COVER PHOTO: A team composed of DENR-XI Law Enforcement Division, PENRO-Davao Del Sur, CENRO-Davao City, PNP-Baguio, 3rd Infantry “Regardless of What Batallion”, 7th Infantry Division of Philippine Army, BLGU-Carmen, EGIP Foundation, Obu-Manuvu Tribal Council of Elders and Leaders, and Bantay Bukid from Barangay Carmen and Barangay Tambobong posed a picture during the verification of Obu-Manuvu Bantay Bukid report about illegal logging, encroachments and other forest violations inside their ancestral forest. (Photo by EGIPFoundation).
The ancestral forest of the Indigenous Obu-Manuvu in Barangay Carmen is a tropical forest and known as critical habitat of globally endangered biodiversity such as the Philippine Eagle and the Philippine deer, and also important watersheds of the Panigan-Tamugan Rivers of Davao City but continuously threatened by agricultural expansion, timber poaching, illegal logging and encroachment by nonIndigenous prospectors into the domain. Deforestation and forest degradation results not only to the loss of breeding and foraging habitats and shelter for forest biodiversity but also puts people at economic and ecological risks. Deforestation puts the poor and disadvantaged Obu-Manuvu households at a greater risk, particularly from natural disasters and the losses in livelihood, lives, properties and health that it brings. As the traditional owners of the forests, the Indigenous ObuManuvu are the rightful stewards of the forests.
Since 2012, a total of 52 foot patrols by 410 forest guards who covered 196 kilometers during 482 hours was done after four (4) years of implementation. Further, three (3) cases filed for encroachment, three (3) cases filed for land grabbing, four (4) cases filed for apprehended illegal loggers/timber poachers, more or less 400 traps were removed and more than 100 hunters were informed. Unfortunately, some cases are still pending to be resolved. Communication and reports were also submitted to concerned agencies such as the DENR, NCIP, BLGU-Carmen, ObuManuvu Ancestral Domain Management Office (ADMO) and Office of the City Mayor.
However, with the conflict of existing government laws and policies and weak law enforcement, several forest and wildlife laws violations continue to exist and destroy the ancestral forest and the life of indigenous Obu-Manuvu who depend on it, thus creating conflict among their tribe cease also to subsist. One of the cases that the Obu-Manuvu forest guards have been working on until now was the encroachment and illegal occupation of non-IPs or even IPs without permission to the Unified ObuManuvu Tribal Council in Kalatong Area, part of the Obu-Manuvu ancestral forest in Barangay Carmen, that leads to forest clearing, kaingin, illegal logging and timber poaching.
On January 15, 2019, a team composed of DENR-XI Law Enforcement Division, PENRO-Davao Del Sur, CENRO-Davao City, PNP-Baguio, 3rd Infantry “Regardless of What Batallion”, 7th Infantry Division of Philippine Army, BLGU-Carmen, EGIP Foundation, Obu-Manuvu Tribal Council of Elders and Leaders, and Bantay Bukid from Barangay Carmen and Barangay Tambobong went to Sitio Tabak and Sitio Kalatong of Barangay Carmen to survey and verify the reported forest violations by the Obu-Manuvu forest guards of Barangay Carmen. The team witnessed the destruction brought by the encroachers and intruders into the ancestral forest and watersheds. More or less 100 hectares of forest was cleared, burned and occupied by several individuals in the area (more or less 100 houses) and still expanding. The team also saw some markers along the way which means that the news was true that the land was distributed among their members. We have several photos and drone footage of the said illegal activities which supports the previous reports of Obu-Manuvu Bantay Bukid that will serve as evidence to the violators in the area. The team interviewed and interrogated some members of the illegal groups but they denied the illegal activities in the area which is a clear violation. They claimed that they have a documents that will show or as a proof that they owned the whole area which they inherit from their ancestors. Others also said that they don’t have any idea about the law and what they are doing was considered illegal and they just went there to confirm and see the parcel of land given/sold to them. Also attached below is the map to see the extent of forest destruction in the area.