By JOHNNY T. SAWADAN
TABUK CITY, Kalinga — The Cordillera Exploration Company, Inc. (CEXCI) constructed assay laboratory buildings within the territorial jurisdiction of this city without a building permit, environmental clearance and the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the concerned indigenous peoples (IPs).
As of press time, the buildings reported that were constructed by CEXCI includes 4 small one-story structures, and one medium sized building while the construction of a large assay laboratory building is on going.
All the buildings were constructed in a tenement belonging to a Roderic Dumallig located near the Alyog Creek in Mapaoay, Nambaran,Tabuk.
It must be noted that Barangay Nambaran is inhabited by indigenous peoples that include the Tulgao, Bangad, Mallango and Butbut people.
According to the City’s Building and Architecture Office, no building permit was issued to CEXCI before the construction of the said structures. Also, it must be recalled that the then Sangguniang Bayan of Tabuk, now the Sangguniang Panglunsod, through a resolution, has rejected mining activities with in the city.
Sometime in March this year, the Barangay Officials of Nambaran, in response to the complaint of the Bangad residents, dismantled the toilet structures made near the source of potable water. The barangay officials had no knowledge that time about their construction. They only discovered that the projects belonged to CEXCI after queries from several sources.
Upon discovery of CEXCI’s building structures, the Barangay Council, through Barangay Captain Victor Edduba, sent a protest letter to Roderic Dumallig. The letter reads in part: “Naklaat kami nga umili ti Nambaran idi naamuan mi nga ti Cordillera Exploration Company, Inc. wenno CEXCI ket maysa nga kompanya ti dadakkel a minas nga madama ti exploration na iti Mt. Laucon a nagbaetan ti Tawang, Balbalan, Kalinga ken Conner, Apayao”. (We, the IPs in Nambaran, were surprised to discover that CEXCI a big mining exploration company, presently exploring at Mt. Laucon, between Tawang, Balbalan, Kalinga and Conner, Apayao).
The protest letter further reads: “Ammo tayo amin nga ti panagserrek ti anyaman nga kompanya ti minas ti anya man nga lugar ket dakkel unay nga isyu kangrunaan dagiti maapektaran kas kadakami nga makinsaklaw iti lugar a maipatpatakderan ti nasao nga building ti CEXCI” (We all know that the entry of any mining company in any area is a big issue especially those affected like us who have jurisdiction over the place where CEXCI’s buildings are put up).
In asserting the right to FPIC, the protest letter further mentioned “Kayat mi nga adda koma mangibagi iti Kompanya a CEXCI ken dagiti local a kakumplot da tapno umay da ilawlawag ditoy barangay mi ti plano ken panggep ti CEXCI nga agpatakder ti dakkel nga building ditoy barangay mi ta awan pulos ti naiyaramid nga FPIC kas ibagbaga ti Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) a linteg tayo kas nainsigudan nga umili sakbay a naitakder ti nasao nga building”. (We want a representative from CEXCI and their local contact to come to our barangay and explain their plans and objectives in constructing building in our area because no FPIC was conducted as provided by the IPRA, a law for the IPs, before the construction of the said building).
In response to the protest letter, Dumallig sent his answer to the Barangay Chairman of Nambaran. His response-letter reads “The building you are questioning is what we call a Core Shed. Attached is a picture of an actual core shed and what is inside it. The cores are taken from Apayao not from Kalinga. It is just like what Makilala company transport to Tuguegarao City for examination.”
The response-letter assures harmless effects to people and environment and economic contribution of the CEXI’s projects.
It says “I assure you sir that the building will never do harm to the people and environment, in fact sir, the presence of our company in this city is contributing to her economic growth as well as employment opportunities to the people of Kalinga despite the fact that we don’t have operation or exploration undertaking in this province.”
According to Tony Ngaya-an, the Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance Kalinga Chapter and the Barangay Secretary of Nambaran, the chemical waste from the CEXCI’s assay laboratory (when operational) shall surely pollute Alyog creek. He added that the Alyog creek serves as the source of freshwater fish not only supplying Nambaran but also other IP communities down-stream, he further explained.
Nambaran Barangay Kagawad Leo Basyag and Peter Ayangwa reiterated the stand of the Barangay Council. According to them, CEXCI’s project at Mapaoay must be opposed because it will destroy Alyog creek. Alyog creek is used by the IPs for bathing and washing, drinking water for carabaos, source of fish and the like, they further explained.
Alyog creek passes through barangays Nambaran, Ipil, Dilag, Balong, Burayukan all in Tabuk City and barangay Magaogao in Pinukpuk Municipality before joining the Chico River.
Dumalig’s letter has also failed to explain why construction of the structures were made without an building permits or an FPIC as required by law. # nordis.net