MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Tampakan violence claims the lives of tribal woman and her children

Published by MAC on 2012-10-23
Source: Statements,, Business World

Members of tribal leader Dagil Capion's family have been killed by the army. Datu Campion had taken up arms to oppose the entry of Anglo-Swiss Xstrata's Tampakan mining project, and the army killed his wife, and her sons in an ambush. Tragically, the cycle of violence surrounding the project can only continue. (See: Philippines: Miners and military create refugees).

Juvy (front with arms crossed) with two of her 3 children including the boy standing beside her were killed on 18 October. Photo LRC-KSK
Juvy (front with arms crossed) with 2 of her 3 children, including
the boy beside her, who was killed on 18 October. Photo LRC-KSK

Around the same time as the killings President Aquino was confirming that the suspended mining project would not receive its clearance until the new legislative framework, following the presidential Executive Order, is in place. Given the Order has now been signed off that should not be too far in the future. Indigenous Peoples have been meeting in Manila to highlight how these reforms are not enough, and calling again for Congress to instead pass the Alternative Minerals Bills.

In Western Mindanoa the Subanon leaders of Bayog have renewed their call for peace in their lands until their ancestral domain claim is settled. (This was in response to the last mining-related murder of children - see: Gunmen kill Jordan Manda, son of Filipino anti-mining activist).

This also involves explusion of those miners who have brought conflict to the area, some of whom have apparently disarmed. Unless all the miners disarm, or are disarmed,  certain political factions may gain benefit.

In the Cordillera region, although it seems that the tailings leak from Philex's Padcal mine has finally been stemmed, the calls for justice continue. It seems the company plans to refill the tailings leak. Given the  level of fines already imposed on it (though these are being disputed) cynics say suggest this is simply a cheap way  for the country to remedy the problem of the growing costs of waste containment.

Finally, while mining conflict continues in Mindanao, the proposed peace deal with Muslim rebels has made the international news. The talk now is all of the "peace dividend" that may flow from this. (It is a good idea to use the word 'may', given the number of times such peace deals have been agreed only to collapse amid violent recriminations).

That peace dividend seems to centre on the extraction of natural resources. Given the violence meted out to indigenous peoples around mining projects (which is not even factors into the deal with the Muslim rebels) it is difficult to see how peace is near.

Tribal war feared over killings of Blaan members

By Allan Nawal, Aquiles Zonio

Inquirer Mindanao

21 October 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines - The sister of a tribal leader whose wife and two children were killed in a military operation last Thursday, said a "pangayaw" (tribal war) could erupt due to the killings.

Rita Dialang, younger sister of Dagil, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that the two-month pregnant Juvy, her children - Pop, 13 and John, 8 - were mercilessly killed, and because of that, "pangayaw is very possible." "It was not only our family, which was hurt deeply. Our people are in pain too. They were asking what sin Juvy and her children had committed to deserve such deaths," Dialang, also the family's spokesperson, said in Visayan.

She said for the B'laans, the killings were quite depressing but these had not weakened their resolve to fight for their rights and their way of life against aggression.

The Capion family maintains that Dagil has been waging a tribal-sanctioned war against the intrusion of Sagittarius Mines Inc., which allegedly has displaced many B'laans in the boundaries of Tampakan, South Cotabato and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Dialang, who lives in a community adjacent to Sitio Alyong in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, the place of the killings last Thursday, said they were awakened by the sound of automatic gunfire early morning Thursday.

"We heard the gunshots from the direction of Dagil's house so we rushed outside. We saw human figures in dark clothes outside Dagil's house so we hurriedly went to the area," Dialang said.

She said although Dagil's house was visible from her own home, the uphill climb towards it made the trek last for nearly an hour.

"The soldiers were still there when we arrived. Dagil's neighbors are also already in the area," Dialang said.

Based on what neighbors had told her and members of the Capion clan, Dialang said Dagil was not in the house when the soldiers opened fire at it.

"So he was not injured, contrary to the claims of the military," she said.

Dialang said that by all accounts, the killing of Dagil's family did not happen in an encounter as the military has been claiming.

"It was a massacre. They were unarmed and sleeping. Dagil was not around and nobody from our family's side could have started the firefight," she said.

Dialang said the soldiers could be standing close to Juvy and her children because - except for Vicky, 7, who survived with an injury on the lower part of the body - Juvy and her two sons suffered gunshot wounds in the head.

Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, the Army unit seen as responsible for the killings, said the victims were killed in the crossfire when soldiers responded as they were being fired upon by Dagil and his men.

"We did not know there were unarmed civilians inside," he said, adding that the military launched an operation against Dagil, who has been sought for murder and other crimes.

Bravo said the soldiers involved in the killings had been relieved, were called back to headquarters and also placed under investigation "for possible operational lapses."

Dialang said Dagil, along with her brothers Kitari and Batas, were being persecuted for defending the B'laans.

"They were not engaged in banditry as authorities had been claiming," she said.

Dialang said Dagil and her two other brothers had decided to stand up against abuses, including the murder in 2002 of another relative by men believed to be government agents.

"Before, we just agree to what influential people would ask us to do. But now, we are fighting," she said.

But why have the Capion brothers been leading the fight?

Dialang said the Capion family has been leading the B'laans in many issues for many years now.

She said members of the tribe would often seek the help of any member of her family to address problems.

Batas is the recognized "settler" while Kitari, the youngest of the Capion siblings provided assistance.

Dagil is the fighter among the Capion siblings and had been leading the armed struggle against SMI and people perceived to be protecting its interest, Dialang said.

"The words of moneyed people are what the public tends to believe. Because we are poor, we are seen as plain bandits even if what we are doing is in defense of our ancestral domain and our way of life," she said.

Maj. Jacob Obligado, 10th ID civil-military operations officer, said all allegations have been included in the investigation being conducted by the Board of Inquiry, which, Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th ID, has formed.

Obligado said that in the meantime, the Army's concern has been to provide assistance to the Capion family in coordination with the local tribal council, and beef up security in the area.

Colonel, 8 soldiers sacked over killings


19 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines - The military relieved from their posts 9 soldiers including a battalion commander over the supposed encounter near a mining site in Davao del Sur that claimed the lives of 3 civilians, two of them minors.

Lt Col Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said a board of inquiry was formed after the incident on Thursday, October 18. Paniza said the investigation aims to determine if the soldiers violated the military's rules of engagement.

"This is also our assurance to the public," Paniza said. "We will see to it that someone will be held accountable for this. You cannot simply dismiss this as collateral damage. There were lapses and somebody has to answer for this."

