By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Gambang, Bakun folk specifically in phase 3 of Royalco’s concession has organized guard at all possible entry points against the entry of drilling machinery reportedly to be brought by the company into area.
Members of the community headed by their barangay captain and officers of Bakun Aywanan trooped here on March 16 to air their indignation against the reported plan of a certain Vale mining company to continue Royalco’s exploration in phase 3.
The certification precondition for the said phase was earlier nullified by the National Commision on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) through En banc resolution No. 004 series of 2011.
Lazaro Moc-eg, barangay captain of Gambang said, members of Monkey Forest had been frequenting the areas covered by phase 3 saying Vale will continue the mining exploration project of Royalco in the said area.
Monkey Forest is an organization hired by Vale to conduct the Information Education Campaign (IEC) for exploration project.
Moc-eg recounted that they asked the said organization what right does Vale have to continue Royalco’s project. Monkey Forest’s staff told them that Vale and Royalco made an agreement which the community cannot understand and nor were they informed when the said agreement was made.
Moc-eg further recounted that Monkey Forest said, Vale will continue Royalco’s exploration project without the process of the free prior and informed consent (FPIC).
Moc-eg then told this writer that they strongly oppose the mine firm’s action. He is disappointed that the afore mentioned companies are not respecting what has already been discussed during the congressional consultation and the nullification of the certification precondition of the said phase issued by the NCIP.
“Talaga a madin ti tao ijay phase 3 daytoy a project ngem apay a piliten da pay laeng nga sumrek?,” he iterated.
On the other hand, a letter dated March 10, 2011 of a certain Gambang Exploration Project to Vice Mayor Paul Dalmones of Bakun stated that there is an upcoming exploration activity in phase 3 despite NCIP’s nullification of its certification precondition.
It was further stated that the company did not receive any notice from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) stating that the exploration permit of Royalco has been revoked. The said letter then asked the Local Government Unit (LGU) to facilitate a meeting between Gambang Exploration Project and stakeholders in phase 3 regarding the upcoming exploration activites.
Dominga Gaspar, treasurer of the Bakun Aywanan and also one of the barangay councilors said that they are confused, who this Gambang Exploration Project is and what is its relationship to Vale. She added that it is their first time to hear of the said company and that the mining companies are deceiving them by giving several names.
Gaspar further said that right after hearing the information that a drilling machine is to be transported to their area, members of the community raged in anger. Barangay officials and council of elders she said are concerned that if this problem is not settled soon, it can trigger a clash between the anti and the pro mining groups.
“Ti karirigatan a trabaho ket ti ag-anawa,” (The most difficult job is to pacify) she added. The exploration project she said broke their cultural integrity from the very beginning by dividing them into anti and pro and it has aggravated.
Gaspar then called for an immediate action from the NCIP regarding the matter while it can still be solved in a civil manner.
She reiterated that it will be very difficult to solve the problem if blood is shed. She also called for the respect of what has been decided during the congressional consultation.
It can be recalled that commissioner Zenaida Hamada-Pawid during the said consultation categorically stated that if the certification precondition is nullified, there should be no basis already for an exploration permit to exist. Gaspar then said that Royalco’s permit should have been revoked already and there should also be no exploration activities being conducted.
“Tao tayo met a nagtutungtong idi February 24 isunga respetaren da koma met nu anya ti nagtungtungan,” she said.
They then went to the NCIP regional office to register their demand, however, the Regional Director Amador Batay-an was not around.
It was also revealed that MGB did not have a copy yet of the commission’s Enbanc resolution nullifying the said certification precondition that is why the said agency cannot revoke phase 3’s permit.
As of press time, members of each family affected in phase 3 organized a rotation of guard in the different routes to hinder the possible entry of drilling machines. # nordis.net