Solon urged to stop mining companies

Wary on mining firms which operate on lands covered by ancestral domain but did not pay royalty shares to the “lumads” or indigenous people who owned the same, Cong. Guillermo Romarate, Jr. recently said that he will seek for a congressional inquiry on the matter and will possibly recommend the revocation of mining permits to eventually stop the said mining operations when the 15th Philippine Congress convenes next month.

This was the statement of the second district solon during a recent press conference where he answered questions regarding the unfair treatment received by the “lumads” or tribal people of Surigao del Norte from the multi-million mining companies operating in their ancestral domain particularly the non-payment of the one percent royalty share on net revenues due to them.

Romarate said he will call first the attention of the concerned mining companies and inform them of the legitimate demand of the “lumads” which are locally known as “Mamanwas”.

“They have to remember that the lands they’ve been operating have ancestral domain titles. These are owned by the lumads. If these mining operations will continue to deprive our “lumads” to receive what is due to them, we will do the best thing that we can do especially to stop their operations,” the legislator stressed.

Being a member of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, Cong. Romarate said he will also ask the office of National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to help them claim what is due to the “Mamanwas”.

It was learned that a couple of months ago the native “Mamanwas” or tribal people implored for the help of Cong. Romarate in their effort to possibly collect the one percent royalty share due to them from the indifferent mining companies.

Often stigmatized as uncivilized and vagabond, the “mamanwas” looked up to the Tubod lawmaker as their only hope to recover the financial benefit they are entitled to pursuant to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997. The said outstanding royalty share amounted to more than 200 million pesos.

Under the said laws, mining companies are obliged to pay at least a minimum of 1% share on their annual net income per year to the “lumads” or indigenous people whose owned lands have been declared as ancestral domain by the Philippine government. (Roel Catoto)

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