QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya: The Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of this town were outraged by FCF Minerals Development Corp’s alleged claim. that the proliferation of squatters on his exploration site cost them more than 6 million pesos.
A member of an IP group, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said the company should be blamed for its refusal to respect IPs’ rights to their ancestral domain.
The source also pointed out that they are not squatters as claimed by the company, as they live in their ancestral domain which they inherited from their ancestors.
While it is true that there was a Non-Overlapping Certificate (NOC) that was issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples on the area where the company intends to conduct mineral exploration, the source clarified that the provisions of the CNO are very clear that when it is discovered that the area to be explored is within the ancestral domain of the IPs, then it will be mandatory for the company to comply with the requirement of free and prior informed consent cause (FPIC) before proceeding with the proposed mineral exploration.
Another unnamed source slammed the mining company for trying to instill fear in its proposed exploration sites by bringing in the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army to provide security and prevent IPs from protesting the mining. Forced intrusion of the company into their private properties without the completion of mandates negotiations between the parties.
According to them, IPs are simply claiming their rights to their ancestral domain because they value the importance of the land they inherited from their ancestors. The same land will then be passed on to future generations.
The source explained that it is very clear in the provisions of Republic Act 8371, or the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act”, that when the area to be developed by the companies is within the ancestral domain of the IPs, it is mandatory for developers to secure residents’ consent through prescribed guidelines governing the conduct of FPIC.
Earlier, the provincial government, through the provincial legal office, reiterated to FCF Minerals Development Corp. that it should respect the standstill order in the proposed exploration site at Barangay Ronrono until negotiations between the company and the relevant IP group have begun. .
The source claimed that the company should not have suffered the losses reported if its leaders were sincere in their negotiations with the PAs and if they did not resort to harassment and intimidation of the indigenous tribes in the hope that the ethnic group would simply relinquish their rights to their properties.