'LUMADS' OPPOSE BIOPIRACY
Malaybalay City -- Leaders of the Talaandig, Higaonon and Bukidnon tribes in Northern Mindanao have declared ownership over the biological and genetic resources of the Mt. Kitanglad Range.
They recently held a ritual in Barangay Sungko in Lantapan, Bukidnon, to stop the so-called biopiracy.
"This ritual and proclamation serve as a reminder to all that these biological and genetic resources constitute a basic component of the Talaandig, Higaonon and Bukidnon indigenous communities' way of life and culture, and should not be taken away from them without their consent," said Datu Vic Migketay Saway, a leader of the Talaandig tribe and a member of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
The Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA) provides that indigenous communities have the right over their biological and genetic resources, which are part of their ancestral domain.
But even before the enactment of IPRA, 'lumads' [indigenous peoples of Mindanao] have zealously guarded Kitanglad's resources.
In April 1995, scientists and researchers of the Philippine National Museum were even made to pay a fine by the Talaandig tribe for conducting collection activities in Kitanglad without permission from the tribal leaders.
Bioprospecting -- the collection and study of wild and endemic flora and fauna, microbes and even soil samples for academic and commercial purposes -- is rampant in the mountain range.
Kitanglad is rich in biological resources and has been declared a protected area.
Studies made by the Apu Agbibilin Community Inc., revealed that since 1993, numerous plant and animal specimens have been collected by at least five foreign and local research groups, mainly for academic purposes.