MEMBERS of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) group in the town of General Santos, in southern Mindanao, demanded the return of 87 hectares of their ancestral domain which they say have not been paid for by the government national since 1993.
The area was part of the ancestral domain of a total of 599 hectares which was taken over by the government and converted in the same year into what is now General Santos City International Airport.
Zaldy Nei, chief of the B’laan tribe, said on Tuesday (December 7) that they had not been paid for the property.
“The problem is, the municipal government of General Santos City has not considered any fair compensation for IP claimants, and has even ignored and ignored recognition of IPs’ claimed ancestral domain,” added Nei.
“I appeal to the city government to respect, recognize and protect our rights,” he said.
Jean Anne Moendig-Zoilo, regional director of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples in Region 12, also urged the city government on Tuesday to follow up on the tribe’s grievances.
General Santos City International Airport was jointly funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the Philippine government.
It began operations in July 1996 under the leadership of the Philippine Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP).
Moendig-Zoilo said a meeting between the city’s local government unit and CAAP would be scheduled to hear from the government side and the claimants.
â€œWe just want our land back,â€ Nei said.