February 6th, 2016 | by Balaod Mindanaw
Social Enterprise Legal Empowerment on Obligations and Contracts (SELECO)
Around 80 paralegals from the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental participated in two Advanced Paralegal Trainings which focused on developing the knowledge and skills of the paralegals specifically in protecting the gains achieved in the areas of agrarian reform and in ancestral domains. As many of the people’s organizations and farmers’ cooperatives the paralegals represent are now engaged in various land production endeavours, discussions on Obligations and Contracts as a relevant aspect in any entrepreneurship endeavours were among the highlights of the three-day training. It aims to equip and develop the paralegals’ legal knowledge, skills and competence in entering into any agreement/contract with third parties in the course of crop production and cooperative management.
The two separate trainings were held in January and in February 2013 where paralegals from Valencia, Baungon, Patpat, Sumilao, Kisolon, Wao, Alubijid, Claveria and Gingoog came and actively participated in the program. The participants raised and discussed legal issues of various contractual situations that their respective organization entered into involving their use of their land, financing of their crops, marketing of their produce, and even the use of their other resources in the community. It was realized that, many times, they ended up signing agreements with terms and conditions that were either not clear to them, not according to law, or heavily tilted in favour of the third party. Some Indigenous Cultural Communities even shared that they signed a Memorandum of Agreement with a third party as regards the use of their resources, performed their part of the obligation, but have yet to see the third party perform its part of the agreement.
Strategies were crafted during planning to recover and to prevent similar occurrences.
Enhancement of Knowledge and Skills of IP Mandatory Representatives on People’s Participation in Local Governance
On 19-23 January 2013, BALAOD, in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and National Commission for the Indigenous People (NCIP), convened the Higaonons of Misamis Oriental for training on local governance. The participants on the three-day training were from the different tribal councils chosen to represent their respective tribal community in the Local Sanggunian.
At the conclusion of the program, a dialogue between the IPs and representatives from the DILG and NCIP was held where the IP themselves raised their issues and concerns directly before the various concerned agencies mandated to provide support to the IPs.
Advanced Paralegal Trainings on Environmental Laws
In Partnership with Interface Development Interventions, (IDIS) Inc., a Davao-based non-government organization, Advanced Paralegal Trainings were held on April 14-16, 21-23 and 29-30 in Davao City for paralegals working on the environmental protection and conservation of existing watersheds in Davao City. More specifically, the paralegals’ most urgent concern is the protection of the Sibulan and the Talomo Rivers which are the most at risk because of the presence of banana and flower plantations near the rivers.
With the in-depth discussion of the Watershed Code of Davao City and some other relevant Environmental Laws, the paralegals were greatly encouraged to further pursue their advocacy having learned of the legal and strategic ways to combat the threats to their environment.
Barangay Justice Seminar
In partnership with SIMCARRD, BALAOD conducted a series of Barangay Justice Seminar in General Santos City and in North Cotabato on May 21-24 and 27-30, 2013.
The participants of the training were Barangay Officials and Committee heads in the area. The training aimed to enhance the knowledge and skills of the barangay officials in facilitating and promoting the Katarungang Pambarangay System as an effective Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism in their respective barangays.
Around 120 individuals who were either members of the Barangay Lupon, Barangay Council or People’s Organizations were given the training with focus on the legal bases of mediation. Some tips on mediation were likewise given to the participants.
Protection of Forest Watershed Reserves in Cantilan from Mining Operations
Anti-Mining Campaign: Mobilizations, Picket, and Dialogue
In Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, a series of mobilizations were launched by and with the local coalition in the are at the Office of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of CARAGA.
The representatives staked out in front of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of Caraga and called for a dialogue with then MGB Caraga Director De Dios. The dialogue which eventually took place inside the MGB Caraga Office gave hope to the advocates as the MGB Director promised to look into the situation and act on it.
It was followed by another dialogue in Manila with the new DENR Secretary, Leo Jasareno, who initially gave a memorandum that the TEPO against the mining company operating in Cantilan should be implemented. However, it is noteworthy that there is still no concrete action from the DENR or the MGB on the implementation of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order to date.
