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Controversy over dam project heats up

Tribe calls for respect of tradition in the southern Philippine dam project

Controversy over dam project heats up
Pulangi river, where the controversial dam will be built
BenCyrus G. Ellorin, Malaybalay

February 7, 2011

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A tribal group in the southern Philippines has called for people to respect indigenous peoples' traditions and processes as controversy over a dam project heats up in the province of Bukidnon. Manobo tribal leaders said they were insulted by allegations made by some groups that tribal elders favored the construction of a hydro-electric dam because of financial rewards. Apo Caid Lansawan, a 95-year-old tribal elder, also said he is saddened that younger members of the tribe have been "misrepresenting" the aspirations of the Manobos. "If they care for the ‘lumad’ (tribal people), they should respect our traditional processes in settling tribal differences," said Apo Lansawan. Apo Lansawan's group alleged that a private group opposed to the dam project has been issuing statements that insult the indigenous peoples' processes. Feliciano “Datu Mansalida” Angaan, tribal head of Damulog town, said the organization is causing division among the Manobos. "They should respect our ways," he said. He said groups like the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) should have followed the "free, prior and informed consent" principle before entering tribal communities. An LRC official, however, said the group's intervention in the communities affected by the dam project is specific to "legal and technical services and advocacy support to protect their right to self determination." "We respect and will not intervene in the internal tradition process of the lumads in coming up with a united stand on the issue," said Karl Cesar Rebuta, LRC program officer, in an earlier news report. The Pulangi 5 project aims to generate 300MW of renewable energy. The project is estimated to cost about US$900 million. Butch Baz of the Pulangi 5 project management office said they have been consulting affected communities about the project. He said reports that the project will submerge 70,000 hectares of tribal land were "disinformation."   Related reports Church steps into dispute over dam Church radio reaches out to Mindanao tribes PM13175.1640
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