Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the fast tracking of the investigation on the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) of M&S Co., in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Cimatu has ordered the DENR Legal Team on the creation of Fact Finding Team to investigate on the IFMA upon his assumption into office. This stemmed from the visit of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sultan Kudarat on the IFMA issue.

“I ordered our Legal Team to conduct a thorough investigation and give priority on this,” Cimatu said.

This, despite that the DENR only got the formal complaint in July 2019.

Last week, the indigenous peoples (IP) group accused Cimatu of neglect of duty for failing to stop the illegal operation of a coffee plantation on their ancestral domain.

“I fully disagree with the accusation of the group because this activity happened before my time,” Cimatu stressed.

The special civil action was filed by T’boli-Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO) on Friday, 15 November 2019, before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, with the support of Task Force TAMASCO, an alliance of non-governmental organization supporting the legal claim of the IP.

TAMASCO claimed that the DENR, under Cimatu, violated the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act for failing to secure their consent before any activity can be done on their domain. Accordingly, the Dawang Coffee Plantation encroached on the ancestral land of the T’boli and Manobo in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

“To date, I never approved any Integrated Forest Management Agreement. If ever I need to approve, I will ensure that the welfare of our indigenous peoples will be given the utmost priority,” the DENR Secretary emphasized. ###