Those relieved included Lt Col Alex Bravo, the battalion commander, and Lt Dante Jimenez, the company commander. Bravo is a 1990 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.

The victims' relatives and anti-mining groups questioned the attack and criticized the Army for the death of the wife and children of Daguil Capion, a supposed tribal leader in the area. Capion is notorious for allegedly being an extortionist.

The military earlier said the incident was an encounter but relatives of the victims tagged it as a "massacre," saying the soldiers killed the children without mercy.

The anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina claimed soldiers raided the hut of Capion but Bravo said it was an encounter and armed men fired at approaching soldiers, triggering a firefight.

Killed were Capion's 27-year-old wife Juvy and their sons Pop, 13, and John, 8. The victims belonged to the B'laan tribe.

Even as the military probes the incident, Paniza said what is clear is that Capion is a "notorious bandit."

"What happened was the SMI (Xstrata) failed to heed his demand and he's using this to justify his actions," Paniza said.

Capion has arrest warrants allegedly for the death of policemen, soldiers and mining security personnel in the area.

Encroaching on ancestral land?

Dagil Capion is leading several armed B'laan tribesmen who are opposing the operation of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in the hinterlands of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. Kiblawan is among the towns covered by the drilling and exploration activities of SMI.

Capion has even admitted responsibility in at least two ambushes that killed at least two SMI security guards and 3 drilling contractors.

The military however said Capion is a bandit who resorted to armed robbery after he was denied work in the company.

Capion used to own a variety store which was doing well before he took up arms against SMI, which he claims is encroaching on their ancestral land.

SMI, a company controlled by Swiss-based Xstrata Plc, operates the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project, said to be one of the world's largest untapped deposits of gold and copper.

Its mining development area however is covered by at least 5 ancestral domain claims, mostly belong to the B'laan tribe.

SMI also operates in Tampakan in South Cotabato, Malungon in Sarangani and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat.

The 3 Catholic dioceses serving these areas are however opposed to the operations of SMI.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel and the prelates of Kidapawan and Digos have called on President Benigno Aquino III to stop the operation of SMI to avert the escalation of violence in the area. - with reports from Edwin Espejo/

Church, solon outraged by ambush of tribal leader and his family

Gov't talks on peace, while indigenous peoples are killed

Press Release

19 October 2012

Church leaders and a solon joined human rights and environmental groups calling on the government for immediate action on the murder of three innocent civilians in an ambush raid at the farm house of B'laan tribe leader Daguil Capion yesterday morning.

The diocese of Marbel through the Social Action Center condemned the brutal killing of the innocent and call for an immediate investigation to the concerned agencies of the government.

Several anti-mining advocates in Mindanao have been killed in the past decade since the South Cotabato gold-copper reserve entered the area with its exploration activities.

The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) demanded justice for the family of Capion. Mr. Tony Abuso, from the National Secretariat of ECIP stated that "We want the perpetrators investigated and justice be given to Daguil and all lumads of Mindanao who now fear for their lives-because of the position they take against mining."

Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat also aired his serious concern about this killing. "I am saddened and outraged with this killings. I call on the national government to use all its resources and exhaust all possible means to bring justice to my B'laan indigenous brothers and sisters."

Baguilat, an Ifugao is the Chairperon of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities (IPs). He also lamented that he expected more immediate action from agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). "I also expect the AFP to be defenders of the oppressed, especially the IPs, and not protect the interests of a mining company."

Baguilat also called on the DoJ and the PNP to immediately conclude its investigations and arrest and prosecute and bring justice to the victims. He also appealed to President Aquino to give special instructions to government agencies to prioritize this incident in particular, and the plight of IPs, in general.

The IP Representative also promised to conduct Congressional hearings and investigations on the state of indigenous peoples and the recent series of violence in ancestral domains. He added that he will now explore seeking support and assistance from international bodies such as the United Nations to send special rapporteurs to take a deeper look in the situations of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the growing number of killings under the Aquino administration alarms Fr. Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA executive secretary. He said: "This is very alarming and disturbing that while the national government signs a framework agreement on peace with the Bangsamoros of Mindanao, people on the other side of the south are killed by government arms themselves."

Reports yesterday said that 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army admitted, to attack Daguil who was at the vicinity preparing for corn and potato planting, who since 2010 has been suspect of killing soldiers in an encounter.

Similarly, AlyansaTigil Mina and human rights groups here are awaiting the official statement of the Philippine Army and the Commission on Human Rights on the crime against indigenous communities.

"We urge the Commission on Human Rights to immediately act on this-the issue of militarization and human rights violations has been raised to the office here and at the local but we still await their investigation" ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.

He added: "We were unofficially informed that the CHR intends to conduct an investigation, but without a definite schedule yet. What we know is that the ambush-raid was admitted to by a Philippine Army Infantry Battalion chief, instantly killing a family."

ATM also rejected the claim of Col. Bravo from the 27th Infantry Battalion, that this incident was an encounter with armed NPA rebels. "Assuming that there was an exchange of fire, there must have been a failure of intelligence, as women and children were killed inexplicably," Garganera concluded.

AlyansaTigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, 0927-7617602

Tony Abuso, CBCP-ECIP Coordinator, +632 5274062; 5274155

Fr Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA Executive Secretary, 0922-8348248

Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, 0915-3313361








Family members of a B'laan tribe leader opposed to the existence of a mining corporation which is Sagittarius Mines Incorporated in their ancestral domain area were killed during a ten minutes raid conducted by the military in their farm house. Three (3) members of Capion family died instantly while the youngest daughter was wounded. The massacre happened on October 18,2012 at about 6:30 in the morning in sitio Fayahlob, barangay Datal Aliong, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. The perpetrators were members of 27th Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez the commanding officer of the Bravo company and under the command of Lt. Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo, Battalion Commander.

The victims were identified as; Juvy Capion, 27 years old, mother of the children who is said to be three (3) months pregnant, Jordan Capion, 13 years old, John Capion, 8 years old and Vicky Capion, 4 years old the youngest. Vicky sustained wound at her right ear while the three victims were fatally killed.

During the interview with Aileen Capion (the one who responded during the incident), she revealed that the family were in their farm house two days before the incident. At about 6:30 in the morning they heard gun burst of fire coming from the farm house of Daguil (about 30 minutes walk) from their place. She hurriedly went to the area together with Christina Diapal and Erita Capion sister of Daguil.

Aileen said, when they arrived in the area she saw the two (2) children Juvy Capion and Ressa Piang (relative of the victims). The two children were able to ran and take refuge at the adjacent house some 30 meters away from the crime scene. Aileen saw Ressa took cover of Juvy while the military poked their guns at them. There were four soldiers, two of them were at the front while another two soldiers were at the window.

