Philippine Forest clearance
Mayor Edward S. Hegedorn,
New City Hall,
Puerto Princesa City,
30 August 1996
I have recently heard of the ban on clearing of the forests of Palawan. As I am keen on
environmental conservation I am indeed disturbed by the massive loss of the world's forests.
When attempting to legislate for the protection of such forests however, a distinction has to
made between short term wholesale destruction of such forests and the traditional uses
made of them for hundreds of years by their indigenous inhabitants.
In addition to environmental aspects however the rights of those indigenous peoples, ie the
Batak and Tagbanwa people in this case, must be considered. I am pleased that the ban
has been partially lifted for these indigenous peoples, but concerned that the system of
government permits and instructions remains a gross interference in their lives. So much so
in fact that they now face severe food shortages as a result.
I believe that the Batak and Tagbanwa peoples' Constitutional rights to their ancestral lands
must be respected, and that all restrictions on their subsistance farming methods on their
own lands should be lifted immediately. I do believe however that logging of indigenous
peoples' lands by others without consent should be permanently banned.
Mr Owen Lydiard