NCIP told to lift TRO on mining
PHILEX Mining Company stands to lose over P30 million daily if it stops operations.
Following the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) issuance of a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) against the mining firm last week, Philex mines filed an urgent motion to lift the TRO claiming among others that its issuance was arbitrarily and capriciously done and in violation of their right to due process.
Lawyer Brain Masweng issued the TRO based on the petition of members of the clan of Artemio Pio Association, Inc. (Apai) who said they would incur irreparable damage if the mine firm continues operation, without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
Claiming they will be directly affected by the mining operations, Apai argued that their FPIC must also be secured similar to what the company did with the Indigenous Peoples Organization of Alang, Pokis, Sta. Fe, Oliba and Loakan (IPO-Apssol), another group of claimants.
“What petitioners have are merely unsubstantiated general allegations. Their bare allegations are not evidence, thus it should have not been considered by the NCIP regional office in ruling that there is grave and irreparable injury that would be suffered by the petitioners,” a portion of the motion stated.
With more than 50 years in operation, there is no evidence its operations have affected petitioners, the company argued further.
Philex also pointed out that Apail no longer has any claims over the 98-hectare mine as the Supreme Court (SC) and lower courts have ruled the mining area is not a portion of the land, which they are claiming.
“No less than the NCIP regional office, through a legitimate process set and followed by the office, identified the legitimate indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities which is represented by the IPO-Apssol to be the only indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities in the area of operation of Philex which paved the way for the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for its Application for Production Sharing Agreement (Apsa) No. 102.”
In the MOA signed by representatives of clans from the IPO-Apssol, Philex, NCIP and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, claimants entitled to social development programs, royalty payments representing 1.25 percent of the annual gross output, P60 million advance payment of royalties, priority employment and livelihood assistance, scholarship grants, rehabilitation of damaged areas and technical assistance on infrastructure projects.
A P100,000 financial assistance to every affected IP was also given by the company, upon signing of the MOA.
Apai was not part of the MOA.
The mining firm also cited the annexes showing the locations of the claims of Apai were not approved plans, thus the documents are self-serving and without probative value.