Surigao tribes file graft rap vs Pichay for illegal mining
Two chieftains of the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes from Surigao Del Norte on Friday filed a graft and grave misconduct complaint against Surigao Del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay for illegal mining.
The complainants Datu James Biol and Datu Renante Buklas accused Pichay, and his cohorts of illegal mining, transportation and sale of nickel ores from ancestral lands in barangay (villages) Cagdianao in Claver, Surigao Del Norte.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez earlier cleared Pichay’s mining firm Claver Mineral Development Corp. during a department crackdown on irresponsible mining.
In the complaint, the chieftains accused Pichay of corporate theft for allegedly using fraudulent claims and documents to take over the Claver mining firm.
The chieftains also accused the two of violating the Indigenous People’s Rights Act when Pichay allegedly evicted the Mamanwa tribe from their ancestral lands.
“We were physically dragged out from the site, from our own ancestral domain by the group of Pichay and his cohorts,” the complaint read.
The complainants alleged that Pichay and his cohorts illegally mined and sold nickel ores from the Claver mining site amounting to P86 million.
“Respondent Pichay could not have have successfully committed the foregoing criminal acts which continues and persists up to the present were it not for the active participation of all the respondents from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB),” the complaint read.
The complainants said Pichay and his cohorts were liable for graft under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to the indigenous people (Mamanwa), such as by non-payment of royalties.
They said the respondents should also be charged with violation of Section 3(a) for allegedly persuading or influencing another public official to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.
They added that the respondents should also be preventively suspended and be held administratively liable for grave misconduct.
In an interview before the filing, complainant Datu James Biol called out Lopez for refusing to heed their demand to stop illegal mining in their ancestral lands.
Biol said the tribes wrote to Lopez about Pichay’s alleged illegal mining activities and she has yet to respond.
“Palagay ko liable si Gina Lopez. Siya ang nakaupong secretary. Bakit, nagbubulag-bulagan ba siya?” Biol said.
(I think Gina Lopez is liable. She’s the current secretary. Is she turning a blind eye?)
“Under command responsibility ni Ms. Gina Lopez ang operation ni Pichay, which is illegal. Bakit hindi niya pinatigil?” he added.
(Pichay’s illegal operation is under the command responsibility of Ms. Gina Lopez. Why hasn’t she stopped it?) IDL/rga
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