Surigao Tribes Divided as Ever Over P51.5-M Mining Royalty fee Deposit

The tug of war over the P51.5-M royalty fee payment deposited at Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Surigao City Branch continued as one of the leader of affected Mamanwa tribal communities asked the government bank certifications of report of compliance of the Anti-Money laundering law and other certifications such as on whether Savings Account No. 0981-1545-82 is a trust account or not.

In their letter to Land Bank dated February 25, 2009, Datu Alfredo Olorico and Datu Reynante Buklas asked Land Bank officials to explain why they should not be charged of violating the anti-money laundering law as it asked certification from the bank when was the savings account was opened in the name of AMPANTRIMTU.

Registered with DOLE, AMPANTRIMTU is an acronym of Mamanwa Tribal Organization named Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo.

Its officers and members and were composed by Mamanwa tribesmen affected by mining activities of the three mining frims operating in their ancestral lands in Barangays Taganito and Urbiztondo, all in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

The three mining firms, Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) began operating in their ancestral lands since 1976 while Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation (OSMC) started operations in 2006 likewise the Atayde owned Platinum Group of Metals Corporation (PGMC).

But Joel Buklas, cousin of Reynante Buklas told this writer in a mobile phone interview that Reynante Buklas have already allegedly detached himself from the group of Engr. Sergio Pascual’s Caraga Indigenous People Management and Development Corporation, a firm set up by Pascual to help the Mamanwa tribes.

Buklas claimed this only leaves Datu Alfredo Olorico to the side of Pascual now. Datu Joel Buklas claimed in same phone interview Reynante Buklas is about to signed agreement with Land Bank. Bukals however did not further explain what agreement it will sign.

This writer tried to reach Datu Reynante Buklas in his contact number but to no avail.

Datu Joel Buklas alleged they belong to the group of Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers who is helping them while Datu Emiliano Gedi belonged allegedly to the group of Surigao del Norte Rep. Guillermo Romarate, Jr.

The two Surigao del Norte top officials are politically at odds with each other.

The original signatories of the MOA signed by mining firm TMC and the Mamanwas in July 18, 2006 were Datu Alfredo Olorico, Datu Rizal Buklas, father of Reynante and Datu Emiliano Gedi signing as Provincial Tribal Consultative Chairman of Surigao del Norte.

Last week, the Surigao del Norte Pastoral Council have conducted tribal meeting in Claver, Surigao del Norte hoping to reconcile differences among tribes but said initiatives allegedly suffered temporary set backs after failure of some to attend while the others have allegedly failed to agree on terms.

Last February 19, 2009, mining firm Taganito Mining Corporation with the help of the NCIP after it passed resolution deposited some P51.5-M to the Land Bank of the Philippines Surigao City Branch in the name of AMPANTRIMTU with signatories represented by Datu Emiliano Gedi, Vicente Baldoza, the provincial director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and a “community representative” named Dodoy Bago, of Urbiztondo.

The Mamanwa tribe under Datu Olorico and Datu Buklas is one of the holder of the 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.

Datu Alfredo Olorico and Datu Reynante Buklas with other tribal members and officers signed an agreement with Engr Pascual giving him authority through Special Power of Attorney to negotiate for and in their behalf in their claims.

In return, Pascual draw up plans and created Caraga Indigenous People Management and Development Corporation. (Ben Serrano)

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