A Forum on Eco-tourisn and Agriculture was also conducted on January 21, 2013 in the Cantilan Gymnasium. It was one historic event for the Municipality of Cantilan where more than 5,000 people gathered in the venue with one advocacy: to stop Mining in Cantilan. Even residents from the nearby Municipality of Tandag, Madrid and many others have joined the forum to show that they too are against the Mining Activities in Cantilan.
Another activity conducted to express advocacy for the protection of the watershed was “Run for the Environment”which was participated in by more than 6,000 people in Surigao del Sur, Gina Lopez, and 2 ABS-CBN stars.
Paralegals in Cantilan gathered for an Assembly the day after the Symposium. They presented and discussed their accomplishments as well as the challenges faced in promoting their advocacy. The paralegals are also united in calling for the continued efforts to implement the TEPO and stop the mining activities in Cantilan.
At the assembly, the participants crafted future plans and strategies. One effort decided is to proceed to Surigao del Sur and call for a dialogue with the MGB Caraga Director.
Project Year –End Assessment and Planning
BALAOD has been working with the FPE in its project in Cantilan Surigao del Sur. As the project period has ended, both institutions together with the local community partners and paralegals had an assessment and planning on June 12-14, 2013 on what to do and where to work from on the basis of the current situation in Cantilan Surigao del Sur.
The group decided to continuously work together for the same effort and eventually intensify the initiatives in working against mining in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur and protect and conserve its watershed.
Strengthening the Enhancement of Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) Mandatory Representatives’ Capacity on Human Rights for Effective Participation on Local Governance
This is the second year that BALAOD has been granted with the Search for Innovative Human Rights Initiative project through KASAMA.
The project beneficiaries are the selected and identified mandatory representatives of indigenous peoples from the target barangays and municipalities in Misamis Oriental. Aside from the identified mandatory IP representatives, key tribal leaders and one or two representatives from the target municipalities and city officials will also be selected to be participants in the capacity-building effort.
The project aims to capacitate the IP mandatory representatives with necessary knowledge on human rights, basic local governance, and skills to be effective members to the Local Sanggunian.
With support from the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Fund (PTFCF), the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) Northern Mindanao hosted 9 interns from Xavier University (XU), Liceo de Cagayan University (LDCU), Mindanaw State University-Iligan Institute of Technology MSU-IIT), and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) under the internship program.
The interns were exposed to alternative lawyering work of the ALGs particularly in the field of environmental litigation, legal research, Paralegal Training and other community processes facilitated by the ALGs.
The Summer Internship Program (SIP) was implemented jointly by the three ALGs in Cagayan de Oro – BALAOD Mindanaw, KAISAHAN, and the LRC-KsK-FoE. SIP is one of the regular programs common among ALGs primarily to expose law students to public interest and alternative lawyering work.
DAR-PESANTEch Partnership on CARPER Implementation
BALAOD, in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform, has already started the series of Community Consultation as a take-off of the initiative to train farmer beneficiaries with certain knowledge and skills so they can either get hold of the land to be distributed to them and/or have access to support services.
The project will be for 6 months where, in between trainings, BALAOD and DAR officials will be working together to achieve the project goals.
Policy Advocacy and Networking
Parallel to the implementation of BALAOD’s regular and special projects, BALAOD has also been actively involved in some local and national advocacies.
In May 2013, BALAOD participated in the week-long Senate and Congressional mobilization for the passage of the NLUMA Bill. BALAOD was joined in this effort by a number of paralegals from Bukidnon.
Also, in partnership with SAMDHANA, LRC and other local organizations, BALAOD formally finalized the Misamis Oriental Center for AMMB campaign. BALAOD participated in several campaign strategizing and Trainors training for AMMB and organized and co-facilitated a community consultation for AMMB at Cantilan Surigao del Sur where around 40 individuals attended.
BALAOD was also tapped as resource speaker in Child Rights as Human Rights facilitated by the JPIC in Iligan City and the Orientation on Reproductive Health Law facilitated and organized by the Sanggunian Kabataan in a barangay in General Santos City.
Up Next . . . .
The next 6 months will be the implementation of a series of training programs under the various projects of BALAOD.
BALAOD will also be celebrating its 13th Year Anniversary on August 11, 2013.