DAVAO CITY—Tribal communities living in and around Mount Apo have formed a coalition to protect its remaining forests and environs.
Last month the Bagobo Tagabawas in Toril District’s Barangay Sibulan, as well as the Klata, Obu Manuvu and Manuvu Tinonanon, founded the Mount Apo Indigenous Peoples’ Coalition for Biodiversity Environment and Cultural Integrity to help government protect the natural resources of the country’s highest peak, as well as neighboring Mount Sinaka.
“The coalition was formed to present exact policies to our government and institutions…the policy of the [tribes],” said Datu Joel Unad, head of the indigenous political structure of the Obu Manuvu.
Unad insisted that the coalition would prevent the selling of areas within their ancestral domains, which he said were being done by migrants who settled in the area at the height of the logging industry operations decades back.
The prohibition on selling of ancestral domains, the datu said, must be the policy of the barangays within the ancestral domain.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation has welcomed the move from the tribes, as they pointed out the need to protect the forests for the endangered birds. Director Jayson Ibañez maintained that the forests within the ancestral domain “are the remaining large tracts of forests in the region underlying the importance of these IPs’ [indigenous persons’] communities in preserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and protecting the six breeding pairs of Philippine Eagles found in the ancestral domain.” Manuel T. Cayon
“The size of the combined ancestral domain is more than 80,000 hectares, [with about half of it] forested,” Ibañez said. “The coalition will become a platform, a common voice, so that our IPs can lobby for support and attention from the government agencies and the public.”
For Unad, the coalition would persuade the barangays to adopt environmental protection and biodiversity.