Mamanwas bicker over division of royalty fee from mining firm

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/16 May) – A disagreement among Mamanwas over how to divide up the royalty payment from a mining firm has remained unresolved.

Shen Zhou Mining Group Corporation (SMGC) had deposited the P11-million royalty fee for the Lumads on May 10 yet. But the amount had not been withdrawn as of Tuesday afternoon due to the failure of four signatories of the Mamanwas’ bank accounts to sign the withdrawal slip.

SMGC operates in parts of Claver and Gigaquit towns in Surigao del Norte covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) 048 held by the Mamanwas.

On Tuesday afternoon, seven tribal chieftains belonging to the “indirectly affected” beneficiaries of CADT 048 and several of their members went to the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) provincial office here for word from the four tribal chieftains who did not sign the withdrawal slip.

On December 5 last year, 18 leaders of CADT 048 passed a resolution that 30% of the royalty fee shall be allotted for the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan or ADSDPP.

The remaining 70% will then be divided as follows: 10% will be allotted for the honorarium of the 18 tribal communities; 90% will then be divided again into a 40-60% sharing where 40% will be go to the directly affected communities and the 60% to the 16 “indirectly affected” ones.

Datu Emiliano Gedi, tribal chieftain of Katikuyan, Barangay Camam-onan in Gigaguit town said that two of the signatories, Vilma Coter and Bae Joan Hukman, promised to return to the NCIP office at about 3pm on Monday.

But he declined to comment why Coter and Hukman failed to return and if they refused to sign the withdrawal slip.

NCIP sources who requested anonymity said Coter texted that she was still in a hospital while Hukman said she will still talk to the two other signatories, Datu Enrico Olise and Datu Ferdinand Lebrigo.

Coter did not reply to a text message from MindaNews.

Mamanwas who had gathered at the NCIP office said Coter’s group told them she will sign the withdrawal slip if they will agree that the amount for the ADSDPP would instead be divided equally among the CADT communities.

The Mamanwas also alleged that Coter’s group asked the tribal chieftains to “donate” an undisclosed amount from their royalty share allegedly to defray the expenses during the barricade held at the mine site of SMGC on May 2.

However, the tribal officials at the NCIP office said they would rather wait for a final decision by their group before issuing comments.

NCIP acting provincial officer Randy R. Rosas said his office will issue an official statement after they see the December 5, 2011 resolution of the CADT holders.

The Mamanwas of CADT-048 in the past got embroiled in a controversy over the handling of millions in royalty fees they were supposed to get from Taganito Mining Corporation.

The controversy led to a congressional inquiry in January 2011 and the suspension of NCIP regional director Jose Jake Dumagan and NCIP provincial officer Vicente Baldoza in July last year.

On Friday, MindaNews learned from NCIP provincial legal officer Mark Bernal that as of May 10, SMGC had deposited P11 million in four Metrobank accounts of the Mamanwas.

On May 2, Mamanwas mostly from Urbiztondo and Taganito in Claver barricaded the mine site of Shen Zhou mining for its alleged failure to pay them their royalty fees.

The Mamanwas also called for the stoppage of the firm’s mining operations based on the cease and desist order issued by the NCIP En Banc on January 12.

Shen Zhou corporate secretary Jacqueline de Leon said the company can only respond to the order once they receive the writ of execution. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)

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