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Royalty fee spurs conflict among Mamanwa tribesmen

Published by MAC on 2009-04-14
Source: Business Mirror (2009-04-09)

Royalty fee spurs conflict among Mamanwa tribesmen

Written by Alden Pantaleon, Correspondent, Business Mirror

5 April 2009

BUTUAN CITY—A tribal leader is worried over a brewing “misunderstanding” among chieftains as to who should benefit from the “largest royalty payment” in the country’s mining history. A chieftain said this might divide the Mamanwa tribe in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

Most of today’s chieftains are in disagreement, Mamanwa Datu Olorico told the BusinessMirror in an interview over the weekend at the residence of engineer Sergio Pascual, a former contractor of the Tag-anito Mining Corp. (TMC) here.

Datu Olorico along with Datu Reynante has set up barricade on January 29 at the entrance to the production site of the TMC in Tag-anito village in Claver, Surigao del Norte. They were demanding the payment of a 1-percent royalty due to them.

The barricade was lifted on March 4 after a meeting at the office of Surigao del Norte’s Gov. Robert Ace Barbers. Pascual’s help in putting up the barricade had been acknowledged by Datus Reynante and Olorico, who said they “owe” Pascual for the sacks of rice and food the people at the barricade fed on at that time.

We are thankful for the help of Engineer Pascual for explaining to us that the company owes us a 1-percent royalty, said Olorico, adding that the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) has neglected their tribe. Pascual, who ran for city mayor but lost in 2007, had organized a Caraga Indigenous Peoples Management and Development Corp. that would “serve as vehicle in working for all the needs of tribal communities” including their claim for “correct royalty fee.”

Pascual’s group would receive 30 percent of the royalty payment “by way of management/negotiation fee, professional and consultants fee and reimbursement of incidental expenses and livelihood projects,” according to a memorandum of agreement with the Mamanwas. But Pascual’s representation was reportedly not being honored by the NCIP who said he is not a member of the indigenous people. Olorico, who is still with Pascual, said the 70 percent would be given to the tribe and 30 percent to Pascual would be returned to us through projects.

Reynante and Olorico earlier demanded that the P51.5 million in royalty fees be deposited in a joint account at the Philippine Veterans Bank branch in this city. But Lawyer Jose Dumagan, NCIP’s acting regional director, said the TMC deposited the P51.5 million to the account of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Tag-anito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu) in the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City on February 19. Ampantrimtu is the organization of the Mamanwas that forged the memorandum of agreement with TMC and NCIP on July 18, 2006, when TMC was applying for a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement or MPSA for the “exploration, development and commercial utilization of nickel ores/deposits located at barangays Urbiztondo and Hayanggabon,” covering 4,975.03 hectares.

Datu Reynante, who is now with Datu Emiliano Gedi’s Ampantrimtu, said his community deserves to benefit from the royalty payment. Earlier, Datu Gedi, the head claimant for the Mamanwas’ ancestral domain, said that they would discuss how to settle the internal conflict so they can proceed with planning on what to do with the money.

The P51.5-million deposited in the account of the Mamanwas represent royalty fees from July 2006 to December 2007. Another payment is expected this year for TMC’s 2008 production. Under the Mining Act of 1995, mining firms must allocate royalty payments of “not less than 1 percent of the value of the gross output of minerals sold.”

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