IP groups want direct participation in mining projects | Inquirer News

IP groups want direct participation in mining projects

/ 05:02 AM November 17, 2023

BAGUIO CITY—The country’s mining firms should work with indigenous peoples (IP) groups when developing projects on ancestral lands to help improve the lives of tribal communities, the top official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said on Wednesday.

“Mining, most of the time, has been [perceived as an enterprise that] poses negative effects on indigenous communities [but] this should not be the case,” said NCIP Chair Jennifer Pia Sibug-las during the 69th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference on Wednesday here.

Sibug-las, who also serves as ethnographic commissioner for central Mindanao, said IPs through the NCIP do not totally oppose mining projects.


“We just want to be involved and consulted in every aspect of these projects,” she told an audience of mine community relations officers at Camp John Hay.


Sibug-las said responsible mining could provide employment, build infrastructure, improve community livelihoods and provide economic stability to tribes which NCIP alone “could not provide.”

NCIP is now an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, after serving for years under the Office of the President.

Sibug-las said ethical mining could be “a catalyst for social progress by facilitating community development projects [to introduce or improve IP] health care, education and infrastructure.”

Responsible and sustainable mining holds “immense potential” if the industry honors and learns from IP traditions that have conserved forest lands and waterways, Sibug-las noted.

She said this was the “purpose” behind Executive Order No. 79, which allowed the late President Benigno Aquino III to freeze all mining activities in the country in order to introduce industry reforms and strengthen the free, prior and informed consent, or FPIC, mandate.

Some of Aquino’s restrictions were lifted recently, including a prohibition on open pit mining until environmental protection regulations are improved.‘Holistic understanding’


“Collaborating with IPs would [provide miners] with a holistic understanding of the land’s significance,” she said, adding that this would also lead them to “innovative techniques to minimize environmental degradation and safeguard biodiversity.”

Speaking with reporters at a mine networking reception on Wednesday night, Hae Kyong Yu, Australia’s ambassador to the Philippines, said an indigenous aboriginal community in Western Australia had invested in mining and was willing to share their experience with indigenous Filipinos.

She was referring to the Yindjibarndi Ngurra whose representatives recently visited the Philippines.

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corp. had partnered this year with Ayala-owned ACEN to develop renewable energy battery projects within aboriginal land called the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Areas.

Earlier in 2018, an iron mine in Western Australia was billed as the first aboriginal-owned mining project.

Yu said mining was a key area of collaboration with Australia which the Philippines could tap following a September agreement which “elevated” the country’s relationship with Australia to a “strategic partnership.”

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga on Thursday said dealing properly with the IP and other host communities was necessary for revitalizing the industry.

The government, she said, has reviewed the mining sector and all its regulations “through a climate lens” and has considered how communities exposed to extreme weather may judge extractive industry programs.

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“Climate change has taken the front seat in the decision-making process of this government,” and harsh weather could “impact social acceptability and [the mining companies’] licenses to operate,” unless companies dialogue properly with people, Loyzaga said at the conference’s mineral symposium.

TAGS: Baguio, Mining, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples

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