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Duterte’s plantation pitch: duplicitous, destructive


02 February 2018

Duterte’s plantation pitch: duplicitous, destructive

President Rodrigo Duterte should stop trying to forcibly prostitute indigenous Lumad lands to agricorporate plantations and other extractives. Let us count the ways how Duterte's pitch before the Davao Indigenous People's Summit is a completely textbook divide-and-conquer deception of the Lumad:

1. Duterte's promise of wealth if the Lumad allow the entry of plantations in their lands is a promise of poverty. In exchange for chump change royalty, thousands of hectares of old growth forests, heirloom agriculture, watershed areas will be converted into toxic monoculture plantations.

The Lumad will be robbed of their natural pharmacies, hunting grounds, farmlands, and water sources. The socio-economic, ecological, and health costs will far outweigh the trickle-down income that the plantation will provide.

2. Duterte apparently subscribes to the plunderer's notion that ancestral lands that have not been opened up to corporations are 'unused' lands. Indigenous communities have inherent natural resource management systems that appropriately zone different parts of their ancestral domain for its sustainable utilization.

Despite the continuing state neglect they experience, Lumad communities have established self-reliant cooperatives and even alternative schools that further enrich their practices of agriculture and ecosystems management. These are the very same Lumad schools and communities that Duterte threatened to bomb earlier in 2017.

3. Duterte's promise that he himself will look for investors for Lumad lands betrays his self-interests in plantations. Let us recall how Duterte marketed Mindanao land for the encroachment of 300,000 hectares of oil palm plantations. Let us recall how the daughter Sarah Duterte's husband, Mans Carpio, is the legal counsel of the particularly despotic Lapanday banana plantation in their home region.

Let us remember how his longtime friend, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, has various banana, pineapple, rubber, and other plantation interests. Let us note that Duterte's major election funder, congressman Antonio Floreindo, has been embroiled in graft raps over a shady deal involving the lease of 5,000 hectares of Bureau of Correction lands for his banana plantation.

4. Duterte's assurance that he will not allow big mines in Lumad lands if their communities refuse remains unsubstantiated at best. There are at least 13 large-scale mining projects previously ordered closed or suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources where indigenous people have raised their protests. These projects are still ongoing despite the suspension/closure orders. The Office of the President itself is the biggest stumbling block to the implementation of these mine closure and suspension orders when it stayed the DENR's orders.

5. If Duterte wants a peaceful development of the Lumad’s ancestral domains, he better start telling the main organizer of the Davao indigenous people’s summit, the Philippine Military, to stop being the number one protector of plantation and mining interests against indigenous people's resistance. Mining and plantation-related killings account for 74 percent of all 46 cases of murdered environmental defenders that we monitored under the Duterte regime.

Duterte's rhetoric is beyond becoming tiresome; it is becoming dangerous and destructive. His regime professes to close down environmentally destructive projects, but his sweet talk to big businesses especially his cronies are resulting in the further expansion of big mines and plantations.

We express our solidarity with the indigenous people and other national minorities who continue to resist the dangerous deceptions of the Duterte regime. It is high time to teach this plunderer of a president how, as in the words of the great Igorot chieftain Macliing Dulag, it is of "such arrogance to speak of owning the land when we instead are owned by it." #