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Sagittarius Mines and LGUs in Mindanao Collaborate on Community Projects.

by Philippine Resources - April 16, 2021

A private benefactor gave nearly P6 million in grants to two municipalities, five barangays, and six Blaan neighbourhood groups for pro-poor programs.

Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) awarded P2.1 million to Malungon in Sarangani and P3 million to Kiblawan in Davao del Sur for peace and prosperity initiatives that will support the citizens of both municipalities.

Kiblawan Mayor Carl Jason Rama, who received a P3 million check from SMI representatives for their LGU on April 6, said that he and his constituent barangay chairpersons are grateful to the mining company for continuing to fund their community-empowerment projects.

Kiblawan is a Davao del Sur upland town with 30 barangays.

“The development packages we get from SMI from time to time are being spent wisely. We are thankful to the SMI for helping us pursue community projects intended to promote sustainable development in the local communities,” Rama said.

The SMI also distributed separate P75,000 checks to the barangay governments of Tacub, Abnate, and Bulolsalo in Kiblawan on April 6.

The mining company also gave each of the Indigenous People's Structures, or IPS, in Kiblawan's Barangays Tacub, Abnate, Bulolsalo, and Kimlawis a P75,000 donation.

SMI's budget for its social welfare initiative was used to fund programs that would fix poverty and underdevelopment in the four barangays.

During the April 6 gathering, held at Kiblawan's municipal government centre, Wennie Pandoy, chairperson of Barangay Abnate, obtained a laptop with the printer from the SMI for his office.

“We are thankful to the SMI. It has not even operated yet but already poured a big amount of money for its social development program benefiting the residents of Kiblawan,” Pandoy said.

Rama said he and his constituents are not against responsible mining.

“We know that the SMI is a very responsible mining firm. If ever we shall have issues with SMI, we shall initiate a peaceful dialogue with the firm," Rama said.

Both Kiblawan and Malungon are located near Tampakan, South Cotabato, where the SMI has been planning a copper and gold mine since 1995. Since then, the company has ceased operations.

Since SMI's inception more than two decades ago, indigenous Blaan groups and non-Blaan settlers in Malungon, Kiblawan, Tampakan, and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, have been clamouring for the company's service.

A South Cotabato provincial ordinance prohibiting mining operations in the region, as well as resistance from groups outside of the four cities, stymied SMI's supposed start-up in the 1990s.

Blaan tribal leaders have been outspoken in their support for the SMI's service, citing the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act as justification.

The IPRA constitution, also known as Republic Act 8371, granted indigenous peoples the right of self-determination and the authority to use natural resources in their native territories.

Last March, the mayor of Malungon, lawyer Maria Theresa Constantino, got a P2.1 million check from SMI for their LGU's pro-poor socio-economic initiatives.

“We are so grateful to the SMI for its continuing socio-economic support for our municipality,” Constantino then said in an emailed statement.

The SMI also distributed a P75,000 check to the Blaan and Malabud barangay governments in Malungon, as well as the IPS in both barangays.

Sweetly Mae Galang-Laguirder, the current barangay chairperson of Blaan, is one of Constantino's constituents who completed college courses with the assistance of the SMI.

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