An organization of Pala’wan indigenous peoples (IPs) in Rizal has appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue them an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for their agro-forestry project.
Campong It Mapangarapan It Palawano or CaMPal made the plea Tuesday, calling on DENR regional executive director Henry Adornado to help them endorse their coffee farming agro-forestry project to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for it to issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
IP mandatory representative (IPMR) Silico Valdeztamon told members of the local press that the coffee farming project will be in partnership with SOCResources, Inc., a company engaged in agro-industrial development.
Valdeztamon said SOCResources will help them develop their ancestral domain to become profitable for their community in Barangay Campong Ulay. It will open up opportunities for a coffee farm project that will help them sell and earn income from Nestle.
He claimed their application for an ECC, the document they need to allow their project to proceed to its next stages, has been pending for a long time now in Adornado’s office in the MIMAROPA.
“Naghanap kami ng paraan para ma-develop ang aming lupang ninuno kasi kung kaming mga katutubo lang hindi namin masyadong alam ang makabagong pamamaraan. Noong may nakita kami na investor na based in Makati at kinausap namin, willing sila basta coffee ang main crop kasi ibebenta nila ‘yon sa Nestle. Okay naman kaya nag-aasikaso na kami ng mga papel hanggang sa lumabas ang endorsement ng PAMB (Protected Areas Management Board) hanggang sa napansin namin na medyo matagal na sa office ni regional director,” Valdeztamon said.
He said if they will follow the IP Rights Act (IPRA), they will be able to plant coffee by just consulting residents in their barangay.
However, the SOCResources company is demanding for the permit before they start the plantation.
“Kung kami lang sana, kung pagbabasehan ang IPRA law basta may pagsangayon sa mga katutubo ay puwede kaming magtanim pero dahil private company rin sila, nag-demand sila ng mga document kasi baka mapulaan din sila sa huli,” Valdeztamon said.
He said they have obtained their endorsement from the PAMB in Brooke’s Point on March 19, 2019, signed by mayor Mary Jean Feliciano as presiding officer.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) had also approved a resolution on January 18, 2018, amending the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) map of the municipality and reclassified their project site into a tribal ancestral zone (TAZ) in Brgys. Campong Ulay and Punta Baja where 3,212 hectares of land can be planted with coffee.
Valdeztamon said they demanded to reclassify the land area because they are covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim No. 100, which was not previously in the ECAN map of their town.
The only thing they need now, he added, is an ECC from the EMB, which is already taking long.
“Ang hiling lang namin ay endorsement, bakit parang wala naman silang ginagawa? Nine months na pero wala pa silang sagot, bakit ganoon?” he asked.
“Ang project namin hindi pagmi-mina, quarry o pamumutol ng kahoy kundi magtatanim pa nga kami, kahalintulad ng national greening program ng DENR pero bakit parang ayaw nila kaming tulungan kung saan tiyak na makakatulong kami sa kalikasan pati sa aming pamilya. Kapag mina o quarry ang bilis nilang tumugon, kung walang irregularity sa kanila hindi dapat ganon,” Valdeztamon added.
In February this year, CaMPal said they sent another letter to the DENR in the region seeking assistance for the issuance of an ECC. However, in its August response, the regional environment office said the IP organization failed to submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
But Valdeztamon insisted that they have already submitted all necessary requirements.
“Mayroon na kaming requirements, lahat na nandoon sa checklist na ibinigay sa amin ay na-comply na namin. Hindi naman kami magde-demand ng ganito kung alam namin na may kulang kami,” he said.
Valdeztamon also lamented the way how they were treated by the PAMB on Monday at the Legend Hotel even if what they wanted was to ask for an explanation about the irregularity.
He said they waited to be accommodated and be heard from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but they were never called in.
“Sana naman kung negative kinausap kami, nasa labas kami from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. kahit tubig o pagkain hindi man lang kami binigyan kakahintay sa kanila pagkatapos malalaman na lang namin adjourned na sila. Hindi issue doon ang tungkol sa pinagutuman kami pero sana kinausap kami,” he said.
Valdeztamon added that Mayor Otol Odi fully supports them.
He said they will file a complaint addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte if necessary if they do not receive any action from the DENR in the region.
SOCResources, Inc. (SOC), formerly South China Resources, Inc., (SCRI) was incorporated on September 25, 1992, primarily to undertake oil and gas exploration, development and production. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary by SOC Land Development Corporation (SOC Land), which is engaged in real estate business. SOC Land has two projects, namely Anuva Residences in Parañaque City and Althera Residences in Biñan City, Laguna.
It is also currently identifying large tracts of land suitable for agro-industrial development in the MIMAROPA area.