At least PhP258 million worth of payments coming from mining revenues went to Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in 2012 with a bulk of it still left unaccounted by the government.
The said amount was disclosed by 11 large-scale mining companies to the 2012 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report. Mining companies operating on lands under ancestral domains are required by law to pay at least 1% of their gross output’s value as royalty payments.
According to the latest EITI report, however, PhP 52 million has still been left unaccounted by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP). NCIP is mandated by the government to monitor these royalty payments. The case could either be companies overstating their payments or NCIP not being able to monitor the accurate amount.
According to the PH EITI report, of the 28 large-scale mining companies operating in ancestral domains, 6 did not participate. Of the 22 participating companies under ancestral domain, 11 companies did not disclose any payments made to IP groups.
Ensuring transparency in the extractive industry is vital for all stakeholders especially the indigenous people. Not only because several laws entitle the IPs protection and rights over these lands but also because they are among the most marginalized groups in the Philippines.
Transparency allows for scrutiny and accountability helping ensure the payments go to their intended purpose. Decision-makers – IPs included, can make better decisions when they are presented with the necessary information which can only be achieved through transparency measures. Bantay Kita, a coalition of organizations pushing for transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, argues that transparency empowers local communities to engage and participate in management of their natural resources.
Maximizing benefits from the extractive industry can be a potential driver of economic development in these areas. A strong mechanism for monitoring of royalty payments on the side of government particularly the NCIP must be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability for the IPs. Funds intended by the law for IPs must be open to the public and be accounted for.