Tribal leaders ask Congress to address militarization, land use conversion of ancestral lands

Tribal leaders ask Congress to address militarization, land use conversion of ancestral lands

MANILA — Leaders of various national minority groups called on the House of Representatives on Tuesday to help them in the fight against land-grabbing and the militarization of their communities under the continuing implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.

Leaders include Matigsalog woman chieftain Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, Datu Cho Monico, Jerome Aba of Suara Bangsamoro, Minda Dalinan of the Kahugpungan ng mga Lumad sa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao, and Nenita Condez of the Salabukan Nok G’Taw Subanen.

Moro and Indigenous people in their traditional outfits march towards the Department of Justice in Manila on Monday, October 17, 2016. DANNY PATA/northboundasia.com
Moro and Indigenous people in their traditional outfits march towards the Department of Justice in Manila on Monday, October 17, 2016. DANNY PATA/northboundasia.com

The tribal leaders, who are part of the ongoing “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan,” decried the continued militarization of ancestral lands through Oplan Bayanihan.

In a news briefing Tuesday, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said Oplan Bayanihan, which she described as a “counterinsurgency scheme”, continues to terrorize tribal communities.

The tribal leaders also called on Congress to support the proposed two-year ban on land use conversion, saying that land use conversion has also affected ancestral lands, which are being turned into agro-industrial plantations, especially in Mindanao.

“Even our national minorities attest to the fact that land use conversion of agricultural lands is a monster that must be reined in. In this light, we urge Congress to support the 2-year land use conversion moratorium of agricultural lands, which addresses the longstanding ploy of unscrupulous landowners and real estate developers to convert prime agricultural lands for industrial, residential, and commercial purposes to escape coverage from the agrarian reform law,” Elago said. Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA – northboundasia.com