Kalinga tribe questions NCIP on mining exploration nod
BAGUIO CITY – Tribal leaders in Pasil town, Kalinga province, have asked the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to suspend the consultation on a gold mining exploration in their land, citing irregularities.
Artemio Dalsen, a member of the Guinaang council of elders, said the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process should be suspended because the NCIP provincial office had failed to act on the opposition filed by Guinaang Indigenous Peoples Organization (Gipo).
Gold is a primary resource drawing mining investors to Pasil, a fifth-class municipality (annual income: P15 million to P25 million) of more than 1,500 households, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The NCIP central office has directed its provincial office to validate Gipo’s manifesto filed on Sept. 9, rejecting the application of Makilala Mining Co. Inc. to explore 3,000 hectares of the tribe’s ancestral domain. The indigenous group said four small-scale mining operations were active in their domain.
“We were already doing the [validation] process and it was during that time when the complaint was raised,” said Natividad Sugguiyao, NCIP Kalinga provincial director.
She denied irregularities in the conduct of the FPIC process. “We conducted the FPIC in accordance with the process as provided for in the guidelines,” she said.
Her office, she said, was in the middle of validating Gipo’s opposition when the petition to suspend the consultation was filed.
Sugguiyao declined to comment on the specific charges Gipo raised.
Dalsen said NCIP officials met with residents in an assembly from November 30 to December 1 and convinced them to sign a resolution of consent that favored Makilala Mining instead of explaining the aim of the FPIC process and the company’s exploration plan.
The officials also asked the people to sign another resolution authorizing the barangay council of elders to consult with the company and represent the tribe, he said.
“The resolutions were prepared by the NCIP personnel,” Dalsen said.
Most of those who attended the consultation, he said, signed the documents even, as the NCIP failed to properly inform them on the scope and impact of Makilala’s exploration application. The signatories came from four of the town’s five villages.
In their petition, the Guinaang leaders asked that all signed documents be voided.
Dalsen questioned the creation of councils of elders in five villages and the exclusion of Barangay Dangtalan from the FPIC process. He said a council of elders already existed to represent the whole tribe in six villages—Guinaang, Pugong, Malucsad, Galang, Bagatayan and Dangtalan.
Its members were chosen by the residents in the villages, he added.
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