After almost two (2) decades, after blood, sweat, and tears, the rights to the ancestral domain of the Higaonon and Banwaon Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur are now formally recognized. The same is now properly denominated as CADT No. R13-ESP-1021-255!
There is no better way to celebrate the Indigenous Peoples’ Month and the 24th year Commemoration of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act than with the approval of the long overdue direct Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) application of the Higaonon and Banwaon ICCs/IPs of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. CADT 255 is by far the largest formally recognized ancestral domain in Caraga spanning 103, 484. 1944 hectares!
On October 28, 2021, the deliberation of the said CADT Application was among the agenda of the Commission en Banc composed of Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan, and Commissioners Gaspar Cayat, Norberto Navarro, Rolando Rivera, Jeorge Largado, Pinky Grace Pabelic, and Jennifer Sibug-Las.
A ritual was conducted before the scheduled deliberation via zoom. Higaonon and Banwaon IP leaders then gathered at Esperanza Municipal Function Hall. Atty. Leslie Plaza, Regional Hearing Officer, together with the NCIP Agusan del Sur Team, led the discussion of the merits of the application. A powerpoint presentation showcased the intricacies of the same.
Regional Director Marlon Bosantog and key officers supported and participated at Oazis Hotel, Butuan City.
Everyone was emotional especially after the declaration of the approval.
The Higaonon ethnoliguistic group of Esperanza was previously awarded with Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) No. 154 pursuant to DAO 021 Series of 1993 of DENR Special Order No. 25 Series of 1993 through the efforts and initiative of then Datu Mancumbate Deo Manpatilan with the help of the entire Indigenous Cultural Communities. This certificate was duly issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) way back in 1993.
Upon the approval of the Republic Act 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) on 1997 the Higaonon then applied for the conversion of their approved CADC into CADT sometime in 2004. Later, the Banwaon joined the petition.
Twenty-two (22) of the barangays of Esperanza are found in the ancestral domain. The area is approximately 90.55% of the municipality’s total land area.
The ancestral domain of the Higaonon and Banwaon ICCs/IPs of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur covers Barangays Guibonon, Kalabuan, Agsabu, Salug, Balobo, Bakingking, Kinamaybay, Maasin, Sinakungan, San Vicente, Tagbalili, Bunaguit, Maliwanag, portions of Tagabase, Remedios, Milagros, Hawilian, Nato, Segunda and Tahina, all in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, and portion of Barangay Minalwang, Municipality of Claveria, Misamis Oriental.
The identity of the Higanonon and Banwaon ICCs/IPs petitioners is intimately tied to their ancestral domain. Their hopes, dreams, and destinies are rooted to the land of their ancestors. It is the source of courage and abundance of the future generations.
The approval of CADT 255 was indeed a victory! A fulfillment of a promise!
Congratulations to the Higaonon and Banwaon ICCs/IPs of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur!
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