Aileen said, she told the military "please don't harm the children" but the soldiers said "mas maayo nga tiwason ang mga bata para wala'y witness" (better to finish off the children, so that there were no witnesses). She heard the children shouting, and she told the soldiers "don't threatened the children, they are not involved". Aileen further said, if you saw Daguil then you should chased him not the children because they are innocent".

Aileen revealed, she heard that Juvy was shouting " tama na ayaw namo sige ug pabuto kay naigo nako" please stop firing your guns because I'm already wounded, but the military kept firing their guns. The two bodies were still at their bed sleeping when the military fired their guns aiming to the house.

Aileen said that seven (7) military men blocked her way and even told her not to come closer to the slain victims. The military even took hold of her but she resisted and so she was able to come nearer to the victims. She saw some military already taking steps to move out the slain bodies to the ground. Aileen told the military "ayaw lang ninyo igawas na" and let the families do it".

The dead body of Jordan was seen lying face down on the ground a few meters away from the house where his mother and younger brother slain. They said that he was already taking his coffee when he was shot.

Juvy sustained gunshot wound at her chest and her left leg was broken. Jordan had a gunshot wound at his back that also damaged back part of his head. John was reportedly sleeping at the right side of his mother and had a gunshot wound at the right side of his head which exploded towards his left ear. Then, they brought Vicky to the health center for treatment of her wound.

Alieen said, when they went back to the crime scene, it was already clean by the soldiers they already wash the blood with water and the clothes of the victims were thrown outside the house, when the Police investigators arrived.

Aileen further narrated, when they first responded to the place she saw thirteen (13) soldiers near the house and they were able to identify Lt. Jimenez because she saw his nameplate. There were also about fifty (50) soldiers within the vicinity.

The slain bodies were finally brought down to their home in Datal Biao at about 2:00 PM. On October 19 in the afternoon the three (3) victims were laid to rest near their house.
Prepared by:

Deputy Executive Director
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

and Ronan Philip Samulde
JP Diocese of Marbel

Environmentalists lauds government decision to impede Xstrata mining project; Calls for government to reject the project totally

Defend Patrimony

18 October 2012

Environmental groups lauds the announcement of DENR Sec. Ramon Paje to put on hold the Xstrata mining project in Mindanao. The Tampakan project ranks as the fifth largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit worldwide and is expected to be the largest single foreign investment in the Philippines valued at around $5.9 billion.

"We are pleased that the Aquino government decided to be prudent in not issuing an environmental permit to Swiss mining giant Xstrata. The mining project have already caused much bloodshed in South Cotabato and is poised to bring more environmental degradation and community displacement if it allowed to operate," said Fr. Oliver Castor of Defend Patrimony Alliance, multi-sectoral network against destructive and large-scale mining projects.

Various studies have shown the danger involved in the planned mining project and its threat to the food security in the Mindanao Region. A geological survey of the area reveals that Mindanao Island is traversed by the Philippine Fault and the Cotabato Fault and the proposed Xstrata mining site is traversed by numerous fault lines. These fault lines are found near the planned location of the project's tailings pond. If the tailings pond dam fails, there is a high risk that heavy metals and toxic elements will flow to the Mal River which supports the agricultural and domestic needs of the people in Malalag, Hagonoy and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

"It will be wiser for the government to totally scrap the Xstrata's mining project as the country will gain more economically if we will focus on the development of the agriculture, fishery and tourism in South Cotabato and adjacent provinces. Conservation of the remaining forest and biodiversity in the area will guarantee and sustain the adequate food and clean water supply in the region," Fr. Oliver added.

The government admitted through the pronouncement of President Aquino and DENR Sec. Paje that the existing mining law is inadequate to ensure environmental protection and equitable sharing of resources from large-scale mining projects. Sec. Paje added that the government would only approve new mining operations upon the passing of a new mining law.

"We urge President Aquino, if truly he is sincere of making the mining industry pro-Filipino, pro-environment and pro-development, to prioritize the repeal of Mining Act of 1995 and the legislation of the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012. Once passed, the bill serves as a framework on how to manage and properly utilize our resources for the benefit of our people and economy," explained Leon Dulce, spokesperson of Kalikasan Partylist, a green political party.

The said mining bill has been passed yesterday by the Technical Working Group headed by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino and submitted to the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources for discussion and approval. Defend Patrimony said that the bill, which is a consolidation of different mining bills such as the People's Mining Bill, aims to re-orient the mining industry towards catering local industrial needs and domestic consumption while ensuring equitable share from minerals resources, respect of human rights and environmental protection.###

Reference: Fr. Oliver Castor 09087098595, Jose Leon Dulce 09175626824

Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

Mining action on hold

Business World online

17 October 2012

MALACAÑANG YESTERDAY signaled it could wait for Congress to craft a new law on mine revenue-sharing before acting on the appeal of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) for an environmental permit for its $5.9-billion copper-gold project in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Asked at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel if he was inclined to decide in favor of the project, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said, "there has to be a reformulation of the governing law with regards to the mining industry...I think, the safest position would be to await these new amendments to the laws so that we don't grant something that we would be changing almost as soon as we granted it."

Pressed afterwards to confirm if he was referring to SMI's project, Mr. Aquino replied: "Again, I don't have that confidence at this point in time that the existing laws do adequately protect our environment, or do we adequately share the resource that belongs to the people of this country."

"When you talk of investments of that magnitude, exactly how much of these investments will redound to more jobs -- not just for the initial construction phase, but rather for several decades -- that will justify the risks that we do have on the environment...," Mr. Aquino said.

"So would you want me to exercise my stewardship in a reckless manner and grant all of these mining agreements left and right while recognizing the fact that there are inadequacies in our current systems, procedures and rules and regulations and laws?"

Pressed again to state if SMI in particular would then have to wait for the new law, Mr. Aquino replied: "That seems to be the more prudent way to look at it, and the prudent way to undertake our relationship with the mining industry in general."

Asked afterwards if such delay would risk a pullout of the investment concerned, he replied: "So, that's the name of the game, ano. Do I risk the environment... the loss of our resources for some temporary gain at this point in time?"

Asked to clarify the President's statements, Secretary Ramon A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, who was present at the forum, said Mr. Aquino "needs to have comfort about before they (SMI) can be allowed to proceed... There are certain things he needs clarification on before allowing them to proceed."

SMI last July 27 elevated to Malacañang its appeal for an environmental permit after its application was rejected by the Environment department, despite endorsement by its Environmental Management Bureau, citing South Cotabato's ban since mid-2010 on open-pit mining.

