‘Mangyan witnesses gave clearer picture of Lost Eden’
Dear Ma’am Ceres,
Thank you for writing and sharing the story of the reclaimed land of the Alangan-Mangyans of Paitan. I hope the story would spark some hope in other indigenous communities. Along with that hope, that the story may bring a little inspiration for the rest of us who seem discouraged (or frustrated even) on the failings of our justice system and our government.
May I add a few notes lang po. Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang (now presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan) continued to oversee the cases since these Mangyan cases were docketed in the division of Justice Tang. Thus, despite reassigning the cases (from a lawyer under her division) to my responsibility, she was instrumental in checking the pleadings we filed in the trial court and with the Court of Appeals.
If I may add also, while credible government witnesses were instrumental in settling the boundaries of the reservation and the illegal occupation of the non-Mangyans inside the reservation, two Mangyan witnesses (Ricardo Lintawagin and Elias Kaliagan) helped create a clearer picture of this Lost Eden, officially known as the Paitan Mangyan reservation.
The Mangyans’ testimonies sealed the story of the occupation of the Mangyans of their ancestral lands since time immemorial. These two Mangyan witnesses bravely stood in the witness stand, and the judge heard their sincere pleas to recover their lands. Their testimonies were simple and plain, but I can still recall the faces of the judge and the defendants in the case solemnly accepting that the Mangyans deserved what was due their community.
Thank you for your support of the Mangyans’ cause, Ms Ceres. We hope to have the judgment executed by the end of the year or the start of next year.
Melanie P. Pimentel,
senior state solicitor,
Office of the Solicitor General,
Legaspi Village, Makati City
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