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Complaint of the Mamanwa Indigenous People against Mindoro Resources Limited Mining Exploration, Agusan Del Norte

This is a story brief on the Mamanwa (Philippines) case presented at the Asian People’s Land Rights Tribunal held at the University of the Philippines last 16-17 January 2014.

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The Mamanwa indigenous people in Sitio Dinarawan and Barangay Bunga in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte oppose the nickel, gold and copper-gold exploration of the Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL). The Exploration Permit (EP) has expired on November 4, 2012. However, the people are alarmed that mining operations may resume that is feared to threaten Lake Mainit that was declared a key biodiversity area.

The Mamanwas said Lake Mainit is sacred to them and the ancestral domain is their most valuable resource handed down to them by their forefathers. Its destruction is grave violation of their customary laws, culture and traditions. They have been living and dependent on the lake for livelihood even prior to the creation of the Republic of the Philippines. They asserted that under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (RA 8371), they have the right to use and protect their ancestral domain.

In a resolution passed by the Dinarawan Indigenous Peoples Organization (DIPO) on July 23, 2008, the Mamanwa community opposed the entry of MRL in Sitio Dinarawan. They expressed this in the consultation conducted by MRL in July 2008. The same position was submitted to the Office of the President, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the same year.

The Mamanwa indigenous group composed of 67 households has pending ancestral domain claim since October 2008 with the NCIP on the 8,000- hectare terrestrial and lakeshore areas, including a portion of Lake Mainit which is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines.

The MRL’s C$15M exploration project which seeks to define a world class nickel deposit suitable for large scale mining started in 1997.  Its first tenement for mining exploration covers the Agata Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) site, the company’s principal nickel laterite resource, close to Santiago, Agusan del Norte. 

At the time of application, the area was divided in five parcels. The communities of Dinarawan and Bunga are located north of the Agata MPSA, in the Municipality of Jabonga, Agusan del Norte and their concerns relate to areas covered by the Tapian Extension tenement.

In July 2002, the company applied for an additional Exploration Permit that covered several areas north of the Agata MPSA and west of Lake Mainit, which was named the Tapian Extension.  Its EP for the Tapian Extension was issued in November 2010 by the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB).

On September 16, 2011, the Mamanwa tribe in Sitio Dinarawan filed a formal complaint before the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation, one of MRL’s major shareholders, equivalent to 9% of MRL’s total equity. CAO is an independent redress mechanism that is mandated to address complaints from people affected by IFC supported projects.

The complaint was caused by the entry of MRL’s employees in the sacred grounds of Mamanwa’s ancestral domain without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The indigenous group cited this as violations of Sections 10, 16 and 59 of the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA). The law states that the indigenous people have the right to be informed in any projects/programs or activities that will be done within the ancestral domain, and to participate in any decision that will take place within the ancestral domain territory.

They asserted that consultations should have been conducted prior to MRL operations.  Where consultations did take place, the negative impacts of the project were not explained thoroughly.

The Mamanwa community lamented that the MRL exerted undue pressure and influence on community leaders, attempted to create parallel leadership structures, used LGU representatives to pressure the communities, and used of illegitimate signatures to demonstrate community consent, among others. This caused deep division in the tribal community and even familial relations. This resulted to some of their community members defying the decision of tribal chieftains and community elders, a grave violation of their customs and tradition.

The indigenous people community criticized the 2010 Summary of Public Information and the Environmental and Social Review Summary of IFC that stated no IP community is physically or economically displaced or otherwise directly affected by the exploration activities or by land access. The report further said the Manobo and Mamanwa are physically distinct but no longer practicing their old customs and traditional religion.

Engaging the CAO mediation mechanism has worn down the Mamanwa community and found the process not going to their favor with their demands seemingly falling on deaf ears.

In October 2012, CAO issued its Appraisal Report holding that the conduct of a compliance audit is unlikely at present.  CAO acknowledges that extractive industry projects, even at the exploration stage, can have significant social impacts on indigenous communities, particularly when sites of religious or cultural importance are involved.  However, the immediate risk of adverse outcomes to the complainants was mitigated by MRL’s decision to suspend exploration in the contested area. #

Philippines readying policy to head off mining bans

Reuters

Posted at 11/10/2011 7:14 PM | Updated as of 11/11/2011 10:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines could unveil a comprehensive mining policy by the end of 2011 that addresses thorny issues hampering the industry, including when the national government can overrule provincial bans, a government official said on Thursday.

A government panel created last month to craft a new mining policy is expected to submit its proposals on November 15 for approval by President Benigno Aquino before the year ends, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno said.

Governments of two southern provinces, Zamboanga del Norte and South Cotabato, have banned open-pit mining, affecting existing and planned projects and worrying investors.

TVI Resource Development (Phils) Inc., the local unit of Canada’s TVI Pacific Inc., has sought a court order to stop the ban in Zamboanga del Norte, which took effect this week and would force the firm to close its polymetallic mine within one year.

A similar ban last year in South Cotabato has put at risk the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project of global miner Xstrata Plc and Indophil Resources NL.

“While serious efforts have been extended to address the issues on mining through the years, it has been shown that many measures still need to be put in place to ensure the survival of the industry,” Jasareno said in a speech at a mining conference.

He said the new policy would likely be enacted through an executive order (EO) by the president rather than a vote in Congress, and should correct inconsistencies between national and local laws that have seen some provinces ban government-approved projects.

The provincial governments have cited environmental reasons in banning certain mining methods, although the national mining law does not prohibit open-pit mining.

The Southeast Asian country, which has an estimated $1 trillion worth of metallic mineral reserves, considers mining as a growth sector that will attract investments and create jobs but the uncertainty has been a deterrent to investors.

Last month Jasareno told Reuters mining investment this year might not even reach $1 billion, or about one-third of a government forecast of $2.8 billion.

Jasareno said the new policy would also address the issue of revenue-sharing between the government and the industry, which opposes a proposal for additional royalties.

“We hope that the new mining policies can finally lead the industry to a middle ground where the concerns of every stakeholder will be reasonably addressed,” he said.

Benguet folk quarrel over mining exploration – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:18:00 09/12/2010

BAKUN, Benguet, Philippines –Tension has erupted among residents of Barangay Gambang here after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a mining permit to Royalco Philippines to explore 1,442 hectares in the village.

In a consultation called by local officials on Friday, members of the Gambang Indigenous Peoples Association and Community Organization (Gipaco) clashed with land owners who welcomed the exploration.

Gipaco members, most of them farmers, assailed the MGB’s decision to issue the permit despite what they said was the community’s rejection of the project.

Read more at  Benguet folk quarrel over mining exploration – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.