Benguet Governor Questions Mining Firm’s Permit Renewal

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Governor Nestor Fongwan questioned the automatic renewal of the exploration permit in phase 1 for the mining exploration of Royalco Philippines Inc. in Gambang, Bakun during the dialogue held at Benguet capitol’s gymnasium, Oct. 4.

Fongwan asked Engineer Alfredo Genetiano of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) if it is possible for a mining company to automatically renew its mine operation after the permit has expired. Genetiano did not answer the governor’s query.

Fongwan also asked Atty Amador Batay-an, the regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) but Batay-an was also silent.

“If it is in the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) law that the mining company can automatically renew its exploration permit without going back to the community to get their consent, then that is dangerous,” he said.

He added that there should be a conduct, according to government guidelines, of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process in the community before any exploration permit will be renewed.

Fongwan also supported the decision of the Provincial Council to review the alleged irregularity on the issuance of the certification precondition especially in phase 3.

Fongwan was also puzzled at the issuance of the certification of precondition in phase 1 even as Fausto Maliones, the president of the Gambang Indigenous Peoples and Community Organizations (GIPACO) exposed an irregularity with the FPIC. Maliones said that there are 2,899 voters in the area but during the referendum, only 749 voted. According to the result, there are 672 who voted “yes” while the remaining 77 voted “no” but the certification of precondition was still issued.

With this, Fongwan wondered if this is possible in the guidelines of the FPIC. He then reiterated that there should be clear guidelines in the processing of the FPIC.

Meanwhile, Batay-an did not comment on the issue of irregularity in the FPIC process in phase 3. He said if the Provincial Council will prove that there is an irregularity in the said process, the NCIP is amenable to waive the certification of precondition issued. However, with the case of phase 1 and 2 he insisted that they did undergo the due process. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by

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