By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY – Elders from Mankayan town refused to be included in the list of representatives made by the National Commision on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Cordillera for the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes regarding mining applications and land conversions affecting the area.
Under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), FPIC from affected indigenous communities is required for all permits and licenses. An FPIC is presently being sought regarding a proposed technical exploration of Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) in Colalo village and the conversion of a portion of Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) 151 and 001 into a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).
Tony Ugalde, vice president of the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) said the residents of Mankayan did not give consent for the mining company’s MPSA 151. He said that in fact, the elders from Mankayan Ancestral Domain Indigenous Peoples Organization (Madipo) filed a case for the cancellation of MPSA 151.
An 80 hectare portion of the MPSA 151 hosts an ore body adjacent to a portion of land declared as MPSA 001-90-CAR which also has the same characteristic. An FTAA conversion is all what South African mining giant Gold Fields needed to own bigger shares in FSGRI. Gold Fields owns 40 percent shares while Lepanto has 60 percent shares. Gold Fields reportedly gave down payments of US$44 million in 2010 and another US$66 million in 2011 for shares in the ore body.
According to Ugalde, the areas affected by the conversion are the villages of Poblacion, Tabio, Colalo, Paco, Cabiten, Sapid, Bulalacao and Suyoc.
Ugalde said that on June 28, representatives from the NCIP held simultaneous consultations in villages Cabiten, Paco, Sapid Colalo, Tabio, Suyoc, Poblacion and Bulalacao. He revealed that the NCIP has lists of the names of elders who would represent each barangay to the FPIC process on the FTAA conversion. He said that the elders especially those from Tabio, Bulalacao and Paco demand that their names be erased from the lists.
“If they will agree to the said list then it means they are also agreeing to the FTAA conversions which we are actually protesting,” said Ugalde in the local dialect. He said the NCIP listed many names even without knowing if the following people would agree or not.
Ugalde said that they are submitting a petition signed by SMM members and Mankayan residents to the regional office of NCIP against the validation of the lists of elders who would be representatives to the FPIC process. He said that the petition is also a reiteration of their stand opposing the FTAA conversion of portions of MPSA 151 and 001.
In the petition, the residents stressed that they are against the FTAA conversion as the permit of MPSA 151 is temporary as there is no FPIC on it yet. They demand that such (FPIC) should be held first prior to entertaining any FTAA conversion.
The residents, through the petition, also reminded the NCIP of the invalidation case against MPSA 151. They also stated that only the communities directly affected by the conversion should take part in the decision process on the FTAA application.
The petition is addressed to NCIP Cordillera Regional Director Sancho S. Buquing. Ugalde said they will file the petition on July 1. He said they are giving also a copy to Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan.