BK, with its local partner PASAKK (Panaghiusa Alang sa Kaugalingnana ug Kalingkawasan), co-organized the Manobo Traditional Elders Summit held in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur last October 29-31, 2015.
The Manobo Tribe of Agusan del Sur is currently faced with issues related to resource governance. Currently, two recognized IP organizations in the area receive royalty payments from Philsaga Mining Corporation. These are Bunawan Tribal Council of Bai and Datu, Inc and the Bunawan Manobo Ancestral Domain Council, Inc with the latter receiving the bigger share than the other. This has caused conflict and even cases filed in court causing fragmentation among tribal leaders.
The event was aimed at presenting, discussing, and ratifying the Manobo customary laws on indigenous governance and to also achieve unity among the Manobos. The event invited Manobo youth leaders to ensure that they are acquainted with their tribes’ customary laws.
BK Mindanao, represented by Ms. Beverly Besmanos and Mr. Jose Melvin Lamanilao, gave lectures on BK subnational initiatives and the relevance of customary law in resource governance. Participants including government representatives were urged to uphold IP rights through continuous support and capacity building for indigenous communities. Mr. Daniel Arias of Alyansa Tigil Mina presented on the current situation of mining in the Philippines.
The three-day event ended with a formal gathering where the ratified Manobo customary law was presented. It was attended not only by the community members but also government agencies, local government leaders and partner NGOs. One hundred sixty-five participants were in attendance.