Philippines Indigenous Peoples celebrate ... but still some way to goPublished by MAC on 2011-08-23
Source: Bulatlat, Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Sun Star
The stories below are a feast of articles on the struggles of indigenous peoples, to coincide with the celebration of World Indigenous Peoples Day on 9th August.
To mark this event Philippine indigenous peoples marched in the capital to voice their anger at ongoing abuses of free, prior and informed consent, especially with regard to the mining industry.
To emphasise this struggle, various NGOs - including a Subanon organisation in Midsalip - have appealed to the Supreme Court to use environmental legislation to halt mining projects on the Zamboanga Peninsula. See previous MAC coverage insee Midsalip: Law and disorder: Justice for Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines?
The Zamboanga del Sur provincial governor has blocked confirmation of the current Secretary responsible for mining, partly because of the continuing armed stand-off involving mining companies in Bayog. See previous MAC coverage: General ignorance: more threats to Philippine indigenous peoples
This is further proof that this conflict, which has engulfed Subanon civilians, is not just about the influence of generals, but also political families.
Elsewhere in Mindanao, there is an ongoing investigation into how a dialogue on the contentious application for exploration of Canadian-based Mindoro Resources, became a vote on approval among differing parties of Mamanwa tribal people. This appears to be yet another clear abuse of process.
However, it is not all bad news.
Despite all these on-going abuses, in the province of Nueva Vizcaya on Luzon at least, indigenous peoples have had their overwhelming rejection of Metex Minerals accepted by the Government.
Respect our rights to land and life, indigenous peoples asked on World IP Day
By Marya Salamat
12 August 2011
August 9 is the international day of the world's indigenous peoples, but the "occasion is a grim one as human rights violations and ancestral landgrabbing are rampant." - Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP
|Philippine tribal peoples protest on World Indigenous Peoples Day
Source: Marya Salamat, bulatlat.com
MANILA - "We're not asking for money, we're just bringing to the attention of the Aquino government our pleas-that they stop those who try to deceive us and dig up and destroy our lands. We have nowhere else to go to. Our life is tied to the land and mountains," Lope dela Cruz, 70, a Dumagat from Tanay, Rizal, said in Filipino before members of other indigenous peoples' group in a rally at the Mendiola Bridge last Tuesday, World's Indigenous People's Day.
Garbed in Dumagat attire, Mr dela Cruz had marched with fellow indigenous peoples garbed in the attire of their own tribes. Dela Cruz shared how the Dumagat in Rizal are being denied their livelihood as the mountains are "crawling with state soldiers who are barring the Dumagat from their usual farming activities there."
"How would we survive if we could not hunt for food or do some farming in the mountains? We have no other source of livelihood," dela Cruz said, adding that if the mountains were to be continuously denied them, they would die of hunger.
Many of the Philippine indigenous peoples have historically lived off the country's forests in the mountains, practicing nomadic agriculture that allows the forest to regenerate. But that practice and livelihood are now under severe threat, as leaders and representatives of various tribes recount various examples of a national phenomenon - the vicious and massive displacement of indigenous peoples everywhere to give way to giant corporations' mining, logging and energy projects.
KAMP, the national alliance of indigenous people's organizations in the Philippines, said, in their statement on the occasion of the international day of the world's indigenous peoples, large-scale mining is "the largest bane to indigenous peoples." To date, the group has tracked down nearly 600-thousand hectares of the 1.05-million hectares approved for mining as of June this year as covering ancestral territories. In the Cordilleras in the north, KAMP noted that 60-percent of the entire land area has looming mining operations.
Even the investments in the energy sector that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III boasted about in his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) are deemed as disastrous not only to the environment but also to the indigenous peoples, based on KAMP's study. These energy projects include the Laiban dam in Rizal, the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi dam in Northern and Central Mindanao, and the pending coal mining operations in Surigao del Sur.
State violence vs IPs to secure foreign mining operations
To secure these large-scale mining, logging and energy projects, the government is heavily deploying military and conducting operations in its covered areas, KAMP has noted.
