PNFSP joins groups of Indigenous People in lobbying; Opposes the construction of the Jalaur River Mu

August 11 - On the occasion of the UN-declared International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP) joined in various organizations: the Scrap the Mining Act Network, KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Sulong Katribu Partylist, Indigenous Peoples' representatives from various mine-affected communities and Manila-based IP rights advocates lobbied Congress to repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (R.A. No. 7942). They were joined as well by IP leaders from Central Luzon, Benguet, Mindoro and Palawan and catholic church personality Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB. They had submitted petition papers signed by some 15,000 signatories to the offices of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, National Resources Committee Chair Francisco Matugas, the secretariat of Cultural Communities Committee and to the Representatives of the provinces which are affected of large-scale mining.

In a position paper released on that day, the PNFSP vehemently opposes the construction of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP2). Said it will only result in the displacement of the Tumandok tribe living in the hinterlands of Calinog, the location of the project site.

The Tumandoks have been living in the mountains of Panay Island since time immemorial. It is therefore unjust for them to abandon their ancestral lands because of a so-called “development project” such as the JRMP2. For indigenous people, the identity of their people is tied to their ancestral land. If the Tumandoks are forced to leave their homes, their native way of life will eventually disappear and the loss of their livelihood will lead to food insecurity.

As part of their indigenous culture, the Tumandoks practice swidden farming. They are able to cultivate cassava, papaya, banana, coffee,mango,sweet potato,coconut ,upland rice and a lot more as a source of domestic consumption and income. They also have a ritual before and after harvesting their traditional varities of palay.

All of these practices are gravely threatened because of the JRMP2. Their ancestral lands are sold off to foreign investors in energy projects, mining and logging,plantation, real estate,special economic zones and tourism project.

In the course of supposed “national development”, it is the indigenous people who serve as the “sacrificial lamb” since they experience massive landgrabbing, displacement, harassment, and food insecurity. The government does not recognize their significant role as food producers for our country.

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