By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — A resolution relative to the application of the Binongan tribe of Licuan-Baay, Abra for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction against Jabel Corporation and Abra Mining Industrial Corporation was granted here by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Regional Hearing Office on January 7.
It can be recalled that last year, Binongan tribe of Abra and their counsel filed a class suit against the aforementioned mining companies saying that the exploration, development and exploitation of the two companies will adversely affect the environment and their livelihood.
They petitioned for the nullification of Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA’s) over their ancestral domain with a claim for damages and a prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction.
The Binongan tribe in their petition asserted that they are Indigenous Peoples (IP’s) belonging to the Binongan tribe of Licuan-Baay, Abra and owners of their ancestral lands and ancestral domains since time immemorial.
Moreover, they asserted that their ancestral domains were not included in the lands conquered by the Spaniards, therefore was never part of the public domain that belongs to the state under the Regalian Doctrine. They pointed out in their petition that their ancestral domain does not belong to the state, it belongs to the tribe even prior to Spanish occupation.
However in 1999, a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) No. 141-99-CAR was executed between the Republic of the Philippines and Jabel Corporation over an area of 297 hectares located in sitio Patok-Pias, Licuan-Baay, Abra.
Moreover, on the same year, another MPSA numbered 144-99-CAR was executed by the same parties over a wider area of 756 hectares located in the same municipality.
The Binongan tribe asserted that the two MPSA’s were null and void because the consent of the tribe and other IP’s in the municipality was not obtained nor was their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) before the agreements were signed.
It was further stated that a conduct of any mining activities within their ancestral lands with or without their consent would cause irreparable damage, injury and prejudice against the IP’s in the subject areas.
The NCIP regional hearing office found the petition sufficient in form and substance and considered the urgency of the issues pointed out thus, granted application of the petitioners for a TRO on December 14, 2010. With the issuance of the TRO, NCIP ordered the company agents and representatives to cease and desist from entering either the surface or underneath the ancestral lands of the tribe.
After the issuance of the TRO, a summary hearing for the tribe’s application for the writ of preliminary injunction was set on January 6 this year. During the said hearing, there was a witness who testified that the companies did not abide by the TRO. According to the witness, there were still workers of the company who are doing mining activities.
With the situation, the tribe asked for the urgent issuance of the writ. Premises considered, the NCIP granted them the writ of preliminary injunction in order to preserve the tribe’s ancestral domain. This decision was made by the commission even without the appearance of the respondents. However, in exchange for the granted writ, the petitioners must pay an injunctive bond amounting to P300,000. # nordis.net