The Dumagat tribe from the province of Rizal has rebutted alleged accusations hurled against them as being “land grabbers, squatters, and illegal loggers who caused the flood in Marikina recently.”
In a press conference held on December 15, 2020, tribal leaders of the Kaksaan Ne Dumaget De Antipolo, Inc. have sought the attention and support of the national government and its appropriate agencies. The tribe—backed by Rublou Inc., a family-owned and controlled corporation of (Ret.) Gen. Luizo Ticman that has operations in the industries of livestock agriculture, real estate development, and renewable energy and utilities—has denied accusations by the Masungi Georeserve (an organization involved in conserving the forested area in the southern Sierra Madre range in Baras, Rizal) that armed personnel were harassing forest rangers in the area.
“Masungi is lying. They are the ones, together with the military, who forcefully intruded into our property and fenced it off as part of the Masungi last October 2020,” the Dumagat tribal chieftain Ernesto Doroteo (a Bayaning Filipino Awardee in 2006) said in a press statement. Doroteo also claimed that Rublou and Retired Gen. Ticman have been helping them since the early 1990s in fighting for their ancestral homeland.
Doroteo emphasized that “the Dumagats and Ticman have long been partners and harmoniously working together to conserve and protect the environment of their homeland through livelihood projects since the 1990s, and now, through the leadership and assistance of the latter’s daughter, Loise Ticman.”
The tribal chieftain in the same press statement disclosed that they formally approached Ticman in 2019 for more help in developing their land sustainably, which resulted in the project called Sustainable Integrated Development Plan (SIDP).
“Through the media, we are seeking the help of President Duterte and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) and DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to uphold the rule of law and not to believe the lies peddled by the Masungi. We, as the legal and real stakeholders, are culturally and legally-bound to preserve and conserve our ancestral domain,” said Reynaldo Doroteo, chairman of the Kaksaan.
Rublou CSR Director and SIDP Project Director Loise Ticman explained the role of SIDP. “The SIDP focuses on sustainable livelihood projects, reforestation, and protection and conservation of the environment and the watershed,” she said, adding that her father, Ret. Gen. Ticman was then a police major in Rizal in the 1990s when he was first approached by the Dumagats.
The legal counsel for the Dumagats, lawyer Juancho Botor, said charges in court will be filed against the Masungi Georeserve “for forcefully and illegally intruding the Dumagats’ ancestral domain.” Atty. Botor explained that “a mere Memorandum of Agreement between Masungi and the DENR in 2017 cannot supersede RA 8371 or the IPRA Law of 1997 that protects the rights of the indigenous people.”
Atty. Botor also emphasized that the Dumagats have been issued their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) “which defined the borders of their ancestral domain.” He said that under the same law and RA 11038, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), the Dumagats are given the authority to protect, preserve, and conserve the forest and the watershed within their ancestral domain.
“Definitely, their ancestral domain is not and cannot be part of the Masungi, notwithstanding that the two distinct lands are bounded by a wide highway,” Atty. Botor emphasized.
The group also claims that there are published records showing that in 2016, the municipal government of Tanay ordered the suspension of the operations of the Masungi for “alleged violations and overcharging of more than 100% entrance fee to tourists and guests.” The Dumagats and Rublou Inc added, “It is unknown what happened to the order, while Masungi attacked the Tanay government, particularly its mayor, through libelous postings that they are alleged protectors of landgrabbers.”
This site is waiting for statements from other parties involved in this developing story.