“We urgently call the offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to conduct an impartial investigation, where our group will be involved, as per agreement during the dialogue with the members of the International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) team on May 9,” remarked Antonio Flores, KMP National Council member.
In a joint statement, the APC and KMP stated that during the dialogue with the DENR and NCIP, the IFFM team presented the key findings of the IFFM held in the villages of Tingalan and Bagocboc in Opol, Misamis Oriental. The APC, KMP, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Sentro Kitanglad, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization and Pangalasag recently conducted an international fact-finding mission in the area on May 6-7, 2012. Thereport can be downloaded here: The Real Trespassers (June 2012).
Flores added that, “during the dialogue, the DENR officials, thru Mr. Austria, said that they did not issued any permit for A. Brown Company to operate in the said land, located in barangays Tingalan and Bagocboc. According to Mr. Austria, the Forest Land Grazing Agreement granted to Victor Paras, covering the Higaonon’s ancestral lands, was cancelled last March 4, 2011. Thus, no company can enter the area without applying for a permit. And this confirmed the IFFMs findings that the entry of the A. Brown Company is illegal.”
The peasant leader said that, “we also calls the house of representatives to invervene on this matter. We’ve waited actions from DENR and NCIP’s for more than two months now. However, in the DENRs letter to KMP on July 17 they said that they already forwarded the matter to the concerned bureau and department...This is not the answer that we want to hear. We want concrete actions.”
“The Higaonons lose their lands and livelihoods... It is very clear that the entry of the A. Brown Company is illegal. Why can’t the DENR and NCIP act immediately favouring the Higanonons? We want the illegal operation of the A. Brown Company be stop. We want the A. Brown Company and all agencies involve in its illegal operation be punish,” stated Richard Colao, Secretary General of KMP-Northern Mindanao Region.
Both peasant leaders also condemned continuous harassment inside the palm oil plantation in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
Pangalasag members reported through a barangay blotter that local police force warned them of being charged if they join any actions against A Brown Company, Inc. – the company behind the palm oil plantation in Opol. Government authorities also took photographs of the Pangalasag members’ houses, which is a clear form of harassment to instil terror to the community. Furthermore, a relative of a Higaonon elder was one of the labourers retrenched by the palm oil plantation after the company found out his affiliation to Pangalasag. #