Philippines - Mining rights violations on the increase againPublished by MAC on 2013-08-30
Source: Statements, Manila Standard, Bulatlat, Mindanews
Human rights abuses against anti-mining advocates are picking up in the Philippines. Once more there have been killings of opponents of Glencore Xstrata's Tampakan mine in Mindanao. Tribal B'laan chieftain Anting Freay, and his son Victor, were shot, allegedly by members of a special task force created to secure the areas covering the mining project.
This, despite constant requests from the affected B'laan to demilitarise the area, and the recent news the project will be delayed (see Philippines: Glencore Xstrata further delayed over Tampakan).
As Leon Dulce, spokesperson of Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED), notes, "the Freays notch the number of recorded killings of environmentalists since 2001 up to 70, and are the 25th and 26th anti-mining advocates killed under the Aquino regime."
Elsewhere, in Nueva Vizcaya in Luzon, an indigenous activist Bryan Epa appears to have been forcibly disappeared. He was witnessed being arrested by supposed law enforcement agents, and his whereabouts are unknown. This event comes after complaints of military intimidation against the local people who have set up anti-mining barricades.
Meanwhile, Lepanto Consolidated and South African Goldfields are claiming they are close to securing their license, despite the sustained opposition of many in the indigenous community (also see Philippines: Glencore Xstrata further delayed over Tampakan).
Finally, another of the supposed success stories of mining in the Philippines, the selling of the King King project to US miners St Augustine / Russell Mining looks like it has been hit by the internal squabbling of local Philippine 'traditional politician' allies, and will likely grind to a halt in court battles (as so many earlier projects have done).
Spate of rights violations across mining-affected areas in PH on the rise
Kalikasan-PNE press release
28 August 2013
Environment and justice groups decried today the rising number of human rights violations (HRVs) towards anti-mining activists, in light of recent reports of serial murders of indigenous people opposed to Xstrata-SMI's 23,571-hectare Tampakan gold-copper mine in Southern Mindanao and disappearance of an anti-mining activist opposed to Royalco's mine exploration project in Nueva Vizcaya.
"Rights violations towards anti-mining activists are clearly on the rise again with the latest murder of Blaan chieftain Anting Freay and his son Victor, known members of the local opposition to mining giant Xstrata-SMI's project. The Freays notch the number of recorded killings of environmentalists since 2001 up to 70, and are the 25th and 26th anti-mining advocates killed under the Aquino regime," said Leon Dulce, spokesperson of Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED).
According to local rights group Karapatan-Socsksargen, Anting Freay's wife Kiit, who survived the attack on the family at early dawn last August 23, pinned the murders on Task Force Kitaco under the Armed Forces of the Philippines 1002nd Infantry Brigade. Earlier last June 28, paramilitary troops under Task Force KITACO also ambushed Eking, another son of Anting Freay, and Anting's son-in-law Sonny Boy Planda. Planda was fatally wounded while Eking survived.
Meanwhile in Nueva Vizcaya, Karapatan-Cagayan Valley reported on the disappearance of Bryan Epa, an anti-mining activist opposed to the entry of Australian mine exploration firm Royalco in the municipalities of Kasibu and Dupax del Norte. Local police illegally arrested Epa, and was missing the following day when Alfonso Shog-oy, a barangay official who witnessed the arrest, and lawyer Fidel Santos sought Epa at the police station.
"Bryan Epa is the third environmentalist forcibly disappeared and Kiit Freay is the seventh environmentalist who was a victim of frustrated murder recorded since 2001. We believe the increasingly aggressive militarization in mining-affected communities by military troops and security forces is driven by the mining industry's desperate attempts to get their return on investment amid massive public opposition," said Dulce.
The Anglo-Swiss Xstrata-SMI has recently announced its downsizing of operations and workforce and cutting its expenditures by 75 percent as a result of its delayed operations due to local opposition and a local mining ban. It has already spent P20 billion on the Tampakan project since 2007. The operations of Australian firm Royalco, meanwhile, have been stopped in its tracks by barricades mounted by people's organizations in at least five different entry points since May 8.
"PNoy's continuing use of militarization and state-sponsored HRVs towards anti-mining activists is a clear collusion with mining giants to quash the legitimate and democratic opposition of communities. We demand that the Aquino regime pull out all military and paramilitary troops from mining areas, disband TF KITACO, and immediately file criminal charges against TF KITACO and other military, paramilitary, police and security forces with track records of killings and human rights violations towards the anti-big mining movement," ended Dulce.###
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
Rights groups score Aquino gov't on disappearance of anti-mining activist
Karapatan Press Statement
29 August 2013
"As the world commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, another person is victimized. We strongly condemn the enforced disappearance of anti-mining activist Bryan Epa and we hold the Aquino administration accountable for this heinous act," said Lorena ‘Aya' Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice.
