MAC: Mines and Communities

Defend our Land and Patrimony! Defend our Future! - An Interfaith Statement of the Peoples of Mindan

Published by MAC on 2006-01-20

Defend our Land and Patrimony! Defend our Future! - An Interfaith Statement of the Peoples of Mindanao

by Mindanao Interfaith Conference on Mining Plunder

20th January 2006

Zamboanga del Norte Convention Center, Dipolog City

"That Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" Romans 8:21

"And the earth We have spread out; set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance." Qur'an, 15:19

"(Land is) a gift from Magbabaya to a people he has put in a place in order to develop and guard Creation. As a divine gift, it could not be owned by anyone for one cannot own that which gives life." Dibabawon Tribe

We - representatives from the Lumad and Moro peoples, the Catholic and Protestant churches, people's organizations, local governments, advocates for the environment, and other support groups - gather in this historic conference in Mindanao to strengthen our unity in faith, convictions, and action against large-scale mining plunder.

In the midst of our diversities in faith, we express our unwavering unity to defend life, land and patrimony against the most vicious plunder of large-scale mining.

Ten years into the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995, we have witnessed wanton destruction of rivers, forests and fields; the loss of homes, ancestral lands and farms; the spread of militarization, terror and plunder with the entry of large-scale mining into the communities.

Intensifying this plunder is the Arroyo government's ferocious revitalization of the mining industry; and the reversal of the Supreme Court on the petition filed by La Bugal B'laan Tribal Association, as these have lured mining explorations and permits into the country and particularly into Mindanao. In fact, 10 mining projects in Mindanao are being made priority by the government, including four in Caraga, four in Southern Mindanao, one in Socsksargen and one in Western Mindanao. In Moro territories, the exploitation of natural gas and oil resources by foreign entities is now in the pipeline.

The very experiences of the communities in Canatuan, Siocon; Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; Placer, Surigao del Norte; Sulu and other areas in Mindanao have shown the deprivation of the lands of the Lumad, Moro and Christian communities, the disintegration of our people's cultures, and the transgression of our human rights.

State-ownership and control of Mt. Diwalwal, Compostela Valley is likewise being used as a pretext to eliminate thousands of marginal small-scale miners to pave the way for mining multinational and transnational monopoly of its mammoth deposits.

Given these conditions present in Mindanao, we state that large-scale mining can neither bring development, sustainability and peace, because what we see is the dying of the environment, ancestral lands and communities with the onslaught of mining plunder.

We hold the Arroyo government principally accountable for the suffering and death of our peoples and Creation as it is the most rabid purveyor of mining liberalization. As she serves our mineral resources to mining TNCs/MNCs on a silver platter, her hand is bloodied by the many deaths arising from mining incursions, the dying of our environment, and the depletion of the life-source of our future generations.

We are prepared to meet the greater challenge posed by this administration to shed off the remaining safeguards to our patrimony as enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution by concocting Charter Change, an act that will be more vicious and rapacious than the 1995 Mining Law.

We come forward with our response, as stewards of Creation, defenders of ancestral lands, advocates of the environment, to affirm our commitment to defend our land, our life, and our patrimony.

We are emboldened by the ongoing movements in Mindanao coming from the Lumad, Moro and peasant communities, the Catholic and Protestant Churches, and support groups to resist the entry of mining firms. We rely on the boundless resources of our faiths and convictions in this fight, inspired by the victory of the Biblical David over Goliath, the triumph of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over the oppressive Quraish landlords of Mecca, and guarded by the Spirit of Linuyan, the keeper of our ancestral fields.

The Truth is our weapon in response to the lies and myths being spinned by mining TNCs/MNCs. Mining liberalization are the exact opposite to genuine national development. Liberalized, export-oriented, and extractive mining will only make a ghost island of Mindanao - a bleak eventuality already proven by the experience of mining-ravaged Third World nations.

Therefore, we raise the unity among the peoples of Mindanao towards these calls:

* End all large-scale mining explorations and operations in Mindanao;

* Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and other related mining policies detrimental to the environment and patrimony;

* No to charter change and the sell-out of our sovereignty and natural resources;

* Hold mining companies and government agencies accountable for the destruction of ancestral domains, environment and lands;

* Stop military operations in mining-affected and mining-targeted areas;

* Press for an alternative people's mining policy to sustain genuine development

Panalipdan Mindanao! is our rallying call. Panalipdan! Mindanao is our unequivocal response.

(Approved and signed by 230 delegates in the Interfaith Conference)

Contact Panalipdan! MindanaoSecretariat: c/o InPeace
Mindanao, Rm. 101 Kalinaw Center for Interfaith
Resources, 13 Francisco Avenue, Juna Subdivision,
Matina, 8000 Davao City.
Tel/Fax (082) 299-4964

Mindanao Lumads Defend Ancestral Land vs Large-scale Mining

by TYRONE VELEZ, Bulatlat

19th January 2006

Leaders of Lumad organizations from six regional federations representing some 10 major indigenous tribes in Mindanao vowed to defend the last of their ancestral lands against the assault of large-scale mining during the conclusion of the Mindanao Indigenous People's Conference on Mining last January 18 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, Dipolog City.

