Endangered virgin forests, threatened indigenous peoples in Mindanao

Today, the indigenous peoples' way of life in the area is being disrupted by military presence.   

Massive number of military troops were deployed in the Pantaron Range.

In March, a military campaign was conducted in the area by the 60th Infantry Battalion from the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army entered Talaingod.

Datu Dawsay assessed that that the current "militarization" of their communities is part and parcel of the government's efforts to open up Talaingod and the forest to commercial logging, large-scale mining, and agricultural plantation.

There are several mining applications covering tens of thousands of hectares in Pantaron Range.

Illegal logging also continues to plunder its forests, particularly in areas that are not yet under the protection of Salugpongan. 

Huge expanses of banana plantations are meanwhile creeping into the Bukidnon side of Pantaron.

In the face of despotic "development aggression" in the area, the Talaingod Manobos renewed their calls to defend Talaingod and Pantaron Range from the entry of destructive corporate projects, and to end the military operations. 

Datu Apoga vowed that his people will not allow the government and corporations to displace them and destroy their forest once again – a resolve that environmental activists share and support.  

"We are ready to sacrifice our lives, and if it is needed we are willing to call for another pangayaw just to save our communities and Pantaron,” Datu Apoga stressed. – Rappler.com

Clemente Bautista is the current national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. He joined the national humanitarian and fact-finding mission that visited the town of Talaingod in the Southern Mindanao Region from May 11-17.