Zambo Sur gov, mining firm executives face raps before NCIP

March 14, 2013 10:39 pm 

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, March 14 — A case for violation of Republic Act 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 was filed against Governor Antonio Cerilles before the Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The case against Cerilles, which was filed last March 11, stemmed from the alleged issuance of small-scale mining permit by the governor in his capacity as the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) chairman, without securing free, prior and informed consent to the IPs.

Also named respondent in Case No. IX-040 were JRF small-scale mining operator and manager Jungi Fuerte and site supervisor Dondie Lacuaren.

JRF firm is operating in this province and in nearby Zamboanga del Norte with postal address at Block 1, Lot 13 South Town Homes, Las Pińas City, Metro Manila.

The case was filed by the Subanen Gataw Taasan Association, Inc., a claimant and possessor of a 24,000-hectare ancestral domain covering 23 of the 33 barangays in the Municipality of Midsalip, this province.

The association, represented by its chairman, Timuay Danilo Balives and Barangay Tribal Leader Mila Lagarnia, alleged in their seven-page charge sheet that the governor conspired with JRF small-scale mining firm to extract iron ore within their ancestral land without securing free, prior and informed consent to the legitimate IPs in the area.

Balives said their rights as IPs were abused and neglected by PMRB because the permit the board issued is without their prior consent.

He said the act of the governor created a negative impact among IPs in this province.

Balives said his group did not even know that there is an existing "Minahan ng Bayan" in the village of Bibilop, Midsalip town.

"If it ever exists, it was kept secret to the public or it is only a table work," Balives added.

He said the estimated value of iron ore extracted from their ancestral domain has reached P2,437,800.

The latest hauling of extracted iron ore from Barangay Bibilop, Midsalip to Iligan City was last March 6, which was intercepted by the police at a checkpoint in Barangay San Jose, Aurora town, in this province, he said based on a police report.

Provincial Press Bureau chief Leo Santillan, who serves as the governor's spokesman, said they will not issue any statement on the issue until they receive a copy of the charge sheet from the NCIP. (PNA)

LAP/TPG/CHARNYL ALBARRACIN/UTB

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