Epa is a Katribu Partylist organizer in Nueva Vizcaya and has led campaigns against destructive mining in the province. In communities where there are barricades against the mining exploration of the Royalco Mining Exploration, residents experienced military harassment and intimidation, red tagging, surveillance, and sexual harassment.
On August 19, prior to Epa's disappearance, 40 members of the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) went to an anti-mining barricade at Binuangan village. They pretended to be members of the New People's Army looking for their "comrades" who, they say, were supposed to be in the barricade. The protesters asserted there are no NPA members with them, and that guns are not allowed in the barricade. The men were asked to leave but insisted to stay until the following day.
On the day of Epa's disappearance on August 21, 2013, around 9 o'clock p.m., Bgy. Councilor Alfonso Shog-oy dropped off Epa at a friend's house in Brgy. Salvacion, Dumlao Blvd. to get his bag. Both Epa and Shog-oy, noticed three policemen at a street corner nearby.
On his way back to pick up Epa, Shog-oy saw six policemen inside a patrol car; three of them got off the car and approached Epa and tried to take away his bag. According to Shog-oy, Epa asked the police why they were taking his bag. Later, Shog-oy saw Epa being pushed by the policemen inside the patrol car, as they said they are taking him for questioning because he is "suspicious looking". The police tried to handcuff Epa, punched him in the stomach and hit him with bats, when he tried to resist.
The following day, Shog-oy and Atty. Fidel Santos went to the Philippine National Police Bayombong station but policemen claimed Epa was already released and that his name is Felix Bacsa Jr. There was no record or police blotter, however, on Bryan Epa's arrest.
Desaparecidos said that prior to Epa's disappearance, they have monitored 14 victims of enforced disappearances under the Aquino administration.
Human rights group Karapatan called on Aquino and his "henchmen" in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to surface Epa and all victims of enforced disappearances.
"Epa's disappearance proves that the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law of the Noynoy government is merely an embellishment under Oplan Bayanihan as disappearances continue. The law is a fictitious detail in the overall picture of repression under Oplan Bayanihan," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said.
Reference: Cristina "Tinay" Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people's organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people's rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.
Anti-mining activist from N. Vizcaya missing
By Marya Salamat
25 August 2013
A known anti-mining activist has been missing since August 21. The victim was last seen being forced into a police patrol car but authorities denied having custody of him.
MANILA - Amid increased police and military visibility in parts of Nueva Vizcaya where locals are resisting the mining operation of Australian Royalco in the Philippines, an anti-mining activist went missing after he was "arrested" and forced to board a police patrol car by at least six policemen.
Bryan Epa, 34, a member of Katribu party list, was "arrested" at around 9 p.m. on August 21 in Salvacion Dumlao Boulevard village, Bayombong town, Nueva Vizcaya. Alfonso Shog-oy, a village official, reportedly witnessed the incident.
According to a statement by Katribu, Shog-oy reportedly dropped Epa in the area because Epa was to get his bag from a colleague there. When Shog-oy came back to fetch Epa, he saw six policemen waiting in a patrol car. Three of the policemen alighted, and Shog-oy heard Epa asking the police why they were taking away his bag. The police then forced Epa into the patrol car, but the latter resisted and asked the police why he was being taken.
The witness related how he heard the policemen tell Epa he was being taken into custody because he looked ‘suspicious.' Epa was reportedly punched in the stomach by two of the policemen, and when he tried to hold on to a store's post, the policemen hit his hand hard with a police baton. The police then managed to force him into the waiting patrol car.
The following day, Shog-oy and lawyer Fidel Santos sought Epa at the police station, but they did not find him there. The police told them they released a detained person on the same night that Epa was arrested. But their records show it was a person named Felix Bacsa Jr., not Epa.
Epa's whereabouts remain unknown.
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) said Epa is among the residents of Nueva Vizcaya opposing the entry of Australian mining company Royalco Philippines Inc. Epa is among the locals manning the barricades, set up since 2007 to prevent mining equipment from entering their lands.
Kamp expressed concern over Epa's disappearance. There are still many unresolved cases of enforced disappearances among activists, it said in a statement.
"The climate of impunity in the Aquino administration is a breeding ground for grave human rights violations especially of those perceived as ‘enemies of the state,' including those resisting mining operations," said Piya Macliing Malayao, Kamp spokeswoman.
The group fears for the safety of Epa.
