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The national democratic grass-roots indigenous group, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), has spoken out against mock “consultations” with indigenous communities in Mankayan by the South African Mining corporation Gold Fields Ltd.:
Consent given by indigenous peoples in Mankayan, Benguet to allow South African mining company Gold Fields Ltd. is described as a mockery of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by indigenous people’s alliance Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP.)
According to KAMP, the FPIC process overseen by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was irregular and inconclusive of the communities’ decisions. “Opposition to the mining project is blatant, persistent, and strong, as proven by a number of actions made by mine workers, residents, and affected communities since LCMC started operations in 1936. A barricade has been set up for a year in Tabio, to prevent drilling equipment from entering their territories. A petition in Bulalacao has made it clear that the they will not allow expansion operations in their lands. Protest actions, community declarations, and other people’s initiatives against mining operations and expansion are many, a hundredfold of the ‘yes’ votes that the NCIP managed to cull. How could the NCIP interpret this as consent?” Piya Macliing Malayao, an Igorot and KAMP spokesperson said.
KAMP says that consent must include all affected communities downstream the Agno River, not only Mankayan. “What the NCIP pushes to pass for a consent will definitely be defied by thousands of people in Benguet and downstream communities,” Malayao said.
“Some of the residents even believed that a ‘yes’ vote was for Goldfields, while the ‘no’ was for Lepanto. Other communities heard a range of issues for voting, from permissions to convert the MPSA to FTAA to permission to conduct geotechnical activities.”
The indigenous group also assailed a local government official for voting ‘yes,’ supposedly representing one barangay. “The local government’s mandate is to consult with its constituents and represent their issues and welfare, not facilitate mining. This is a betrayal,” Malayao claims. Mankayan mayor Materno Luspian voted as an elder of barangay Poblacion.
KAMP calls on the NCIP to conduct further consultations among affected residents. “This is a debauchery of indigenous people’s rights to self-determination. The NCIP must ensure that the people’s rights are protected, and not be facilitators of plunder and violations of our rights as indigenous peoples,” Malayao said.
This is not over, Malayao said. “There is no consent. Goldfields and the NCIP did not get the people’s consent. This is a mockery of the core of the FPIC, which purportedly lays down the basis for informed and unified decision-making by indigenous communities. Instead, mining companies in collusion with the NCIP had subverted this process into a means to divide, manipulate, and weaken our socio-political structures in decision-making.”