Subanens of Bayog sign a resolution of support in favor of TVIRD’s Gold and Silver Operations
Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur / November 2017 – Indigenous people living inside and around the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur have once again voiced their support for the mining company saying that its operations will pave the way for the prosperity of their people. In a Resolution dated 27 October 2017, the IPs declared that they believe TVIRD’s mining operations will “lead to economic development opportunities to (sic) our ancestral domain communities.”
The resolution was signed by the Council of Elders of the Subanen Tribe of Bayog, otherwise known as Pigsalubukan Guhom De Bayog. The council is led by Timuays (chieftains) Lucenio Manda and Casiano Edal.
The collective Subanen Tribe is the rightful indigenous cultural community that granted TVIRD the social license to operate its project in the area. 25 tribal chieftains of the Subanens of Bayog and in the surrounding areas have reiterated their support to the company via the recent Resolution.
An earlier statement issued in June this year also highlighted that “the operations of TVIRD will bring enormous advantages not only from royalty fees but also (from) employment, health and livelihood programs, infrastructure projects, educational support and scholarship programs for the IP communities.”
The Subanens comprise 40 percent of the total population of voters in the municipality where they live – a 23,700-hectare ancestral domain that spans across neighboring municipalities. Located in a portion of its ancestral domain is TVIRD’s 4,779-hectare MPSA area where it will operate its gold and silver project.
“It’s because the company is legal, and we already wanted to reap the benefits of their operations according to the memorandum of agreement we signed,” said Timuay Manda.
“We firmly believe that the company will respect our culture and traditions and will give us opportunities to grow and develop,” he said, adding that they will give support to the company when needed.
Illegal mining: never again
Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Governor Antonio Cerilles expressed in a symposium early this year that he is optimistic that TVIRD will deliver its commitment to safeguard the environment as it brings its operations on-stream in the area.
The Subanens of Bayog have been unwilling hosts to thousands of illegal miners for many decades prior to TVIRD’s entry – activities that caused the destruction of their environment. In 2013, these were stopped by the government through the political will of Gov. Cerilles.
The provincial chief executive made the implementation of a Cease and Desist Order possible in October 2012 – which permanently stopped illegal mining operations in Sitio Balabag. Together with the task force composed of government law enforcement agencies, the CDO was peacefully implemented in the area.
Responsible and properly-regulated mining found renewed support from top provincial and town officials after the Governor declared his support for the local extractive industry as long as it complies with government regulations.
Cerilles, who served as DENR Secretary during the Estrada administration, pointed out that what destroys the environment and pollutes the waters are the illegal small-scale miners whose operations are not strictly regulated by the government