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Most mining, logging concessions seen potentially infringing on ancestral domain

ABOUT half of all approved large-scale mining contracts and 87% of logging projects are within or are in close proximity to registered ancestral domains, according to a study by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC).

The LRC reported in its 2022 State of the Indigenous Peoples Address that 49% of the land certified as ancestral domains are near environmentally destructive projects.

Efenita May M. Taqueban, executive director of LRC, announced the findings in a statement.

According to the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, ancestral domain is defined as land traditionally occupied, possessed and used by individuals and families belonging to Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

As of July, about 449,576.81 hectares of land covered by approved mineral production sharing agreements out of a total of 916,474.08 hectares are in conflict with registered ancestral domains, the report said.

About 87% or 635,095 hectares out of a total of 732,203 hectares of forest tenements operated as timber plantations are situated near registered ancestral domains.

According to the report, at least 1.2 million hectares or 21% of all land covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles is in actual or potential conflict with miners and loggers.

“Protecting ancestral domains… is urgently needed if we are to rise above the climate emergency we are already experiencing now,” Ms. Taqueban said.

The report estimated the value of forest ecosystem services provided by ancestral land at P1.1 trillion annually, including carbon social cost (P738 billion), water provisioning (P249 billion), soil conservation (P14 billion) and non-timber forest productivity (P86 billion).

The report found out that three of every four IPs remain among the poorest of Filipinos.

For IPs, “exploitation and commoditization of nature” to manage natural resources is not the right “concept of development,’’ Ms. Taqueban said.

“Not only has this marginalized (IPs), it has also worsened their human rights situation, for many of them naturally oppose these projects,” she said. “What they have been clamoring for is support for their own development plans, anchored in their right to self-determination.”

In the report, the IPs were also found facing significant socio-economic gaps in accessing education, public health, water and electricity, and other public services.

Ms. Taqueban said that the IPs are calling for “a harmonization of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act with natural (resources) and other laws affecting IPs.” — Kyanna Angela Bulan

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