KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya (July 23) — Three village chiefs stood their ground to teach a mining company a lesson at acquiring “fake consent”.
Punong Barangays Felimon Blanco, Mariano Maddela and Alejo Tuguinay of barangays Paquet, Pao and Kakidugen, respectively, rallied more than eighty men to watch over a check point in a 24-hour shift since July 12.
In response, Oxiana Philippines, Inc. sought a court action through an “Injunction with a prayer for a writ of Preliminary injunction and/or a temporary restraining order.” The case is docketed Civil Case No. 982 before the RTC of the Second Judicial Region in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. A hearing was set today, July 23.
A document acquired showed that the company has been awarded an exploration permit on June 9, 2003 covering 5,873.687 hectares of potential mines.
Maddela, however, said “it was clear that the failure of passing the social acceptability provision explains why it is only now that the company pursued its exploration.”
Another document entitled “Certificate of Compliance to the FPIC process and certification that the community has given its consent” was issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) last June 18, 2007. But the three village chiefs wondered why the certification was issued without them.
“I myself is a full blooded Bugkalot but I don’t know why the NCIP did not consider my objection to the mining exploration,” says Felimon Blanco.
“They have miserably failed to picture the situation of the area as an Ancestral Domain Claim of our tribe, but a 1955 blood compact among our elders already accepted other migrant indigenous peoples to live inside the domain,” he added.
Elders pointed out that the ritual was personally witnessed by the late Vice Governor Castillo Tidang, Sr., father of former NCIP Commissioner Castillo Tidang, Jr.
“NCIP used a sheer technicality of the law to exclude us migrant peoples from the Cordilleras to deny us all rights embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” says Alejo Tuguinay who is an Ifugao.
There is even a wrong assertion by some employees of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR that Ifugaos are “not indigenous peoples.”
“They seem not to consider the historical oppression as peoples rob of their lands by the colonizers and their willing subjects among mainstream ethnic groups in the country. The intent of the law is to offset that historical injustice, but why is it that the IPRA law is now used to exclude other indigenous groups?” said Leonardo Bangad, a trustee of Dapon Indigenous Peoples Center, Inc.
Dapon visited the area to conduct an education drive on the provisions of the IPRA yesterday. # Abe Almirol for NORDIS