BAGUIO CITY (Aug. 23) — The Kalanguya ethno-linguistic group Tuba, Benguet reiterated its clamor for the government to revoke the special permit Philex Mining Corporation obtained temporarily for its failure to comply with its conditions.
Philex failed to acquire the consent of the communities for its mine expansion covering some 98 hectares in Camp 3, Tuba.
Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural resources (MGB-DENR) National Director Horacio Ramos signed the Special Mines Permit on January 18.
Rufo Gayaso, a Kalanguya leader of Camp 3 in an interview, claimed that MGB should revoke the special mines permit since the community did not issue their consent to the mining project. Gayaso said the MGB issued the special permit provided that the company would seek within one month of issuance the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of the affected community, among its conditions.
“We wonder why the MGB issued the special permit which led to Philex mine activities in the area. Under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), before any activities, they must first get the FPIC of the affected people. We urge them (MGB) to revoke this permit,” Gayaso added. A petition urging the MGB to revoke the special permit is being circulated in the community which they will submit to the concerned office next week, Gayaso told Nordis.
IPRA requires that before any project may be implemented to any indigenous communities, the FPIC of affected people must be acquired first, explained Engineer Alberto Olsim, point person of the NCIP- CAR.
Certificate of non-consent
Olsim said a dialog NCIP facilitated in the past resulted in the non-endorsement by the community. As a result, the NCIP – Cordillera forwarded in May this year to the former NCIP national chairperson Jeannette Serrano a request for a certification of non-consent by the affected residents on the Philex project.
Philex reportedly appealed to the NCIP to clarify the issues being raised by the affected community and as a result the NCIP national office issued in June this year an order for the NCIP-CAR to facilitate another consultation, Olsim in an interview with “Ang Batas” program at the Mountaiview Satellite Corporation on Tuesday, August 21.
The NCIP office of Benguet scheduled the dialog on August 14 but company representatives failed to attend. Provincial officials led by Benguet Gov. Fongwan also attended the August 14 dialog. Tuba town officials, however, were not among those who came despite the people’s clamor for them to witness the dialog, Gayaso said.
NCIP-Benguet will set a schedule after consulting both parties on the date and place which will be mutually acceptable.
Gayaso claimed that the community had been serious for the past dialog but blamed the company for the failed talks.
Compensation, a pre-dialog condition
While open for another dialog, Gayaso added the company must show its sincerity by fulfilling its promises to pay land claimants for damaged properties.
“What we had been claiming earlier are compensations for the damaged properties of our people before we sit to talk for their 98 hectares expansion,” Gayaso said, adding the company failed to comply with their conditions.
He pointed out that these properties were useless because of the effect of the subsidence area due to Philex mine activities. He cited the 46-hectare land of the Bantasan heirs which cannot be utilized as it has been destroyed by mining.
“Philex’es history of not compensating us and not recognizing our rights despite the profits it has been raking from our land has taught us to defend our rights,” Gayaso emphasized. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS