SURIGAO del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. and several others are facing charges of graft and grave misconduct before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with alleged mining in an ancestral domain without the consent of indigenous people (IP).
On Friday, the chieftains of the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes filed a complaint naming Pichay as respondent along with Cesar Detera, former Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno and former MGB officials Danilo Uykieng, Alilio Ensomo, Ador Patino, and Jose Salve Cabiling.
Also included in the complaint were private respondents Teofranco Mallari, Lolita Bolayog, Allan Plaza, and Fe Ligtas, previous owner of Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC).
Complainants James Biol of the Manobo tribe and Reynante Buklas of the Mamanwa tribe said in the complaint that Pichay had no authority to present himself as CMDC owner.
They also alleged that on February 11, 2016 “We, indigenous people were physically dragged from the site, from our own ancestral domain by the group of Pichay and his cohorts.”
The IP leaders claimed that Pichay and his cohorts have been illegally occupying the mine site even up to the filing of their complaint before the Ombudsman.
While Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez has ordered the closure of the site in the middle of this year, the complaints said, “respondent Pichay, and his cohorts continued to illegally mine from the site.”
“Respondent Pichay was mining at the site without our consent, and/or Free and Prior Ihasnformed Consent (FPIC) also considering that the previous FPIC has been void ab initio [from the start]at no point in time did the Mamanwa Tribe consent and allow respondent Pichay to mine from the site. This is in flagrant violation of RA 7942,” they further said.
Republic Act (RA) 7942 refers to the Mining Act of 1995.
The complainants added that the respondents allegedly conspired to illegally ship out two vessels of nickel laterite from the site.
“Simply said, how could Respondent Pichay and his cohorts be allowed by respondents former MGB Director Leo Jasareno, [then]Regional Director Alilio Ensomo to ship out the minerals when the mine site was previously ordered closed by DENR?” they said.