[PHOTO AT LEFT - PROTOCOL: President Arroyo greets indigenous Mindanao residents during the induction of the Provincial and City Consultative Chairpersons and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples at Malacañang’s Rizal Hall yesterday. - Photo By REVOLI CORTEZ ]

MANILA, March 2, 2005 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo highlighted Tuesday the important role of the indigenous communities in the fight against poverty and in bringing the nation to the threshold of peace and prosperity.

"When I spoke before the investors who attended our mining conference a few weeks ago, I told them we must listen to the voice of indigenous peoples and local governments because they are the ones who can guarantee the stability and longevity of your investments," Pres. Arroyo said.

Pres. Arroyo said, "I am optimistic that your group will actively participate in the projects that would strengthen the lives of our indigenous people. Let nobody belittle your role in bringing this nation to the threshold of peace and prosperity."

This was the declaration of the President in a keynote speech before the newly-created Provincial/City Consultative Body (PCB) of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) at Malacañang.

In her speech, Pres. Arroyo emphasized the important role of the newly-sworn consultative body chairpersons in the implementation of her 10-point pro-poor legacy agenda.

"Being chairpersons of the PCB are not empty titles or roles, you shall be recognized by all Cabinet members and agency heads as the vanguards in the implementation of the IPRA and IP agenda," she said.

She stressed that the indigenous communities are part of the national mainstream and must not live and work in isolation from all Filipinos.

To date, more than 200 indigenous cultural communities are not only enrolled in schools but as well as in the Phil Health program of the Arroyo administration.

600,000 hectares of ancestral lands have also been properly titled under her term.

Solon seeks stricter measures vs. foreign mining firms 03/01 11:51:59 AM

South Cotabato 2nd Rep. Arthur Pingoy has filed a bill Tuesday requiring foreign mining companies to deposit 50 percent of their profits and capital in government-owned banks or financial institutions for a period of 25 years.

Under House Bill 3761, full repatriation of such profits and capital shall only be allowed at the end of the 25th year of mining operations.

With the resumption of mining operations by virtue of the December 1, 2004 decision of the Supreme Court, Pingoy said the government should be prepared for the influx of these foreign mining investors.

"The Philippines is the 5th most mineralized country in the world and our mines are estimated to be worth $840 billion or P47 trillion. The income that will be generated from the mining industry will be enough to propel the economy to stability," Pingoy said.

Pingoy said there is an urgent need on the part of the government to "put a tight rein on foreign mining investments to ensure the advancement of our economic goals."

He believes that putting a cap on the repatriation of profits and capital will in no way pose as an impediment for these foreign mining investors to operate profitably.

"This will not hamper them in hauling our gold and silver and much more. Their profit margins are simply too long and strong," he said.

"They will be here after the 25th year, securing an extension of their mining operations for another 25 years, at the very least," Pingoy added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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