Kamp said there are 35 cases of extra-judicial killings of indigenous peoples in the three-year administration of President Aquino. Most of these killings, it said, were done in the context of community resistance against mines, plantations, or dams. "Leaders and members of local people's organizations and their families are the usual targets of liquidation by state forces and paramilitary groups."
Kamp said the police are liable for the disappearance of the anti-mining activist, because he was last seen in their custody. "Given the human rights situation in the Philippines and the brutality shown by the arresting police," Malayao said "it bode ill for his fate." Malayao said. (http://bulatlat.com)
Groups bewail killing of another anti-SMI Xstrata mining leader, son
John Rizle L. Saligumba
27 August 2013
DAVAO CITY - Militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen held an indignation rally at the gates of the Glencore-Xstrata-SMI Office in General Santos City Monday to denounce the killing of Fulong (Tribal Chieftain) Anting Freay, 60 and his son 16-year old Victor on August 23.
The group burned an effigy of a figure carrying a scythe, tagging XStrata SMI mining, the AFP's 39th Infantry Battalion and Task Force Kitaco (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio) as "agents of death" in the killing of Freay. Kitaco was a special task force created under the Army's 1002nd Infantry Brigade to oversee and secure the areas covering SMI-Xstrata's mining project.
In an earlier statement from Karapatan Socsksargen, Freay's wife, Kiit, who survived the killing early dawn at their house in Sitio Bulol, Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan town, Davao del Sur, pinned the murders on Task Force Kitaco.
Karapatan said "Nagsaba ang mga iro mao mao giabli ni Anting ang purtahan ug kalit lang gipaulanan og bala ang biktima ug ang ilang balay mga 3 metros ang gilay-on sa mga military sa tugkaran sa ilang balay (Their dog was barking hard so Anting went out to inspect but he was shot while their house was ridden with bullets. The soldiers were just three meters away from their house)."
"Gisusi dayon kini ni Kiit ug pag-abre niya sa pultahan gipusil siya ug hapit siya naigo samtang nakita niya si Anting naligo sa kaugalingong dugo (Kiit immediately went out to investigate but when she opened the door, she was also shot. She then saw Anting already bathed in blood)," the statement further said.
Kiit ran off the house carrying their two children, while her son Victor ran back to the house to get back to his father, but Victor was shot too, 18 times.
The Freays of the Freay-Capion clan were known oppositors to the SMI mining operations. Freay's son Eking Freay survived while his son-in-law Sonnny Boy Planda perished in an ambush last June 28 purportedly staged by alleged members of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under Task Force KITACO.
October last year, 27-year old Blaan Juvy Capion and her two sons Jordan, 13, and John, 8, were strafed to death by alleged military troops. Early this year in January, another two B'laan tribe members, Kitari and Diyo Capion were also killed by alleged members of Task Force Kitaco.
BAYAN Socsksargen spokesperson Ryan Lariba slammed SMI which was "downsizing other components of its operation, but not the military component."
"The new approach (that) the company is talking about - is more military deployment in the mine site, more human rights violations, more killings and massacres of anti-mining, minors and innocent civilians," Lariba said.
X-Strata SMI is the largest mining investor in the country with US$5.9 billion investment in Tampakan, South Cotabato- site of the largest underdeveloped copper and gold deposits in Southeast Asia. In its press release last August 12, SMI Executive Vice-President, Justin Hillier, said SMI will be "taking a new approach" and "will reduce current activity levels and expenditure on the Project.
"(R)egrettably this reduced activity and expenditure will result in staff downsizing and a reduction in the utilization of contractors," according to the press release.
Some 4,000 Blaan Lumads are said to be displaced with SMI mining operations.
The latest violence in the troubled SMI area earned criticism from Fr. Joel Tabora SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University who wrote in his blog that the "the murder of other-thinking civilians that drives people to believe that the military operates not for the defense of the Filipino people but for the defense of foreign interests."
Tabora further said the Freay's murder was "a planned and pre-meditated military operation against a leader of an indigenous people who had dared to oppose the operations of foreign mining operations in their ancestral domain."
He would not believe the military's statement that the killings were a result of an "encounter" between the military and armed Blaans, saying that based on a fact finding mission of the Social Action Council of the Diocese of Marbel, "more than 100 empty shells (were found) near Anting Freay's house alone."
"This contradicts military allegations that the killings were result of an encounter," he pointed out.
The Armed Forces' 1002nd Infantry Brigade which operates in the Southern part of Mindanao claimed in their statement that "lawless armed men identified only in their aliases as Anting Peayay and Victor" were killed in "pursuit operations" by Task Force KITACO adding that "two rifles were also recovered in their possession."
"While billion-peso scams cause outrage, what can replace the life of a tribal elder murdered by the military?" Tabora asked.
For its part, Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina in an earlier statement last July said, "We condemn the killings and the attack to indigenous communities who have opposed mining in their area. There is more than enough evidence to show that the presence of paramilitary groups there is detrimental to the communities, especially when we know that Task Force KITACO is paid for by the mining company opposed by the people."(John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)
Philippines: Tribal elder and son slain in bloody mining dispute
By Edwin Espejo
1 September 2013
Almalew (pronounced al-me-law), the Blaans' way of expressing hatred and exacting revenge for killed or murdered kin.
Why do angels of death strike before the break of day in this troubled paradise called Bong Mal?
And why did they murder the tribe's most respected sage - the fulong ?
These two questions will forever haunt whoever masterminded and perpetrated the heinous crime that is becoming a scourge for those who wish to exploit the ancestral lands of the Blaans in the tri-boundaries of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur in the southern Philippines.
Anting Freay - husband to nine wives, father to 22 children, eldest among 19 siblings and the most respected elder among a large clan - and his son Victor became the latest victims of the violence that has invaded the lush, green homelands of the Blaan tribesmen. This unspoilt paradise may not be around for much longer, if the mining companies get their way and are granted permission to mine for the gold and copper below.
Bong Mal, with its remaining thick forest cover, is the last frontier - the last retreat for Blaans who have been driven deeper and deeper into the mountains by ‘progress'. It is on the Kiblawan side of the boundary with Tampakan.
Ki-it Freay, 4th wife of Anting with whom he had four children, said they were awakened by the barking of their dogs before the break of day on August 23. Her husband went out to check only to be met with a hail of gunfire. Anting dropped dead, instantly.
Ki-it said she saw armed men in fatigue uniforms from the slats of their house. When she tried to go near the fallen Anting, one of the gunmen pointed a rifle at her head. She was forced to run back, grab two of her children and, together, they ran downhill until she reached the house of one of Anting's other wives.
Victor, who was living down the hill from where his father was gunned down, was awakened by the wailing and shouting of Ki-it. He went out to check on his father but was also met with a burst of automatic fire.
Alfonso Malayon said their troubles - the Blaans, at least - began when the military started putting up detachments and training government paramilitary forces, the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
"Daghan pa gyud mahitabo kung dili sila mohawa (There will be more violent incidents if they will not leave)," said Malayon, the No.1 village councilman of Barangay Danlag.
The wake of Anting and his son Victor was held in Kampo 5, Barangay Danlag of Tampakan town after a sub-village in Bululkalon became a no man's land following the slaying of the eldest fulong of the clan. The mother of Ric Magbanua, village chief of Danlag, is a younger sister of Anting.
The sister of fugitive tribal leader Daguil Capion is also one of the wives of Anting.
The killings - the amalew - all began when Daguil's wife Juvy Capion and their two children were killed by elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion in a dawn raid October last year in Sitio Alyong in the village of Kimlawis, in Kiblawan town of Davao del Sur, not far from Bong Mal. In January this year, Daguil's younger brother Kitari was also slain in an alleged encounter with government soldiers. Pilo, another brother of Daguil, suspected that some CAFGU members tipped off Kitari to the military and joined the operation that killed their brother. Pilo joined his brother in arming themselves against the threat. On August 20, the patrol base of the military in Sitio Alyong was attacked by fully armed men resulting in the death of CAFGU Active Auxiliary member Romeo Marila. Companions of Marila believed Pilo was also involved the attack.
Danlag village councilman Alfonso Malayon believed Anting was killed on suspicion that he was behind the armed attack on the CAFGU patrol base in Sitio Alyong and suspected that CAFGU members from Alyong were responsible for the death of the respected Blaan fulong.
Malayon said whoever killed Anting violated a Blaan tradition of not touching or moving the body of a slain tribesman except by close relatives.
Pering Freay, the lone living brother of Anting, said blood and violence run in the veins of their clan. And more often than not, they have been on the receiving end. Their father, Nalwangay Anting, was also killed by government soldiers in the 1970s. Six of his brothers, including Anting, were also gunned down.
"Sa mga sundalo (by soldiers)," he said when asked who did it.
Felipe, eldest son of Anting, blamed Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) for pitting tribesmen against their own.
"Ang tribu dali kaayo intuon (It is easy to deceive the tribesmen)," Felipe said in criticizing the company's practice of offering money to gain social acceptability.
SMI has openly admitted it has been giving funds to local government units where they operate for its Community Peace and Security Program (CPSP). Last year, it amounted to P30 million (US$672,862), according to a company source who was since been retrenched. The bulk of the funds eventually ended up as support for the operation and maintenance of CAFGU members and detachments. The company later clarified it has nothing to do on how the LGUs spent their assistance.