"Mining operations of giant companies have always been coupled with massive deployment of state soldiers," said Johnny Sawadan, 47, spokesperson of the Cordillera People's Alliance, in a speech before fellow indigenous peoples at a rally in Manila. Sawadan said that in their area, numerous battalions of the 501st, 502nd and 503rd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed to supposedly protect the citizens but their presence only results in rights violations of the people of Cordillera.
In just one year of the Aquino administration, "eight indigenous peoples were killed by state forces ... More than a thousand Lumad fled their homes because of military abuse," said Piya Macliing Malayao of KAMP. There had also been indigenous peoples subjected to military harassments, illegal arrest and physical injury. Military attacks unfortunately do not differentiate between children and adults, KAMP noted, as they pointed to indigenous children who either witnessed their parents being harassed, or the children themselves got injured and harassed. In the killing last June of Higaonon Arpe Belayong and Solte San-Ogang, two children were also injured.
The group said that similar with their situation under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, resisting indigenous communities today also suffer from human rights violations.
Last June, KAMP reported that 219 Manobo families in coal mining-affected areas in Surigao del Sur evacuated their homes due to intensified military operations.
IPs are also human
Fermin Queron, 54, from an organization that means the united culture of Palawan, said during their World Indigenous Peoples' Day rally at the historic Mendiola Bridge (now Chino Roces Bridge) that they took part in the said action to tell President Aquino that "we, too, are human."
Queron recounted how, when they have nothing to eat, they make do with honey, "almaciga" and other plants and roots they used to get freely from the mountain forest. But today, he said, it saddens them that their right to go to those parts of the mountain is being denied them. "If this is what they (the state soldiers) are doing to the indigenous peoples everywhere, this is tantamount to killing all of us," Queron said.
He added that in their area, for example, if a giant company comes in for a "development" project, the indigenous peoples just automatically withdraw from its site. But with so many mining permits being granted by the government, Queron said, a growing number of indigenous peoples' groups are now refusing to leave partly because they have nowhere else to go to. He decried the sad trend happening in the country where the indigenous peoples are being driven out of their land, cut away from their roots and source of livelihood.
From Mindanao, Monico Cayog, 74, noted that the indigenous peoples are not even mentioned in Aquino's SONA. He said that speaks a lot about how the Aquino government is treating the indigenous peoples. Aside from the historic lack of social services reaching them in far-flung areas, the indigenous peoples are even being victimized when they try to compensate for it. Cayog cited as example the tragic fate of the "lit-num" schools for the B'laan built by nuns from Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
In many indigenous peoples' communities, the problem of lack of school rooms is often worse than the national average. In a forum this week at the House of Representatives with members of government peace panel and representatives from the panel of the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), different groups of indigenous peoples cited how their school-age children have to travel far to go to school because there are no schools near their communities. In cases where there are grade schools, these offer incomplete grade levels. Some schools for instance only have rooms and teachers from grade one to grade two or three.
In the case of the indigenous communities of B'laan in Saranggani, Surigao del Sur, nuns and non-government organizations took pity on them and devised a literacy-numeracy school which, as Monico Cayog complained, were forced to close down this year after state soldiers branded the schools as being operated by the New People's Army (NPA), and threatened its students and teachers. Cayog said soldiers also used one of these "lit-num" schools as a military detachment. Specifically, these schools are the ALCADEV and TRIFFPS in Han-ayan, Surigao del Sur, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Literacy Numeracy Program in Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon, and in CLANS in Sarangani.
Health workers from CHESTCORE (Community Health Education, Services and Training) doing community health services in the far-flung areas of Cordillera have also reported military surveillance, threats and accusations that they are either members or sympathizers of the NPA.
Aquino government weighed and found wanting
August 9 is the international day of the world's indigenous peoples, but the "occasion is a grim one as human rights violations and ancestral landgrabbing are rampant," said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokeswoman of KAMP.
