By SIDLANGAN NATIVIDAD
MANILA – Daisy Paborada, a farmer, 41, and her late spouse had once ploughed their share of the 520-hectare ancestral domain along with the rest of the Higaonon tribe.
Since 2003, the Paborada family had enjoyed their simple and peaceful life.
In February 2011, A. Brown Palm Company, Inc. seized the 520-hectare land and started planting palm for oil. The company presented a Forest Land Grazing Lease Agreement (FGLA) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
The land of the Lumads was hastily taken from them since they had no land title to strengthen their claim to their ancestral domain.
Paborada said the A. Brown Company’s so-called ‘development’ project is suspicious and even illegal. In 2010, the DENR categorized their ancestral domain as forest land, and cancelled all lease agreements, but just a year later, the A. Brown company’s subsidiary, Nakeen Corporation was given a special power of attorney as well as the authority to develop the land.
As a result, hundreds of families were evicted from the land and the Higaonons were expelled from their ancestral domain. “The undocumented agreement made by A. Brown company made us lose our livelihood,” Paborada added.
Their loss prompted them to seek help from the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) in Region 10. An investigation was promised, but that was the last time the Paborada family has heard from the CHR.
Her husband Gilbert Paborada, the leader of the Higaonon tribe, formed a group called Pangalasag (Indigenous Shield) to resist A. Brown Company’s operations and expansion.
Since the formation of their group, Gilbert Paborada and his brothers had been offered bribes and experienced harassments, according to Daisy Paborada, Gilbert was being bribed with a high position in the company, a house, money, or whatever else he wanted, all of which, Gilbert and Daisy rejected. Gilbert’s brothers were even threatened with gunfire.
Gilbert’s group was being harassed by A. Brown company security force. Daisy said “They had guns, but wore civilian clothes, and had no I.D.”
“We want nothing else but our land and our livelihood, we want it back. We only finished high school and want nothing to do with their offer in the company,” Daisy added.
Daisy and her only child had moved to Corales, Misamis Oriental with her mother since their tribe’s expulsion from the land. Pangalasag had continued with its advocacy efforts under Gilbert Paborada’s leadership.
However, last October 3, while Gilbert was on his way to a meeting, he was shot at eight times and was dead on the spot. Daisy said they never knew who the perpetrators were. Investigations were conducted but yielded no results, even with CHR’s help. “We’ve never had enemies, my husband was a good man, I believe only A. Brown Company has the motive to have him killed,” Daisy sadi.
Since her husband’s death, Daisy had vowed to continue his campaign to urge A. Brown Company’ ‘pull-out’ from their ancestral land, and to seek justice for Gilbert. Daisy has joined human rights group Karapatan and is now in Manila with one of Gilbert’s brothers to seek help.
“It was hard for me, I fainted when I heard the news that my husband was dead, I want to continue his fight. I will seek justice for him and am looking forward to the pull-out of A. Brown Company from our land. I’m okay now, but I worry about my daughter, she is still looking for her father,” Paborada said.