Mamanwas lift barricade at Taganito mines; tribe to meet March 12 to settle internal conflict

The Mamanwa tribe has lifted the barricade at the entrance of the production site of the Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) in Claver, Surigao del Norte and chieftains are preparing a general assembly on March 12 to settle an internal conflict over who should benefit from the “largest royalty payment” ever made to a Philippine tribe in mining history.

The barricade, set up on January 29 to pressure the Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) into paying at least 1% royalty due the tribe was lifted on March 4 following a meeting at the governor’s office, Datu Reynante Buklas told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Datu Emiliano Gedi, head claimant of the Mamanwas’ ancestral domain, told MindaNews in a telephone interview Sunday that there would be a meeting on March 12 at the Surigao City Pastoral Center, to discuss how to settle the internal conflict so they can proceed with planning on what to do with the P51.5 million.

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 of the Mamanwas was issued on September 22, 2006.

Last month, Datu Reynante, along with Datu Olorico, the Datus who set up the barricade, demanded that the P51.5 million royalty TMC promised to pay from July 2006 to December 2007, be deposited to their joint account at the Philippine Veterans Bank in Butuan City. But TMC, following a resolution of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), deposited the amount on February 19 to the account of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu) in the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City.

Ampantrimtu in July 2006 signed a Memorandum of Agreement with TMC where the latter promised P500,000 a year as financial assistance. Engr. Sergio Pascual, a former contractor of TMC who claimed to have a special power of attorney from the tribal chieftains to represent them demanded payment of at least 1% royalty due the Mamanwas.

Pascual’s representation, however, was not honored by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) saying he is not a member of the indigenous peoples, among others.

Pascual had set up a Caraga Indigenous Peoples Management and Development Corporation and based on a memorandum of agreement with the Mamanwa, and was going to be paid 30% of the royalty payment “by way of management/negotiation fee and reimbursement of incidental expenses” for a period of 25 years.

Pascual told MindaNews Sunday that Datu Reynante is now with Gedi and the NCIP, having been assured, and he adds, “with intimidation” by the NCIP’s acting regional director, Jose Dumagan and Governor Robert Ace Barbers.

Datu Reynante told MindaNews the money has already been deposited and his community members deserve to benefit from that royalty payment.

Datu Olorico, however, is still with Pascual, the engineer said, Pascual acknowledged the barricade has been lifted but maintains the NCIP erred in depositing the cheque to Ampantrimtu.

Pascual’s help in setting up the barricade had earlier been acknowledged by Datus Reynante and Oloric who told MindaNews last month that they “owe” Pascual for the sacks of rice and food needed at the barricade.

The P51.5 million TMC deposited to the account of the Mamanwas represents only the period July 2006 to December 2007. Another royalty payment is expected this year from TMC for its 2008 production. Two other mining firms have yet to pay the Mamanwas their royalty share – Platinum Group of Metals Corporation and Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation.

Under the Mining Act, mining firms are supposed to allocate royalty payment of “not less than one percent of the value of the gross output of minerals sold.”

“We are pleased to confirm that we have today made a deposit in the amount of P51,536,292.46” to the account of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu) in the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City, TMC President Gerard H. Brimo, in his February 19 letter to the NCIP’s Dumagan.

“The amount represents 1% of our gross sales of Nickel laterite computed from July 2006 (the date of our Memorandum of Agreement with the Ampantrimtu) to December 2007 from our Taganito mine,” Brimo said.

The amount represents 1% of the P5.1 billion 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.

“Once our audited sales figures of laterite shipments in 2008 are finalized, we will provide a similar computation for the royalty due. In the absence of any specific guidelines on when this should be paid, we propose to pay the 1% royalty on sales for the first half of 2008 at the end of June and the royalty for the second half or 2008 at the end of September,” Brimo said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)


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