Benguet IP’s up in arms vs mining firm

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BAGUIO CITY (June 18, 2022) —Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Barangay Bulalacao, Mankayan town in Benguet early Saturday morning pitched up barricades and picket lines dreaming to stop exploration activities of Crescent Mining Development Corporation, which they said, “threatens their ancestral lands”.

The IP’s or “Teeng” in Mankayan (meaning a native who was born and raised in the said village) are opposing the drilling activities of the miner without law-mandated Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as prescribed by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

An FPIC of the IP’s is needed for a company before conducting any activity within the ancestral lands and domains of IPs.   After getting the IP’s consent, they have to be given Certification Precondition.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Cordillera on December 31, 2021, endorsed to its Central Office the renewal of the Mineral Productivity Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or MPSA-057-96-CAR of CMDC.   Said approval of renewal by the MGB is based on the issuance of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Cordillera through its Regional Director lawyer Atanacio Addog dated December 7, 2021, interposing “no objection” to the renewal of MPSA to CMDC.

NCIP further stated that it has no objection to the renewal provided that the mining company commits to complete the FPIC process.

On March 2, 2022, the Secretary of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an order to grant the renewal of CDMC’s MPSA for another 25 years.

The NCIP Cordillera tried to convene the IPs of Bulalacao and convene a meeting and consultation for the FPIC process.

But the IPs have refused to acknowledge the NCIP’s notice, deciding to pitch their objection by barricading the drilling activities.

Artemio A. Dumlao