QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) ordered the conduct of an investigation and validation on the alleged abuses against indigenous peoples (IPs) in barangay Runruno here committed by the London-based FCF Minerals Development Corporation which is undertaking mining exploration within these IPs’ ancestral domain.
In a Memorandum addressed to NCIP Region 2 regional director lawyer Ronaldo Daquioag, NCIP Ancestral Domain Office Director lawyer Caesar M. Ortega directed the said office to conduct the investigation and validation on the alleged abuses committed by the mining company and to submit its findings and recommendations within 5 days upon receipt of the order.
Attached in the said Memorandum is a copy of the letter of lawyer Noel Magalgalit, counsel for the affected IPs in barangay Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, detailing the alleged abuses committed by the FCF Minerals Development Corporation against them in their ancestral domain.
In a separate order, Daquioag ordered NCIP Nueva Vizcaya provincial officer lawyer Roderick S. Iquin to conduct the ground validation on the complaint of the affected IPs against FCF Minerals Development Corporation.
He reminded the said office to submit a report on the said undertaking immediately upon notice as the same will form part of the office’s recommendation on future actions to be taken on the said complaint.
Earlier, IPs and representatives of affected families petitioned the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to investigate the alleged abuses committed by the FCF Minerals Development Corporation in violation of pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in the conduct of its exploration activities in barangay Runruno here.
In their letter to NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan, the embattled IPs disclosed that the management of FCF Minerals Development Corporation committed grave abuses in their ongoing exploration activities within its contract area ranging from leveling of mountains, destruction of water sources, livelihood, environment, unlawful intrusions to private properties, displacement of land owners and sources of livelihood among others detrimental and prejudicial to their interests residing and inhabiting the area or their ancestral domain that falls under the company’s contract area.
The IPs claimed that FCF Minerals Development Corporation have not been allegedly mindful and sensitive to their plight as inhabitants of portions of the alleged contract area that falls within their ancestral domain, aside from not being compliant with its obligations under the agreement which they signed with the IPs.
Among the alleged unfulfilled obligations of the mining company include the recognition and respect of the rights, customs and traditions of the IPs within the contract area pursuant to pertinent laws, rules and regulations respecting the rights of the IPs over their area within the contract area and; compliance with any and all obligations as may be provided under specific agreements entered into with the IPs within the contract area.
The letter stated that FCF’s obligations were merely just on paper and the company totally disregarded and disrespected their rights to their ancestral domain by their unauthorized and unlawful intrusion.
Despite protests and efforts of the IPs to negotiate with the corporation for the protection of their lands, they claimed FCF allegedly neglected them in the guise of a permit to enter issued by the Mines of Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 2 which indicates as if the mining company was issued the blanket authority to do their mining activities without regards to existing laws, rules and regulations.
According to them, the obligations of the government regulatory agencies is allegedly in conflict with their actions towards the IPs within the contract area, thus, the need for the NCIP to intervene on the matter by investigating and subsequently issuing the necessary show cause and cease and desist orders relative thereto.
The IPs explained that the mining company had been illegally using members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to advance their interest and to their interest over their ancestral domain.
The IPs asserted the importance of NCIP’s timely intervention to their situation to compel the company to respect their rights and prevent further damages and harm to them and their ancestral domain and the environment.