Advocate opposes downgrading of COI into land deal

An advocate is supporting calls by the Manumanu/Gabadi landowners of Central Province who are opposing the downgrading of a Commission of Inquiry into allegations surrounding the acquisition of their customary land.

The land in question refers to portions 154, 406, 421, 422, 423 and 424 of Manu (NE) Fourmil of Aroa for the establishment of a proposed PNG Defence Force Naval Base.

“I agree entirely with the call by the landowner leaders from Manumanu/Gabadi villages for a Commission of Inquiry and not an Administrative Inquiry,” states Motu-Koita land advocate and former secretary for the Department of Information and Communication, Henao Iduhu.

"This is a very serious national issue and the Government should treat it with great importance, not only for the people of Manumanu/Gabadi but also as an example of good will and governance in the eyes of the entire nation.

“The PNG government is placed with the responsibility to protect the rights of its indigenous people and in its endeavour to do so, it must ensure equal participation and opportunities are provided to bridge the social gap between the rich and poor."

The former public servant says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s initial announcement for a Commission of Inquiry in the previous sitting of Parliament to investigate the land in question was widely supported.  

“Mr O'Neill promised that a report of the Inquiry would be presented on the floor of parliament during its last session in the life of the current parliament.”

 The land advocate further says it is the mandate of every responsible government to realise the socio-economic aspirations of its indigenous people, like that of the landowners of Manumanu/Gabadi.

“The PNG Government ought to know that there are laws that protect our indigenous people to freely participate on matters that directly affect them, such as their customary land and rights.

“It goes without saying that the people of this country have a deep attachment to customary land and therefore government must discharge its duties in a responsible and respectful manner.”

(Motu-Koita land advocate and former secretary for the Department of Information and Communication, Henao Iduhu)

Press release