MGB-CAR HOLDS FORUM FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY CLAIMANTS
RD Fay Apil with NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Cayat during the forum held on August 4, 2020 at MGB-CAR
In a forum conducted on August 4, 2020 at the Conference Hall of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region (MGB-CAR), OIC Regional Director Fay W. Apil announced that they will be convening the Regional Investigation and Assessment Team (RIAT) to process damage claims filed against Philex Mining Corporation by those affected indigenous communities in Itogon. The claims are being filed against the damages incurred during the August 2012 spill from its Tailings Storage Facility (TSF 3).
The announcement came after a fruitful discussion among the community representatives, government agencies and units concerned. The indigenous communities were represented by the following organizations: Itogon Indigenous People’s Organization (IIPO) represented by Ms. Rosita Bargaso, and Atty. Johannes Amuasen; Balog Dam Indigenous Community Cooperative (BDICC), represented by Mr. Erich Pitelan, Evangeline G. Pitelan and Mr. Benson N. Marino; San Roque Dam Fisherfolk and Farmers Association (SARDAFFA) represented by Ms. Gina M. Pili and Mr. Ruben Tacay and at least one hundred nine (109) individual claimants were represented by their attorneys-in-fact Messrs. Jaime Alipio, Rafael A. Ewis and Edward M. Guiniguin.
Representatives of the local government unit showed their support to RD Apil’s declaration by clarifying that municipality-wide claims and concerns shall be represented by the IIPO while individual claims shall be represented by the organizations or their designated representatives. Atty. Johnny D. Waguis, Benguet Vice-Governor and Councilor Dax Godio of Itogon agreed that there is a need to convene the RIAT as soon as possible.
In closing, Commissioner Gaspar Cayat of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples called on those present to unite and work as one so that the wheels of the law could be put into motion and those who have been affected could be justly compensated.
In February 2013, Philex Mining Company paid the Php 1.034 billion in fines imposed by the mining bureau as penalty for the spill of 20 million metric tons of tailings from its Tailings Storage Facility 3 in Padcal, Itogon in 2012. Said amount has been remitted to the National Treasury and accrued to the Mine Wastes and Tailings Reserve Fund and shall be used to pay claims for compensation for the damage caused by the mine spill.
Participants of the forum
Benguet Vice Governor Johnny Waguis
NCIP Commissioner Cayat with his closing remarks.