IPs’ right to ancestral domain
The April 30 issue of the Inquirer reported on the suggested revenue sharing between government and the mining industry but conspicuously left out the indigenous peoples’ (IPs) share in the revenues derived from mining. Rather, it restated state ownership over all mineral resources. Republic Acts 3872 and 3985 (the latter was passed on June 18, 1960, amending provisions of the Public Land Act and the Pasture Land Act) provide that “lands actually occupied by members of the Cultural Minorities by themselves or through their predecessors in interest, belong to them.”
Articles XIII and XIV of the Philippine Constitution recognize and protect the right of the IPs to their ancestral lands and possessions, and the applicability of customary laws in determining the ownership of their ancestral domain. The IPs with lawful claims to their ancestral domains and possessions are effectively deprived of their right to their ancestral lands by government by simply lumping them with small-scale miners who are often cited as “not engaged in responsible mining activities.” The IPs use crude tools when they mine for ores in their landholdings—unlike the 161 small-scale mining groups which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has disclosed to be funded by business groups and politicians.
The mining concerns of the IPs should be addressed with the issuance of an executive order identifying the specific locations (including boundaries), as well as the approximate volume and content, of the mineral ores underneath.
The proposed executive order should clarify that the IPs’ right to ancestral domain predated Spain’s and succeeding colonizers’ occupation of the Philippines; and that the IPs, as owners, possessors and occupants of their landholdings, have been exercising over their ancestral domain all the attributes of ownership, as a birthright. That right has been handed down to them, by their predecessors in interest from generation to generation, dating back to biblical times—even to the time of Abraham. (That right antedated all empires, kingdoms, fiefdoms, conquerors, imperialists, etc.)
The Scriptures reveal in Genesis, Chapter 17; 7-8, that the Lord said to Abraham: “And I will establish a covenant, everlasting covenant, between myself and you and your descendants after you; from now on I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you, for generations to come. I will give to you and your descendants after you, the land you are living in, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession and I will be the God of your race.”
—ROMULO B. LUMAUIG,
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