ITOGON, Benguet

The signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the indigenous cultural communities/
indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) of the ancestral domain of this town and Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI) was postponed indefinitely in order to clarify and address several mining issues raised by villagers and small-scale miner groups in Barangays Ampucao, Virac and Poblacion which be
greatly affected. “Well, we will just follow the process,” said Eric Andal a senior officer of ISRI,
representing Luis Sarmiento, president of ISRI.

Andal’s reaction came minutes after the town’s Council of Elders from the nine barangays supported the insistent appeal of leaders and representatives of small-scale mining groups operating in Sitio Dalicno (Brgy Ampucao) to “delay” the signing of the MoA during an emergency meeting held Aug. 18 to address the local ssm petition. The elders meeting which took for almost four hours was presided by lawyer Severino Lumiqued of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP)- CAR.

Earlier, Andal stressed that it took them five months to come up with the draft MoA as a result
of series of meetings and negotiations from the concerned villagers with the assistance of elders
from the concerned barangays Based on the obtained petition letter (dated Aug 16,2023) addressed to NCIP and Rosita Bargaso,president of IIPO, petitioners from Sitio Dalicno-SIMPA and Lolita Kankanaey elders and other ssm groups complained “insufficient dissemination of information and inadequate negotiation through general assemblies and meetings.

The supposed MoA is one of the requirement to be submitted by ISRI for its Application for Mineral Production Sharing Agreement No. 103 (APSA 103). Itogon Mayor Bernard Wacling who led other local officials, and supposedly one of the witnesses in the MoA signing, for his part, urged all parties to come up with a win-win solution, acknowledging ISRI’s support such as livelihood and economy to their town. Some officials of Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners, Inc. (BFSSM) witnessed the meeting. Lawyer Lumiqued of NCIP presented the draft MoA to concerned groups after the “emergency marathon meeting” by council of elders, ironically, petitioners “snabbed” the assembly.

Primo Agatep/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon