IP communities reject mining project in Benguet town
BAGUIO CITY—Community elders of Mankayan town in Benguet province rejected the application for clearance of a mining firm that plans to explore more than 11,000 hectares of their ancestral land.
In a resolution of nonconsent issued on Monday, more than 60 council elders and leaders of Mankayan’s indigenous peoples (IPs) communities said they turned down the mining project of Cordillera Exploration Co. Inc. (Cexci) “to protect the remaining environment and resources of Mankayan, especially the water.” The town is known for its rich deposits of gold and copper.
Representatives of seven barangays rejected the project while three gave their consent and two were undecided during the consensus-building held on the same day the elders and community leaders signed the resolution.
Republic Act No. 8371 (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997) requires all government and private development projects to secure a clearance called free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from IPs living in areas that these undertakings intend to exploit. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is the agency mandated to to facilitate the process.
Cexci applied for FPIC to explore more than 11,600 ha of lands under Exploration Permit Application No. 116. This is part of its more extensive application for Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement covering lands in Mankayan and Bakun town, also in Benguet, and Cervantes town in Ilocos Sur province.
The Inquirer tried to reach representatives of Cexci, including the company’s geologist, Heather Kim Pomeg-as, for comments on the elders’ decision but they did not take calls on Wednesday.
The communities said mining exploration and operation were not separate, and that mining “creates division and conflict” among IPs. —KIMBERLIE QUITASOL