The multi-billion dollar mining project in Mati City has caused rift not only between the mining companies involved in the project but also among indigenous people living in the area.
Mandaya tribal group chieftain Rufino Mapinogos, said in an interview at his residence in Barangay Macambol, that there are some lumads who oppose the mining project in the area.
They call the lumads “outsiders” as they are not recognized as members of the Mandaya tribe in Macambol, said Mapinogos.
Mapinogos was referring to Datu Victor Aying who is one of the staunchest oppositors to the mining project in Macambol.
It was learned that Aying, though a half-Mandaya, has his roots in Barangay Lucatan and not Macambol. Thus, Mapinogos said, Aying is not considered a member of their tribal community in Macambol and is not recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
For Mapinogos, Aying’s Alima-ong group is not a Mandaya tribe, but just a group of lumads from Visayas who migrated in Mati.
Mapinogos made the clarification after reports claiming that lumads led by tribal leader Aying are opposing the mining project in Pujada.
It was learned that NCIP-recognized lumads in Macambol and Cabuaya had forged an agreement with mining company Asiaticus Mining Corporation (Amcor) back in 2002, giving their support to the mining project in return for a one percent royalty tax the IP’s would get from the gross output of the mining company’s operation.
Amcor later forged a joint venture agreement with international mining company BHP Billiton and formed the Hallmark Mining Corporation. It, however, decided last year to rescind its contract with Billiton.
Mapinogos said they are now giving their support to Amcor and not Billiton.
“In fact, the Mandaya community has organized its ‘tribal guards’ to ensure that no Billiton personnel could enter the more than 7,000 hectare mining area in Macambol and Cabuaya,” he said.
He also accused Aying’s group of being used by BHP Billiton to lobby against mining in the area after Amcor’s decision to rescind its contract with the company.
Efforts to get the side of Aying and Billiton on this issue proved futile though.
The call to stop the mining project in Pujada is not only made by Aying’s group, but also of several non-government organizations (NGOs), environment groups and other cause-oriented groups.
The Pujada Nickel Mining project in Macambol and Cabuaya (commonly referred to as Pujada Properties) is touted to be one of the biggest mining project of the Arroyo administration due to the $1.5 billion investment expected to be poured in by BHP Billiton, the biggest mining corporation in the world.