Philippine Trade Department vows support for IPs


Development assistance experts to help implement Subanon livelihood projects, funded by Royalty from TVIRD

Aware that indigenous peoples (IPs) worldwide face initial challenges in the management of royalties from resource development firms that operate in their ancestral lands, government agencies led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have pledged full support for the Subanon IPs in the remote mountain village of Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. Help will focus on the planning and implementation of livelihood and community development projects to be identified by the IPs themselves and to be funded out of royalty payments from TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD).DTI Region 9 Director Nazrullah Manzur made this commitment when he – along with several top officials of DTI, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) -visited the Canatuan gold and silver mine of TVIRD and met with the leaders of company’s host IP community, represented by the Siocon Subanon Association, Inc. (SSAI).

DTI Region 9 Director Nazrullah Manzur (left, wearing hardhat) listens to DTI Zamboanga del Norte Director (right, standing) during the meeting between government officials and newly elected officers of the Siocon Subanon Association, Inc. at the SSAI office in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte: “It was a good opportunity for us to meet the IPs.”

“There is a need for them to put their acts together,” Manzur said, referring to the Subanons. “There may be a lot of livelihood opportunities for them in Canatuan that we are not aware of. We can discuss this subject further with them so that we will know the necessary intervention we in the DTI can provide. The intervention may be in the form of training, capacity building, marketing, among others.”

Apart from Manzur, the other government officials who met with SSAI officers were DTI ZdN Provincial Director Noel Bazan, DENR ZdN Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Carlito Tuballa, and PCA ZdN Provincial Manager Ralph Hamoy. They were joined by Ernesto Rojo, Executive Director of the Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry; as well as by Maridel Palpagan, DTI ZdN Chief of Business Development Division, and staff members Luis Paloma, Jr. and Nick Nacaytuna.

“It was a very good opportunity for us to meet the IPs,” Manzur added. “We are here to help and we are going to organize a group coming from different government agencies to assist the Subanons.”

Hamoy said he will explore with SSAI, specifically with its hired agriculturist, the feasibility of engaging the IPs in coconut farming, considering that the Philippine government has announced that it will promote biodiesel – a coconut by-product – as an alternative energy source in the near future.

SSAI, the legal representative of the 1,200-strong Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title holders of Canatuan, has received royalties of P5 million in 2005 and an additional P10 million from January to September 2006 from TVIRD. Company officials estimate that the Subanons will get a total of P14 million, net of tax, for the whole of 2006. Under a Memorandum of Agreement forged with SSAI in 2002, the Company has no influence over how the Subanons will invest their royalty.

The IPs and the group of government agencies to be gathered by Manzur are set to meet again in January 2007 to discuss the assistance needed for SSAI to efficiently utilize the royalty its members have been receiving from TVIRD.

The government officials also visited the Canatuan open pit mine; the Tanuman Settlement Village to be built by TVIRD for, and together with, the Subanons; the proposed school site for Subanon children; as well as the P170 million Gossan Tailings Dam.

DTI Region 9 Director Manzur (in red shirt) views TVIRD’s open pit mine in Canatuan, as Mine Manager Joselito Raguini (4th from left) briefs DTI ZdN Director Bazan (3rd from right), PCA ZdN Manager Hamoy (2nd from right), and ZdN PENRO Tuballa (extreme right). Accompanying the government officials are Rocky Dimaculangan, TVIRD Public Affairs Director) (extreme left); Mae Villar, TVIRD Environment Officer; and Vic Quintana, TVIRD Metallurgist (in blue hat).

Delegation members expressed their approval of and admiration for the Company’s conscientious mining practices. According to Bazan, “If you are a nature-lover, you will really love it,” referring to TVIRD’s environmental management and protection initiatives in Canatuan.

During an exit conference with Company officials led by TVI Canatuan General Manager Magi Bagayao, Manzur said “it was a very good experience to have witnessed the actual mining operations of TVIRD. As far as the government requirements are concerned, I believe they are all met by the Company.”

For his part, Tuballa said he will recommend to the Canatuan Multi-partite Monitoring Team the inclusion of other non-government organizations in the team to ensure TVIRD’s continued compliance with mining laws, to further promote transparency in the Company’s operations, and to encourage dialogue between the Company and its various stakeholders, including those who oppose mining. (R. Patangan)

The DTI-DENR-PCA-DCCI delegation poses with SSAI officials and TVIRD personnel at the future site of the Tanuman Settlement Village in Canatuan: “We are here to help.”