Mamanwas continue barricade; mining firm vows to pay P51.5 million

TAGANITO, Claver, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/19 February) – Representatives of the Mamanwa tribe here have vowed to continue the barricade they set up since January 29 until the Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) pays the royalty/share due them.

TMC officials said they are willing and ready to pay the P51.5 million royalty from July 2006 to December 2007 but are awaiting guidance from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on whose bank account the amount would be deposited.

The amount represents 1% of the audited shipment report of TMC from July 2006 to December 2006 when the gross value of the beneficiated nickel silicate ore shipped to Japan and limonite shipped to Australia was P905,396,957.33 and in 2007when the gross value of the shipments of the same to Japan and Australia plus a shipment of low grade soft ore to China totaled P4,248,232,289.08.

The record was forwarded to NCIP acting regional director Jose Dumagan by Alilo Ensomo, Jr., OIC Regional Director of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau in a letter dated December 17, 2008.

The share from the 2008 output, has yet to be computed. Ensomo said TMC has committed to submit the final audited shipment report for 2008 by “the first quarter of 2009.”

TMC resident mine manager Armando Pereda told MindaNews Tuesday afternoon that they are ready to pay “anytime once we receive the instruction from NCIP.”

Datu Reynante Buklas and Datu Alfredo Olorico in a January 19 letter to TMC requested that the P51.5 million be deposited to their joint account at the Philippine Veterans Bank branch in Butuan City.

On January 26, however, Vicente Baldoza, acting provincial director of the NCIP based in Surigao City, wrote TMC requesting that the amount be deposited to the account of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Amapantrimtu) with the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City.

Amapantrimtu is the organization of Mamanwas that forged a Memorandum of Agreement with TMC and the NCIP on July 18, 2006, when TMC was applying for a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for the “exploration, development and commercial utilization of nickel ores/deposits located at Barangays Urbiztondo and Hayanggabon,” covering 4,975.03 hectares.

Under the law, no MPSA can be granted without the free and prior informed consent of the tribe.

The Mamanwa tribe holds a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over 48,870,026.3 hectares in the towns of Alegria, Bacuag, Claver, Guigakuit and Tubod in Surigao del Norte. The CADT was issued on September 22, 2006. The TMC’s MPSA was approved July 28, 2008.

The July 2006 MOA, signed by Datu Olorico, Datu Rizal Buklas (father of Datu Reynante) – leaders of the area where TMC is operating -- and Datu Emiliano Gedi, the CADT head claimant, stipulated only an annual “financial assistance amounting to P500,000” released in two equal tranches every last week of June and second week of December, until 2031.

Pereda said TMC has released a total of P1.5 million in “financial assistance” in accordance with the July 2006 MOA, for years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Pereda said that prior to the approval of their MPSA in 2006, their operations were governed by an operating agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 1989 to 2014. The Mining Act was passed in 1995 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) in 1997.

Datu Olorico and Datu Reynante Buklas confirmed having received a total of P1.5 million from the firm which they divided among themselves. But the leaders said they did not know they were entitled to a 1% royalty/share from the gross output.

The Datus said the NCIP did not tell them they were entitled to royalty and that it took a Butuan-based contractor, Engr. Sergio Pascual, a former contractor of TMC, to tell them last year that they were entitled to so much more under the law.

Pascual told MindaNews at the barricade site last Saturday that he represents the tribe and has a special power of attorney from and a Memorandum of Agreement with the Datus.

He lambasted the NCIP and TMC for allegedly exploiting the Mamanwas. He said the NCIP, “the very government agency that should protect the Mamanwas” is not protecting them.

Pascual has set up the Indigenous Peoples Management and Development Corporation (IPMDC), to help the Mamanwas. He said they have “lawyers, accountants, doctors, nurses, etc..”

Asked if the firm has Mamanwa representatives, IPMDC operations manager Romeo Valentino Catalan replied in the negative. “We are representing them (the Mamanwas,” he told MindaNews.

Asked how much they would be getting, Catalan said the tribe will give them 30% share.

Pascual said he summoned the officials of TMC and two other mining firms operating in the area-- Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation and Platinum Group Metals Corporation – on October 28 and that TMC did not show up.

Two weeks later, on November 13, the NCIP passed Resolution 325 en banc, declaring that the special power of attorney that designated Pascual as Attrney-in Fact of the Mamanwas and the MOA resulting therefrom “violates the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and NCIP Administrative Order NO. 1, Series of 2006” and also declared that it is “contrary to the customs, tradition and practices of the Mamanwa tribe.”

On the same day, the NCIP passed Resolution 324 authorizing the acting regional director of the NCIP to “renegotiate, execute, and/or enter into favorable terms and conditions for and in behalf of the Mamnwa tribe of Surigao del Norte and the NCIP

The resolution acknowledged that “some of the terms and conditions” of the July 2006 MOA are “not in consonance with the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as well as with Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (RA 8371) which provides for the protection and promotion of the interest of the ICCs/IP,” particularly citing the P500,000 annual financial assistance when it should be 1% of the gross production/output as IP royalty/share.

Following Resolution 324, the TMC and NCIP signed a Joint Undertaking on December 8, 2008, acknowledging that the P500,000 annual financial assistance “does not accurately represent the amount due to the Mamanwa Tribe (Ampantrimtu) as their IP loyalty/share” and that “it is the desire” of TMC to “faithfully comply with its legal obligations to the Mamanawa Tribe based on the provisions of both the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.”

The Joint Undertaking was signed by TMC president Gerardo Brimo and NCIP’s Dumagan, in the presence of CADT Head Claimant Datu Emiliano Gedi and MGB’s Ensomo.

Dumagan told MindaNews in a telephone interview that the NCIP in an en banc resolution number 009 dated January 30, 2009 had resolved that the royalty due the Mamanwas be deposited to the Surigao City account of the Mamanwa association.

Dumagan said he received a copy of the en banc resolution this morning.

Datu Olorico and Datu Reynante on Tuesday afternoon said they would only leave the barricade when the firm pays them the royalty. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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