NCIP chair: ‘Who is managing Mt. Apo?’

THE CHAIRPERSON of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples questioned the management of the Mt. Apo lands following the forest fire that started on Black Saturday.

In an interview, Leonor Oralde-Quintayo told reporters that while there were no confirmed communities or residents in the areas affected by the fire, Mt. Apo itself is an ancestral domain of the bagobos and manobos from Davao del Sur.

Quintayo said there’s a need to examine the current management system at the site, even as local government units guaranteed indigenous groups in the area would benefit from tourism activities.

“Who is really managing Mt. Apo?” Quintayo said.

As of press time, responders estimate that at least 350 hectares of the forest reserve and national park were already ravaged by the fire.

The NCIP official said they have been meeting with leaders from the IP groups through gatherings with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as well as LGUs.

In earlier agreements, the agencies were reported to have guaranteed percentages of as much as 15% to indigenous groups to IPs, but this has not even been followed.

“You have to question how the park is being managed,” Quintayo said. “More than being a protected area, part of Mt. Apo is also an ancestral domain.”

Quintayo said there have been no formal endorsements of reports about who were the culprits of the fire that reportedly started near the peak last Black Saturday.

As of Tuesday morning, responders from Central 911 were already headed to the site to assist in the clearing operations, as well as provide equipment like chainsaws and farming implements to the efforts.

Volunteer groups have already organized reinforcement drives for more equipment and food to the volunteers already headed to the site.

According to reports, the firefighters are in need of runners of food and other supplies and have discouraged untrained personnel from helping directly with the firefighting effort.

Posted in Latest News