House Commitees got no copy of resolution yet to probe 3 Surigao mining firms, NCIP execs

Two house committees tasked to conduct congressional inquiry on alleged connivance of three mining firms and two local officials of the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP) claimed the Congress House Rules Committee has not yet officially forwarded to them the resolution for official action.

It can be recalled that two congressmen, Representatives Guillermo Romarate, Jr. and Francisco Matugas of Surigao del Norte’s second and first congressional districts respectively filed resolution seeking congressional inquiry to be conducted by both House Committees on Natural Resources and National Cultural Communities.

Matugas is currently Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources while Romarate was former Vice Chair of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities.

Based on official records, last August 30, 2010 proposed resolution no. 189 was received by the Bills and Information department of the House of Representatives.

But both offices of the two House Committees told PNA the House Committee on Rules has not yet allegedly officially forwarded proposed House Resolution 189 for official action.

Adora P. Pueblos, committee secretary on the House Committee on National Cultural Communities chaired by Ifugao Rep. Baguilat suspected the resolution was already referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

But a check by this writer at the House Committee on Natural Resources secretariat office claimed otherwise saying said resolution was not yet forwarded to their office for official action.

Aldi Ge Guia, Supervising Legislative Staff Officer 2 of the House Committee on Natural Resources told PNA like the Cultural Communities committee they have not officially received yet the resolution.

Both De Guia and Pueblos claimed the House of Representatives have temporarily set aside conduct of House probes in favor of Budget Hearings.

“It maybe resumed maybe by November after all budget hearings finished “both House Committee officials claimed.

Pueblos however claimed that since the issue raised by the resolution was about operations of three mining firms namely, Taganito Mining Corporation, Nickel Asia Mining and Sumitomo it will be referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

But Rep. Romarate’s Chief of Staff, Attty. Alfredo Quinones claimed otherwise saying it will be taken more by the House Committee on National Cultural Communities.

Quinones confirmed to PNA in a phone interview that prior for the call for congressional inquiry there were already back channeling discussions or talks between his office, the mining firms and NCIP officials to resolve the issue.

But Rep. Romarate’s Chief of Staff said he is not bent to divulge what were discuss on the back channeling talks saying he will be waiting a congressional inquiry will be held.

Proposed House Resolution No. 189 penned by the two solons directed House Committees on National Cultural Communities and Natural Resources to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the complaints/claim of Mamanwa tribes in Claver, Surigao del Norte on alleged connivance of three mining firms and two NCIP officials in the alleged fraudulent, irregular issuance of Certification of Consent.

The Mamanwa tribes complained that Taganito Mining Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and Nickel Asia Corporation entered and executed a MOA on November 16, 2009 with certain Alicio Patac who misrepresented himself as leader of the Mamanwa tribes in Claver town where said mining firms were allegedly operating for purposes of securing prior certification as required law.

Mamanwa tribes complained that Alicio Patac is not their leader as they have elected/appointed different Mamanwa leaders, Mabalaw Alfredo Olorico and Mabalaw Dodoy Bago and were the ones being authorized by the tribes to represent them in their behalf not Patac.

In the resolution filed by the two solons, local NCIP officials Regional Director Jose Dumagan, Jr. of Caraga Region and NCIIP Provincial Director Vicente Baldoza allegedly gave full credence upon assailed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and proceeded to conduct bogus and illegal consultations with only 30 members of the affected tribes and allegedly bribed them to sign fraudulent resolution to the construction of a mineral processing plant owned by said mining firms in Barangay Taganito, Claver, Surigao del Norte.

The Mamanwa tribes claimed they even appealed to said NCIP officials and their offices by filing formal official letters of petitions to formally investigate the problem they raised and if not conduct hearings to nullify the alleged fraudulent MOA but allegedly all their efforts and pleas fall only to deaf areas or were not given importance.

Without recourse and no options left, Mamanwa tribes through their leaders filed criminal and administrative cases on January 10, 2010 with the Office of Ombudsman against the two NCIP officials.

Mamanwa tribes in their many complaints alleged that even cases were already filed against sad NCIP officials, the problems still existed and no immediate remedy or relief in their plight driving them to almost total desperation.

On July 22, 2010, armed men suspected to be members of the Mamanwa tribes attacked and burned equipment of mining firm Taganito Mining Corporation in Claver town. Some P30-M worth of damages was incurred by said mining firm as a result of armed attack and burning.

Said incident according to the two solons created further tension, animosities and escalate conflict between Mamanwa tribes and the mining firms that if no solutions found in sight it will caused further damages o the economy and threat to peace and order in the province.

In a phone interview, Nickel Asia Corporation office personnel Luchie Bartolome told PNA her bosses at Nickel Asia Corporation office located at 6th Floor Nickel Asia Building in Makati City have not yet advise her to talk to media about the issue.

Bartolome said on Wednesday that her bosses or officers of Nickel Asia were still holding meetings to address the issue.

When asked if there is a chance by phone to get side of the mining firm, Bartolome replied “as of now, nothing because there is no order from our officials yet to respond to queries” (PNA/Ben Serrano)

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