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IPs file raps vs Pichay, others over mining on ancestral land

Aside from Pichay, complaints have also been filed against former and current officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. File photo
MANILA, Philippines — Representatives of the Manobo and Mamanwa indigenous peoples filed graft complaints against Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on Friday over allegedly illegal mining on ancestral land.
 
Datu James Biol, a Mamanwa, said that Environment Secretary Gina Lopez would also be included in the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman. The MGB is attached to the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.
 
The complaint, which accuses Pichay and the others of graft and grave misconduct, was prompted by the allegedly illegal eviction of the Mamanwas and Manobos for nickel ore mining.
 
Under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, "no ancestral land shall be opened for mining-operations without prior consent of the indigenous cultural community concerned." IP communities are also entitled to royalties from mining on their ancestral land.
 
 
The DENR ordered nickel ore miner Claver Mineral Development Corporation suspended in 2012 due to excessive siltation in the area. 
 
According to an InterAksyon report in CMDC, Pichay took over the company in 2015.
 
Lopez announced the suspension of CMDC in August this year although the same report cites a surprise National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Coast Guard inspection of a barge in Claver town for nickel ore illegally being loaded for shipment.
 
Last month, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers accused Pichay of taking over the mining company illegally and called for a House probe into what he called Pichay's "nefarious activities."
 
The accusation, made during a privilege speech, came on the heels of a confrontation between the two at a House hearing on constitutional amendments.
 
Pichay, in a radio interview after the incident, said that he believes the rift is because of local politics.
 
"Siya lang ang may galit sa akin, kasi I think in 2007 elections, I put up candidates against them," he said. — Reports by Elizabeth Marcelo/The Philippine STAR
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