NGO asked to present concrete plans on proposed IP projects

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/29 January) The Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan is asking non-government organization Hineleban Foundation to present concrete plans in its bid to help find about P300 million worth of livelihood projects for select indigenous peoples in the province.

The SP, through board member Datu Magdaleno “Mayda” Pandian, asked representatives from the foundation to present their plans so the provincial board can assess it in another session. The foundation presented its plan to help IPs fight poverty during a committee hearing on January 26.

Lawyer Apollo Maguale, SP secretary, said the date of the subsequent presentation was not yet set.

Dr. Urooj Malik, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said Bukidnon has high poverty incidence and the project “is a great help to members of indigenous peoples specifically the seven tribes in the province” to improve their way of living. Bukidnon’s population, he added, is 24 percent indigenous peoples.

Neil Abejuela, chief of Hineleban sustainable livelihood program, said the foundation they have organized a team to handle the program called Kauyagan project, which will lobby for government and private institutions to generate funds for the proposed projects.

He cited that a group of representatives from the seven tribes of Bukidnon met in a venue in Manolo Fortich in November last year to pass a resolution requesting Hineleban to assist them to source out P300 million for the tribes’ livelihood.

Abejuela cited the conduct of a survey from which they identified 2,093 families from 43 tribal communities living in the buffer zones of Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Kalatungan, Mt. Pantaron and another mountain range as beneficiaries.

Funds will be given to the tribal community, who will the one to manage it, he added. The fund should be used to establish a productive farm to help them ensure food security. The beneficiary will be expected to share a part of the produce to the tribe. He clarified that the project will not be a dole-out.

Abejuela said once the beneficiaries ensure food security, they will be urged to focus on income generating livelihood programs like production of abaca, coffee and cacao as well as tree plantation.

He said they hoped that one day the indigenous peoples “will become the custodian of our rain forests.”

Datu Erwin Marte, the foundation’s IP coordinator for Bukidnon, said the project is proposed to run for 10 years, starting this year. He admitted however that they are still at the “project presentation level.”

Marte said the project focuses on food security and expected beneficiaries will be asked to plant indigenous staple foods such as root crops, adlai among others. The IP farmers, he added, will also be encouraged to adopt farming technologies such as Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), the use of organic fertilizers, and enhance their indigenous knowledge in farming.

Datu Victorino Saway of the Talaandig tribe in Lantapan town, who spoke to committee members before Malik, urged the provincial board to support the initiative for livelihood for the indigenous peoples in Bukidnon. (Mel B. Madera/BukidnonNews.Net correspondent)