Iraya Mangyan representatives walked out of a meeting called by the National Commission on Indigenous People after they refused to sign a resolution to give up ancestral lands to make-way for a municipal dump in Puerto Galera.
“The proposed waste disposal and landfill project will displace us and contaminate the purity of the nearby source of springwater flowing into the Tamaraw Falls,” said Ciriaco Bibo, who led the tribesmen.
Government officials gave the indigenous group until the end of the month to sign the resolution agreeing to the move. Should the deadline lapse without them signing, the Mangyans will be evicted from the village.
The proposed project will fill a 10-hectare plot of land which is owned by the municipal government of Puerto Galera. The Mangyan village which sits directly in its path is home to 47 families who have lived on the land for more than 40 years.
The Mangyan’s say they did not sign the papers saying: “This is the reason we walked out. We were being told to sign something we don’t agree to.”
The group says the dump will adversely affect their livelihood derived from agriculture and also will ruin the region’s best tourist attraction, Tamaraw Falls. They added that they would have to close a school which educates more than 50 Mangyan children and find somewhere else to live.
The Mangyan leaders told the municipal government that they must respect and honour Republic Act #8371 (The Indigenous People’s Act of 1997) which recognises ancestral land rights in the Philippines.