Wielding symbolic scales of justice weighing between "changed" and "unchanged", leaders and representatives of various indigenous peoples group from the Philippines spoke of their condition now. They compared it to their plight under former President Arroyo which Aquino had promised to change. For every recounting of their situation, the tribesman or tribeswoman would place a "stone" on the scales.
By the end of their program at the Mendiola Bridge, the scale had tipped sharply at "unchanged."
KAMP said Aquino could not fulfill his campaign promises until it abandons the same economic and military policies adopted by its predecessor. But based on the track being followed by Aquino, "as revealed in his Philippine Development Plan and Oplan Bayanihan," Malayao said "there is no way he could solve the country's chronic crisis."
"The only way Aquino could live up to his fancy rhetoric is if he ceases to subscribe to imperialist globalization and state terrorism," KAMP declared.
Indigenous peoples' groups decry use of IPRA and NCIP for development aggression
By Marya Salamat
12 August 2011
MANILA - Most often, "large-scale resource-extractive ventures like mining and so-called development projects" destroy the environment, the lands that are home to the country's indigenous communities, and with it, their traditional economic activities. These prompted KAMP, the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines, to conclude that such projects are "unbeneficial."
In its statement on World's Indigenous People's Day, KAMP reiterated that from experience, the resources lying within the indigenous peoples' ancestral territories are being extracted for profits by a few, leaving environmental destruction in its wake while the indigenous peoples themselves are either displaced or exploited as cheap labor.
From the lens of such painful experiences, KAMP views the recently unveiled Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 of the Aquino government as in the same mold of destructive "strategies for development." Continuing to espouse and "simply repackaging the neo-liberal globalization policies of liberalization, privatization and deregulation," Aquino's development framework, said KAMP, would only further deprive the indigenous peoples of their rights to ancestral land and self-determination.
Deceptive, meaningless IPRA
The Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA), the law that is supposed to protect the indigenous peoples, has proved to be "powerless in protecting their rights amid the plunder of their land and military atrocities," different indigenous peoples' groups said in a forum. Fourteen years since IPRA was enacted, organizations of indigenous peoples assessed it as a "failure".
They assailed the law as a "tool to deceive and appease the indigenous people's struggles for land and self-determination." Ultimately, the law defeats the purpose for which it was purportedly enacted, based on experiences of the many indigenous peoples' group.
In a forum held at the House of Representatives this week, various groups of indigenous peoples shared their difficulties in availing of the IPRA-promised ancestral domain claims.
As of Dec 2010, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has issued 156 Certificates of Ancestral Domain (CADT) covering 4.3-million hectares. But only 37 of these are registered, representing about 937 thousand hectares, said Giovanni Reyes, secretary-general of KASAPI (Coalition of Indigenous Groups in the Philippines).
"In other words," Reyes said, "after nearly 14 years of IPRA, less than 1-million of approximately 7.5-million hectares of ancestral domains have been titled."
Summarizing the numerous cases of stalled ancestral domain claims recounted by different tribesmen and tribeswomen, it takes an average of seven years to complete the processing of CADT, Reyes said , "because the application process is, by design, rigorous and incomprehensible."
Among others, the documents are written in English; it must pass through many stages and through many levels of the NCIP and other implementing government offices. But instead of addressing the bureaucratic obstacles, the NCIP saw it fit to "exasperate the indigenous peoples," said Reyes. He cited as example, the IPRA requirements that CADT/CALT applicants should submit. Supposedly, the IPRA requires that only "any one of ten" enumerated ethnographic proofs should be submitted. Yet, the NCIP has made all 10 of the IPRA's optional ethnographic proofs mandatory. "In so doing, the NCIP has significantly increased the burden of proof on indigenous peoples," Reyes said.
Other leaders of indigenous peoples' organizations added that the NCIP has also been inventing "fake" set of elders and IP leaders who it prefers to talk to in matters of FPIC and CADT.
