Farmers group eyes gains from Tampakan Copper-Gold project
COTABATO CITY — A large federation of farmers in Davao del Sur expressed support for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato on Monday, saying they expect more benefits once its operations begin next year.
“We favor the planned copper and gold mining operations in Tampakan, slated to begin in 2024,” Rogelio M. Lagamayo, president of the Mal River Irrigation System Federation of Irrigators Association, said.
Interviewed by reporters, he said their federation of at least 20,000 farmer-members in Matanao, Hagonoy and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur are confident of an economic boom in cities and provinces close to Tampakan, once the extraction of copper and gold in the area pushes through.
Mr. Lagamayo said they hope Malacañang acts decisively in approving the mining venture.
The national government had contracted the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) to explore the copper and gold deposits in Blaan ancestral lands in Tampakan with the approval of tribal councils in the area and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Lagamayo said they decided to announce that they are for mining operations in Tampakan, about 16 kilometers from Koronadal City in South Cotabato, when they learned that the SMI already spent more than P2 billion for its humanitarian projects in the area, in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur and in Malungon, Sarangani in the past six years despite not even having started its mining operations yet.
The SMI’s operation shall cover hinterlands surrounded by Tampakan, Columbio, Kiblawan and Sarangani.
Kiblawan Mayor Joel DG. Calma, Malungon Mayor Theresa D. Constantino, and Columbio Mayor Naila M. Mamalinta separately told reporters Monday that the mining firm had produced 737 college graduates in the past five years via its scholarship program.
Domingo N. Collado, Indigenous People’s Representative to the municipal council of Tampakan, said various Blaan tribal organizations are helping oversee 31,000 SMI elementary, high school and college scholars presently studying in schools in South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur.
By John Felix Unson
October 9, 2023