Table Talk: Not all that glitter is gold PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012 15:10

BY Mike S Apostol

One of the reasons aside from the concern on environmental hazard, the province of Zamboanga Del Norte led by Governor Roland Yebes, is about taxes. Officials of Zamboanga Del Norte have been complaining many times in the past as to why the bulk of taxes paid by the TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc., (a Canadian mining firm digging Gold, silver, copper and lately Zinc in Canatuan mountains of Siocon Zamboanga Del Norte) is in Makati City, which runs into multi-million pesos.  TVI Resources has its source of business in Zamboanga Del Norte but only business tax is paid to the province, company income tax, sales tax and all other taxes are paid in Makati city, TVI’s office headquarters. Under government agreement with a private mining company, the host province of the mining company gets a certain percentage of the income from the sales of the mining company. In the case of Zamboanga Del Norte, maybe a very small percentage is being shared to the province from the mining company which is way below their expectation or none at all.  Perhaps, the municipality of Siocon is even receiving a bigger share of from the mining company.
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Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte is part of the Siocon Subanen Ancestral Domain encompassing all the rivers and mountains in the area and reaching to as far as the boundaries of RT Lim Municipality in Zamboanga Sibuguey Province. This area is very rich in gold, silver, copper and lately zinc. Gold production alone by TVI Resources in Canatuan grosses nearly 30 kilos per month, according to my Subanen sources in Kinabayo, Siocon Zamboanga Del Norte, the tribal seat, of the Siocon Subanen Ancestral Domain. Imagine the income from gold alone per year and you will have the idea of how much taxes are being paid to Makati City which Zamboanga Del Norte is deprived of.
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TVI Resources Development Inc. has long been operating in Zamboanga Del Norte starting into the early eighties after they bought the mining rights from a man said to be connected with Lepanto Mining Company in Baguio. When they first operated in Canatuan, the Subanens in the area resisted and protested with the National Government because Mt. Canatuan is a sacred mountain of the Subanens. This is where they conduct their rituals, the complaint even reached the United Nations. It was only after 1997, when Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was approved into law that the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) was created that the Subanens in Siocon were given all the assistance to assert their right as owners of the ancestral domain where the mining company is operating as a result, most of the demands for compensation by the Subanens were met. Right now the Subanens in the area are given a percentage share from the income of the company, scholarship grants and other social benefits are also given to the Subanens in Siocon. But we still hear of some violations to the agreement done by the mining company.
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We hope that this will also be given to the province of Zamboanga Del Norte for after all Canatuan in Siocon is also a part of Zamboanga Del Norte. The Businessmen Association of Mindanao should be supported in their quest to lift the open pit mining ban ordered by the Provincial government of Zamboanga Del Norte, for as long as it will be monitored carefully and adopting a responsible mining operation. The country cannot live up to its expectation of development without mining. We can never be an industrialized country if we solely depend on agriculture and marine resources. The great industrial revolution in America started when hey mined their natural resources. Communist China right now is the biggest mining nation on Earth.

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Scoop: Gold, silver, copper, manganese and iron ore are among the few natural resources that Zamboanga City has. The city government must redirect her options in favor of responsible mining it may one day be the last option we must prepare for it.