BAGUIO CITY – Keeping true in upholding the Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) rights to Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) required under Section 59 from the landmark legislation RA 8371 otherwise known as Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR), Regional Director Atty. Marlon Bosantog issued a Show Cause order to DITO Telco for alleged violations to IPs rights within the Ancestral Domains (ADs) of Benguet.
“It has come to our attention that your company has undertaken or currently undertaking fiber optics laying in the various ADs in Benguet Province without securing the FPIC [from] the concerned Indigenous Cultural Communities / Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) and paying just and fair compensation for damages which they may sustain as consequence thereof” states the Show Cause order of NCIP-CAR to DITO Telco.
Apart from the FPIC, NCIP – CAR explained to DITO Telco that, “[s]ection 7 (b) of IPRA likewise recognizes, protects and promotes, among others, the rights of the said ICCs/IPs to an informed and intelligent participation in the formulation and implementation of any project, government or private, that will affect or impact upon the ancestral domains, and to receive just and fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of the project”.
DITO Telco was given fifteen (15) days to give its response and show just reasons as to why they shall not be held liable in violating IPRA.
As of this writing, DITO Telco has a pending CP application before the NCIP – CAR for the construction of a telecommunication tower in LaTrinidad, Benguet. Notwithstanding the existing CP application, the project is still at the preliminary stages of the FPIC process namely – Field-Based Investigation (FBI) stage. Also as per records of the NCIP – CAR, what DITO Telco expressed in their CP application, is a proposal to construct a telecommunication tower, of which, is still subject to the prior consent of the IPs if found that the area of constructions overlaps an AD.
The issuance of a Show Cause is seen as a step in giving space to DITO Telco to present their response to the information and complaints reaching the NCIP – CAR Regional Office.
DITO Telco, a consortium of Davao businessman Dennis Uy under the mother company of China Telecom, is the third major player in the telecommunication industry. It a newly established telecommunications provider in the Philippines and it is expected that it will compete with duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom. By Rocky Ngalob