CLAVER, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/03 September) — A group of Manobo tribesmen has barricaded since Monday, Sept. 2, the entrance to the stockpile area of a mining firm in this town to demand royalty.
The Manobos, who came from Barangay Pakwan in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, belong to the Kahugpungan sa Nagkahiusang Tribu nga Manununod sa Yutang Kabilin (Kantrimyuka).
Their spokesperson, Barangay Chair Romel Dawog of Pakwan, said part of the land where Adnama Mining Resources Inc. (AMRI) operates is within their ancestral domain.
Dawog told MindaNews yesterday he was speaking on behalf of Datu Mansa Samuel Dawog Sumanda, a leader of Kantrimyuka and a close relative.
The group has put up a makeshift dwelling at the main entrance to AMRI’s stockpile area in Barangay Urbiztondo, Claver.
Dawog said AMRI would be forced to stop its operations as its heavy equipment could not pass the access road where the nickel ores are being stockpiled for shipment.
He said the company has violated their rights for failing to pay them royalty. But he did not answer how much he thought the company should pay.
Over 100 Manobos have arrived in the area since Sunday, and at least 700 others would be coming, the barangay official said.
He showed MindaNews some documents, mostly demand letters for AMRI with endorsements from Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas.
MindaNews tried to verify with Matugas about the endorsements but he has not replied as of today.
Dawog said Kantrimyuka has areas in Carrascal in Surigao del Sur, Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Placer, Tubod, Mainit, Taganaan in Surigao del Norte and parts of Surigao City including some coastal areas.
He said their group is different from that of the Mamanwas who previously staged a barricade in June this year against AMRI to demand a royalty of P30 million.
The Mamanwas lifted their barricade after receiving an initial payment of P10 million.
In 2009, the Mamanwas also barricaded Taganito Mining Corp., forcing the company to pay its royalty obligations from 2006 to 2008 amounting to P72.5 million.
It was touted as the “largest royalty payment” ever made to a tribe in the country’s mining history.
Three other mining companies are operating in Claver— Shen Zhou Mining Group Corp., Platinum Group Mining Corp. and the Taganito High Pressure Acid Leach Nickel Corporation.
Claver Mayor Eddie P. Gokiangkee meanwhile said that Katrimunyaka did not seek a rally permit, although he admired the group and the Mamanwas for taking an aggressive action against the mining firms.
“The IPs (indigenous peoples) are smarter than the people of Claver because if the mining companies would not pay they would stage a barricade,” Claver said.
He said some mining firms in town have never paid business tax to the local government.
The mayor said AMRI is now on the verge of closure, as its 300-ha mining area is already mined out.
Section 7-b of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 entitles indigenous peoples to “negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws…”
The Mamanwas’ 48,678-ha mining areas in barangays Taganito and Urbiztondo are covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.
MindaNews tried to contact AMRI officials through Dulmar Raagas, the president of Chamber of Mines Caraga Region to get their statement, but no to avail.
Joel Delapa, a local resident, said it was awkward to see Manobos trying to claim royalty from a mining firm in his barangay. He said he never heard that there are Manobos in Surigao del Norte.
James Dela Pena of Poblacion Claver said there are no Manobos here, only Mamanwas who are said to have existed since time immemorial. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)