KORONADAL CITY — Beneficiaries of the multi-million community projects of a firm the government has contracted to mine for copper in Tampakan town are grateful, and they are hopeful of more projects in 2023.
Foreign experts and Filipino geologists had placed no less than US$ 200 billion in their estimate of the value of the copper deposits in Blaan domains in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Dalena Samling, a Blaan tribal chieftain, said Tuesday, January 3, that Sagittarius Mines Incorporated produced in recent years almost 800 college graduates via its scholarship program for poor students — despite not having operated yet since its inception in 1995.
“We are very grateful to Sagittarius Mines Incorporated. We believe it will have more socio-economic projects in our ancestral domains this year,” Samling told reporters Tuesday.
The mining outfit, most known as SMI, presently has 31,000 elementary, high school, and college scholars, according to local executives in Tampakan, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, Malungon, Sarangani, and in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
The SMI’s planned operation shall cover the four towns, whose residents, among them, Blaans, are benefiting for a long time now from its costly humanitarian projects, some meant to preserve the tribal heritage and traditional community structures.
Columbio Vice Mayor Bai Naila Mamalinta said Tuesday besides its continuing projects in their municipality, the SMI gave their municipal tribal council last October a Smart television and signal connectivity facilities needed for community programs.
The SMI donated brand-new rescue vehicles to three barangay governments in Tampakan in early 2022.
Blaan leaders in Tampakan had a series of SMI-assisted tribal empowerment workshops in recent months, according to Domingo Collado, the indigenous people’s mandatory representative of the municipality.
Records obtained from local government units in Tampakan, Columbio, Malungon, and Kiblawan indicated that 9,341 villagers have benefitted from joint LGU-SMI medical and dental missions in remote barangays in the four towns in the past five years.
Kiblawan Mayor Joel Calma said 1,407 of his constituents in Barangays Bulolsalo, Tacub, and Kimlawis were served in the medical and dental outreach missions their LGU, the SMI, and the office of the National Commission on Indigenous People in Region 11 jointly facilitated in September 2022.
The SMI also gave out last December a P1 million check each, or a total of P4 million, to four charitable entities in Tampakan — the Folu Blaan, the Bong Mal Blaan, the S’Bangken Blaan, and the Danlag Tampakan Foundations — as community development support grant. (JOHN UNSON & TONY MANAYTAY)