Indigenous communities to benefit from TVIRD operations
Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte / 12 December 2012 – Some 25 traditional leaders of the Subanen tribe from the three provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula recently urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to expedite the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to TVI Resource Development (Phils.), Inc. (TVIRD) for its Balabag gold-silver project in the town of Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur.
In a two-page resolution, the council of elders and leaders of Pikumpungan Subanen Lupa Pusaka (PSLP) – an organization of Subanen tribe officials covering six municipalities in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur- signed the endorsement urging the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to approve the application of TVIRD saying that “it is high time to release the ECC of the company.”
“We endorse (TVIRD) to the DENR thru EMB and respectfully request for a prompt and timely release of the ECC,” the PSLP resolution said. The group likewise stressed the need for an environmental clean-up of the toxic wastes and pollution left by illegal miners in Sitio Balabag.
“The undertakings cannot be implemented unless an ECC is issued in favor of TVIRD to commence environmental clean-up,” the resolution added.
Likewise, the group said its members — numbering 8,000 individuals — will greatly benefit from the payment of royalty fees, which is computed based on the gross revenue of the company. The payment of royalties to host indigenous communities is mandated by Republic Act 7942.
They likewise praised the company for its social projects that address the development needs of the Subanen community in Canatuan where it has been operating for close to 20 years
“The social development projects intended for the community will also benefit the Subanen people in Balabag in the event TVIRD will start its operations,” the resolution said, citing social and environmental commitments of the company.
The Pikumpungan Subanon Lupa Pusaka or PKSP, is the umbrella organization of leaders of the Subanon tribe dominant in six towns bordering the three provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula. It is headed by one Datu (presiding chief), 21 Timuays (royal village chieftains), Timuay Pasandalans (traditional judges) and Salilings (sitio arbitrators). The PKSP is the traditional administrative body of the Subanons living in the municipalities of Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur; Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay; and the municipalities of Siayan, Sindangan, Leon Postigo and Godod, of the province of Zamboanga del Norte.
The group is led by Datu Dalepusan Isis Guilingan, the leader of the Subanen tribe in the area and holder of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) with an estimated land area of 48 thousand hectares. The CADT covers some portion of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) area of TVIRD in the mineral-rich Balabag hill in Bayog, which is beset by rampant illegal mining operations in the tri-boundaries of Zamboanga del Sur, Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte.
Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles earlier disclosed that illegal mining operations in Balabag has contaminated the bodies of waters in Sibugay Valley that supplies water for irrigation of the rice-producing municipalities of Bayog, and the towns of Imelda, Buug, Diplahan and Siay in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Last October 24, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in cooperation with the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur, EMB, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Local Government Unit of the municipality of Bayog implemented the Cease and Desist Order against illegal mining in Balabag.
Around 100 rodmills and 50 Carbon-in-Pulp (CIP) plants owned by the illegal mining operation financiers were demobilized by the MGB.