BTEMC insiders allege that despite their being the first to file an application for a permit, their application was rejected by the MGB regional office on July 6, 2006. The MGB-CAR processed the exploration permit of the NRMDC from July 10 to Aug. 23, 2006.
The Balatoc people, however, petitioned the NCIP to certify their priority rights invoking the area as a part of their ancestral domain.
Meanwhile, on March 2, the Guidance Management Corporation (GMC), which allegedly bought the 399.99 hectares for P8 million covered by BBGMI from nine Balatoc residents, executed a corporate declaration through their executive vice-president Ernesto San Jose to return the area to the Balatoc community. San Jose also promised to execute an affidavit for the cancellation of their tax declaration over the mineral lands.
The NCIP legal officer of Kalinga province also issued an opinion that the sale between the GMC and the nine residents is void since the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) prohibits the sale of ancestral lands.
These developments further entitled the Balatoc tribe to priority rights to develop and exploit the area, a BTEMC officer explained. The resolution was received by BTEMC president Victor G. Gumisa on March 6 this year. Northern Dispatch (Bulatlat.com)