Sectors unaffected by veto of South Cotabato anti-mining ban

John Unson - Philstar.com
Sectors unaffected by veto of South Cotabato anti-mining ban
Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. had said many times over that no provincial ordinance can stop large-scale mining in South Cotabato.
Philstar.com / John Unson

KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — The indigenous people in South Cotabato are not bothered by the veto by Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo of the provincial board’s lifting of a province-wide open-pit mining ban.

Tamayo on June 3 vetoed the measure, but emphasized clearly that any such local ban cannot stop large-scale mining operations in South Cotabato with permits from the national government.

For South Cotabato’s Blaan and T’boli communities wishing since the early 1990s to have the copper and coal deposits in their ancestral lands extracted, it was a strong “policy statement” from Tamayo.

Tamayo was re-elected to a second term last May 9, 2022, voted for overwhelmingly by pro-mining residents of South Cotabato province.

“Whether we like it or not, large-scale mining operations in the province will happen,” Tamayo repeatedly announced early on to members of the local media in Hiligaynon vernacular.

Tampakan, one of the towns in South Cotabato, is said to have no less than US$200 billion worth copper deposits, even touted as South East Asia’s largest.

“Our governor has defined the delineation of jurisdiction between local government units and the national government over issuance of mining clearances,” a Blaan tribal leader, Domingo Collado, told reporters Saturday

Collado is the indigenous people’s mandatory representative to the local government unit of Tampakan.

Four lawyers, who asked not to be identified owing to the rabid, malicious attacks by anti-mining groups on social media on those in favor of large-scale extraction of copper in Tampakan, had separately said Tamayo’s assertion is constitutional.

Residents of South Cotabato opposing the planned mining activities in the province have recklessly been using the social media to attack, insult and ridicule the IPs and non-IPs wanting to have the copper deposits in Tampakan mined.

“Even if the provincial anti-mining ordinance stays, there is nothing much they can do if the permit that would allow large-scale mining in the province would come from Malacañang and the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” one of the four lawyers said Saturday.

Another source said the IPs in Tampakan had long issued a free and prior consent for copper mining activities in their municipality.

The National Commission on Indigenous People also issued last September 2020 a certification stating the imprimatur for copper mining activities in Tampakan from IPs in the municipality.

The influential Mindanao Business Council, an umbrella entity of big businesses across Mindanao, had earlier said it is in favor of having the copper deposits in Tampakan mined sooner than expected.

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