Sought for comment on Mr. Aquino's remarks, John B. Arnaldo, SMI's External Communications and Media Relations manager, reiterated by e-mail: "Any decision to construct the mine would depend on obtaining these required approvals as well as a decision by shareholders on whether or not to invest $5.9 billion in the Philippines." -- NMG

Subanen tribes demand ancestral domain papers; halt to all mining operation in Zamboanga de Sur

Mindanao Examiner

15 October 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 15, 2012) - A group of Subanen tribal leaders have called on the Aquino government to temporarily halt all mining operations in Zamboanga del Sur province in the southern Philippines until Manila acts on their legal claims over a vast tract of ancestral lands.

The Subanen leaders are claiming some 23,800 hectares of lands in the town of Bayog where several mining companies and small scale miners are operating. It also sought the assistance of Amnesty International to bring their cause to the authorities.

The group held a news conference on Monday in Zamboanga City where tribal leader Timuay Basilio Promon represented the 3,000-strong Council of Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog.

"Our present ancestral domain claim in Bayog is just a fragment of our original homeland which has been slowly grabbed from us. Six years after we applied for a title of our ancestral domain (with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), our application has never reach to the first stage because of various conflicts among us leaders that were instigated by groups who wanted to control us and our domain like mining companies protected by their fully-armed guards."

"Until such time that we have full control of our ancestral domain, our communities will be condemned to perpetual conflict and un-peace and there will be more Jordans to become innocent victims of human rights violations," Council of Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog said in a statement, referring to the 12-year old son of Timuay Locenio Manda, who was killed in an ambush in Bayog town last month.

Manda was heading to school to bring his son when gunmen attacked them. Two of the 5 attackers, were arrested days later. "In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice," he said. "I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son's death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader."

Promon said authorities have not release any details of the investigation into the boy's killing and the attempt on the life of Manda.

"We are victims here, the Subanen people. We were at peace, but the entry of mining companies in the province has divided the Subanen now. All we want is to exercise our rights and live in peace," he said during a guest appearance over the Mindanao Examiner Tele-Radyo.

He also appealed to President Benigno Aquino to look into their plight. "We are appealing to President Aquino to help us."

He said at least 38 miners had been killed over the past years - either by hired guns or mining-related incidents which were mostly unreported in the media.

Promon group said: "The PGB is appealing to all those who wanted to mine in our ancestral domain - individual, groups and corporations - to temporarily stop operating and withdraw your armed groups to give peace a chance in our community, to lessen the fear of our women and children because of your intimidating firearms, and so that conflict between tribal leaders inside our community will be resolved."

"(Our) appeal does not necessarily mean that we oppose mining activities but we are asking some time so that we can process the titling of our ancestral domain until we are given the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, (and) our Indigenous Political Structure is confirmed, and our Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan is crafted."

The Amnesty International appealed to the government to give attention to the plight of indigenous peoples.

"The indigenous peoples are the most neglected by the government. We, in the Amnesty International, want the government to ensure that the rights of all, especially the indigenous peoples, whose rights are often violated," Francis Marcial, of the Amnesty International Philippines, said during the same interview.

In a separate statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner, Manda said he is against all illegal activities, including mining.

"I believe that mining is illegal if it did not follow the process set by our laws. Our laws on mining and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act clearly state that our consent as indigenous peoples is required in all projects that will affect us and our ancestral domains. So this means that all those who entered our ancestral territories without our consent are all illegal, even if they have sacks of papers to show that they are legal."

"I strongly oppose the entry of people and companies who want to exploit the natural resources in our ancestral territories who do not respect our traditional laws and processes. If because of this assertion I am viewed as an anti-mining leader, so be it. But I want to make it clear that the issue I am struggling for is not about mining, but our rights as Indigenous Peoples," Manda said.

He appealed to the NCIP to help their community in resolving the conflict among tribal leaders to prevent further chaos, and to fast track the issuance of the title of their ancestral domain.

Even to fellow Subanen natives, Manda said: "I also appeal to you, my fellow Subanen who worked in mining companies, to respect the processes within our community and help explain to company owners and foreign investors on how to secure consent based on our culture and traditions. I also appeal to you to help resolve the conflict between the tribal leaders instead of taking only the side of the leaders who favour your intentions. Favoring them, especially if they are the minority only fuels additional conflict in our community."

The House of Representatives said it would investigate Manda's ambush, but the tribal leader also wanted a probe on mining and issues affecting them.

"I was informed that the Congress and the Senate have planned to conduct investigations about the ambush. I am happy about such moves, and I am asking that not only the mining issue shall be investigated, but other issues as well that happen inside our ancestral domain. We are the ones whose rights are violated, and whose lands are exploited, thus, we believe that we shall be the ones to be given importance in whatever investigations that will be conducted," he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Justice for Jordan and Timuay Locenio Manda, Peace for Bayog, Justice for all Indigenous Peoples!

Statement of the Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog on the death of Jordan Manda and the Timuay Locenio Manda on September 4, 2012

15 October 2012

We, the Timuays from the various communities within our ancestral domain and members of the Council of Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog (PGB) who leads our effort to title and protect our ancestral domain in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, strongly condemns the ambush against our colleague, Timuay Locenio Manda, that resulted to the murder of his beloved son, Jordan, whom we consider as among the most promising future leader of our tribe and to whose generation we dedicate our struggle.

What happened to Timuay Locenio and Jordan is a blatant violation not only of their individual rights but also our collective rights as indigenous peoples. This event is just one of the many cases of human rights violations happening in Bayog especially within our ancestral domain.

Our present ancestral domain claim in Bayog is just a fragment of our original homeland which has been slowly grabbed from us. Six years after we applied for a title of our ancestral domain, our application has never reach to the first stage because of various conflicts among us leaders that were instigated by groups who wanted to control us and our domain like mining companies protected by their fully-armed guards.

Until such time that we will have full control of our ancestral domain, our communities will be condemned to perpetual conflict and un-peace and there will be more Jordans to become innocent victims of human rights violation.

We strongly urge our government to pay more attention and allocate more resources to secure the rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Bayog and the other tribes in Mindanao and the Philippines. Our homelands are rich of natural resources and we know that these resources are vital to the development of our country and society. Sadly, behind this truth is the reality that countless individuals, groups and corporation wanted to exploit and gain from these resources in our homeland. Most of them are in haste and enter into our domains without our consent or respect to our customs and traditions. Because of these our communities are scared, our leaders fought each other and altered our culture and worldview.

