BAGUIO CITY – The regional hearing office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in the Cordillera ordered officials of the Indigenous Peoples Organization of alang, Pokis, Sta. Fe, Sabian, Oliba and Luacan (IPO-APSSOL) to account for the royalty that the group received from Philex Mining Corporation starting 2008 to 2012.
In a 2-page writ of execution handed down by NCIP-CAR regional hearing officer lawyer Brain S. Masweng, IPO-APSSOL was ordered to make an accounting to the general membership covering all trust account or trust fund received from Philex Mining Corporation from 2008 to 2012 and all cash transactions, disbursements and payments made by the group during the said period.
Further, the group was directed to submit its financial report to the NCIP monitoring team while Ampucao punong barangay Eddie Amuasen was ordered by the agency to advise the organization to render an accounting of all the funds received by the group from the mining company.
It can be recalled that in January 2008, IPO-APSSOL enteed into a memorandum of agreement with Philex Mining Corporation giving its consent for the conduct of mining operations by the company within their ancestral domain while the company will grant the group 1.25 percent of its gross receipts as royalty.
The group then opened a trsut account with a bank where the company deposited the agreed royalty for the IPs and it is with the account where the funds were previously drawn for the various projects that were identified by the IPs.
However, the NCIP cancelled the registration of the organization as an indigenous peoples organization in 2013 after its officers were not able to comply with previous orders for the accounting of the royalty that it had been receiving from the mining company from 2008 to 2012, thus, the group could not withdraw funds from the established trsut account considering the cancellation of the group’s juridical personality.
Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), companies intending to exploit, develop and utiize the resources of the State must first secure the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the affected indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities owning the domain in the areas that the firms intend to operate.
Philex management reiterated that it continues to comply with the 2008 memorandum of agreement as it religiously deposits the agreed royalty share of the IPs to the trust account.
The six clans involved in the confict are now currently going through negotiations and dialogues for the possible amicable settlement of the issues confronting the IPO-APSSOL for the possible restoration of its registration that will allow them to access the funds deposited in the trust account for the implementation of projects beneficial to the growth and development of IP villages geared to gain from the royalty.
Initially, three of the clans already agreed to settle their differences while the three other clans have yet to decide whether or not to join the other clans in the unification efforts for them to be able to maximize the utilization of the available funds in their trust account for the development of their places and the upliftment of the living condition of the people in their areas.