South Cotabato indigenous people pin hopes on Noynoy
(The Philippine Star) Updated July 25, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – South Cotabato tribal groups or indigenous people (IP) are hoping for President Aquino’s intercession in resolving the issues preventing them from benefiting from mining investments in the area after the outgoing provincial board enacted an environment code disallowing open pit mining. Tribal communities see the environment code as stumbling block to their aspirations as a people.
The tribal groups see the code as a direct threat to the plans of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) to use open pit when it goes into production in 2015. SMI’s Tampakan gold-copper project, which costs $6 billion to develop, is considered the largest single investment in the country.
With the threat on the progress of the Tampakan project, the tribes who are pinning their hopes on their natural resources are starting to worry. Apparently, despite strong stakeholder support from the IPs who have ancestral domain over the project area, they feel their voices have not been heard reminiscent of those years when the existence of the IPs was something outside of our social radar.