Ancestral land occupied by mining, logging to return to lumad: DENR

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

8 August 2016

THE Environment Department vows to return immediately to the lumad
(indigenous peoples) their right to lands allegedly encroached upon by
large-scale mining and logging companies.
Environment Undersecretary Leo L. Jasareno, head of the agency’s mining
audit team, assured the lumad or indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao
seeking refuge at the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ of
the Philippines in Davao City that their ancestral lands occupied for
the implementation of mine projects will be returned to them within the

“The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) would return
their lands to the lumad within August, as long as it is proven that the
areas were occupied without the consent of the entire tribal community
since it is illegal for mining companies to operate in ancestral lands,”
Mr. Jasareno was quoted as saying in the agency’s statement sent over
the weekend to reporters via e-mail.

Under Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, no
ancestral land shall be turned over to miners for their operations
“without prior consent of the indigenous cultural community concerned.”

The Haran camp had become an evacuation site for at least 300 lumad who
fled their homes and farmlands in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong in Davao
del Norte and the village of White Kulaman in Bukidnon more than a year
ago following complaints of harassment by paramilitary groups and of
indiscriminate killings of their leaders.

IP leaders reported that military personnel and some of their fellow IPs
whom they claim have turned against them after being enjoined to accept
money have driven the IPs away from their lands to give way to
large-scale mining and logging operations.

DENR Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez has vowed to bring back their homes
to the lumad earlier than September.

She also said she will inspect permits of mining companies cited by the
lumad leaders in the ongoing mining audit and will shut them down if
proven to operate over an ancestral domain.

Among the first mining operations to undergo the audit were SR Metals
Inc., Taganito Mining Corporation, Greenstone Resources, and Corporation
Claver Mineral Development Corporation, whose mineral ore transport
permit has been suspended by Ms. Lopez.

The audit of mining operations is scheduled to be completed and released
this month.