By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Save the Mankayan Movement (SMM) President Marlou Pablo expressed disappointment over the results of their consultation with Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan as a waste of their time and money spent on fare and gasoline.
Pablo narrated they set up their barricade in January this year to stop Goldfields mining company from drilling in their area in their bid to save the community from the destruction of mining activities. He said they hoped that the provincial government would help them.
“Awan met ti barbaro idiay napanan mi kenni gov ta nabagaan kami laeng nga urayen mi laengen diay Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC),” (There was nothing new from our meeting with the governor, we were only advised to wait for the FPIC process) said Pablo.
On June 21, around 40 Mankayan residents and members of SMM trooped to the governor’s office hoping to get some concrete answers and updates stemming from an earlier consultation with the governor last June 1st.
According to Pablo, they had submitted their petition to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) on January 27 four days after they set up barricade at the drilling site in Tabio, Mankayan to stop Goldfield’s attempt to drill in the area.
On April 4, NCIP hearing officer Brain Masweng issued an order directing the protesters to allow Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) to continue its drilling activities.
On May 23, Buguias Regional Trial Court 64 Judge Agapito K. Laoagan Jr. issued a 20 day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the barricade. Laoagan based the issuance from the petition filed by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) Vice President and resident manager of the Lepanto Mine Division Magellan Bagayo on May 15. Pablo narrated that they invoked their rights and stood their ground when the court sheriff with a number of police escorts served the TRO.
Pablo said the governor only advised them to wait for the said FPIC process. “Urayenmi a diay ibagbaga na nga FPIC, ngem sino aya ti in-charge nu saan nga NCIP, “ (We will wait for the FPIC as he says, but who is in charge of it but the NCIP?) sighed Pablo.
Up to date the plea of the barricading farmers for the conduct of the FPIC process under the NCIP supervision has not yet been answered nor have they received any official notification yet.
Thru their representations and public statements the SMM continues to make their resistance to any mining operations within the farming community. They had also raised issues on harassment from parties identified to the company and have appealed for support from their neighbors and environment groups and the media.
The SMM president said that they are grateful to the governor for advising the chief of the Philippine National Police in Mankayan not to interfere. Pablo said that they received informations that Bagayao asked for assistance from the police on June 4 to get rid of the picketeers.
“Itultuloy mi latta ti barikada aginggana saan da nga ipananaw dagiti makina da, anusan mi latta” (We shall continue our barricade until the company withdraws their drilling machines, we shall patiently persevere) ended pablo. # nordis.net