The conference gathered representatives from the Ata-Manobo, Bagobo, Matigsalog, and Dibabawon of Southern Mindanao, the Manobo and Mamanwa of Caraga region, the Subanen of Western Mindanao, the B'laan and T'boli of Socskargen, the Higaonon of Bukidnon, the Manobo and Banwaon of Agusan.

Timuay (village elder) Bernito Sanhilan, leader of the Salabukan Nok G'taw Subanen (SGS or Unity of Subanen People), an organization of the Subanen tribe living at Mt. Malindang in Western Mindanao, said that Lumad leaders are willing to die in defense of their land. "Die today, die tomorrow, its all the same," Sanhilan said. He emphasized that the Lumads have a long history of struggle against the incursions of mining, logging and agribusiness operations into their ancestral domain.

Canadian Toronto Ventures, Inc. (TVI), a mining company, operates in lands belonging to the Subanen at Mt. Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. Sagittarius Mines, Inc. and its partner Indophil conduct exploration activities on B'laan lands in Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and South Cotabato.

Subanen Timuay Jose Anoy said that they were driven out of their lands by TVI even if they have a certificate of ancestral domain from the government. The military, Anoy said, refuses to let him into his home at Mt. Canatuan, Siocon for three years now.

Joel Buklas of Kasalu, a federation of indigenous people's organizations in the Caraga region in Mindanao, denounced the eviction of indigenous peoples from their ancestral land through force, government programs and laws such as the National Integrated Protected Areas (NIPAS) and Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA). He said that government programs and laws deprive indigenous peoples of their rights and land and create divisions among them.

"Giilog sa gobyerno ang yutang kabilin sa Lumad pinaagi sa mga balaod susama sa NIPAS, Pasture Lease, reforestation sa Integrated Forestry Management Agreements (IFMA), Philippine Mining Act ug uban pa," (The government grabs the ancestral domain of Lumads through various laws such as NIPAS, Pasture Lease, Reforestation through IFMA, the Philippine Mining Act among others.) he remarked.

The participants to the conference also accused mining companies of supporting the military's practice of recruiting Lumads to paramilitary groups such as the Alamara in Southern Mindanao and the Salawakan in Northern Mindanao, among others. These paramilitary groups, said the participants, are being used to harass their communities.

Norma Capuyan of the Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa (Apo Sandawa Union of Lumads) sa Cotabato said, "Subsob ang gihimong pagpangrekrut sa military sa among mga Lumad pinaagi sa pinugos nga pag-rekrut o pagpalingla, aron gamiton kami sa counter-insurgency," (There is rampant recruitment among Lumads, by force or by deception, for counter-insurgency operations.)

The conference called on the government to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and other laws that lead to environmental destruction; review the IPRA; stop large-scale mining operations and explorations; and end militarization in Lumad communities.

The regional federations also coalesced into a preparatory council for the Mindanao Lumad confederation with Datu Monico Cayog of Southern Mindanao's Pasaka elected as chair and Datu Magno Limbasan of Northern Mindanao's Kasalu as vice chair.

The regional federations, which coalesced, are Kalumbay Northern Mindanao, Pasaka Southern Mindanao, Kaluhhamin Socsksargen, Kasalu Caraga, SGS and Pig Salabukan Nog Bansang Subanen (PBS or Unity of Subanon Tribes) Western Mindanao.

The activity is supported by Panalipdan Mindanao, a Mindanao-wide alliance of environment advocates, Protect Zamboanga del Norte, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dipolog, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

Catholic bishops, churches back Lumads and Moro groups in anti-mining summit in Dipolog

15th January 2006

For reference: SR. DIANE CABASAGAN, RGS, Convenor

Environment advocates from Catholic and Protestant churches, including at least 2 Catholic bishops, are uniting with indigenous peoples, Moro and farmers groups in a Mindanao-wide conference to call for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 which they say "threatens the nation's patrimony and future."

The Mindanao-wide Interfaith Conference on Mining Plunder will be held in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte on January 17 -21, 2006 and is hosted by Panalipdan! Mindanao, a Mindanao-wide alliance of anti-largescale mining advocates.

Bishops Jose Manguiran and Zacharias Jimenez, known among members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for their pro-environment advocacies, lead anti-mining luminaries gracing the occasion.

The conference seeks to be a "gathering of actions, not just of words" and organizers hope it will lead towards tangible actions to frustrate actual mining incursions in communities. Anti-mining advocates seek to sharpen strategies to meet head-on transnational mining companies which are using their immense resources to spin lies and myths about the economic benefits to be gained from mining.

The conference will formulate plans for a Mindanao-wide advocacy on the impact of large-scale mining on communities, such as displacements, loss of livelihood, and human rights abuses. It will also prepare events to meet the upcoming anniversary of the signing of the Mining Act on March 5.

The conference will begin with a Mindanao-wide Indigenous Peoples Conference on Mining on January 17 to 18. A talk on indigenous people's rights, ancestral domain will be given by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-Friends of the Earth); and this will be followed by an input on the indigenous people's situation from the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubo sa Pilipinas (KAMP).

The interfaith conference follows on January 19 to 21. Other topics include the globalization of the mining industry to be given by the Cordillera People's Alliance, and the alternative people's agenda on mining to be discussed by the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

The host region, Western Mindanao, is fitting for the event as it is prey to many mining applications and explorations. Canadian firm TVI Resources, for example, is facing stiff opposition from churches, Lumad and Moro communities in the town of Siocon.

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