The PGB is appealing to all those who wanted to mine in our ancestral domain - individual, groups and corporations - to temporarily stop operating and withdraw your armed groups to give peace a chance in our community, to lessen the fear of our women and children because of your intimidating firearms, and so that conflict between tribal leaders inside our community will be resolved.

My appeal to you does not necessarily mean that we oppose your mining activities but we are asking some time so that we can process the titling of our ancestral domain until we are given the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), our Indigenous Political Structure (IPS) is confirmed, and our Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) is crafted. Whatever be our plan, I'm hoping that you will fully recognize and respect it.

For hundreds of years the minerals remained beneath our ancestral lands and we did not touch them because we do not have the capacity to exploit them. We assure you that in the period that you will temporarily leave, the same minerals that you want to extract will still remain. It is not our culture to be greedy on things that come from Magbabaya (Almighty God) like the minerals. We can always share them according to our customs and according to the plan and process agreed by our tribe. If it is true that you have the legal papers, you should not worry if we call for a temporary stop or a moratorium of your mining operations.

In Bayog, the number of cases of human rights violations continued to rise and we continue to live in fear and conflict. Because of these, we strongly call on all responsible agencies of the government to continue the investigation and bring to the bar of justice all those who are responsible of the ambush of Timuay Locenio Manda and his son Jordan.

Justice for Jordan and Timuay Locenio Manda, Peace for Bayog!

Justice for all Indigenous Peoples!

Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog (PGB)
Conacon, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur

Cops nab illegal miners in Zamboanga del Sur

Philippine Star

17 October 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Police arrested 10 persons and seized several high powered firearms and hazardous chemical during a raid in a mining site following calls from indigenous Subanen tribe to the government to stop the killing of its people for protesting the mining activity in the mineral-rich town of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.

The raid was carried out by the elements of the 9th Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), public safety battalion, Police Regional Office 9 (PRO) intelligence division Friday after securing a search warrana and a warrant of arrest issued by Regional Trial Court 9th Judicial Region branch 29 of San Miguel town.

Senior Supt. Edgardo Danao, CIDG9 chief, said the raiding operatives swooped down on the mining site at sitio Tinago and Onaw-Onaw , which are are in Barangay Depore in Bayog and arrested the suspects, who were working for mining operators Julieto Monding alias Gingging and Rosalyn Paquit.

The two mining operators were not in the area during the raid. The police are also tracking down the mining operators. Danao added.

Among the 15 high powered firearms recovered were M-14, M16, and other assault rifles. The raiding law enforcers also seized explosive and hazardous chemicals used in mining.

Danao said cases have been filed against the arrested persons for violation of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of explosives, violation of Republic Act 6969 otherwise known Toxic Substance, Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990, and Implementing Rules and Regulations for illegal possession of tools in the commission of the offense.

The arrest of the suspects came with the appeal of the Subanen tribe on the government to stop the killing of its people allegedly by the mining operators in the town for protesting the mining activity in the area.

Timuay (chieftain) Basilio Promon disclosed that since mining activities started several months in Bayog town, the violent incidents have already left 37 Subanen tribesmen dead, who were believed killed by the private armed groups working with the mining firms in the area.

Promon said the latest of the victim was 14-year old Jordan Manda, son of Timuay Lucenio Manda last month.

The Subanen has been seeking to halt the mining activity in Bayog town, saying that mining is done without authorization from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The House of Representives has already stepped in to investigate the alleged illegal mining activity in Zamboanga - Roel Pareño

Philex plans to recommission broken tailings pond

By Czeriza Valencia

The Philippine Star

12 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Philex Mining Corp. (PMC) is considering recommissioning the broken tailings pond no. 3 (TP3) of its copper-gold mine in Padcal, Benguet to be able to immediately resume the operations of the mine, officials said yesterday.

In a press briefing yesterday, PMC vice president for operations and Padcal mine resident manager Libby Ricafort said the design of TP3 would be changed from a penstock design to a spillway design to accommodate the resumption of operations.

"The fastest that we can resume operations of the mine is to use tailings pond no. 3," said Ricafort.

The recommissioned TP3 could be used for three to four years, during which time a new tailings pond may be built.

"We are using it (TP3) to buy time," said Ricafort.

The construction of the spillways that would replace the broken penstock of the tailings pond is expected to be finished by April.

Ricafort said assuming that all remediating measures in the mine could be completed within the early part of next year and the suspension is lifted, the mine could resume operations within the second half of 2013.

PMC is yet to submit a formal proposal to the government for the recommissioning of TP3.

"But I'm sure that the DENR will cooperate on that," said Philex spokesperson Mike Toledo.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno earlier said TP3 may still be used.

The current lifespan of the Padcal mine is up to 2020. Commissioning a new tailings pond during the last three to four years of its operations may prompt the extension of its lifespan.

"Depending on economic conditions, we are looking at 50 more years. Our geologists will keep on exploring. If they find new reserves, this will surely extend the life of the mine," he said.

PMC is still grappling with penalties imposed by the government for violation of The Mining Act and environmental laws in relation to the tailings spill in the mine.

The MGB received last Wednesday the response of PMC on the P1.034 billion in penalties imposed for violation of the Mining Act for water and sediments spilled from TP3.

Jasareno declined to comment on the letter pending its evaluation.

Toledo, however, said that in the letter, PMC maintained that it should not be made to pay the fines because the incident was caused by force majeure.

"We're saying that we should not be made to pay the fines because the incident was caused by force majeur and that we are willing to pay for the cost of the cleanup, rehabilitation and damages to families," he said.

"We are still waiting for the response of the MGB but our position has always been consistent," he added.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has also imposed a penalty of P50,000 for violation of a condition of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) that states that all tailings should be "100 percent contained."

PMC also faces penalties of P50,000 to P200,000 per day for violation of the Clean Water Act.

In a few days, the MGB would be issuing the final imposition of the penalty on PMC.

"We will follow the due process and we will take it from there," said Toledo.

House probe on Philex mine leak pushed

by Voltaire Tupaz

10 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Concern over the impact of the Philex mining spill has reached Congress. On Wednesday, October 10, Kabataan Representative Raymond Palatino filed Resolution No. 2823 calling for a House probe into the Philex Mining Corp tailings pond leakage in Benguet.

The resolution directs the House Committees on Natural Resources and on Ecology to conduct a joint on-site investigation on the "environmental and socio-economic impacts of the Padcal Mine Disaster."

Palatino accused Philex of imposing a "media blackout on this disaster that has prevented the entry of independent investigations and even actual media coverage in the facilities of the Padcal Mines, resulting in the monopoly of the Philex management on information regarding the actual conditions of their facilities in question."

