By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
THE reactivation of the Philippine Air Force’s radar tracking facility at Paranial on the outskirts of Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, could displace a colony of indigenous people known in the area as Kabihug.
Numbering more than 1,400, the Kabihug people live in a 22-hectare ancestral land within the Sitio Calibigahu at Baranggay Osmena, just outside the poblacion.
The Kabihugs do their hunting and farming here, according to Caritas of Australia, one of the charity groups working to ensure that they are not displaced from their ancestral land.
Known as Aeta or Abiyan in other parts of Camarines Norte as well as in Camarines Sur, they number about 20,000, according a study of indigenous people in the country.
The government, through PAF will clear a total of 72 hectares of hinterland occupied by the Paranial Radar Station facility.
The tracking facility will include a runway for its PAF aircraft, including jet fighters and other high-security facilities.
But due to the presence of the Kabihug tribe in area, the PAF is considering to reduce the clearing area from 72ha to only 50ha, leaving at least 22ha to the tribal group.
A top official of the PAF who recently talked to the local officials said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would like to see to it that the Paranial clearing activities will not encroached on the land allotted to the tribal group.
Caritas said on its website that it supported the Kabihug people or more than 1,400 to gain land entitlement to 22ha of ancestral land in Osmena.
Right now, Caritas and four other groups have begun a project called Kabihug’s Land Road Project that starts at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) village in Osmena and stretches towards the area where the Kabihug people live.
Caritas is supported by two other non-governmental groups such as the Diocese of Daet and St Paul college Foundation, Inc (SPCFI), and gets support from the local government unit of Jose Panganiban and the provincial local government unit of Camarines Norte.
Basically, the road gives the tribal group access to many places outside their ancestral land, including the public market in town where they could bring their farm produce.
The tribe, which is engaged in subsistence farming and hunting for their livelihood, has been trying to assimilate with the Mambulaoan community through the help of Caritas and the other four groups.
Caritas said that PAF should see to it that the ancestral land is not affected in any manner by its development activities in the area.
The children of the Kabihug people in Sitio Calibigaho at Baranggay Osmena on the outskirts of Mambulao. - Photo supplied
Email the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com