Itogon mayor lauds IPs for unification efforts

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ITOGON, Benguet – The municipal government hailed the efforts of indigenous peoples from the different parts of the municipality to get their acts together and unite for their greater interest instead of being divided in fighting for their rights over their ancestral domain.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan stated that the decision of tribal leaders to unite and support the Itogon Indigenous Peoples Organization (IIPO) is a giant step toward the advancement of their right over their ancestral domain including their right to demand their due share from the exploitation and utilization of mineral resources within their ancestral domain.

He added that after deciding to unite for their common interests in the municipality, the elders will have to elect from among themselves their interim leaders to craft the road map in getting their due share from the operation of various multination companies operating in the municipality.

Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), companies exploiting and utilizing mineral resources within the ancestral domains must pay to the same royalties.

The municipal chief executive stipulated that the gesture shown by the tribal elders in uniting for a common cause will surely be for their own betterment as can unify on a stand in demanding from the concerned companies their rightful share from the ongoing exploitation and utilization of the resources that are within their domain.

According to him, it is enlightening to know from the indigenous leaders that they want to maximize their supposed benefits from the utilization of the mineral resources within their domain for the development of their communities so that the present and future generations will be able to reap their fruits of their labor.

The mayor claimed that the new set of officers of the organization will be convening to decide on plans on making representations with the concerned government agencies and the different companies to demand for the payment of their due share from their ongoing operations within their domain without resorting to legal means.

Itogon is one of the first-class municipalities in the province where bulk of its income is derived from the operation of large-scale mining companies, such as the Philex Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation and the Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. and, SN Aboitiz Power – Benguet, a power generation company that currently operates the Binga Dam.

Palangdan expressed optimism that the unification of the indigenous peoples in the municipality will not be affected by possible conflicts that may arise as such conflicts should be settled among themselves through their own customary laws and traditions so as not to significantly affect the gains of their being united. By HENT