In addition, it is also giving assistance to tribal foundations of host communities, most of them holders of certificate of ancestral domain claims or titles (CADC or CADT).
On Sunday (September 1), Anting and his son Victor were buried, two tribal chieftains - Dalina Samling of Danlag and Celso Doc of Pulabato - paid their respects to Anting.
Father and son Anting and Victor Freay were buried on the hill that overlooks Tampakan town in South Cotabato.
Anting was a moderating figure among Blaans, who have been bitterly divided over the mining operations of SMI.
Samling and Doc are supportive of SMI and recently signed a petition to allow the Glencore-Xstrata controlled company to proceed with its US$5.9 billion project.
They did not issue any statement over the killing but Dalina noted that the CAFGUs deployed in the area are now engaged in kaingin (slash and burn farming).
Anting himself was not anti-mining. According to reports, he had been receiving stipends from the company. But one of his sons said the slain elder tribesman could not turn his back against Daguil, who had taken up arms to oppose the mining operations of SMI. Daguil, in a recent video interview, claimed he has now joined the New People's Army.
A neighbor of Anting said Daguil often visited the murdered fulong in his house, despite efforts of the military and police to capture him.
Anting's protectiveness however should not be mistaken. He was always the elder statesmen - one who handed out kasfalas between and among warring neighbors or clans. One who shoulders the kafligoh (dowry) of tribe members who cannot afford to offer a horse to the parents of his bride-to-be. One who pays for the fines and penalties of the transgression of others.
He was not a violent man.
A confidential report obtained by the author said those responsible for the death of Anting and his son were members of the 39th and 72nd Infantry Battalions, along with Task Force Kitaco, the Army-led unit task in securing the towns of Kiblawan, Tampakan and Columbio. It is headed by a certain Lt. Balibagoso (not Capt. Joel Waygawag as earlier reported) of the Philippine Army.
Another Anting son however said he saw a certain Leon, a militiaman from Kimlawis, in the company of soldiers belonging to the 39th IB a day before the killings. He said he would recognize some of the CAFGUs if he saw them again.
The report that reached this author said two days before the Freay killings, soldiers arrived in the area on board 2 six-by-six military trucks. The day Anting and his son were killed, residents also saw a 4×4 pick-up truck (with no plate number) passing through the village of Datal Biao. It is believed that the same pick-up truck was used in transporting the bodies of Anting and Victor Freay to Tampakan town.
The military then reported an alleged encounter took place resulting into the death of Anting Freay and his son Victor.
True or not, by painting Freay as a violent man, the military may have just stoked the anger of surviving tribesmen.
Almalew is hatred and revenge. It could spiral into pangayao, a tribal war.
Bathala bless this land!
Several minutes after Anting and Victor were interred in a tomb perched on top of the hill that overlooks Tampakan town to the west, four gunshots were heard. Their adjoined tomb is facing another hill to the north, where a CAFGU detachment was concealed by vegetation.
Moments later, a CAFGU member confronted residents and asked who fired their guns. It was Alfonso Malayong who drove away on a motorcycle.
The CAFGU man was overheard saying, "Walay respeto. Kagawad pa naman unta." (He was disrespectful. I thought he was a councilman)."
The CAFGU man was probably not from the place. He also didn't look a tribesman.
He could have referred to himself, too.
In the Blaan way of life, owning a gun is a symbol of authority. It is now fast becoming the preferred dowry and a personal possession even more prized than a horse. It can also serve as a means to express sorrow and outrage. Or exact revenge.
Adwata bless this land!
Adwata or Dwata - Blaan word for God the Almighty
Kasfala - decision/judgement
Only nixing mining will end Tampakan horrors - IP group
KAMP News Release
28 August 2013
An indigenous people's organization condemned the brutal slay of two Blaan tribe members in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur village by alleged members of the Philippine Army last August 23. The Blaan communities in Kiblawan and adjacent villages are affected by the explorations of Glencore-Xstrata Tampakan Gold-Copper Project.
According to KAMP, the pangayaw (tribal war) will persist as long as the Blaan are threatened with displacement. "Gruesome massacres and killings will not end until Xstrata is sent packing," Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of indigenous peoples' group Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas said. "The killing of the Freay family members is a horrible development in the long-wrought and arduous struggle of the Blaan people to protect their lands."
The Blaan tribe is waging a seven-year pangayaw against Xstrata (fully acquired by Glencore early this year), and its local affiliate, Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) in defense of their lands against open-pit and large-scale mining.
