Mayor Marsito Acoy of Sofronio Española has dared the indigenous peoples opposing the proposed cement plant project to file a case against the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to prove their claim that the Certification Precondition given to the project was illegal or without basis.
Mayor Acoy said that consultation of the project proponent Pyramid Hill Mining with the IPs was conducted in 1999 wherein majority of the IP community within the impact barangays favorably endorsed the project.
“Kung fake bakit hindi nila kasuhan ang NCIP? May tumutol noon pero majority pumayag,” Acoy said.
Acoy claimed that not all the indigenous peoples are against the project because those living in the area where the exploration will be conducted are endorsing the project and are already benefitting from it.
Acoy said that in 2001 the proponent was granted an exploration permit which expired 2015. During this period, Pyramid Hill had already explored the area. In 2016, the permit was renewed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The renewed permit will expire in 2018.
Acoy was accused by tribal leaders headed by Panglima Tito Mata of ignoring their clamor to cancel the Memorandum of Agreement between the proponent and the indigenous community.
The tribal leaders are wary that their ancestral land particularly the cave which to the IPs is sacred will be affected by the exploration activity.
“Hindi naman maapektuhan ang kweba nila. Aayusin pa nga ng company ang kweba at gagawing tourist destination,” Acoy said.
He said that the local government unit is just acting based on what is in the law and cannot just side the community without weighing the legality of their action.
In an interview of Palawan News Monday, November 13, NCIP Regional Director Roberto Almonte said he is still not aware of the issue but said he will look into the documents of the project.
“Hindi ko pa alam ito, pero we will make an investigation para malaman ko ang buong isyu,” Almonte said.
The NCIP is being accused by the IPs of siding with the project proponent for the release of Certificate Precondition which according to Mata was issued without proper consultations.