Tampakan residents call for transparency in settling mining disputes

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Residents affected by the proposed operations of the controversial US$5.9-billion (roughly Php297-billion) mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato has called for the release of all vital documents and open discussions connected to the mine in an online learning forum organized by the Mediators' Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet) and the Partnership Mission for Peoples Initiatives Inc. (PMPI) held 21 January 2021.

The request was made directly to Dir. Michael Mamukid of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region 12 office and his staff who attended the forum. NCIP committed to provide Tampakan stakeholders, through the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, with the relevant documents within a month.

Marbel Bishop Cerilo Alan Uy Casicas supported the petitioners in requesting for the documents and enjoined everyone to continue the dialogue to help resolve the issues in a peaceful manner.

The documents being requested concerned the Certification Precondition (CP) given to the Saggitarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) the reports on the activities on the conduct of the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, the Field-Based Investigation (FBI) reports

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conducted from 2008-2016, and results of all community and area-based surveys conducted, among others.

Representing the affected 4,000 residents were the B’laan community in the area, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel that is supporting the residents; and civil society groups that included the multisectoral Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).

 

The proposed mining project covers almost 24,000 hectares, touted to be Southeast Asia’s largest untapped copper and gold mining project. Within the proposed area are two river systems and Lake Buluan and Liguasan Marsh that are sources of food and water for households and farming areas of residents in the surrounding communities.

 

It has been granted the right to extract the deposit in the ancestral domain of the B’laan indigenous peoples. SMI, developer of the Tampakan project, has obtained the CP, a vital requirement from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that allows the company to explore and extract the mining deposits within the ancestral domain.

 

The CP is a certification that indigenous peoples (IPs) have given their consent to the mining venture within their ancestral domain, and that the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process has been satisfactorily complied with by the company. However, representatives to the forum said that there was no transparency in the process, thus they have not given the consent.

 

The local court has also dismissed all petitions filed by the residents against the proposed mining operations, making the process of establishing the mine legal.