Central Luzon Region Is Attracting Mining Investors,but Driving Indigenous People Off Ancestral LandPublished by MAC on 2006-08-18
Source: Bulatlat Vol.6 (V.I) No.27 ()
Central Luzon is attracting mining investors with a total of 286 varied applications from local and multi-national companies pending with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau. The region is rich with high-value minerals, including asphalt, basalt, gold, silver, copper and zinc but these however, do not benefit indigenous peoples who are being driven away by the mining ventures.
The region is composed of provinces of Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and parts of Aurora.
"We do not need land titles," said Nelson Mallari, secretary-general of Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA), in opening the dialogue with the officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources August 3.
In the past nine years of the Republic Act 8371, known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, he said its provisions for ancestral land and domain titling has been a convenient way for big companies to grab their ancestral domains in Zambales province.
"Ang pagpapatitulo ang naging daan sa pangangamkam ng lupa at pagkakahati ng aming tribu," (Land titling has paved the way to land grabbing and division in our tribes) he said.
In Porac, the regional offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), has given way to big mining companies, he said.
Leo Jasareno, chief of Mining Tenements Management Division of MGB, said about 500 mining applications have been lodged covering explorable areas in Central Luzon.
Mallari cited developments projects being undertaken in Zambales, such as mining, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway Project, and various eco-tourism projects around Mt. Pinatubo have caused the Aetas to leave.
DENR Director Jeremiahs Dolino said if the indigenous tribes oppose the projects particularly mining, as in the case of Pisumpan deposit, the project would not push through.
Application under Minerals Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for Pisumpan was denied by the MGB when it failed to secure a Certification of Pre-condition from the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
As of June, 286 applications are pending before MGB, while 39 have been approved and registered in Central Luzon.
At least 19, 173 has. had been approved for exploration under MPSA cover.
The biggest project approved under MPSA covers some 5,800 has. in the towns of Bagac and Mariveles in Bataan. Robust Rock Resources, operator, will yield basalt as main product.
In Candelaria and Sta. Cruz towns, in Zambales province, an area of 4,619 has. has been approved for Eramen Minerals, Inc. which will mine nickel, cobalt and chromite. A big name in mining industry, Benguet Corp., will be exploring some 1,406 has. for limestone also in Sta. Cruz.
In Tarlac province, the Rock and Ore Industries Inc. will mine limestone and shale minerals in Sta. Ignacia town, covering some 2,187 has. The Balanga Bataan Mineral Corp. also got the nod of the MGB to dig gold and copper in 1,410 has. in Bataan.
Three more projects in Zambales have applications under process with MGB. One involves chromite and ore venture by San Juanico Res. Corp. covering some 478,644 has. in Baranggay Pinagrealan in the town of Guisguis, and in the towns of Candelaria and Sta. Cruz.
Also in Zambales, in San Antonio town, Tong Tai, Corp. will explore 8,100 has. to produce serpentine. The company has been denied by local MGB but has a pending appeal. In Botolan, Cabangan and also in San Antonio, Long Fong Corp. applied for 8,100 has. for serpentine.
In San Marcelino town, Green Valley Co., will develop 4,207 has. for limestone, clay and aggregates. Sophia Mineral Corp., meanwhile, applied for 6,095 has. in San Narciso and San Marcelino towns for serpentine, gravel but filed appealed after being denied.
Meanwhile, limestone mining is abundant in Nueva Ecija, with two big exploration projects involving Royal Cement & Mining Corp., with 8,100 has. in Capotatan, Minalungan, Balukbuk, Pantay in General Tinio town; Global Ore Mineral Inc. with 7,290 has. in Bongabon town. In Lupao town and San Jose City, some 8,131 has. will be used by Mariestad Mining Corp. to mine manganese and ore.
Partial total hectares under process under MPSA, is at 747,180 has.
Applications for MPSA covering some 747,180 has. are still being processed.
By end-August, NCIP will implement new guidelines for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in granting Certificate of Pre-Conditions for mining projects.
Indigenous groups have called for the scrapping of the FPIC guidelines promulgated by NCIP in 2003. The Aeta group CLAA had called for its scrapping, saying indigenous groups have been deceived by mining proponents.
NCIP chairman Janette Cansing Serrano said, "Generally, the [new] guidelines provide a clear direction for our people especially in NCIP to facilitate FPIC on the grounds."
"The guidelines were subjected to a multi-sectoral consultation, we tried to balance the interest of business, state and domains, to ensure that indigenous people's rights are being protected," she said.
In the new guidelines, Serrano said the NCIP will follow two tracks: one, regular projects on extraction that would impinge on the culture of indigenous peoples; and two, development undertakings in the domain that would impact socio-economic aspects of the tribe.
"We would like to be sensitive for those [development projects] that are not clearly destructive like research," she said.
The new guidelines would also shorten the period for undertaking the FPIC, from 180 days to 90 days.
NCIP claims it has been able to distribute 44 Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) covering at least 896,000 hectares nationwide since 2003.
"We are hitting the 1 million mark," Serrano said. Distribution of some 2 million hectares translating to 75 CADTs is ongoing, she said.
The agency aims to dispose some five million CADTs in over 25 years, "at the rate the Congress is allocating budget [for NCIP]", she said. The agency is proposing P29 million in appropriation but should the national budget be reenacted, they would only get P22 million.
Himpag Mangumalas, chair of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (National Federation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines), said although NCIP had promised to distribute yearly some 100 CADTs, still some 12.2 million has. are open to medium to large-scale mining, accounting for 40.65 percent of the country's total land area.
KAMP data showed 23 identified priority projects of the government, 18 cover indigenous tribes; 10 in Mindanao, 1 in Palawan, 1 in Mindoro and 6 in Cordillera and Northern Luzon.
CLAA recorded 10 Aetas were killed under Arroyo due mainly in defense of their ancestral lands. The latest of which, is Charlie Daylo, an Aeta leader and coordinator of Anakpawis-Zambales.
Mallari said, "Hindi nauunawaan ng mga Aeta ang proseso ng gubyerno dahil hindi pinapaliwanag, puro magagandang pangako ang sinasabi.kapag naagrabyado ang mga katutubo at nagsimulang lumaban, saka sila ginagamitan ng dahas." (The Aetas don't understand the processes because the government give no explanation, aside from sweet promises. When the people get abused and start fighting, they start using force.)
"Para kanino ba talaga ang gubyerno?" (For whom is this government?) Bulatlat