Bantay Kita, in cooperation with the Sangguniang Bayan and tribal council elders of of Monkayo, Compostela Valley, conducted two separate orientation activities on July 1 aimed at local legislators and tribal council leaders of the municipality which is host to small-scale gold mining operations.
The morning orientation activity was attended by tribal council leaders while the afternoon activity was attended by the Sangguniang Bayan members. Fourteen elders from the four major tribes – Mandaya, Mangguangan, Dibabawon, and Manobo, in Monkayo attended the first session. A total of 6 municipal councilors, 10 members of the legislative staff, 2 representatives from small-scale mining operators, and 2 representatives from Barangay Diwalwal LGU attended the afternoon session.
BK was represented by its Mindanao Subnational Coordinator Beverly Besmanos along with BK Board Member and Executive Director of Mindanawon Initiative for Cultural Dialogue Perpevina Tio and former BK Board Member Jose Melvin Lamanilao.
The event served as an opportunity to introduce Bantay Kita and its subnational initiatives and advocacies. Ms. Besmanos mentioned BK’s mission to capacitate civil society involved in the extractive industries. She also reiterated the important role civil society and local governments play in translating their natural resources to development.
Ms. Tio explained the background, principles, and history of the international EITI and later the Philippine counterpart of EITI. Ms. Tio, an expert on indigenous peoples (IPs) rights, also discussed briefly government policy in relation to the free prior informed consent process and on the drafting of memorandum of agreements IP groups and mining companies agree to before mining operations commence.
Mr. Lamanilao introduced the four pillars needed in discussing transparency in the extractive industries and the twelve essential stages in ensuring transparency. He also emphasized the difference between rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) and the authority of the local government unit.
The morning session with tribal council leaders raised the issue on the validity of a memorandum of agreement four tribal leaders in Monkayo entered into with a mining company. The said MOA agreed only to 3.4 hectares of land but has already reached 8,000 hectares which amounts to the entire mineral reservation in Diwalwal. Mr. Lamanilao, a natural resource governance consultant, discussed possible avenues the IP leaders can take to address the issue.