Datu Anting Freay, 60, and his son Victor Freay, 16, were killed allegedly by members of the 39th IB of the Philippine Army and Task Force Kitaco in their home in Sitio Bulol Kalon, Bongmal, Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. Anting, sustained three gunshot wounds in the face, neck, and leg, while Victor sustained eighteen gunshots to the body, disemboweling him.
"The Blaan communities affected by the Tampakan mining project is resolute in fighting for their rights to land, even if it has been costing the lives of many Blaan men, women, and children. They know that this struggle to defend their lands is for next generations, and the patrimony of our country," Malayao shared. "It is the Aquino government and its mercenaries that need to stand down and finally acknowledge the rights long fought for by the indigenous peoples."
The Tampakan Gold-Copper Project straddles the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Malungon in Sarangani. Xstrata, taken over by commodities giant Glencore International last April, is now in the reigns of the $5.9-billion mining project. It is considered the country's biggest foreign investment.
Protracted violence, rights violations
In October 2012, a Blaan family was murdered also in the affected areas of the Tampakan Project. Juvy Capion, and her children John and Pop aged 8 and 13, were slain by strafing by members of the 27th Infantry Battalion. Nine members of the 27th IB were relieved from duty following the Capion massacre. The 39th IB is now deployed in the area, in conjunction with Task Force Kitaco, an armed organization of paramilitary and regular military troops sanctioned by the AFP to quell opposition to the Xstrata mining project.
The 39th IBPA also has a smirched human rights record, says Malayao. "The 39th IBPA's hands are tainted with the blood of two other Blaan people, the Rudy and his son, Rudyrick Dejos. Like the Capions and the Freays, the Dejoses were part of the struggle to defend Blaan lands from mining."
In 2011, the 39th IBPA are allegedly responsible for the brutal slay of Rudy Yalon-Dejos and his son Rudyrick. They sustained multiple gunshots and stab wounds, their hands smashed, their bodies covered with bruises.
"The case of the Blaan people's struggle against this mining corporation is a splatter of blood stains in the peace and development of Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan. There is no peace resulting in the development agendas of the government, but a string of human rights violations committed against the indigenous peoples," Malayao said. "We want Xstrata out of the Philippines, and its mercenaries and protectors, namely the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to stay out of the Blaan lands. Because surely, the indigenous peoples will relentlessly defend their lands from plunder and destruction." ##
Reference: Piya Macliing Malayao +63917-3631576
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines
People's anti mining barricades scorned, intensifying militarization exposes protectors of mining companies
Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development (AUBD) Press Release
24 August 2013
"Why do the military keep on insisting that the reasons why we are so determined to stop the foreign mining companies are the NPA who are pushing us to do so? Don't we, lowly people also have the right to unite to protect our lands, the source of our livelihood from destructive forces? How lowly are we being looked down upon!" An enraged Gesler Tacdac, the chairman of AUBD (Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development) said.
At 4:00 dawn of August 19, 2013, several residents from the nearby anti mining barricade in the Village of Binuangan met around 40 armed men coming from the Village of Belance bound towards the Village of Yabba where mining exploration was held by Royalco Mining Corporation. Ten other armed men followed who went directly to the Binuangan barricade and introduced themselves as members of the New People's Army. The ten men sowed fear as they interrogated those manning the barricade. They pretended to be looking for the other members of the New People's Army who should be in the barricade. The people manning the barricade insisted that the barricade is a legitimate collective expression of the people's decision and that any ammunition is not allowed in the barricade. The people pleaded that the armed group had to leave as this may do more harm to the civilians. But the armed men insisted to stay until the following day of Tuesday.
At first several of the armed men covered their faces, but later during the day they were recognized as members of the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) while the others were seen alighting from the military truck of the Philippine Army which was parked at the CAFGU Barracks in the Village of Belance days before the incident. It was clear for the barricading villagers, the military are after them to sow fear thus discouraging the people from joining and bridle lies to discredit the people's resounding gains of the barricade.
Since the start of the people's struggle against the Royalco Mining Company in Kasibu, Dupax Del Norte and Nagtipunan in Quirino, the people observed intensification of military presence. The serving of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to the 10 leaders regarding the barricades by the court sheriff involved the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the PNP of Malasin, Dupax Del Norte, a simple police matter turned into a battlefield like scenario last June 13, 2013. Moreover, the people were not moved, they persisted to maintain the barricades and added two more after the incident. As people crowded the barricades, elements of the 3rd Infantry Battalion based in Ganao, Dupax Del Sur and the 703rd Division Reconnaissance Company in Brgy. Belance in Dupax Del Norte conducted mass meetings where the people were interrogated and forced to divulge incriminating information causing fear and disunity among them. The Village Executives and members of the local government councils were not spared from the tormenting query of the men in uniform just like the Village Captain of Pao, Kasibu who was repeatedly asked of the NPA's where about. Leaders who are in charge of the 5 barricades were being followed by suspected civilian intelligence, while the others were visited in their homes by the police and the military. Even Father Jaime Noto, the Priest of St Joseph Parish of Belance and one of the leaders of the barricade were unknowingly taken snapshots of by armed military men within the vicinity of the church.
