Tribal Folks Demand Right to be Consulted over Mining Claims
Learning from past transgressions on their rights by government agencies
and private corporations made tribal folks more aware of their rights.
Indigenous peoples are pushing that they be consulted first before
projects start in their communities.
BY ACE ALEGRE
Contributed to Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms.
north of Manila) Learning from past transgressions on their rights by
government agencies and private corporations made tribal folks more aware
of their rights. Indigenous peoples are pushing that they be consulted
first before projects start in their communities.
“We can be the best partners in development provided we participate and
get involved in the process,” Kalinga tribal folks said during a
recently-held public consultation held at Davidson Hotel in Tabuk, the
capital town of Kalinga province, home of the fiercest warriors who fought
and stopped the World Bank-funded Chico River Dam Project in the 70's.
Jointly sponsored by the Guidance Management Corporation (GMC) and the
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the consultation was
held to clear the air in relation to past and future geothermal and
mineral explorations in the area especially in Pasil town.
The NCIP is taking the lead role in consulting villagers affected by
projects of multinational companies and those of government as part of the
process of securing the First and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of
The GMC and Aracorn Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) are among
the mining and energy companies expressing their interest to operate in
Villagers accused the GMC of arrogance and disrespect to their culture
when the firm started explorations for sulfur and took mineral samples
without getting the approval of the affected tribal communities.
Colayo tribal folks alleged that the company stole mineral samples from
the area. They said that the GMC tried to deceive them because the
company is actually interested in the minerals found in the area. They
said that the sulfur exploration was just a ploy.
Begging for apology, Ernesto San Jose, GMC Executive Vice President,
promised to correct its previous mistakes and vowed to faithfully follow
the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and other mining rules and
“This time, we have
to heal the wounds committed in the past. We will strictly follow the
process provided by law and consult the whole community when we get
there,” he said, adding that his company supports the government’s
responsible and friendly exploration and mining policy.
GMC is applying for a permit to explore the geothermal potentials of
It previously bought from the Balatoc tribe 399.99 hectares of land for
sulfur exploration, but the project was shelved.
The purchase caused misunderstanding and divisiveness among the
claimants. Thirteen individuals who have claims over the area earlier
agreed with GMC to explore their lots for sulfur. GMC reportedly paid P4
million for the land but others claimed it was P8 million.
A group calling itself Gonzalo Sangngangao et. al. waived in favor of GMC
their rights to the 399.99 hectares covered by the sulfur project. Balatoc
Barangay Chairman Albert Maiyao certified the sale when the Sangngangao
said their group consented to the transaction.
Mayor Artemio Dalsen also endorsed the waiver for taxation since he
believed that the local government can collect taxes from GMC. But a
segment of the Balatoc tribe petitioned the Provincial Assessor Office to
nullify such sale.
NCIP Legal Officer William Puday Jr. explained that no sale took place
since the land is not covered by title and the IPRA provides that the sale
of ancestral lands to outsiders is not permitted.
The Register of Deeds did not also approve the alleged sale.
Ricardo Dang-iw, an official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for
Kalinga, said that GMC can not claim rights over the contested land since
it is already covered by an exploration permit granted to Makilala Mining
Mayor Dalsen said Henry Guyang of the Colayo tribe is demanding that GMC
pays an indemnity for illegally encroaching on their ancestral domain to
get mineral samples. In return, tribal folks will pay for the cash and
cell phone allegedly stolen from GMC geologists.
San Jose promised to bring the matter to top management. He extended his
apologies, in behalf of the company, for the lapses allegedly committed
by GMC employees.
Meanwhile, in Benguet, the MGB assured the villagers that no mining permit
will be issued without their consent despite various mining claims over
areas covered by the villages in Kibungan and Atok towns.
MGB-Cordillera director Neoman dela Cruz allayed the fears of indigenous
communities through the Community Volunteer Missioners, a group which
raised concerns over the status of mining applications in Kibungan and
"Please be informed that this office cannot just issue permits or mineral
agreements without the compliance of the applicants to the mandatory
processing requirements. One of these is the certification of precondition
(or) free and prior informed consent (FPIC), which could only be issued by
the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)," dela Cruz said in
his official letter to the group.
There are 170 mining claims in Boneng, Atok town and Lubo, Kibungan town,
both in Benguet province.
The claims are registered at the MGB under the name of the Al Magan Mining
Exploration Corporation. The applications for production sharing
agreements are still up for publication, posting, broadcast and for
endorsement to the NCIP for FPIC, MGB records show. contributed to
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2007 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.