Conflicting Laws and Paradigms: The Case of Huluga Heritage site and Small Scale Mining at Cagayan De Oro, Philippines

On August 28, Cagayan de Oro City will celebrate the fiesta of its patron saint, St. Augustine of Hippo. Every year, the City looks back to its identity by showcasing cultural artistry of its indigenous communities — the lumad. This is not an isolated practice but a trend all over the country: Towns and cities, in their efforts to earn from tourism have “re-created” local festivals. These festivals are “rooted” in the “traditional” practices of the local inhabitants — the lumad. The creation of festivities, without doubt, contributed to local tourism economy. However, although the local governments earn from tourism by showcasing their cultural heritage, the allocation of budget to sustain its source, e.g., the lumad culture, or the preservation of heritage sites is minimal to nil. Often, instead of preservation, the sites are destroyed in the context of “development”. Last Summer School that was held in the Philippines the Local Government of Cagayan de Oro City presented its “urban development framework”. It highlights the infrastructure plans connecting the different development nodes and industrial hubs of the city. It also showcased its “tourism” sites through a tour to historical sites except for the place called Huluga. This place was declared heritage site by the National Museum on the strength of extensive studies by local scholars and by the National Museum. Located along Cagayan de Oro river, Huluga site is proximate to the urban “development” area. But because of its strategic location, developing the area into another use is contested by the City Government, concerned academicians and non-government organizations. Proximate to this area and along the river banks is Lumbia where discrete small mining operations are in progress. The “development” activities in both areas are “in connivance with the local officials of the city.” At the time when this abstract is being written, the destruction of these sites continues in the name of “development”. The issue of “development” in the Philippines, whether infrastructure or natural resource based, is tedious since the provisions of the enabling laws, in all their good intentions, are in conflict with each other. These laws are the Local Government Code (R.A.7160), Urban Development Housing Act (R.A.72791), Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act (IPRA), Mining Act (1995), and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (R.A.657). Although these laws are all aimed towards local development, however, conflicting provisions of these laws cancel out each others’ positive contributions. While the weaknesses and strengths of these conflicting laws are tested in courts, the case of the city’s issues on heritage conservation and small scale mining in the urban landscape of Cagayan de Oro city is left unaddressed. The case presented is an affirmation of the multi-layered driving forces (DF) paradigm drawn by Johannes and Lee (2007). Although the study looks into how structured-induced driving forces (SIDF) work, e.g., the role of law in development paradigm, it also focuses on the structuring acting driving forces (SADF). The conflicting provisions of selected Philippine laws are beneficial for individuals or groups who are interested in the natural resource base. Since the laws are canceling each other’s provisions, the interest groups or structuring driving forces (SDR) select laws that may rationalize their cause even if contested. Moreover, while conflicting Philippine laws are being resolved in courts, the “development” agenda is pursued by SDRs towards changes in urban physical and social landscape of Cagayan de Oro City.

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