MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Pro-TVI Member of the Siocon Council of Elders Admits Misrepresentation and Pays Penalty to Legitima

Published by MAC on 2007-06-23

Pro-TVI Member of the Siocon Council of Elders Admits Misrepresentation and Pays Penalty to Legitimate Chieftain

Pigsalabukan Bansa SubanÖn (PBS)

23rd June 2007

Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. One of the pro-TVI member of the Siocon Council of Elders (SCE), Lydia Dandana, admited fault in claiming to be a leader of the traditional Council of Elders of the Subanons of Canatuan and, on the spot, paid her salâ or penalty to Timuay Jose Boy Anoy, the legitimate chieftain in the territory during the community consultation held on June 17, 2007 at the Office of the Council of Elders in Poduan, Candiz, Zamboanga del Norte.

Lydia Dandana, who upon questioning by Engr. Abdul Poingan, the leader of the team of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) facilitating the conduct of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, admitted that she is a resident of Barangay Riconalla and was only in Canatuan to work with TVI. Dandana claimed that she is one of the members of the 30-member Siocon Council of Elders that claimed to represent the Subanons in the ancestral domain claim. The Siocon Council of Elders was organized by the NCIP with the support of the TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVIRD) sometime in 2002. TVIRD recognize and subsequently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the SCE for the full-blown mining operation within the CADT area. The company, with the help of the SCE subsequently, hired Subanons from outside the ancestral domain to work in the company who claimed to be legitimate residents of the ancestral domain, effectively marginalizing the original Subanon residents of Canatuan.

The existence of the SCE was vehemently questioned by Timuay Jose Anoy and the Kobogolalan (traditional councils) within the CADT on the grounds that it duplicates the existing traditional structure and violates certain provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The mining operation was also opposed by Timuay Jose Anoy, the Kobogolalan and the original residents of the ancestral domain on the grounds that it illegally encroached their domain and desecrated Mt. Canatuan, their sacred mountain.

During the community consultation, Timuay Fernando Mudai, a cousin of Timuay Jose Anoy, challenged all the people who claimed to be traditional leaders to speak and prove themselves to be real traditional leaders. He noted that it they could not prove their claim, the real Timuays would fine them with the traditional sopulo bu dua bolos (roughly translated into the amount of P120,000), the maximum penalty for the crime of usurpation of traditional leadership position. Lydia Dandana, honestly admitted her membership with the SCE and voluntarily paid gonom pilak or tolu polu piseta (equivalent to 6 pesos) the minimum penalty for self-admission of a crime against the legitimate traditional leaders.

“The act of Lydia is a gesture of a Subanon’s faithfulness to tradition and high respect to legitimate leaders. It is also a silent act of revoking the commands of those who manipulated her to commit the crime and rescue herself from the topo (curse) of our dead ancestors,” Timuay Mudai explained.

“Lydia upholds her belief to our long-held tradition. I pity her that she has allowed herself to be use by outsiders, some of them fellow Subanons, in causing the desecration of our sacred mountain. I pray that the spirits of our ancestors will spare her and her descendants from the topo. I hope the others will follow her noble example,” Timuay Anoy sadly commented in the local dialect.

Lydia Dandana, along with majority of the 30-member SCE, received a monthly honorarium from the royalty fee paid by TVIRDI to the SCE. She actively represented the SCE and promoted the policies of TVIRDI since the company started their operation in 2002.

The Kobogolalan and the Subanons of Canatuan, during the consultation, manifested their opposition to the expansion of TVIRDI’s mining operation within their domain.

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