NCIP issues permission for gold, copper extraction in South Cotabato community
Bl’aan women perform a number during a dialogue on the government’s grant of permission, on their behalf, for a colossal gold and copper extraction activity in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Philstar.com/John Unson
NCIP issues permission for gold, copper extraction in South Cotabato community
John Unson (Philstar.com) - October 31, 2020 - 3:53pm

SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines — The Bl’aan community in this province was elated with the government’s imprimatur, on their behalf, for the extraction of copper and gold in their ancestral homeland.

Benefactors have earmarked US$5.9 billion for the mine development project, expected to generate employment for Bl’aans and much-needed revenues that can be spent for education, health care and social interventions for the indigenous people in areas within the extraction sites.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, or NCIP, issued on September 19 a “Certification Precondition,” or CP, to the Sagittarius Mining Inc., or SMI, the developer of the Tampakan project in the borders of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur.

Copies of the CP that granted permission from the indigenous people for the SMI to forge ahead with the project were received by Bl’aan tribal leaders only last Wednesday during a gathering in Barangay Danlag in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

The event was capped off with lengthy messages of gratitude from Bl’aan tribal leaders, who repeatedly mentioned that they have spent 10 years for extensive coordination efforts for mining activities in their ancestral domain to take off.

Bai Hadja Naila Mamalinta, chairwoman of Barangay Datalblao in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat, said Saturday her Bl’aan constituents gladly welcomed the NCIP’s document, a requisite for SMI’s operation.

The CP, dated Sept. 19, 2020, was signed by Allen Capuyan, chairperson of NCIP.

Mamalinta said the Tampakan mining project is favored by the Bl’aans in Salnaong area in her barangay, where the SMI is also to operate.

“These lands that are to be covered by this mining operation are touted as having Southeast Asia’s largest untapped copper deposit,” Mamalinta said.

The CP from the NCIP explicitly mentioned the SMI's mining area as covering Barangays Danlag, Pulabato and Tablu in Tampakan, Malabod and Bl’aan in Malungon, in the Salnaong area in Datalblao, and in Kimlavis, Bolosalo, Tacub and Abnate in Kiblawan in South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur provinces, respectively.

Local officials and Bl’aan tribal leaders in Tampakan told reporters at the sideline of Wednesday’s gathering in Barangay Danlag the SMI long had school, health services and other social projects for the local indigenous sectors.

The sources said the firm had also produced a number of Bl’aan professionals through a college scholarship program meant to empower the indigenous people in the barangays where it is to extract copper and gold.

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