Strings of military atrocities committed in the past from the time of rampant illegal logging in the area til the heated mining issue, cannot be easily forgotten by the community of people who were their victims. Most recent of which was the incident in March 29, 2013 in Brgy. Ganao, Dupax Del Sur when several drunk members of the 3rd IB of the Philippine Army intruded the house of a resident where they assaulted the male resident and sexually harassed the wife. The couple sought the help of the local government unit but due to continued harassment they were forced to settle the case amicably. The military also violated the Philippine Constitution which they profess to uphold and the International Humanitarian Law whereby they camp in public places putting the civilians in danger. Last March, the military encamped at the rural health clinic in Kinabuan, Dupax Del Sur and in May, they encamped at the village Hall of Mattaddi, Quirino while the elements of the 3rd IB are encamped near the public school of Ganao,Dupax Del Sur. In Belance, Dupax Del Norte, the military and CAFGU barracks is located at the center of the village where most of the houses are found.
"We are calling the military to stop preventing us from protecting the land because the land is our life. By tilling the land and developing it, is our only source of livelihood so when they destroy the land, we lost our livelihood. They- the military- should instead help us drive those foreign companies out and not they protecting the foreign mining companies. What we are fighting for is not just for us but for everyone and the next generation," ends the AUBD chairman. ###
Reference Person: Gesler Tacdac, Chairman, Alliance of Upland Baranggays for Sustainable Development
Contact Number: 09068617227
2 dead in fresh violence at Tampakan mine site-military
By Bong S. Sarmiento
23 August 2013
KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/23 August)- A revered "bong fulong" or tribal elder in the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) was killed Friday morning in another fresh violence at the controversial Tampakan copper-gold project, allegedly by soldiers pursuing an armed tribal group in the area, various sources said.
The military said "two armed tribal members were killed in an encounter with government troops."
Reports gathered by the Social Action Center (SAC) identified the victim as Anteng Freay, head claimant of the Ancestral Domain territory of the Atbol B'laan territory.
"We are still validating if two other children of the victim were also killed," said Rene Pamplona, SAC advocacy officer.
Pamplona told MindaNews that relatives of the victim were not allowed by the military to go to the house of Freay, as fighting still raged on hours after he was reported killed.
Freay was killed at his house in Bolol Talon in Sitio Alyong in Bong Mal, which sits at the heart of the mines development site of SMI, said Amay Collado, a kagawad of Barangay Danlag in Tampakan town, South Cotabato.
Collado told Bombo Radyo here that based on the initial information that he got at around 5 a.m. Friday, government forces allegedly raided the area.
Our tribal constituents in the area reported that the military allegedly fired the shots that killed the victim, Collado said.
"The victim was a respected tribal elder in Bong Mal," he added.
"This is very sad. This is what happens when the government turns a blind eye on the apparent relation of violence and mining in Tampakan. How many massacres will it take to make our government act on this?" said Fr. Oliver Castor, project officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., said in a statement.
PMPI has been staunchly campaigning for the government to stop SMI from pursuing the Tampakan project.
Capt. William Rodriguez, spokesperson of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said the victim and a certain Victor were killed in the encounter with members of the military-led task Force Kitaco.
Rodriguez said they are still validating if one of those killed was a tribal elder, since the name they got from the field identified the victim as "Anteng Peayay."
"The investigation is still on going and we will soon find out if these two conflicting names belong to the same person," he said in a phone interview.
Rodriguez said that soldiers recovered from the encounter site two firearms allegedly owned by the slain men.
The military official said that soldiers have indeed prevented relatives of the fatalities to enter the area as fighting continue between the government forces and the armed group.
Asked if the armed group that the military encountered was headed by Daguel Capion, Rodriguez said they have yet to determine that.
Capion is a leader of a tribal armed group battling to stop SMI from pursuing the project. Last October, his wife and their two children were killed during a military operation in the mines development site.
A dialogue was slated later Friday between Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez and Col. Norman Marcos Flores, 1002nd IB commander, regarding the latest atrocity within the Tampakan project area. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)
Lepanto close to securing license
By Anna Leah G. Estrada
24 August 2013
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. said Friday it obtained the consent of the indigenous people for its Far Southeast gold mining project in Mankayan, Benguet province.
