contributed to The Pamalakaya Times
Manila, Philippines- A tribal chieftain of the Ata-Manobo Lumad group in Talaingod, Davao del Norte is this year’s recipient of the Gawad ng Bayani ng Kalikasan Awards, according to a news release issued by the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment.
Datu Guibang Apoga won the recognition because of his courageous leadership of the Ata-Manobo lumads in their struggle to defend their ancestral lands and their right to self determination, a statement obtained by The Pamalakaya Times said.
“Were it not for Datu Guibang and the unity of the Ata Manobo people, the Central Cordilleras or the Pantaron Mountain Range has long been devastated by mining and logging operations as these ranges promise bountiful minerals eyed by foreign investors,” the same statement added.
Kalikasan and the environmental NGO group Center for Environmental Concern (CEC) picked the Ata-Manobo-Lumad chieftain for his sacrifices and resolute opposition against ALSONS, the Talaingod Hydroelectric Project and against the looming entry of Nestle Coffee plantations, against the Investment Defense Force led by the military, asserting that his heroic exploits as an environment defender has inspired many and should inspire the rest of the world to struggle with them, to fight against plunderers, to fight against institutionalized plunder.
“Indeed, Datu Guibang and the Ata Manobo’s struggle is a contribution to the worldwide struggle to defend the last frontiers of a critical part of the country’s environment as the world slowly disintegrates into destruction in the face of globalized plunder,” the organizers added.
Francis Morales, convenor of PANALIPDAN in Southern Mindanao region who nominated Datu Guibang for the prestigious award shared the pride and honor with people and other genuine advocacy groups.
” We continue to be awed and inspired by the examples led by this humble, yet, courageous, principled Indigenous Peoples rights and Environmental Rights champion,” Morales said.