Mine tailings leaked several times from the tailings pond of the Padcal mine of Philex in Benguet between August and September.

Fact-finding mission

Palatino filed the resolution in response to the result of a fact-finding mission recently conducted by Church and civil society groups.

The fact-finding mission stressed the need for an immediate and impartial investigation on the impact of the spills on the affected watershed, people and communities.

In his resolution, Palatino reiterated the recommendations made by the mission:

HR 2823

From September 16-17, participants in the mission interviewed local officials, responsible government agencies, and affected communities in the town of Itogon in Benguet.

About 45 families, mainly indigenous peoples from the Ibaloi tribe, reside near the mouth of the juncture of Balog and Agno Rivers.

Participants of the mission included the following:

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA),
Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP)
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI) Northern Luuzon Cluster
Peace Foundation Inc
Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (PKMP)
Katribu Indigenous Peoples' Partylist
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
Caritas Baguio
Community Volunteers Missioners (CVM)

Worse than Marcopper?

Citing MGB data, the independent fact-finding mission said that the the Philex mine spill is 1,300% higher than the Marcopper accident in Boac, Marinduque of 1.6 million metric tons. Dr Esteban C. Godilano, resident scientist of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines, said the Philex mine tailing leak is that massive.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said in a letter that the tailings fee of P1,034,358,971 has been computed to be payable by Philex based on the 20,689,179.42 metric tons of discharged solids to Balog River.

Earlier, Manuel V Pangilinan, chairman and chief executive of Philex Mining Corp, the Philippines' largest gold mine, admitted that the leak's impact was "severe and substantial."

But Philex contested the fine since the spill was caused by "force majeure."

"One of the most basic principles of fairness and of law is that no party should be held responsible or be penalized for events over which it has no control," Philex vice president Mike Toledo said.

But Toledo stressed that the company is exerting efforts "to remediate the effects of the spill on the environment and surrounding communities even if caused by an event outside its control."

He added that they are willing to shoulder the cost of clean-up efforts in affected rivers, and the lost livelihood opportunities for those in nearby communities.

Defend patrimony

Defend Patrimony, a group opposing large-scale mining, welcomed Palatino's resolution.

"Congress should prioritize this initiative as the government's capacity to regulate or penalize an erring mining industry, or lack thereof, is in question here," Defend Patrimony convenor Leon Dulce said in a text message.

The resolution seeks to look into the "interplay of pertinent mining and environmental policies such as the Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79 (Aquino government's mining policy) in responding to the disaster."

"The mining disaster poses a great danger not only to the lives of communities but to the future of our young people as well," Palatino told Rappler, justifying why he initiated the filing of the resolution. -

Anti-mining activists picket Philex mining office in Pasig City

Groups threaten to bring Philex mine spill case before international body

Press Release

10 October 2012

Manila, Philippines- Some 200 anti-mining activists identified with peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilpinas (KMP), fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Wednesday threatened to file complaints of crimes against humanity against the Aquino administration and owners of Philex Mining Corporation before any legitimate international body to see justice for victims of massive mine spill involving one of the biggest foreign mining firms in the country.

Fresh from attending the 1st National Peasants Conference on Land, Mining and Militarization held yesterday at the UP Diliman Campus in Quezon City, leaders of peasant and other rural-based anti-large-sale mining groups trooped to the main office of Philex Mining Corporation in Pasig City to deliver the message the Philex mining firm.

"We want to inform the big bosses of Philex that the mine spill case will soon get the attention of the international community," said Antonio Flores, spokesperson of KMP, and one of the organizers of the yesterday's conference.

"Our main objective is to pursue the people's case against Philex Mining Corp. before the UN led International Court of Justice. We can also stage an international tribunal that would try and subsequently indict President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his client-- Philex Mining for their crimes against the people and crimes against humanity," Flores said at rally at Philex business headquarters in Pasig City this morning.

Flores said the massive mine spill caused by the breakdown of Philex's Padcal mine is now threatening the entire stretch of Agno River in Pangasinan, which may harm the livelihood of small fisherfolk and contaminate other major river systems in Pangasinan province.

The peasant leader said the news pertaining to the man-made disaster courtesy of Philex's negligence and greed for super profits has reached the bulletin boards of other peasant activists in Asia through the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) of which KMP is a member.

"We will definitely go global in the fight against large-scale plunder and land-grabbing driven mining with Philex serving as the flagship case in pursuit of truth and justice," added Flores.

Yesterday, KMP and other organizers of the mining conference urged Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Ramon Paje to revoke the mining permit of Philex Mining Corp. after the firm own by business mogul Manny V. Pangilinan figured in environmental disaster
poisoning a major river system enjoining the towns of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet province on August 1 this year.

KMP and allied organizations asserted the situation warrants an all out revocation of Philex mining operation, not just suspension and mere fine of P 1 billion for the pollution caused by sediments leak in the company's Padcal mine that caused livelihood and environmental destruction covering the towns of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet province and Agno River in Pangasinan.

Last week, the National Secretariat of the Social Action of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) confirmed in a fact-finding mission that the mine spill in Benguet involving Philex leaked 1,300 percent more waste than the 1996 Marcopper incident which left Boac River "biologically dead". The fact-finding mission was done on September 16-17.

In its 26-page report, the Church-led fact finding mission noted that the mine spill is massive, citing that the total amount of sediments released by the mining company was about 20.6 million metric tons of sediment, which is way above higher compared to Marcopper tragedy in Marinduque 17 years ago.

The spill at Philex Padcal mine took place on August 1 following days of intense rains spawned by two typhoons, but Michael Toledo, Philex vice president for corporate affairs had downplayed the results of the fact-finding mission.

The Philex official said government and independent metallurgists had found the fish and water quality in areas near Padcal's mine are safe. Toledo argued that the waters discharge in Padcal are free of toxic substances contrary to previous reports that the mine spill led to mutation of tilapia and disappearance of eel regularly caught in the river connecting the towns of Tuba and Itogon

For Reference: Antonio Flores, KMP spokesperson
Contact No: 0949748932

Indigenous People, farmers call to PNoy: Stand for us! AMMB now!

Statement from Likas-Yaman Caravan

14-17 October 2012

We, indigenous people and farmers from different areas in Luzon (from Romblon, Mindoro, Batangas, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and Bulacan) have come together to join this caravan to Metro Manila to reiterate our call for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the urgent passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)!