The company said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange it expects to finalize the Free Prior and Informed Consent process by the end of September this year after getting the consensus of the population to be affected by the mining project.
Lepanto said 84 percent of the indigenous elders surrounding the project voted in favor of the FPIC.
"The FPIC process is expected to be finalized by the end of September 2013 with the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the communities," Lepanto said.
"Thereafter the focus will shift to securing the Financial Technical Assistance Agreement, which will enable Gold Fields to exercise its option to acquire an additional 20 percent of the project, raising its stake to 60 percent," Lepanto added.
Lepanto owns 60 percent of the Far Southeast project while South Africa's Gold Fields Ltd. holds the balance.
Gold Fields under an agreement with Lepanto has the option to increase its 40-percent stake by another 20 percent after obtaining the FTAA.
"They have an option to acquire another 20 percent and they will do that once the FTAA is approved. They always had that option but they cannot acquire it unless the FTAA is approved because that is the only way that they can get the 60 percent," said Lepanto president and chief operating officer Bryan Yap.
Villar adds twist to Kingking mine
By Ray Eñano
22 August 2013
Ray-EnanoThe development of the Kingking gold and copper mine in Barangay Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley province in Mindanao is again mired in controversy. Two rival boards in Nationwide Development Corp., which has a mining claim over 1,656 hectares of mineral reserve in Kingking, elected their own set of officers Monday, with a company owned by the family of Senator Manuel Villar apparently switching sides.
A Nadecor bloc led by shareholder and president Conrado Calalang claims it has legitimate control of the company, while another led by businessman Jose Ricafort and former Transportation Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus says otherwise.
Calalang's group, which includes Makati business executive and Ambassador Roberto Romulo as board chairman and Juan Kevin Belmonte as board member, has won Villar's Queensberry Mining & Development Corp. over to its side. Belmonte is a son of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and the concurrent chief executive of Philstar.com, the Web portal of The Philippine Star, and sits on the board of state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines.
The Ricafort bloc last year had Paolo Villar, another son of the former senator, in its own board. Ricafort's board, among others, cleared the P1.8-billion investment subscription of Queensberry (equivalent to 25 percent of Nadecor's outstanding shares) and rescinded an agreement and other transactions with partner St. Augustine Gold & Copper Ltd. for refusing to "honor fundamental contractual obligations."
After a year, however, Villar's camp found itself in the company of the Calalang group. Queensberry, the resource investment arm of the Villar family, invested $11 million in St. Augustine in May this year and now holds 18 percent of the Toronto-listed company. Queensberry under the investment agreement has an option to increase its holdings in St. Augustine to 32 percent.
St. Agustine, in turn, claimed it had bought on June 28, 2013 new shares representing 25 percent of Nadecor for a subscription price of $43.5 million.
St. Augustine and Queensberry now are the strongest allies of the Calalang bloc in Nadecor and possess the financial muscle and technical expertise in harnessing the potential of the Kingking mine. But for the Ricafort group, the two no longer have personalities in Nadecor.
According to the Ricafort bloc, its board ratified previous decisions, including the rescission of the memorandum of understanding and other agreements with St. Augustine, and canceled the subscription of Queensberry to 25 percent of Nadecor's outstanding shares.
Calalang's group, meanwhile, cited a Court of Appeals decision that removes "any doubt as to who is authorized to represent Nadecor as its board of directors." He added that the challenge of dissident shareholders "was thrown out by the Court of Appeals, and that the administrative complaint he filed against the Court of Appeals justices who rendered the same decision, was dismissed by the Supreme Court by a vote of 15-0 on February 19, 2013."
The legal wrangling among the contending owners of Nadecor, specifically between the Calalang and Ricafort groups, may drag on and push the development of the Kingking mine to the backseat. The Kingking reserve is a gold rich copper-gold porphyry deposit, 35 kilometers east of Davao City and 11 km. from the coast. It is listed as one of the top priority projects by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The project is in the advanced stage of design and engineering and is essentially complete with the feasibility stage of development. But Romulo is optimistic about Kingking's prospects. "I am delighted that Nadecor has been able to attract significant foreign direct investment into the Philippine mining sector, and pleased that we and our partner St. Augustine are making steady progress in the development of this major project, which will generate thousands of new jobs in Compostela Valley."
Intervention from the courts, though, may sabotage Kingking's progress. Local government units are not the only ones that can torpedo economic development in the Philippines. Courts can do the same damage, especially when it rules on companies engaged in corporate intramurals.