Pacifica reportedly signed a loan agreement with Zam-Iron on January 2, for the firm to use the amount for exploration, development and use of its tenements for the potential gold, silver and iron deposits in the towns of Kabasalan and Siay in Zamboanga Sibugay province, also referred to as Kabasalan Mining Rights, spanning 11,056.5 hectares.
The loan agreement gives Pacifica an option to buy 50 percent of all mineral output from the Kabasalan Mining Rights over five years.
It also provides that all Zam-Iron shareholders pledge their issued shares to secure the loan from Pacifica.
Represented by its president, Luisito Flores, Zam-Iron has filed exploration permit applications covering gold, silver and iron deposits of the Kabasalan Mining Rights.
Sanggayan, who earned the distinction of being the first IP representative to the provincial board by virtue of Republic Act 7381 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, said Zam-Iron must respect “the universally respected rights of the indigenous peoples to a free and prior informed consent (FPIC)” before starting their explorations in Kabasalan and Siay towns.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples explicitly recognizes the principle of FPIC as their right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources including the development and utilization of surface and subsurface resources.
“We must warn Zam-Iron that the IPs in these areas have already started (processing) their ancestral domain claims last year,” Sanggayan said.
In Kabasalan alone, according to Sanggayan, the IPs had processed their claims for ancestral land covering some 22,000 hectares. The application is pending at the provincial office of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“We are not saying that we are against Zam-Iron or any other mining firms for that matter,” Sanggayan clarified, adding that “I am not totally against mining but let us ensure that we will do it responsibly”.
“These mining companies must realize that the indigenous peoples have the right to say ‘no’ to proposed development projects at any point during negotiations,” he said. (Antonio M. Manaytaty/MindaNews contributor)