ROUGH CUTS| MinBC, partners sire a noble ‘baby’ in Desk

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima, in a television interview, claims that she is not playing politics on Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with the department’s pursuit of an investigation into the mayor’s role on the alleged summary executions of known and suspected criminals in the city. Covered in the DOJ probe are the reported extra-judicial killings during the mayor’s term of almost eighteen years.

According to the Justice Secretary, while the mayor is denying any role, the Department has witnesses pointing to him as the “brains”. And De Lima is claiming that the witnesses are now under the custody of the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Oh, really? So, how come it took the Department so long – almost eighteen years – and a possible Duterte run for the presidency in 2016, to decide to pursue the investigation? And who are these witnesses if there are really warm bodies?

Chances are, these witnesses are “babies” of politics or immediate relatives of the so-called victims of summary killings who have lost their manna from the illegal activities of their slain kin.

And besides, as we said in an earlier column, the Justice Department honcho is also aware that any reaction statement made (as is Duterte’s doing on the Davao Death Squad issue) is an ocean of difference from that of a deed actually committed and admitted.

No, we are not in any manner, approving of the extra-judicial scheme of running after criminals prowling on Davao City streets. What we are driving at is the idea that the people of Davao do not believe that their mayor has been behind the “banishment” of criminals from the face of the earth. And proof to this is their having reelected Duterte for so many times already.

But if the feisty lady at the DOJ really has the goods on Duterte why further delay the filing of cases against the Davao City mayor? She barely has four more months remaining in the Justice Department if indeed she is herself contemplating to run for a senatorial post.

We congratulate the Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) for having initiated such a laudable project of setting up a facility that will guide large scale businesses in dealing with issues that concerns the indigenous peoples in areas where they intend to set up plants and other components of the business they plan to operate.

The facility which is called the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples (IP) Desk, is a joint initiative of the MinBC, the non-government organization International Alert, and the government agency National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP).

Judy Gulane of the International Alert, in a statement said that the Desk “seeks to change the adversarial relationship that companies often have with the indigenous peoples into partnerships marked by mutual benefit, respect and protection”.

In addition Gulane said that the Desk is in response to the “many examples of violent conflict in ancestral lands that were triggered by companies that did not adapt to the local situation, or made no effort to know the IP groups and key actors who live in these areas”.

Among those areas where the Desk will be working with the companies who plan to sink in their money in locations where large part of the operation include ancestral domains are on: where to place the companies’ investments, how to manage risks, and how to relate to different tribes.

Indeed we can clearly see the wisdom of those who worked for the creation of such a facility. We personally have substantial knowledge and experience in dealing with the IPs in areas where some sister companies of the firm we worked with until our retirement.

According the IPs the respect due them is, first and foremost, the most important step to be taken. Any company that tends to ignore them is very likely to run roughshod even at its initial activities in laying the groundwork for the business it would want to put up.

And yes, knowing the ancestral domain community and the IPs who are there, and the other stakeholders who have earlier put up some interests in that particular area, is of primary importance. If the Desk has these data then the business proponent will be given the best inputs on how to conduct its initial approaches.

Again, congratulations to the MinBC and its partners International Alert and the NCIP. You are hitting the nail right on the head.

Posted in Opinion