By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Benguet is recommending the NCIP to conduct Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process on Philex Mining’s Mining Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in Tuba and Itogon.
The committee on Environment and Mining & the committee on Indigenous Peoples of the SP of Benguet recommended the passage of a resolution requesting Atty Amador Batay-an, the Regional Director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to immediately conduct the FPIC processing in the downstream indigenous cultural communities affected by two MPSAs of Philex Mining Incorporated during their regular session last Monday.
In the report of the two committees, Julie Panawan, the president of The Indigenous–Host Communities Association of Philex Outlying Sitios Inc. (TIHCAPOSI) submitted a letter to the Benguet SP dated August 2010. The letter contains the request of the downstream indigenous cultural communities where the Albian and Kidit creeks flow for the conduct of FPIC for the MPSA 276 and 156 of Philex Mining Inc.
Also in the committees’ report, on September 5, 2009, a letter signed by 316 indigenous peoples who are residents and land claimants in the areas covered by the MPSA 156 and IP communities considered as outlying high impact areas of MPSA 276 was forwarded to the office of Batay-an requesting the latter to admonish the Philex Mining Inc. and to conduct FPIC process as required under the Mining Act of 1995 and the IPRA Law.
The downstream IP communities where the Albian and Kidit creeks flow are considered outlying impact areas because in the field–based investigation report of the NCIP, the said communities are outside the applied area but adversely affected by MPSA 276.
Moreover, on September 16, 2009, Panawan and Sonny Marino, the president of Albian, Santa Fe, Keddet Dam (ASKD 123) also forwarded a letter before the office of governor Nestor Fongwan seeking his assistance regarding their request in conducting of the FPIC process.
Fongwan then referred this to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Benguet office which replied through a letter dated September 25, 2009.
In the letter-response of the DENR, it was stated that “…it is implied that the conduct of FPIC in the outlying impact areas is a mandatory process that must be considered once the immediate affected nearby sitios within the applied area are favorable to the application”.
Furthermore, on September 2, 2009, a letter from Director Basilio Wandag of the NCIP Legal Affairs Office addressed to Batay-an was forwarded to the Benguet SP.
The letter also contained Wandag’s recommendation on conducting FPIC among the affected downstream communities.
Wandag in his letter said, “…the fact that the nearby sitios granted their favorable consideration, it logically follows that the affected communities may now execise their right to FPIC.” # nordis.net