Issue of November 12, 2017
Mt. Province

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Batangan system of Mountain Province under DENR review
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is reviewing the status of the Sustainable Traditional Indigenous Forest Resources Management Systems and Practices (STIFRMSP) Program of the municipalities of Besao, Sagada, and Tadian in Mountain Province, locally termed as the batangan system.

The batangan system is the documented traditional forest systems and practices of these towns, and  as such, the DENR central office sanctioned the drafting and approval of the Joint DENR-National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Administrative Order 2008-01 or the “Guidelines and procedures for the recognition, documentation, registration and confirmation of all sustainable traditional indigenous forest management systems and practices of indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) or indigenous peoples (IPs) in ancestral domain or land.”

Joint implementing rules and regulations for the adoption of the batangan as a STIFRMSP of the ICCs/IPs were also issued.

The DENR-CAR has been tasked to conduct the zoning, survey, and mapping and inventory of timber resources and to implement livelihood programs and activities for the identified communities in the three municipalities.

During a meeting conducted recently in Bontoc, Mountain Province attended by the NCIP, the municipal government units of Besao, Sagada, and Tadian; and representatives from DENR regional and field offices, Forester Julius Cawilan said the STIFRMSP serves as a permit to cut trees but it doesn’t mean to “cut trees based on what they want.” 

The cutting of trees, he said, should be based on the sustainable customary laws for the proper use of natural resources. Planting, protecting, and harvesting activities are also components of the program.

Forester Christopher G. Bosaing of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office Sabangan said the batangan system is an approach for the advancement of the existing sustainable conservation, use, and management of the natural resources and to respect and sustain the resource rights of the ICCs/IPs through equitable access to natural resources. It is also for the fair benefit-sharing under the traditional forest management systems within the municipalities covered. 

Bosaing added that ordinances should be formulated by the respective municipal councils, and not by the DENR.

He emphasized the essential role of the community elders in the implementation of the program.

Municipal officials reported that they have already crafted ordinances for the implementation of the batangan system but these are pending review and approval by the sangguniang panlalawigan of Mountain Province.

The DENR-CAR reminded them that they should facilitate the conduct of consultation meetings with the communities to secure their consensus in the batangan operationalization.

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