Benguet indigenous peoples reject Apex-ISRI mining plans

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Indigenous people in Sityo Dalicno, Barangay Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet are actively resisting Marcos government’s looming approval of the Application for Production Sharing Agreement 103 (APSA 103) by Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc (ISRI) which will cover their ancestral land. They say the many irregularities in the process of obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) are cause for its nullification. ISRI is a company owned by Enrique Razon Jr.’s Apex Mining Corporation Inc.

According to the Dalicno Indigenous Peoples Organization (DIPO), NCIP manipulated the acquisition of FPIC. It did not share enough information with the assemblies leading to the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on September 20, 2023. It also did not seek the consent of affected communities, which was how it was done before in Itogon.

“This issue has divided the Itogon people. The Dalicno community, who organized themselves as DIPO, is being denigrated as a breakaway group and treated with spite by so-called authorized indigenous organizations. Dalicno, however, [stands]…as a legitimate stakeholder especially since their land, life, and livelihood are on the line,” the organization said.

APSA 103 will cover 581 hectares of ancestral land in the barangays of Ampucao, Poblacion, and Virac in Itogon, Benguet. The mining operations will cover the entire sityo of Dalicno, including their water sources, sacred burial grounds, schools and churches in the so-called “build-up zones.”

The people of Dalicno do not believe that the mine will not affect them just because the MOU stipulates that the “build-up zone” will be a “no mining zone” and the water resources will be in a “buffer zone”. They say the impact of mining, especially Apex Mining which owns ISRI, is evident in the recent landslide in Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro.

Benguet indigenous peoples reject Apex-ISRI mining plans