Stop our marginalization: act on our calls

The government has recently announced the forging of peace agreement with the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao. While we welcome this positive development, we also seek the openness and resolve of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to engage mining-affected communities-specifically indigenous peoples and farmers-to hear our stories, and act on our calls.

Stop destroying our land, our life! RESPECT OUR RIGHTS!

Mining is a threat to life. Mining explorations and developments in Nueva Vizcaya, Tampakan in South Cotabato, and in other areas across the nation is reinforced by militarization resulting toincreased human rights violations and abuses towards opposing parties-a growing number of anti-mining activists, IP and peasant rights defender were killed in the past years. Meanwhile, this development aggression inarguably affects not only the natural environment but also the livelihood of mining-affected downstream communities, specifically farmers and fisher folks.

Thus, we strongly call for the (1) revocation of the FTAAs of OceanaGold Philippines Inc for the Didipio Gold and Copper Project and SMI/Xstrata for the Tampakan Copper Gold Mining Project, (2) moratorium on all large-scale mining operations in the country and (3) passage of the AMMB!

Stand for us, AMMB NOW!

We call on to President Aquino, his administration, and policy-makers to go beyond EO 79 and the Mining Act of 1995. What our country needs is a new law that will address the issues and concerns that mining-affected communities have long been raising, and the devastation of our rich but fragile ecosystems.

The Alternative Minerals Management Bill (Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012) seeks to resolve the many problems faced by communities and local government units, and our country in general, due to the gaps and flawed framework embodied in the current Mining Act of 1995, and consequently presents a framework for the rational, needs-based, rights-based, domestic-oriented utilization, development and management of our mineral resources. By supporting AMMB and making it a priority bill, we are making a stand with the people-for mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, the environment, and for the present and future generations of our country!


The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples' alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

Villar firm partners with US miner

By Edith R. Regalado

The Philippine Star

16 October 2012

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - The Queensberry Mining and Development Corp., a mining firm owned by the family of Sen. Manny Villar has entered into a partnership with the American mining firm St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited (SAGCL).

Queensberry is headed by the son of the senator, Manuel Paolo Villar, as president and chief executive officer.

The partnership between Queensberry and SAGCL involves mining exploration in Barangay King-King, Pantukan, Compostela Valley, considered to be the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world.

The King-King project has also been listed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as one of its priority mining projects.

With the partnership, Queensberry may ultimately acquire a total stake in St. Augustine of up to approximately 23.7 percent through both the potential acquisition of secondary shares through option agreements and a private placement with the company, subject to Toronto Stock Exchange regulatory approval where the foreign firm is publicly listed.

Russell Mining and Minerals, ULC, currently the largest shareholder of SAGCL, has agreed at the request of St. Augustine to option up to 70 million shares of the company at $0.40 per share to Queensberry through a private transaction in order to help facilitate the entry of Queensberry as a strategic partner of SAGCL.

As part of the private placement transaction, Villar will be nominated to a director position on St. Augustine's board to replace Andrew J. Russell who has agreed to step down as a director, while staying on as CEO of the company.

In a released statement, SAGCL stated that Villar brings a tremendous amount of experience in their company's operations.

Amended mining-policy rules signed by DENR chief

By Jonathan L. Mayuga


10 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines - An order formalizing amendments to certain provisions of the controversial implementing rules of Executive Order (EO) 79 was handed down by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Copies of Administrative Order 2012-07-A, dated October 8, 2012, and signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, was circulated on Tuesday morning at the DENR central office in Quezon City.

They were also faxed and sent to DENR's regional, provincial, city and municipal offices nationwide.

The new order, which takes effect 15 days after publication in daily newspapers and 15 days after registration with the Office of the National Administrative Register, formalizes amendments to the original implementing rules and finally puts in place President Aquino's EO 79, the new mining policy signed on July 26, 2012, based on a review conducted by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

The DENR administrative order amends Sections 3, 7 and 9 of the original implementing rules, which were earlier criticized and even branded as "patently illegal" by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).

Section 1 of the new implementing rules, which amended Section 3, or the Definition

of Terms, now includes a definition of "expired mining tenements," which refer to mining contracts/agreements whose 25- or 50-year term has lapsed.

Under the same provision, it is also stated that "in case of the initial 25-year term, the mining contract/agreement shall be considered expired if the parties concerned fail to agree on the terms of the renewal pursuant to Sections 32 and 38 of Republic Act 7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995."

Meanwhile, Section 2, which amends Section 7 of the original implementing rules or the Grant of Mineral Agreement Pending New Legislation, now allows the grant of new mineral agreements in case of an imminent threat of economic disruption, such as a shortage of critical commodities and raw materials that could adversely affect priority government projects or activities as determined by the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster.

Also, government-owned mining assets may be subject to Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement in accordance with Section 9 of the same implementing rules, which open areas for mining through competitive public bidding.

This condition points out that Article XII of the Constitution provides that the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control of the state, thus the grant of mining rights and mining tenements is subject to competitive public bidding, and that expired mining tenements or contracts may be renewed subject to existing laws, rules and regulations at the time of renewal.

Mining contractors whose mining tenements are expiring between September 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, are given 30 days to file renewal of applications upon effectivity of the new rules. Mining contractors whose mining contracts or agreement will expire after April 30, 2013 are given six months to file renewal of their application not later than six months prior to the expiry of their mining contracts or agreement.

From guns to laptops, Philippine peace faces arduous road

By Manuel Mogato and Rosemarie Francisco


16 October 2012

SULTAN KUDARAT - At a nondescript two-storey building in the town of Sultan Kudarat, the future of the Philippines' strife-torn southern region of Mindanao is taking shape, one accountancy class at a time.

Dozens of former fighters in Mindanao's decades-old Islamic insurgency are learning new skills - from book-keeping, to computer literacy and law - that are crucial to the long-term success of a landmark peace deal signed in Manila on Monday.

"Every student comes out of this institute as a new person," said Zamin Unti, a 55-year-old former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel who teaches three-day crash courses at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute.

Turning fighters into laptop-wielding administrators of the new autonomous Bangsamoro region is one of the challenges facing Mindanao as it moves beyond euphoria over the deal, which ends a four-decade Muslim insurgency that killed 120,000 people in Asia's biggest Catholic nation.

Investors will also need to be convinced that governance will improve in an area scarred by corruption and poverty.

Ravaged by conflict, the southernmost of the main Philippine islands has never been able to capitalise on an estimated $312 billion in mineral wealth or develop abundant agricultural land that already supplies two-fifths of the country's food. It lies near Malaysia and Indonesia and is flanked by the rich fishing grounds of the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, with the Pacific Ocean to its east.