On the other hand, the NCIP has not been as restrained in issuing certifications for mining, logging and dams. Reyes reported that during the same period that the NCIP has impeded the granting of CADT titles to indigenous peoples, it has issued 320 certifications for mining mostly, plus certifications for logging and dams.
For KAMP, the bigger problem stems from IPRA's commodification of ancestral lands, which runs counter to the way the indigenous peoples regard land (i.e. "How can you own something that has been here before you?" - Macliing Dulag).
How free is free in FPIC
Various indigenous peoples groups have now been calling for a review of IPRA, especially its controversial "Free Prior and Informed Consent" (FPIC). KAMP wants to scrap the IPRA altogether. From the experiences of indigenous peoples in various areas of the Philippines, this FPIC has been "debased and debauched by self-serving interests of companies and the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples)," said KAMP.
Numerous cases show that the NCIP makes "wrongful reporting regarding ancestral claims," said Reyes of KASAPI. He pointed as proof the NCIP's misreporting that certain mining applications do not overlap with ancestral domain claims, paving way for issuance of mining certifications. Reyes added that in ancestral domain territories where indigenous peoples did not apply for CADT, "the process of securing FPIC was not conducted before the NCIP issued a certification, thus resulting in conflicts."
Unfortunately, in conflict situations, state repression has been the experience of indigenous communities asserting their rights. In a paper prepared for this year's thematic workshop of indigenous peoples, KAMP, KALUMARAN, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and Dinteg (Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center), wrote that "A pattern has been established each time: mining exploration permits, mineral sharing and production applications and coal mining contracts were granted by the government to private mining corporations before the onset of military operations."
Under Arroyo, 139 indigenous peoples were recorded to have been extra-judicially killed. In one year of Aquino, eight had been killed. Prolonged and continued military presence in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples and poor settlers has led to their evacuation, such as the case of the Manobo in Surigao del Sur. These are the same communities whose residents had evacuated during the 1990s, and again in various years in 2000s.
In Eastern Rizal, the groups of indigenous peoples noted that the 2nd Infantry Division of the AFP has been established in the area, along with Camp Capinpin, a major military camp, plus satellite bases around Rizal especially in areas affected by the Laiban dam project. This threatens to dislocate nine villages of indigenous Dumagat and Remontado in the Sierra Madre range. They have been defending their ancestral territories and preventing the construction of the said dam.
From north to south of the Philippines, this militarization is happening directly victimizing the indigenous peoples and settlers, reported Jude Bago, secretary-general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, to national joint consultations with indigenous peoples in the House of Representatives this week.
The groups noted that aside from deploying state soldiers, the Aquino administration and local politicians have been utilizing paramilitary groups operating in indigenous communities.
Indigenous Peoples Agenda
Even as they challenged themselves to "continue to arouse, organize and mobilize" their people to defend their rights and land against plunder and repression, the indigenous peoples group who gathered together in Manila this week from different parts of the Philippines tried to sought the help of progressive and friendly legislators to work for the cancellation of laws and other policies deterring IP rights. The laws included IPRA and Mining Act.
They also asked the peace panels of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the MILF to give them a voice, particularly their calls for self-determination, in the CASER (comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms) that the two groups are crafting and advancing in their separate peace negotiations with the Philippine government.
On borrowed earth
Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11 August 2011
As I trudged closer to the mountain's windy peak, the dark jungle slowly broke open. Then, without warning, a million peach-colored flowers surged forward and I was swallowed waist deep in a lush ocean of color. And I thought, what place on earth is this... what undiscovered beauty ...
Going up I encountered a moist green snake, insects and leeches, poisonous bulan-bulan leaves. A slip, a fall, a bone-crunching day and a bitter cold night had preceded all these. Now, here, suddenly, the morning of Creation. How wild and how peaceful.
This was not a prelude to paradise, I would just soon realize. A few more upward pushes and the flowers receded. Suddenly I was facing a bare desolate peak, the dwelling place of a small community of B'laans.
Here they lived. Here they had been pushed. Like so many scattered B'laan communities, these tribal folk dwelt, if not on mountain sides, on mountain peaks from where there was no more space to go but the sky. Sad were their faces. Sad was their chanting. Forty, 50 years ago, before the settlers came, these shy but hardy people roamed and owned the Mindanao vastness. Not anymore.
Those were the first paragraphs of a long magazine feature article I wrote many, many years ago after spending more than a week in the land of the B'laans and the T'bolis in Mindanao.
I have written many feature articles and column pieces on the indigenous communities I have visited and immersed in-B'laan, T'boli, Mangyan, Aeta, Kalinga, native Americans, etc.-and the selfless individuals and groups that work among them. And I have considered compiling these articles into a book. Many years from now their present way of life will no longer be the same, and it is changing dramatically even now.
The United Nations' International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was observed two days ago, Aug. 9. This yearly observance is meant to promote and protect the rights of the world's indigenous population and to recognize their contributions to make this world a better place, environmental protection among them.
In 2004 the UN assembly proclaimed 2005 -2014 the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The decade's goal is to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.
Alas, despite all that, the IPs who are the guardians of this planet's last frontiers, are also the ones who continue to bear the brunt of so-called development for profit.
I commend Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao for her privilege speech ("Earth Borrowed from our Children") on Aug. 9. She began by saying, "While the Philippine Constitution and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) recognize the rights of indigenous peoples (IP), our vibrant ethnicity also chronicles the un-romanticized tale of cultural communities who are historically marginalized by our state policies. The policy, which this representation is referring to, is the state of perpetrated plunder of our national patrimony which we commonly refer to as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995."
Bag-ao is pushing for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which, she said, allows 100 percent foreign ownership of mining projects which could use up to 81,000 hectares of land and could last for 50 years. Mining companies are given priority access to water resources within their concessions and can repatriate all profits subject only to 2 percent excise tax with tax holidays and deferred payment incentives.
It is as if the government is doing a bargain sale and even subsidizing exploitation, she said. In 2008 the reported contribution of the mining industry to the gross domestic product was only 1.28 percent.
Bag-ao stressed that the Philippines holds the third largest gold deposit in the world, fourth largest deposit in copper, the sixth largest deposit in nickel. She noted that the bulk of the country's mineral wealth, timber and other raw materials are found in the last frontier inhabited and protected by the IPs.
Citing data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Bag-ao said that there are 482 mining applications covering 1,046,350.87 hectares. An estimated 595,058.11 (56.87 percent) will cover IP territories.
Present in the House last Tuesday were Subanen leaders from Zamboanga Peninsula who have filed a petition before the Supreme Court for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan to stop mining in the peninsula.
And while mining corporations rake in billions in profits, the communities that have guarded the resources remain impoverished and are the first to suffer environmental disasters such as ground subsidence and the landslides in Benguet and mercury poisoning in Sibuyan.
The Commission on Human Rights had issued a resolution in favor of the Ifugao tribe in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, calling for the revocation of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement of Oceana Gold but it was not implemented, Bag-ao said. In 2010, the Ifugaos and the Subanens sent a complaint to UNCERD but the government ignored the recommendation of the international body.
And to cap Bag-ao's lamentations: "Last June 30 ... the paramilitary group Salakawam killed anti-mining lumad (IP) leader Arpe Belayong and his nephew Solte San-ogan in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, host to several mining applications."
The IP guardians of the wilderness believe that the land and all its riches are borrowed from their children and should someday be returned for them to enjoy.
There's blood on borrowed earth. And the bleeding continues.
SC asked to stop gov't from issuing new mining permits
9 August 2011
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) was asked Tuesday to stop the government from issuing new mining permits within the Zamboanga peninsula where 170 mining tenements involving over 808,200 hectares or 51 percent of the total land area has been approved as of March this year.
In a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan, several non-governmental organizations and residents told the SC that with the total land area devoted to mining “the threat to the environment has become very real rather than merely apparent.”
