MANKAYAN, Benguet: The indigenous peoples (IPs) of this mining town have asserted their right to their ancestral lands by rejecting a mining company’s offer to conduct mineral exploration in their territory.
In a non-consent resolution, the IPs of the 12 barangay (villages) of Mankayan expressed their rejection by consensus of the Cordillera Exploration Inc. (Cexci) mining exploration project in their ancestral domain.
Of the 12 barangays, seven voted no to mineral exploration, three voted yes and two were undecided.
Consensus is part of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a process by which IPs affected by a major project or exploration will decide whether or not to allow it.
Cexci’s mineral exploration bid was submitted to the FPIC process with the assistance of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) of the Cordillera.
“The indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) / IPs of the ancestral Mankayan domain during the FPIC process were able to reach a consensus not to give their consent to the Cexci project in question,” the resolution reads.
The PAs have stressed that they have given their non-consent to the Cexci project because they know that mineral exploration is not separate from mining, which requires massive drilling and excavation as well as the ‘soil extraction and will greatly affect the environment and resources.
“We need to protect the environment and Mankayan’s remaining resources, especially water,” the IPs said.
The IPs also said mining creates divisions between them, adding that they have had negative experiences of many years of mining for them.
Meanwhile, the Philippine state-owned Amusement Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) approved a plan to build a P 50 million evacuation center at a 2,000 square meter municipal government property in Sitio Bayoyo, Barangay Tabio.
The evacuation center will help provide an adequate facility for the needs of victims of natural and man-made disasters in the future.
Mayor Frenzel Ayong said Pagcor will initially release 25 million pesos or 50% of the funds to jump-start the implementation of the project, which will have a smooth launch on January 6, 2022.
Pagcor is funding the construction of evacuation centers and multi-purpose centers in different parts of the country to help strengthen disaster risk reduction and management response of local governments.
Mankayan is one of the province’s five prime municipalities whose main source of livelihood is agriculture and mining.
The six highland villages are primarily vegetable growing communities, while the six lowland villages are said to be the mineral rich areas.