From my inbox, here’s Paul Dominguez’s reply to the New People’s Army death sentence issued on the anniversary of the revolutionary group last March 29:
“I was surprised to receive information that the Valentin Palamine Command of the New People’s Army has issued a threat against my person and accused me of being involved in “deceit, coercion and murder” due to my involvement in the exploration phase of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) project in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
The allegations being made against me are all the more disconcerting since I resigned from SMI as president on April 1, 2007 when Xstrata exercised its option to acquire a majority stake of SMI and took over the management of the company.
For the record, the accusations being made against me are totally unfounded and without basis in truth and in fact.
It is not true that I caused the militarization of Tampakan during my tenure as SMI president or that the exploration activities conducted by SMI dispossessed communities of their land and livelihood. On the contrary, the investments being made by SMI have created opportunities for the Tampakan residents and have the full support of all the lumad tribal councils, the barangay councils and the municipalities presently involved with the project. These facts are easily verifiable.
The principal focus of the management team during my tenure as SMI President was to undertake social development and environmental programs to precisely ensure that the host communities would be the first to benefit from the investments being undertaken in Tampakan. These programs were well received by the community and enabled the company to carry out its exploration activities without any major security-related incidents.
In fact, several of these community-based programs received awards and accolades from both local and foreign entities. The Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) honored SMI as the recipient of its highest award – the Presidential Mining Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA) in December, 2006 in recognition of the company’s programs and projects for environmental protection and development of the host and neighboring communities. PMSEA also honored the company with a Special Award for the Best Mining Forest Program.
Under my watch, SMI initiated community development activities in education, capacity building and health, with special focus on the indigenous communities in whose lands the mine may eventually operate. As a result of these education initiatives, over 8000 school children in Tampakan, Colombio and Kiblawan continue to receive scholarship grants and financial assistance. In addition, several of these innovative development programs were recognized as model projects by our national officials as well as visiting international dignitaries.
In a visit to Tampakan in 2006, Tanzanian Mining Minister Lau Masha lauded the project, saying that he would encourage mining investors in Tanzania to “learn from Tampakan” and would push for the adoption of SMI’s best practices in Tanzania ’s mining projects. Among the innovative programs that Minister Masha wanted to replicate in Tanzania was the SMI Competence Center which undertakes skills development and adult literacy programs for the host communities to enable them to be the first to be gainfully employed by the project. This unique program was given the National Kabalikat Award for Industry by Tesda in 2007.
During my tenure, SMI also encouraged the three municipalities presently involved in the project to form an alliance to accelerate growth and development and jointly address whatever issues that may emerge in the course of development of the mining project. This initiative referred to as the KITACO Growth Area ensures that all sectors within the three municipalities of Kiblawan, Tampakan and Columbio which are in three separate provinces are consulted at all times thus assuring full project transparency.
Over the last four decades, I have been involved in both government and private sector initiatives to bring about peace and development in Mindanao . My term as presidential assistant for Mindanao during the Ramos administration was characterized by significant economic growth and infrastructure development in the island as well as more cooperation with our neighbors in ASEAN.
Today, I continue to be involved in several private sector and civic organizations whose objectives are to promote peace and development, poverty alleviation and sustainable development particularly in Mindanao . I remain steadfast in my commitment to help accelerate the development of Mindanao .”