NCIP receives Bakun folk opposition vs. Royalco

BAKUN, Benguet — Residents of Bakun, Benguet submitted last Friday to the regional and provincial offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) a resolution for the permanent suspension of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and the rejection of any exploration in their area by Royalco, Philippines.

COMMUNITY UNITY. Gambang residents renew their opposition against proposed explorations as the mine activities allegedly will destroy their agriculture-based livelihood and environment. Photo courtesy of Mariz Guinyawan

Their position was handed by Chairman Ernesto Soriben of Bakun – Aywanan and Bakun Mayor Marcelo Contada.

Denominated as Bakun-Aywanan Resolution No. 002, series of 2009.

It was endorsed by the Barangay Council of Gambang, the Bakun Municipal government, and Benguet Provincial Governor Nestor Fongwan.

The residents of Gambang, Bakun headed by the Bantay ken Kinabaknang ti Umili a Nagtaudan-Aywanan (Bakun-Aywanan) are vigilantly guarding against the possible approval of the exploration applications of the Royalco, Philippines for Phase 3 and other areas in Bakun.

It was reported by the residents that a MOA was about to be signed by few land owners last November 18, 2008 without legal and proper consultation with the majority residents of the target areas. It was stopped. The MOA signing was indefinitely suspended due to the organized appeal made last November 17 and 18, 2008 at the Regional and Provincial NCIP offices.

Meanwhile, to strengthen unity and hone their leadership skills, the Bakun-Aywanan’ council of elders held their first Leadership Training Seminar last January 16 and on February 09, 2009.

The seven community organizations and some individuals affiliated to Bakun-Aywanan on February 22 where they conferred the Basis of Unity presented by the Benguet Mining Alert and Action Network (BMAAN) Spokesperson Vergel Aniceto as embodied under the Constitution and By-Laws of the Bakun-Aywanan. They reaffirmed the opposition against large scale mining and destructive industries.

Witnessed by almost 180 residents and officials, Mayor Contada inducted the new officials and representatives of Bakun-Aywanan.

Photo courtesy of Mariz Guinyawan

Javier Akien, vice chairman of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, challenges the leaders where he recalled the historical struggles by the Bakun people against several attempts of mining operations. “I urged you to stay on guard for the protection of their ancestral domain as their source of life and the preservation of the indigenous history.”

Elder Fausto Labinio, Bakun ex-councilor, called the people to strengthen their fight against the mining corporation and give his full support to the organization while elder Marcelino Dati pledged his support and guidance on their struggle.

In closing their February 22 activity, they paid tribute to elder Mundo Taguda, a respected council of elder and officer of the Bakun-Aywanan, who passed away last November 27 after he led the community oppositions. His family was given the highest appreciation and recognition for his contribution to the earlier struggle against Royalco, Philippines, Incorporation. # Sonia S. Bullong

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