QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya – The provincial office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) disclosed that Barangay Runruno here, which is part of the mining exploration area of the London-based FCF Minerals Development Corporation, forms part of the domain claimed by the Gaddang peoples covering the towns of Bayombong, Solano, Villaverde, Bagabag, Diadi and this municipality.
NCIP OIC-Provincial officer lawyer Roderick S. Alquin stated in a certification that the total land area covered by the domain of the Gaddang IPs is more or less 75,000 hectares.
Further, Alquin claimed that 2 parcels of land in the name of Toledo Guillao, et. al. and Bella Guillao with an aggregate total land area of 751,943 square meters and 70,156 square meters, respectively, as surveyed by Engr. Antonio V. Abyado on April 18-30, 1996 located in Barangay Runruno is inside the aforesaid certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) application.
Under existing rules and regulations governing the domain of indigenous peoples (IPs), applicants for the exploitation, utilization and development of resources within the domain must first secure the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the domain holders.
However, in the case of the Gaddang of Runruno, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 2 reportedly issued a certificate of non-overlap stating, among others, that the area being applied for by the mining company for its exploration activities is not within the domain of IPs. But in the advent that it will be discovered in the future that the mining exploration area is within the domain of IPs, FCF Minerals Development Corporation is required to secure the consent of the Gaddang IPs through the FPIC process.
Concerned indigenous peoples had been raising concern on the continuous destruction of portions of their domain through the exploration and drilling operation of the mining company which is in violation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The law mandates companies intending to exploit, utilize and develop resources within ancestral domains to secure the free and prior informed consent of the affected IPs through the prescribed process.
The affected IPs urged the NCIP central office to immediately issue the cease and desist order to stop the mining company from continuously illegally intruding into their domain without their consent to compel the said firm to seek their consent for their exploration activities.
Earlier, the Gaddang IPs wrote the NCIP to seek their assistance in preventing the London-based mining company for willfully pursuing its exploration activities within their domain using the certificate of non-overlap issued by the MGB Region 2 as its basis for intruding into their domain.
According to them, millions worth of agricultural crops and private properties were already damaged by the ongoing exploration and drilling operations of the FCF Minerals Development Corporation that is why concerned government agencies have to step into the matter to prevent further damages that will be inflicted on their livelihoods and to the state of their domain.
The affected IPs expressed hope that with the certification issued by the NCIP provincial office that the Runruno mine site of FCF Minerals Development Corporation is within their ancestral domain, concrete actions should be made by the concerned government agencies to put things in order in the area and prevent the massive abuses committed by the mining company in the pursuit of its exploration and drilling operation.
The provincial government also recently ordered the mining company to respect the agreed status quo order in the conflict area until such time that all issues related to the settlement of the claims of the IPs shall have been resolved by the proper authorities but this call had been disregarded by the company over the past several months.