BAGUIO CITY (Nov. 23) — Residents of farming villages in Mankayan, Benguet affected by an on-going mining exploration, petitioned the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP)-Cordillera to stop the exploration which allegedly failed to get their consent.
The regional director of the NCIP-CAR lawyer Amador Batay-an confirmed in a phone interview that there is no free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the people in relation to the Crescent Mining Development Corporation (CMDC) mining explorations in the affected communities. He added the NCIP is yet to review the residents’ petition submitted this week and the documents of the CMDC.
CMDC is conducting mine explorations at Barangays Bulalacao and Guinaoang, both in Mankayan. Eight holes are being explored by CMDC at Sitio Ca-ew in Bulalacao while drilling two more holes in Bulalacao.
Denver Tongacan, the town’s Association of Barangay Captains president and concurrently the barangay captain of Bulalacao claimed in an earlier interview that Mayor Manalo Galuten issued an order while the Mankayan council adopted a resolution on October 22 to stop the exploration which the company heeded for three days but continued the activity afterwards.
Tongacan said the CMDC was issued a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) denominated as MPSA 057-96 which covers 534 hectares in Mankayan. The MPSA was registered at the MGB-CAR on November 12, 1996 and to end on November 11, 2021. They were issued by the same office for a two-year exploration permit to start on August 14, 2006 and end in 2008.
Violation of laws?
Tongacan claimed that the affected communities never issued their consent before the issuance of the MPSA and the exploration permit.
He wonders how the MPSA and exploration permit were issued without the consent and endorsement required by the Mining Act of 1995, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 and the Local Government Code.
MGB-CAR records show that the CMDC’s MPSA was approved by the MGB national office and was forwarded to the region for registration.
When asked if there was community consent before the MSPA was issued, the source claimed it was presumed there was since it (MPSA) was forwarded to the region. The mine application was reportedly transferred by the Mankayan Mineral Development Corporation to CMDC.
The source also claimed that since the MPSA was granted, the right to explore is also included even without consent on the exploration permit as along as there was before the issuance of the MPSA.
Director Batay-an said a community consent is still needed even if the MPSA was issued prior to the enactment of the IPRA.
The IPRA mandates that the NCIP take into consideration the approval of the indigenous peoples concerned before it will issue certification prior to the grant of permit, lease, grant, or any other similar authority for disposition, utilization, management and appropriation on any part or portion of the ancestral domain.
The residents of Bulalacao and Guinaoang are Kankanaeys who are mostly dependent in farming for their livelihood. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS