Two executives of the National Commission on Indigenous People are facing dismissal charges filed before the Offices of the President and the Ombudsman for irregularities that led to the extension of a mining concession of a cement company in Sison, Pangansinan.
In a 10-page complaint last March 16, Freddie Castillo and Jessica Doctolero of the Bago Tribe of Sagunto, Sison, Pangasinan, want NCIP director Gasar Cayat and chairperson Allen Capuyan dismissed from office for issuing an un-numbered Certificate of Non-Overlap in favor of the Northern Cement Corporation/San Miguel Northern Cement Inc.(NCC/SMNCI).
The Bago tribe members prayed too for the “forfeiture of any benefits due them including permanent and perpetual disqualification to enter into any government service.”
The two NCIP officers allegedly caused the issuance of the required CNO to allow NCC/SMNCI for the renewal of its Mineral Sharing Agreement (MPSA) No. 106-96-1 which was set to expire last March 15.
NCC/SMNCI also needed the Certificate Precondition/Cerficate of Non-Overlap for its plant operation and expansion for its Line A and Line B cement projects in Barangay Labayog also in Sison, Pangasinan.
NCC/SMNCI made the application for its renewal in Nov. 5, 2019.
Two days later, NCIP Region 1 issued a memorandum to NCIP Pangasinan to conduct a Field Based Investigation (FBI) “to investigate and ascertain whether or not an area is within the ancestral domain.”
A pre-FBI was conducted by the local office on November 27 also that year at the NCIP Sison Community Service Center “where the requirements of the FBI was discussed and the documents and application papers were assessed and scrutinized.”
A work and financial plan for the conduct of FBI was prepared and approved by the FBI team and presented to the NCC/SMNI, where the company committed to have it signed by their representative.
An FBI report on July 28, 2020, revealed that NCC/SMNCI’s applied area was 630,000 hectares and falls within the tribe’s ancestral domain within said town of Pangasinan.
The FBI noted that a conduct of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) with the Indigenous Peoples’ in the affected areas in Sison, Pangasinan is required before the issuance of a CNO.
NCIP Region 1 then issued a memorandum on Sept. 3, 2020 to directed the FPIC team to conduct a pre-FPIC of the area and had it slated on October 15 also that year. Two days prior the conduct, NCC/SMNCI asked for a postponement. The company then asked another postponement on December 15, the day before its conduct.
During those times, the complainants alleged that Cayat “irregularly campaigned for the support of indigenous peoples’ within the affected area for the issuance of” a CNO.
They further alleged that Cayat even offered a PHP3 million worth of livelihood to the affected IPs “ so that he would be able to obtain their consent as a requirement for the issuance of the CNO in favor of NCC/SMNCI.”
During the negotiations, Castillo and Doctolero claimed that then NCIP Region 1 director Manuel Jaramilla issued the unnumbered CNO on May 7 where the area applied for is “outside any ancestral domains in Sison, Pangasinan contrary to the FBI report and despite the fact that NO FPIC was ever undertaken.”
This prompted the company to ask for the renewal of its MPSA with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau which was the subject of its July 23, 2021 letter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources bureau.
Having “completed” the requirements, the MPSA application of NCC/SMNCI was approved by the DENR on April 18 last year.
On July 22, the town’s I group, the Sison Federated Tribal Council issued Resolution No. 06 Series of 2022 wherein it “vehemently denying the unanimous support given by affected IPs of Sison, Pangasinan to the issuance of” the CNO.
The IP group then went to the MGB Region I and found that indeed NCC/SMNCI has been issued a renewal of its MPSA. Then they went to the NCIP Region I where newly installed director Harriet Abyadang certified that her “office has no existing record of any issuance of a certificate (CNO).”
Abyadang even issued a report denying the issuance of any CNO and what was given was unnumbered which is “as if no CNO was ever issued by said office.”
Abyadang also reported that she was able to talk to Cayat where the latter confirmed that he concurred in the issuance of the unnumbered CNO.
On July 29 last year, Abyadang wrote Capuyan informing him of her actions and where she said that the IPs denied their consent to the extension of NCC/SMNCI’s MPSA. Pigeon Lobien