The massive exploitation of the resources which once upon a time been the domain of the IPs has been happening not only in the Philippines but worldwide.

  • Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro
  • 31 Mar 2020

THE Indigenous People are now serving notice to one and all that enough is enough! In a strongly worded Position Paper entitled, “Kasaysayan na Magpapatunay sa Lupang Ipinamana ng mga Ninuno (Ancestral Domain), the cooperative of the Indigenous People narrated their historical right on their ancestral domain which has all these years been the subject of massive exploitation of the rich and the powerful. But this time, they have awakened as they are advancing their firm resolve to collective fight to protect Abaga Ta Bayug (Mindanamora Falls) in Talakag, Bukidnon which they believe is a very sacred creation of Magbabaya (the Creator). Well, what else is new?

The massive exploitation of the resources which once upon a time been the domain of the IPs has been happening not only in the Philippines but worldwide. That process of deprivation is called the “enclosure of the commons.” The word “enclosure” describes the physical exclusion of the IPs from their commons (land) though being a common property of the IPs to be owned and controlled by the rich and the powerful. Lands which were formerly the ancestral domain of the IPs are now owned and controlled by the rich and the powerful. This is concretely showcased in the hundreds of thousands of hectares of the choicest of lands in rich but poverty-stricken island of Mindanao now transformed into big plantations which are planted with high value crops to supply the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the advanced countries. This is a paradox in an agriculturally-rich country that cannot even produce enough basic staples such as rich and milk for its people.

This truism is well narrated in the IP’s Position Paper. Indeed, the IPs have been living sustainably in their commons that include the ecosystems for thousands of years in the spirit of service and sharing. But where are they now? What happened to their lands, the natural seeds, the natural farming technologies that they have practiced in harmony with the laws of nature?

Indeed, the economics of enclosure worked for the landlords and plantation owners but against the IPs. The massive rakings of a few provided the necessary justification for the privateers to expand the market economy despite the cost to nature’s economy and the sustenance economy being advanced by the IPs.

All told, the enclosure of the commons which has taken place all these years against the IPs has put a few in control of the resources and as a consequence produce the following scenario:

The exclusion of the IPs from access to resources that had been their common

property or held in common;

The creation of “surplus” or “disposable” people (the IPs) by denying rights of access to the commons that sustained them;

The creation of private property by the enclosure of common property;

The replacement of diversity that provides for multiple needs and performs multiple function with monocultures that provide raw material and commodities for the market;

The enclosure of minds and imagination, with the result that enclosures are defined and perceived as universal human progress, not as growth of privilege and exclusive rights, for a few and dispossession and impoverishment of the many.

Where are now the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest which were once upon a time the source of food and herbal medicine of our IPs? Who are controlling water which was once upon a time the domain of the IPs? Today, the IPs are the poorest, the powerless. Who now controls? Who now profits? Who now decides?

The Position Paper of the Cooperative of the IPs zeroed-in on how they were in control before and how they maintained the integrity of the environment. Today, they are being displaced again. But they have awakened. To protect a holy ground, the Mindamora Falls” against its transformation into a “money-making spot” by the rich and powerful, this is their stand, “Handa kaming pumatay at magpakamatay!” In several meetings with them, I became so much alarmed – thus, this column. By the way, the newly formed cooperative of the IPs is called, “The Igpanayadug sa Abaga ta Bayug Agriculture Cooperative with some tens of thousands of IP members from several clans who are headed by half Maranaw and half Higaonon Chairman, Sultan Abdul Amoran. The very charismatic and popular Sultan was formerly the Brigade Commander of the MILF North Eastern Mindanao Front with some 5 division commanders and some 1,400 former MILF combatants.

Let us all listen to their call to settle the problem peacefully. As the Position Paper’s final statement, “Ipinararating namin ang aming kahilingan at dalangin sa ating mahal na Pangulo, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte dahil alam namin na sya ay may malaking puso at binibigyan nya ng kahalagahan at sempatiya ang Tribu sa Mindanao. President Dutere, ikaw lamang po an gaming pag-asa na matulungan kami na makabangon at makatayong muli upong makamit ang tagumpay para sa darating pang henerasyon.”