House probes Mamanwa’s 1% royalty share in Surigao City

The committee on Cultural Communities of the House of Representatives recently conducted a public hearing in Surigao City to determine the amount of royalty paid by the mining companies to the Mamanwa communities.

Committee chair Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat stressed that the objective of the said activity is to determine the amount of royalty paid by Taganito Mining Companies (TMC) to the indigenous peoples (IP) communities, its utilization and to determine the best sharing mechanism for the IP communities. This is also to resolve the differences between the directly and indirectly affected IP communities.

“It is important that the IPs will be united and not fight because of money,” said Rep. Baguilat.

A report from TMC revealed that a total of P72 M royalty was already paid to the IP communities. First release was P51M deposited to the account of AMPANTRIMTU at Landbank, Surigao City branch. AMPANTRIMTU is an acronym for Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo, an organization of Mamanwas that forged a Memorandum of Agreement with TMC and the NCIP last July 18, 2006.

Another P21 M was released through the NCIP Office by virtue of a resolution. While the 3rd tranche in the amount of P21M which is due for release was put on hold because Datu Reynante Buklas, head of Taganito Tribal Council, claimed that they still have money and pending resolution of differences between the IPs.

Of the royalty paid, according to Datu Buklas, the IP directly and indirectly affected communities agreed during a meeting in Giqaquit, a 60% - 40% sharing.

“60% shall be enjoyed by the 16 indirectly affected IP communities while 40% shall be for the directly affected IP communities,” Buklas said.

“But, prior to the 60-40 sharing, 30% shall be deducted first for the community plan solely of the directly affected communities. The community plan mentioned during the hearing shall embody the programs and projects that will be implemented for the IP beneficiaries from the royalty derived from mining,” Buklas added.

However, head claimant Datu Emiliano Gedi, representing the indirectly affected IP communities raised that the community plan should not only benefit the directly affected IP community but also the indirectly affected communities.

“It is because the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) covers only one ancestral domain, without any distinction whether they are directly affected or indirectly affected by the mining operation of the company,” Gedi said.

Aside from TMC, other companies like Platinum Group Metals Corporation, Shenzhou Mining Group Corporation and Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation are also within the ancestral domain of the Mamanwas. This ancestral domain, according to Datu Gedi, stretched from Kitcharao, Jabonga, Alegria, Bacuag, Giqaquit, Claver and some portions of the Agusan del Sur.

NCIP Regional Director Jose Dumagan, on the other hand, explained that the decisions of his office on certain IP matters are based on the provision on self-determination provided in the IPRA law.

He said that up to this time, “there are no guidelines yet in the disposition of royalties, which I have been requesting from the Commission.”

It may be recalled that the Mamanwa communities in the province have been demanding a 1% royalty due them from the TMC and other mining companies. But after they have won a victory in gaining their rightful share of these payments the deal is mired in complexity and is causing divisions among the recognized leaders and sharing of payments. (MGB-13)

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