Category Archives: safeguarding ancestral domains

Casiguran farmers, fisherfolks, and indigenous people’s plea: stop APECO

Ka Tony

Ka Tony Barbosa, a fisherfolk participant during the workshop on “Increase the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) among CSOs and Grassroots Organizations in the Philippines,” was in tears as he shared how their livelihood will be lost upon construction of port along the foreshore of Casiguran, Aurora. Even now, they can no longer use the docks they used to anchor their boats for fishing. Industrial wastes would also pollute the waters sheltering the fishes they catch.

Farmers and indigenous peoples of the Casiguran are also in the same dismal situation as their lands will soon be converted to industrial parks, airport, hotels, ship anchorages, and recreational facilities through the implementation of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO).

APECO is an abruptly approved Php 1-Billion project created by law allegedly lobbied secretly by the ruling political family in Aurora. It covers more than 13,000 hectares of rice lands, coconut plantations, forests, coastal areas, and human settlements in five barangays of Casiguran.

While APECO violates basic sectors rights to access to land, food, livelihood, and health, it is also in conflict with some provisions of the Constitution and policies governing indigenous people (according to a case study by Dave de Vera of PAFID).

These sectors call for the non-implementation of the APECO project. “We don’t want the jobs they offer. We need our lands and livelihoods secured.”

Related resource:

Philippines: Forest guards receive equipment safeguarding their ancestral domains

We are posting this updates shared by Casandra Emata of Xavier Science Foundation, Inc. (XSF).

MILALITTRA (left) and PTTA (right) forest guards receiving their equipment and WEO IDs. Photo by XSF.

MILALITTRA (left) and PTTA (right) forest guards receiving their equipment and WEO IDs.
Photo by XSF.

XSF, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PTFCF) turned over equipment and paraphernalia for more than 100 Bantay Lasang (forest guards) of the Portulin Talaandig Tribal Association (PTTA) and Miarayon-Lapok-Lirongan-Tinaytayan-Talaandig Tribal Association (MILALITTRA) on 8 and 10 August.

The ceremony is part of the activities of XSF’s project, Enhancement of Community Capacity for Sustainable Ecological Protection and Economic Development (EcoSEED), funded by PTFCF. PTTA and MILALITTRA are XSF’s EcoSEED community partners.

The event is also done following the training for the EcoSEED tribal partners conducted in June on building their capacities as wildlife enforcement officers (WEO). Tribes observed a ritual to bless the equipment, such as radios, cameras, boots and raincoats. DENR also distributed IDs to recognize PTTA and MILALITTRA forest guards as full-fledged WEOs.

The tribes recognize the importance of the training and the provision of equipment in effective safeguarding of the forests of Mt. Kalatungan Range in Bukidnon where their ancestral domains are situated.