Tagabawa lumads up in arms against HEDCOR

Jan. 29, 2008

Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur The indigenous people Bagobo-Tagabawa are opposing the ongoing construction of hydropower plant in Tudaya by the Aboitiz-owned Hydro Electric Development Corporation (HEDCOR).

“HEDCOR violates our rights. As indigenous peoples, we have the inherent right to our ancestral lands. There was no genuine consultation and there was no genuine consent from the Tagabawa lumads, as claimed by HEDCOR. If ever there was one, it was because they deceived us,” said Roger Limukon, chairperson of the local lumad group Sinubadan Lumad Bagobo Mekatanod (Silubame).

Silubame was formed only on January 3, this year as a united effort of the Tagabawa lumads in Tudaya, who opposed HEDCOR’s hydropower plant, implemented full-scale this year. The Tagabawas were especially outraged by the construction of the hydropower plant at Tudaya falls, a sacred site for them.

The lumad group were also alarmed over operations conducted by the 10th Infantry Division right after the group’s assembly, sowing fear among the local residents.

“Every time we complain about the destruction and all the disturbance that the power plant is making, military elements can be seen roaming the area. In fact soldiers escort HEDCOR’s heavy equipment and materials to the construction site,” Limukon said.

Pasaka, a lumad confederation in Southern Mindanao, also said many residents were complaining about the construction, which sometimes went 24-hours a day. Pasaka said there has been a visible change to the landscape and so much has been destroyed since the construction started.

The hydropower plant is in the boundary area of Santa Cruz and Davao city is also within the protected Mt. Apo Natural Park, a threat to the area’s biodiversity, the disruption of which will lead to land degradation, and the depletion of land and water resources.

“Before the construction, there used to be abundant vegetation and coffee trees near the Elementary School in Tudaya,” said Mel Elio, a Bagobo from Davao del Sur who currently chairs the Pasaka. “Now there are only piles of brown earth, the remains of their diggings,” he said. “Their promised roads and electricity could not compensate the grave damage the power plant is causing to the health, livelihood and the safe environment of the people.”

Pasaka also fears that the Bagobo-Tagabawa residents near the HEDCOR hydropower plant will be displaced.

The Save Tudaya! Campaign, spearheaded by the local lumad organization and environment groups, oppose HEDCOR’s destructive hydropower project.#

For Reference:
Dr. Mel Elio
PASAKA Chairperson
Roger Limukon
Sinubadan Lumad Bagobo Mekatanod (SILUBAME)

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