Mining firm rolls out support to LGUs for community projectsApril 13, 2021
KORONADAL CITY – Two municipalities, five barangays, and six Blaan community organizations have received from a mining firm almost P6 million worth of grants for pro-poor projects.
The town of Malungon in Sarangani and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur received P2.1 million and P3 million, respectively, from the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) for community projects of both municipalities.
Kiblawan Mayor Carl Jason Rama received from representatives of SMI a P3-million worth check on April 6.
Rama and the barangay chairpersons are thankful to the mining firm for its continuing support to their community programs.
Kiblawan, an upland town in Davao del Sur, has 30 barangays.
The local government, he said, spent the money from SMI wisely.
“We are thankful to the SMI for helping us pursue community projects intended to promote sustainable development in the local communities,” he added.
SMI also released on April 6 separate P75,000 worth checks each for the barangay governments of Tacub, Abnate and Bulolsalo in Kiblawan.
The mining firm also provided with a P75,000 grant each the Indigenous People’s Structure, or IPS, in Kiblawan’s Barangays Tacub, Abnate, Bulolsalo and Kimlawis.
The assistance is for projects that will address poverty and development programs in the four barangays, drawn from SMI’s allocation for its social development program.
Wennie Pandoy, chairperson of Barangay Abnate, received from SMI a laptop with printer for their office during the April 6 event, held at the municipal government center of Kiblawan.
“We are thankful to the SMI. It has not even operated yet but already poured a big amount of money for its social development program benefiting the residents of Kiblawan,” Pandoy said.
Rama said he is for responsible mining.
“We know that the SMI is a very responsible mining firm. If ever we shall have issues with SMI, we shall initiate a peaceful dialogue with the firm,” Rama said.
Both Kiblawan and Malungon are near Tampakan town in South Cotabato where the SMI intends to mine for copper and gold since 1995. The firm has not operated since.
The indigenous Blaan communities and non-Blaan settlers in Malungon, Kiblawan, Tampakan and in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat have welcomed the operation of SMI since the company’s inception more than two decades ago.
The company was supposed to operate in the 1990s. It was put on hold when the South Cotabato provincial government passed an ordinance against mining activities in the province. Several groups had also opposed the mining operation.
But the tribal leaders have been vocal in asserting their right to allow the operation of the SMI based on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The law gave the indigenous communities right to self-determination and imprimatur to harness the natural resources obtainable in their ancestral homelands.
The mayor of Malungon, lawyer Maria Theresa Constantino, received last March from SMI a P2.1-million worth check also intended for the town socio-economic programs.
“We are so grateful to the SMI for its continuing socio-economic support for our municipality,” Constantino, in an emailed statement, said.
SMI also released then a P75,000 worth check each to the barangay governments of Blaan and Malabud in Malungon and to the IPS in both barangays.
Constantino said many students in the town had finished college courses with the help of the SMI. Among them is Sweetly Mae Galang-Laguirder, the incumbent barangay chairperson of Blaan.