Businesses are eager to enter Mindanao as the Philippines savours its biggest investment boom since the 1997 Asian financial crisis with President Benigno Aquino riding a strong economy and lofty popularity ratings. But many are holding back until prospects for a sustainable peace become clearer.

What also makes investors cautious is a series of past agreements between the government in Manila and rebels from the Moro tribes that rapidly fell apart, including a 2008 deal struck down by the Supreme Court and which led to a surge in violence. A peace deal in 1996 looked good on paper but failed due to weak implementation.

"I don't think they are going to rush in," said Gregory Edwards, managing director of Australia's RED 5 Limited, which operates the Siana gold mine in Mindanao's Surigao del Norte province.

"The security angle alone is not going to do it, there's going to be other elements, but it certainly helps," he said, adding investors would look at issues such as regulation and corruption before committing to projects in Mindanao.

Lessons from Northern Ireland

Aside from a lack of competent administrators, the transition to a new autonomous government is likely to be threatened by "spoilers" ranging from reluctant politicians in Manila to breakaway groups of radical Islamic fighters.

Both sides must also overcome decades of mistrust that have built up in the region between Muslims and minority Christians and the likely unwillingness of rebels to give up their weapons while peace remains fragile.

"Until all interested parties have time to digest the Mindanao settlement issue, it is hard to assess its long term consequences," said Scott Harrison, managing director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments.

Government negotiators say the peace process in Northern Ireland was a model for ending the Mindanao conflict. If so, they will know that persuading the Irish Republican Army to lay down its guns was one of the thorniest barriers to peace.

It could be an even harder proposition in Mindanao, which is saturated with guns held by breakaway Islamic factions, feuding clans and Communist rebels waging their own insurgency.

"We are not ready yet to surrender our guns because there are too many weapons out there in the hands of even ordinary farmers," Commander Abdul, a 50-year-old guerrilla, told Reuters while manning a checkpoint leading to a rebel base.

While a "transition commission" has until 2015 to present a final law to Congress, the two sides only have until December to iron out details such as the new administration's fiscal and legal powers, and the decommissioning of the MILF's weapons.

Much rests on Aquino's ability to control Congress, where his allies now dominate both houses, but mid-term elections next May could upset the favourable political balance.

Ethnic Tensions

Posters and placards supporting the peace deal have sprouted all over Cotabato City, the region's economic hub where nearly half of the residents are non-Muslims, including ethnic Chinese Filipinos. Even sceptics here say they want to give the MILF a chance, but some are nervous.

"Maybe in the beginning we will not have any trouble with them, but some could become unreasonable later," a canteen operator who only gave his name as Ernesto said, saying he had heard rumours of Muslims trying to take back farmland they claim belonged to their ancestors.

"Some of my ethnic Chinese-Filipino friends have actually left town," he added.

The current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) - with a population of about 4 million -- is a glaring example of how the region's hopes for peace have been dashed in the past.

Put in place in 1989, the autonomous government never lived up to its promise. Graft flourished, development stagnated and its leaders complained of a lack of resources and political backing from Manila as the MILF kept up its separatist fight.

Around two-fifths of Mindanao's population lives on about a dollar a day and the ARMM is home to several of the country's poorest provinces.

"We have learned enough lessons from the old ARMM government," said Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs.

"We are determined to change that by putting in leaders who are dedicated to serve the people and accountable to Allah."

A potential security risk comes from a 500-strong rogue MILF faction that opposed the deal and vowed to continue fighting for a separate Islamic state. Its guerrillas attacked army positions in August, taking over a key highway to Cotabato City.

Jaafar said the MILF is not worried about the group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, and may persuade them to join the peace process once the agreement is implemented.

Some leaders of the divided Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed the 1996 peace pact with the government, have rejected the new deal.

The MNLF never gave up its weapons and could lure disaffected fighters from the MILF and return to war.

The MILF is "signing its death sentence," MNLF founder Nur Misuari told radio this week.

Tentative Investor Interest

Mindanao has no lack of economic potential. Besides farmland, its mineral reserves account for about two-fifths of total reserves in the Philippines, and includes gold, copper, nickel, iron, chromite and manganese.

Companies with operations there such as miners and food processor Del Monte Pacific Limited say they are considering expanding after the peace deal.

Del Monte's 700,000-tonne, 85-year-old pineapple processing facility in Bukidnon province supplies about a fifth of the world's processed pineapple. The company also owns a port and a nearby 23,000-hectare (56,800 acres) plantation.

Global miner Xstrata Plc plans to develop Southeast Asia's largest gold and copper prospect at the $5.9 billion Tampakan project in South Cotabato. But its investment plans are held up by a local government ban on open-pit mining.

Perth-based RED 5 wants to more than double its $120 million investment in the Siana gold mine, which started commercial operations in April after about a decade of exploration and development work, said Edwards.

At an auction earlier this year for state contracts to explore oil and gas in the south, only a handful of investors submitted bids for the Sulu Sea and Cotabato Basin service area, both within the conflict zone. Officials said the poor response was mainly due to security concerns.

The two areas have combined reserves of 411 million barrels of crude oil, equivalent to more than three times the country's annual consumption, and 2.3 billion cubic feet of gas.

France's Total is exploring for oil and gas in the Sulu Sea off Mindanao and has entered into a 75:25 venture with Malaysia's Mitra Energy Ltd in the offshore block covering around 4,300 sq km (1,660 sq miles).

The world's largest crude palm oil producer, Malaysia's Felda Global Ventures, has said it is interested in investing in at least 10,000 hectares for palm oil, just a speck of the 1 million hectares of grasslands on Mindanao.

Mujiv Hataman, acting governor of the existing autonomous region, said Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corp also wants to invest in palm oil and develop 10,000 hectares within the ARMM. Berjaya did not respond to requests for comment.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo has identified several industries for Mindanao -- from information-technology to outsourcing, utilities, mining and agriculture. He declined to name possible companies or whether deals were in the works.

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute, set up in 2006, provides a reason for hope, teaching rebels the skills to become civil servants or run small businesses.

But it also shows the scale of the task ahead. Until March, it was housed in a rented building in Cotabato City before Japanese aid money financed its new centre in Sultan Kudarat, not far from the MILF's main base. The new building boasts broadband Internet, computers and projectors, but only has a single training room and remains reliant on foreign aid money.

"We're here not only to teach but brainwash them to change their old mind-set," said Unti, the rebel-turned-lecturer.

(Rosemarie Francisco reported from Manila. Additional reporting by Erik dela Cruz and Michaela Cabrera in Manila and Sonali Paul in Sydney; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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