A group of community leaders in Bakun, Benguet, said a mining firm had divided local elders after some of them approved the firm’s mining exploration in the town.
The group said representatives of the Royalco Philippines Inc. consulted another group of elders who were not recognised by local villages to issue a free, prior and inform consent (FPIC).
The issuance of a FPIC is a requirement under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act before a mining exploration is conducted in an area occupied by indigenous communities.
Faustino Maliones, a member of the Benguet Mining Alert and Action Network, said the elders, who were consulted by Royalco and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, were chosen by some residents who agreed to the exploration.
“Not all members of the community agreed to the exploration. Worse, the original recognised elders were displaced when another group of elders was elected by some members of the community who [favoured] the entry of Royalco. We sensed that a process was violated in securing the FPIC,” Maliones, a Bakun elder, said.
He said some residents have questioned the right of Royalco to explore the area amid the opposition from the community.
Royalco has applied for permits to explore 5,400 hectares in the town.