A Writ of Kalikasan is a new legal remedy to protect a citizen’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.
The Zamboanga peninsula is composed of the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga-Sibugay. It includes the cities of Dipolog and Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte, and Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur.
The petition was filed by the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc., Alliance to Save the Integrity of Nature, Inc., Kesalubuukan Tupusumi Organization of Subanen People, and several residents in the three provinces.
It sought the issuance of a temporary environment protection order (TEPO) to enjoin the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) from processing, granting and issuing new mining permits in all parts of the country, particularly in Zamboanga peninsula until environmental concerns they raised have been fully addressed.
Also named respondents in the petition were the Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bureau, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and mining companies operating in the Zamboanga peninsula.
Mining issues delay Environment chief's confirmation
Sun Star Manila
11 August 2011
ENVIRONMENT Secretary Ramon Paje will have to face the congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) again after his confirmation was blocked over mining issues.
Zamboanga Del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles, a former Environment secretary himself, stood to oppose Paje's confirmation.
He said Paje is "not competent" for failing to resolve disputes between mining companies in his province. He said security personnel of two mines there have been engaged in a shooting war, with civilians caught in the crossfire.
Paje said his office already issued a cease-and-desist order against Lupa Pigegetawan Mining Co., a mine allegedly formed by indigenous Subanen and was given an ancestral domain claim by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
He said, however, that the order has to be endorsed by the commission.
"How can you believe that mining operation is made of indigenous peoples when its capitalization is P250 million?" Cerilles said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, asked Paje, former chief of the Mining bureau, about an aborted deal between the government and Chinese firm ZTE Corp. in 2006 for rights to mine around 8,000 hectares in Mt. Diwalwal, Davao del Norte.
Paje said although he was director of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences, negotiations on that deal went above his head. That deal was negotiated between ZTE and Malacanang.
Reports at the time identified then Trade Secretary Peter Favila as signatory of the agreement.
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the CA committee on the environment, said Paje may still be confirmed but that he wanted to give Cerilles and others opposed to the secretary's appointment time to air their concerns. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)
Envi-activist groups ask Commission on Appointment not to confirm Paje as DENR Secretary
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
12 August 2011
Environmental activists lead by Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment support the Senate Commission on Appointment's deferment of the approval of Ramon Paje's appointment as Department of Environment and Natural Resources' secretary. The group also said that there is a basis not to appoint Ramon Paje as DENR secretary.
"Paje should not be allowed to continue his current post as DENR Secretary. He has already done more harm than to protect and manage our environment and natural resources. As DENR Secretary, Paje has facilitated the sell-out of thousands of hectares of our mineral lands and resources to foreign mining companies," Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Based on government data, the DENR under Paje has already approved or recommended 353 new mining contracts which are mostly owned by foreign mining companies from Australia, Canada, China, and United Kingdom. Secretary Paje also lobbied and pressured local governments units that oppose large-scale mining in their area, like the provincial government of South Cotabato which declared moratorium on open-pit mining, to retract their declarations. Open pit mining is the technology that Xstrata, a Switzerland owned mining company, will employ in their gold mining project in the province.
In a statement, anti-environment plunder group Defend Patrimony similarly asked the CA to deny the approval of Paje as DENR secretary. It also asked members of the CA, Senator Chiz Escudero and Senator John Osmena to support and sponsor the People's Mining Bill or HB 4315 which promotes genuine development of the local mining industry.
"Mining in our country under the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942) has only been beneficial to big foreign mining companies and never to the Filipino people. Foreign mining companies and their local partners not only failed to deliver development and progress but left host mining communities poorer than before and suffering from the environmental damages and health complications. Indigenous peoples and peasant communities are being driven away from their ancestral lands to give way to mining operations," said Piya Malayao, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony.
"We ask the Senators to support the People's Mining Bill (HB 4315) which seeks to reorient the Philippine mining industry towards national industrialization and providing the domestic needs of the country. HB 4315 seeks the development of mining, ensures significant gains and shares for the government and at the same time, ensures the protection of the environment and respects the rights of communities."
Nueva Vizcaya villagers oppose mining project, referendum says
by Ben Moses Ebreo
PIA Press Release
29 July 2011
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya - A recent referendum on the proposed mining project in the towns of Aritao, Dupax del Sur, Bambang and Kayapa showed the affected villager's firm opposition.
Gregorio Singgangan, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) provincial officer said the recent mining referendum was conducted in line with the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) provision of the Indigenous People's Rights Act or IPRA law which requires the FPIC before a mining project will be undertaken.
The referendum was conducted to get the consent of the affected villagers on the gold and copper project of the Metex Mineral Resources Corporation (MMRC) which acquired an exploration permit from the government's Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB).
"Based from the results of the separate conduct of referendum in the two municipalities, an overwhelming no votes were casted by the affected residents," Singgangan said.
The referendum was conducted in Kayapa town last week where MMRC's proposed gold-copper project covers barangays San Fabian, Cabanglasan, Pingkian, Acacia, Mapayao and Baan where only 85 voted yes and 867 villagers voted no.
Another referendum in the covered barangays of Mauan in Bambang town, Gabut in Dupax del Sur town and Darapidap in Aritao town resulted into 229 no votes with 0 yes vote.
Earlier, religious sectors in Kayapa town expressed their opposition on the proposed gold - copper project because of its perceived destructive effects on the environment.
Governor Luisa Cuaresma also expressed opposition on the project, saying the referendum should have been informed by the NCIP to her office. - Nueva Vizcaya
NCIP orders probe on dialogue turned voting on entry of mining firm
By Roel Catoto
27 July 2011
SURIGAO CITY - The regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has ordered an investigation into a supposed dialogue among Mamanwas in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte where the tribe members were instead told to vote on the entry of a mining firm, allegedly at the behest of an employee from the same government agency.
The dialogue was meant to settle differences among the Mamanwas who were divided over the application for exploration of Canadian-based Mindoro Resources Limited, but segued into a voting where those who favored the application prevailed, said Gliceto Dagondon, executive director of the Green Mindanao Association Inc.
Dagondon said Green Mindanao reported the "anomalous" act of the employee to NCIP-Caraga Regional Director Dominador M. Gomez, who promptly ordered an investigation into the July 11 dialogue.
In an email to Green Mindanao last week, Gomez said he has instructed their regional legal officer to "conduct investigation on the alleged haste, insufficient time, lack of participation and open expression and directed immediately voting for their individual stand on MRL exploration."
The NCIP official said the supposed dialogue occurred in Sitio Dinarawan, Barangay San Pablo and was presided by Noli Quiambong of NCIP-Agusan del Norte with around 200 Mamanwas in attendance.
But instead of holding a dialogue, Dagondon said that Elvira Catuburan, who represented the NCIP regional office, called for a voting on MRL's application where the "yes" votes prevailed, 79 against 71.
Dagondon called the voting a sham, adding he was worried the results would be considered as the tribe's Free and Prior Informed Consent to the mining venture.
FPIC, a requirement under the Indigenous People' Rights Act, states an indigenous community's approval of projects and programs undertaken in their territory.
Dagondon said the presence of local officials who voiced their pro-mining stance may have also influenced the results of the voting.
Jabonga Mayor Glircerio M. Monton Jr. was present during the dialogue, together with San Pablo Barangay Captain Arthur Grana. Both openly campaigned for the entry of MRL in the area.
Still, Gomez said the "yes" vote did not mean anything, and a formal FPIC process as required by the Ipra would still be conducted.
He noted that in 2008, the Mamanwas of Dinarawan did not give their consent and vehemently denied the application of MRL.
"The company now wanted to cover the area of Dinarawan. The people are divided over many issues and concerns that is why they contacted the office to attend and facilitate the dialogue and not to arrive at a consensus," Gomez said. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)