SOCIAL FUND. Tribal leader Gualberto Cagunan, back-grounded by his Mandaya tribe of Tagbinonga of Mati, Davao Oriental, proudly shows off a replica of P500,000 check representing social fund development donation by Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation (DMC) headed by president Said Sayre (second to his right). The same amount was also given to the Mandaya tribe of Barangay Don Salvador headed by chieftain Minda Mones in ceremonies in Mati City on July 12. DMC has partnered with China’s Philippine Youbang in a joint venture project to explore minerals in Davao Oriental. Photo by BOBBY LARGO
FROM HUNTERS OF THE WILDS TO MINING STAKEHOLDERS
by ROGER M. BALANZA
“The time has come for us highlanders to show to the world that indigenous peoples of Davao Oriental hunt animals to survive. Soon, we shall show them that we are not hunters of the wilds but stakeholders in mining.”
With rich mineral resources laying in wait in the bowels of this mineral-rich Davao Region province, Said Sayre’s speech on future benefits before more than 100 members of the Mandaya tribe in Mati City came ahead partly true for the IPs who for years dreamed to share from the mineral bounties of their ancestral domain.
Soon after his speech during a company program of the Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation (DMC), president Sayre doled out P500,000 each to the tribal councils of Barangay Don Salvador and Barangay Tagbinonga.
The social development fund, according to Sayre, from the Muslim tribe Tausug who staked his lot in mining partly driven by concern for the plight of fellow Muslims and indigenous peoples, would be the start of benefits from the Mandaya natives. DMC has inked a pact with Philippine Youbang Mining International Corporation of China to explore for gold, copper, iron, nickel and other precious metals in the DMC’s 9,000 hectares awarded by government under a Mineral Processing Sharing Agreement (MPSA).
Davao Oriental along with Compostela Valley is one of the country’s richest in mineral resources. Under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) indigenous peoples granting FPIC to mining corporations are entitled to one percent of gross revenues. The benefit is further enshrined in the Mining Act of 1995—affirmed by the Supreme Court in ruling on a case filed to declare the act as unconstitutional—that allowed entry of foreign companies into the mining industry.
The Mandaya tribes indeed are facing a bright future in DMC and Philippine Youbang headed by president Li Chang An when actual operations start to unravel the wealth of Davao Oriental’s underground wealth of gold, copper, nickel including rare minerals molybdenum and boron.
About 5,000 of the area are within the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) of the Mandaya tribes. The tribal councils of the tribes have granted DMC Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), required by the National Indigenous Peoples Commission (NCIP) before tribal councils could enter into any kind of agreement for utilization of tribal domains lands by other parties.
Don Salvador tribal chieftain Minda Mones and Tagbinonga tribal chieftain Gulaberto Cagunan expressed their thanks to Sayre at the warding ceremonies held at Honey’s Hotel in Mati City on July 12. The tribal leaders said the social fund donation reinforced their trust in DMC and Sayre.
Mission of progress
Sayre, in the program joined by local government officials, the DENR and NCIP said the DMC-Philippine Youbang venture is only the start of the IPs march to the future. “We need your help,” said Sayre, adding his group is out to prove big-scale mining is not the sole territory of giant mining investors. While the Chinese company is coming in with technology and finances, the mining venture rests also on people’s support and urged the IPs of Don Salvador and Tagbinonga to join him in his mission to erase perception that they are “hunters of the wilds” who can be players in mining the province’s rich mineral deposits.