Leander C. Domingo
The municipal government and the indigenous people community are strongly against the mining license renewal of Australian mining firm, OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc. or OGPI. The Nagtipunan municipal government led by Vice Mayor Amel Fiesta expressed support for the Bugkalot-Ilongot tribe’s claim of ancestral domain ownership over the area being mined OceanaGold. OceanoGold’s financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) is set for renewal. Led by its overall chieftain Rosario Camma, more than 6,000 individuals belonging to the Bugkalot-Ilongot tribe has earlier appealed to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through a petition not to renew the FTAA of OceanaGold because of its “blatant disregard” of the ancestral domain right of the indigenous peoples (IP).
Hosting OGPI’s gold and copper project, Barangay Didipio is among the 12 villages claimed by the Bugkalot tribe in their existing application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title. It is also one of the contested villages particularly between Nagtipunan town of Quirino province and Kasibu town of Nueva Vizcaya province.
To support the Bugkalot-llongot tribe, the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Nagtipunan town also vowed to work against the issuance of a regulatory permit for OceanaGold and cease the operation of the Didipio gold and copper project.
Vice Mayor Fiesta noted that the 13 contested villages are within the territorial jurisdiction of Nagtipunan under Batas Pambansa 345, which established the municipality in 1983.
He added that the Bugkalot-Ilongot tribe had also been known to traditionally occupy these areas “since time immemorial.”
Fiesta said through Sangguniang Bayan Resolution 1, Series of 2021, the local government unit (LGU) of Nagtipunan also demands that OceanaGold should observe the social acceptability protocol under the Local Government Code of 1991.
“It is high time that the LGU of Nagtipunan should seek for accountability on the part of the mining firm, not only because it brazenly violates the ancestral domain rights of our aboriginal constituents who are the Bugkalots-llongots but also on account of OceanaGold’s adamant refusal to settle its local business taxes due to the municipality,” the Nagtipunan municipal council said.
The municipal council members’ resolution also endorsed to President Duterte a petition
submitted before them by the Bugkalot-Ilongot IP communities in Nagtipunan and Kasibu town which also demanded the non-renewal of the FTAA.
Meanwhile, the Bugkalot-Ilongot tribe has criticized and condemned the National Cultural Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issuance of a certificate of non-overlap (CNO) to OGPI to “illegally” fast-track the renewal of its FTAA.
Camma said the issuance of the CNO to OceanaGold by NCIP Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) office in Tuguegarao City was “premature and baseless” and was “rigged without undergoing the due process” in favor of OceanaGold only to expedite the renewal and approval of the expired FTAA by the President.