CABADBARAN City, Agusan del Norte, PH — Persistent poverty situation, selling of land rights within the ancestral domain, overlapping claims and tenure, timber and wildlife poaching, and loss of biodiversity: these are among the many issues and concerns, and challenges that the indigenous peoples (IPs) of CADT 092 are trying to address and solve with the help of concerned local government units and government agencies.
The IPs themselves identified these problems during a two-day dialogue with the respective officials of Barangay Mahaba and Barangay Putting Bato in Cabadbaran, and Barangay Jagupit and Barangay San Isidro in the Municipality of Santiago, and local government functionaries of this city and the Municipality of Santiago and the Province of Agusan Del Norte, as well as representatives of the provincial and regional offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Community Environment and Natural /Resources Office (CENRO) of Cabadbaran.
After they identified the problems, the IPs together with the representatives of concerned government agencies jointly proposed possible measures to take and solutions to the problems. Most of the proposals were about mechanisms on resource management, policy actions, livelihood development and assistance as well as the strict enforcement of relevant laws.
They admitted, however, that there are some among them who are apprehensive with the proposed strict enforcement of laws as this will adversely affect some of the IPs’ daily subsistence. In the end, they were unanimous that only by adhering to governmental regulations on environmental protection and promoting recognition of IP rights and customary laws and practices coupled with economic development support will there be peace in their community.
Facilitated by GIZ-COSERAM, the dialogue on 20-21 July analysed the situation of CADT 092 and the issues and problems facing the IPs and find ways to best address and solve these problems using the seven essential dimensions or aspects of human security such as economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and political security.
The dialogue was also an effort at finding common ways to go forward towards the harmonization of the different planning regimes and also to address land conflicts while ensuring that the rights of the IPs are respected and their interests protected.
This activity was a follow through to the first dialogue initiated by the Cabadbaran-Santiago Natural Park (CSNP) Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the local governments of the City of Cabadbaran, Municipality of Santiago and Municipality of Remedios T. Romualdez and supported by GIZ-COSERAM last 01-02 March. The process applied joint problem-solving approach with the aim of finding common direction and ways to harmonize the different plans of the concerned B/LGUs, the management plan of CSNP and the IPs’ ADSDPP while ensuring that the IPs’ rights and interests are protected and addressed.
CADT 092 eats up a big chunk of the Cabadbaran-Santiago Natural Park, a protected area with a total land area of 19,199 hectares, within the proposed 25,833-hectare Mt. Hilong-Hilong Range Protected Landscape that straddles the cities of Butuan and Cabadbaran and the Municipalities of Santiago and Remedios T. Romualdez, all in the Province of Agusan del Norte. Some portions of the CADT are within the Municipality of Tubay.
COSERAM’s involvement in the dialogue process was through the core process Conflict Sensitive and Peace Promotion in Land Use Planning and Resources Management (CSPP-LRM) through its senior advisor for Land and Resource Management, Herville Pajaron, who ably served as the dialogue facilitator.