By Ben Serrano
Indigenous communities inside Mt. Mayapay conducted tribal ritual rites trying to save Butuan’s last frontier of ecosystems where there was once existence rich biodiversity of flora and fauna in the area.
The ritual was conducted Saturdany by tribal chieftains Datu Malinggat and Datu Mabalao, stalwarts of the Manobo and Higaonon’s in the Caraga Region.
Mt. Mayapay ancestral domain by Manobo and Higaonon tribes according to tribal chieftain Datu Malinggat is composed of nearly 68,000 hectares that covered parts of Butuan and Buenavista town in Agusan del Norte.
According to Datu Malinggat, slash and burn or kaingin and quarrying are now threatening biodiversity and ecological balance of Mt. Mayapay due influx of lowland settlers, infra build up, and illegal intrusions due conflict in ancestral land claims and tenurial instruments issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“There is even problem of duplication, conflict from one law to another and policies, executive orders to another in the issuance of land tenurial instruments like DENR’s Integrated Social Forestry Program and Community Based Forest Management Agreement,” Malinggat said.
“Some already applied land titling. Part of Mayapay was also declared watershed area, the Calagayon Watershed including also within Mt. Mayapay is the military reservation area, ” added Malinggat, who claimed Mt. Mayapay belonged to them since time immemorial.
Mayapay is a magnificent mountain located east of Butuan City, considered the range’s highest peak is 2,335 feet above sea level with a plateau formation above it, by which its predominant feature is the city’s backdrop.
“If destructive activities not stop or minimized, some lowland areas in parts of Butuan and Buenavista, Agusan del Norte will experience massive destructive landslide, flash floods, flooding as there will no longer forest catch basin at Mt Mayapay due massive cutting of trees,” Malinggat warned .
Malinggat added wise use, good management of forest resources needed if not another deadly Guinsaungon Leyte landslide that killed hundreds of people some buried alive, massive flooding and flash floods that wipe out the village from the map.
Malinggat said the Mayapay Tribal Council would create Mayapay Development and Environment Board that will try to find solution to save of what he described as “Butuan City’s last frontier of ecosystems where there was rich flora and fauna species that now slowly disappearing.”