MAC: Mines and Communities

Filipino villagers challenge Lafarge over desecrated burial ground

Published by MAC on 2010-09-05
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, statement

The multinational cement manufacturer, Lafarge, has a history of difficulties over pollution issues at the cement quarry and adjacent factory on the Philippine island of Mindanao, for which it has ultimate responsibility .

Recently local Muslim Maranao communities living in the shadow of the company's workings have been angered by the company's desecration of their burial grounds.

However, this is only the latest in a series of grievances.

Fight to keep burial ground sacred unites Iligan villagers

By Tito Fiel

Philippine Daily Inquirer

19 August 2010

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines - In a rare show of solidarity with their Muslim neighbors, Christian residents here supported protests against two local cement manufacturers for allegedly desecrating a Muslim burial ground in Barangay Kiwalan.

Earlier, local Muslim chieftain Sultan Macasalong Sarip accused the Iligan Cement Corp. and Mindanao Portland Cement Corp. of desecrating their ancient burial grounds.

The two cement companies, which could not be reached for comment, are operated by French firm Lafarge.

Sarip said the two companies disregarded the Muslims' appeal to spare the burial grounds from their quarrying activities.

"Many graves had been destroyed by blasting," he said.

Sarip said Muslims in the area refused to sell their lands when cement manufacturing and other industries started to operate in the village in the 1960s because the pieces of property were burial grounds.

"We are the original settlers of the area and we would not leave," he said.

Sarip said all that the Muslims are asking is for the companies to respect their burial grounds and also spare them from the horrors of "irresponsible mining."

"We suffer from all forms of pollution like air and noise pollution and the company would also not provide us access road. We have to cross the private roads built by the companies even during emergency cases," he said.

Roderico Dumaug, chair of Barangay Kawilan, said the Christian residents of the village sympathize with their Muslim neighbors.

Our reply to the Offer of Iligan Cement Corporation

27 August 2010

We, together with the Maranaw families at Purok 16, Kiwalan, Iligan City which was once called Natankopan, now headed by Sultan Macasalong Sarip, are sending this reply to the offer made by Engr. Pacifico Rom of ICC, last August 23, 2010 there at the residence of Sultan Macasalong Sarip.

1. Formal recognition and declaration from ICC that the family of Sultan Macasalong Sarip is an Indigenous Community and the lands they occupy as Ancestral Domain.

2. Restore the desecrated cemetery within one (1) month after receipt of this letter to its original state particularly the creek and the waterfalls. Utmost respect on the sacredness of the cemetery be made during the restoration process;

3. Construct an uncontrolled and free concrete access road with a width of 8 meters that will connect Purok 16, Kiwalan, Iligan City to the National Highway;

4. Provide regular employment inside ICC to ten (10) Maranaos and to provide college scholarship to two Maranao students from the area every year;

5. Directly give to the Maranao community their livelihood projects and programs that are socially acceptable to them and they shall be the one who will decide on the type, kind and nature of the program;

6. For ICC to provide financial support in the conduct of the Kapag-isa-Isa during the opening of the Ramadhan and "Idl'Ftr", during the closing of the Ramadhan. The Maranao must manage the program. The goal of this program is to strengthen the relationships and understanding of the three indigenous communities and no politics or religion be involved during the program;

7. Extraordinary care in words and in deeds in the protection of the environment, preservation of the forest, trees and the sources of waters within the area and for the involvement of the Maranao in this aspect.

The answer of ICC to this letter must be duly signed by its corporate officers. If within five (5) days from receipt of this letter, ICC did not initiate any concrete action, our families from the Bangsamoro and the Higaonon together with the civil society, is supporting us in our next course of action.

If ICC wants to talk or audience with me regarding this letter, the members of the COUNCIL OF ADVISERS that sympathize with us in our grief and cause shall be present.





Punong Barangay
Kiwalan, Iligan City

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