Itogon residents hold caravan against big mining in Benguet

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Residents of Itogon, Benguet held a caravan today, June 13, to the Benguet Provincial Capitol to demand a halt to the expansion of large mining companies Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI) and Benguet Corporation, Inc. (BCIs). At the same time, they submitted to the provincial governor their position paper emphasizing their opposition to it.

It can be recalled that on May 13, Dontog-Manganese Pocket Miners Association (DOMAPMA) miners set up a barricade against the BCI in Sitio Dalicno, Barangay Ampucao, Itogon. The barricade is part of their struggle to defend their rights to land and livelihood against BCI’s forced seizure of DOMAPMA’s pocket mines and unjustified increase in mining equipment rent. They launched a similar barricade in April.

The illegal work stoppage will deprive 500 to 1,000 workers of their livelihood. It will also affect the livelihood of the indigenous people in the community and neighboring barangays, and even in other provinces in the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley who work here.

In February, indigenous people in Sitio Dalicno actively blocked the Marcos government’s approval of ISRI’s Application for Production Sharing Agreement 103 (APSA 103) covering their ancestral land. They said there were many irregularities in the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)’s process of obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and thus the FPIC should be discarded. ISRI is a company owned by Enrique Razon Jr.’s Apex Mining Corporation Inc.

The Dalicno Indigenous Peoples Organization (DIPO) said the NCIP manipulated the FPIC acquisition. It did not share enough information with the assemblies that led to the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on September 20, 2023. It also did not obtain the consent of the affected communities, which was the proper and previous process in Itogon.

AB: Itogon residents hold caravan against big mining in Benguet