What action was made to ensure the
preservation of Huluga? On July 16, 2001, Burton, Bingona, Bacarro
and Jan Ray Colonia went to Huluga. There, Burton identified the area
that should be preserved. This area was the Open Site and caves. Colonia
is a teacher at Xavier University, and Bingona's nephew.
What was decided during that visit? Bingona
assured Burton that the Huluga Open Site and caves would be preserved. Also,
Burton and Bingona agreed that the 2000-meter radius originally recommended
by Burton in 1999 need not be strictly followed as long as the bridge-and-road
project is diverted so as to preserve the Huluga Open Site and caves.
Did the mayor issue any statement on Huluga after
that visit? Yes. In an article by Butch Enerio of the national newspaper Today (July
17, 2001) Emano is quoted as saying, "I give you my assurance that
no historical or archaeological site will be destroyed as we implement
the infrastructure projects, because I myself am very concerned about
Was this promised fulfilled? No, because the
contractor continued to work at the Open Site.
What was your response? Montalván called for a meeting of friends concerned about Huluga, and from this gathering the Heritage
Conservation Advocates (HCA) was organized. On September 8, 2001, we issued a
Manifesto of Protest to Mayor Vicente Y. Emano Against the Planned Destruction
of Huluga. The Manifesto, drafted by Montalván, was signed by several individuals representing
different groups. The National Museum also wrote a letter to the
mayor, urging him to protect the heritage site. The media published reports
about the issue.
What was contained in the Manifesto of Protest? A
description of the problem, and the following proposals:
- Postpone the construction of the bridge and road.
- Consult the National Museum regarding the placement of
the planned bridge and road so that the construction will not destroy
the Huluga Site.
- Consult the National Museum in the production of a map
showing the revised location of planned bridge and road.
- Publish the revised map in our local papers so that the
public may know the circumstances and consequences of the project.
Where these proposals implemented? No.
Were there other recommendations by your group? Burton,
when consulted by the DOT, suggested that the village of Huluga be reconstructed
for education and tourism.
What was the result of your protest? The EMB
and DENR issued a cease-and-desist order to stop the project in 2001.
Was the project stopped? Apparently, only for
about a year. On June 7, 2003, we discovered to our horror that a huge
portion of the Open Site was already demolished. A road now cuts through
it, leading to a bridge that is still being constructed.
Why did you not know about the construction earlier? There
was no news about it, no announcement from city hall. When we went to
Huluga on June 7, in response to a text message, we didn't even see a
billboard describing the project. The whole activity was done secretly
Does the project have an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)? Yes,
but its authors violated several legal provisions and requirements. For
instance, they did not consult the National Museum and local anthropologists
like Burton. The
claimed ECC has no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Archaeological
Impact Assessment (AIA). There are other anomalies about it.
Are you going to file legal charges? Yes. On July
16, 2003, six members of
the HCA filed a case against Emano and the contractor UKC Builders before
the DENR. Atty. Manuel R. Ravanera gave pro bono assistance by writing the complaint and subsequent rebuttal. The HCA requested the DENR to issue a cease-and-desist order to stop
the ongoing bridge-and-road project.
What is the response of DENR? DENR gave the task
to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). On August 18, 2003, EMB
issued an order to stop construction work at the Open Site. But it didn't
stop the entire project, which we consider illegal. On September 15, 2003, EMB fined the city government P50,000 for the damage of Huluga.
Have you asked help from other government agencies? We
have communicated to several officials like the DENR Secretary Elisea
Gozun, Senator Loren Legarda, and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We
gave the President a large
photo of the Huluga Open Site.
What are their responses? Gozun wrote a letter
to DENR-Region 10, asking for an explanation. The President asked for
more documents and talked with our lawyer in Manila. Legarda
filed a resolution in the Senate to investigate the issue.
Do you have support from private groups? Yes,
mainly from archaeological organizations, including one in the US. Their
support is in the form of
issued statements which have been published in local papers. But the Oro
Integrated Cooperative, Inc. funded our pamphlet, T-shirts, and banners
which we used in a symposium at Xavier University.
Several groups and individuals have also expressed concern,
encouragement, and interest to be educated about Huluga. The Cagayan de
Oro Travel and Tours Association, and a Xavier University engineering
group, requested us to accompany them to Huluga and provide them orientation.
Capitol University requested us to hold a symposium, which we conducted
on September 4.
Any other plans of the HCA? One of our immediate
concerns is to do archaeological digging in the midden site, as soon as
funds are available. We need help.
For other projects, we shall reveal them as we move on.
But generally, we are determined to remain vigilant to save what remains
of our heritage, which is also the heritage of all humanity.
We must remember, we must know who we are. We have blossomed
today not because we are separated from the past, but because we are connected
to our roots.