly in Sinukat, Dinanghaga, and a portion of the Sawaga River near the tribe’s heritage center at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad Range.
Tarino said that as residents and stewards of the mountain range, which is a protected area, they are now asking the military to apologize and attend a ritual to reconcile with their ancestors and the spirit guardians of their ancestral domain.

 

“If they were only firing guns, it could have been less frightening and damaging. But they dropped bombs, it destroyed the environment, it wasted the territory,” she said, in between sobs and tears.
Gapuz told this reporter via SMS then that they will verify Tarino’s allegations.
He said they requested air support “to ease the pressure in our troops” because they were “outnumbered”.”
He vowed to give the “true picture” once he gets hold of the initial report from his personnel. He said they were still finalizing it.
On May 7, Tarino relayed the incident to Calingasan, Department of Environment and Natural Reources regional director Corazon Galinato, DENR provincial officer Felix Mirasol Jr., and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples regional director Pinky Pabelic through a letter.
In her letter, the Lumad leader asked Calingasan and Mirasol, the protected area superintendent, to facilitate a meeting between the tribe’s council of elders, the military, and if possible, the rebels.
Mirasol said via SMS the DENR was unable to verify the report because “the area is critical.”
Tarino said the firing scared people away from their homes. Many of those who were doing pahina or community work at the time of the attack were forced to flee, she added.
She said the bombing destroyed a portion of the side of Mt. Dulang-dulang, the country’s second highest mountain, and caused landslides affecting the Sawaga River, the tribe’s main source of water for domestic and agricultural uses.
Tarino also cited that the explosions drove out forest animals including the endangered Philippine Eagle, which has a nesting site in sitio Mangasa, Dalwangan.
She criticized the military’s alleged violation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act by not obtaining a free and prior informed consent (FPIC) before entering their territory.
“With what they did in the attack, it seems they are not familiar with the law,” she said.
She said the attack not only compromised peace and security in their area but also dishonored their sacred ritual sites and boundary markers.
“In the tradition of our ancestors, we do not even allow anybody from the tribe or from outside to enter those areas,” she added.
The bae, who is also a shaman, said the spirits of the mountains communicated to the tribe about their sadness when they were disturbed by the bombing.
The Bukidnon-Daraghuyan tribe, she said, held two rituals from to appease the spirits: the kaliga, a thanksgiving ritual, from April 25 to 27 for the anniversary of the construction of the tribe’s Tulugan Heritage Center, and the panungdan, a ritual of offering.
But the tribe, Tarino said, has required that before the ritual the governor and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) should order the cultural affairs committee of the board to arrange a meeting between the military leadership and the tribe’s elders.
They have also asked the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to request the communist underground to send representatives to the meeting.
Mt. Kitanglad Range became a full-fledged protected area in November 2000 under the category of natural park, through Republic Act 8978 and declared an ASEAN Heritage Site in 2009.
Aside from being a protected area, the mountain range is home to the Bukidnon, Higaonon, and Talaandig tribes.
The NCIP approved the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title covering 4,203 hectares, in March 2010. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)