SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/02 October) – The congressional representatives of Surigao del Norte are seeking an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain (CADT) to alleged fake recipients in two villages in mineral-rich Claver in Surigao del Norte.
The proposed inquiry is contained in House Resolution Number 189 filed by 1st district Rep. Francisco T. Matugas, chair of the House Committee on of Natural Resources and 2nd district Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate, Jr., chair of the House Committee on Cultural Communities.
The inquiry is being sought in view of the alleged highly irregular certification issued to the purported illegitimate tribal leaders of the Mamanwa Tribe in Claver who were reportedly authorized to represent them on the matters affecting the CADT No. R-13-CLA-0906-048 issued on September 22, 2006.
The certification was reportedly issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) through Regional Director Jose Dumagan, Jr. and Provincial Officer Vicente Baldoza, allegedly in connivance with Sumitomo Ltd./Nickel Asia Corporation Group of Companies which now
includes Taganito Mining Corporation.
The CADT comprises 48,870.0263 hectares covering five municipalities: Alegria, Bacuag, Claver, Gigaquit and Tubod.
The mining firm entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on November 16, 2009 with a certain Alicio Patac who allegedly misrepresented himself as the tribal leader of the Mamanwa tribes in the two barangays of Taganito and Urbiztondo in Claver.
But according to Resolution 189, “Alicio Patac is an illegitimate tribal leader as the Mamanwa tribes in the subject barangays have
appointed Mabalaw Alfredo Olorico and Mabalaw Dodoy Bago as their present and current tribal leaders authorized to represent the tribes
on matters affecting their CADT.”
The resolution said Dumagan and Baldoza “gave full credence (to) the assailed MOA and proceeded to conduct bogus and illegal consultations
with only 30 members of the affected IPs and bribed them to sign a fraudulent resolution of consent to the construction of the mineral processing plant of the subject mining corporations in the affected barangays.”
Section 59 of Republic Act 8371 of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 provides that mining firms need the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the affected indigenous peoples in their intended areas of operation.
Nickel Asia Group is currently constructing a nickel processing plant worth $1.3 billion which is expected to be operational by 2013. Leaders of the Mamanwa tribe in the two barangays appealed to the NCIP and other government officials to investigate the matter if not revoke and nullify the certification issued by the NCIP-Caraga but their pleas were not heeded, the resolution added.
They filed criminal and administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman on January 18, 2010 against Dumagan and Baldoza.
“Even with the filing of the cases, no immediate remedy was granted to the affected Mamanwa tribes driving them to point of desperation culminating in the much-publicized attach and burning of mining equipments of Taganito Mining Corporation on July 22, 2010 by disgruntled members of the tribe.”
The damage was estimated at P30 million.
The congressmen said the incident “has escalated the brewing tension between the Mamanwa tribes in the said barangays and the management of
the mining firms and if it is not immediately and fully settled. It will entail considerable and significant economic damage not only to the province of Surigao del Norte but to the national economy a well.”
MindaNews went to the Regional Office of the NCIP in Butuan City last Friday to interview Dumagan but he was not around.
Under the Philippine Mining Act and IPRA, the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) or Lumads on whose ancestral domain a mining firm operates, are entitled to a royalty/share of 1% of the gross production/output.
Taganito Mining Corporation, now under the Nickel Asia Corporation Group of Companies, has paid a total of P72.5 million to the Mamanwa, the indigenous peoples on whose ancestral domain the mining firm operates in Claver, Surigao del Norte, Jane Urbanek, Group Community Relations Manager, told the 1st Caraga Media Conference on July 31 this year.
Urbanek said that after the payment of P51.5 million in February 2009, for the 1% royalty from July 2006 to December 2007, the firm paid P21
million to the Lumads’ association, on December 18, 2009 for the 1% royalty for the year 2008.
Other mining companies operating within the CADT are Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation. Case Mining Company and Platinum Group Mining
Company. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)