MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2007-06-24


Philippines Update

24th June 2007

After many years of arguing that Timuay (tribal leader) Jose 'Boy' Anoy is not a legitimate leader - among other slanders -TVI Pacific has had to change tack and is finally seeking the permission of the genuine Subanon leadership for further exploration on their land. This has led to some interesting admissions - not least what appears to be very qualified apologies for past treatment of the traditionally recognised leaders. Also in a meeting in front of the community, one of the people that TVI have claimed are tribal leaders has had to admit that she is not one, and has paid a fine. Unsurprisingly, given their initial refusal for mining was ignored by the company, the tribal leaders refused their consent for further exploration.


TVI executive ask forgiveness for human rights violations committed by the company to the Subanon tribe

By Ellen Red, First Posted on Inside Mindanao

20th June 2007

SIOCON, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE – The Vice President for Social Commitments of TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc., Felice Yeban, has asked forgiveness from the Subanon tribe for the human rights violations committed by TVI.

TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc., an affiliate of the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific, Inc., has a government permit to mine about 500 hectares in sitio Canatuan, barangay Tabayo, Siocon town, Zamboanga del Norte.

The Subanon tribe, on the other hand, was issued a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) covering about 8,000 hectares in Siocon. The CADT covers the entire mining area of TVI.

TVI has plans to expand its mining operations in Siocon. The company has applied for mining exploration in about 4,000 hectares in the mountains of Siocon.

During the community consultative assembly of the Subanon tribe held in sitio Paduan, barangay Candiz, Siocon town last June 17, Miss Yeban said, "Kung sakali man po na sa inyong palagay ay nag-violate ng human rights and kompanya, bagamat wala na po sa kompanya itong mga tao na nag-violate ng human rights; ipagpaumanhin po ninyo (If in your opinion, the company [TVI] has committed human rights violations, although those who had committed human rights violations are no longer connected with the company [TVI]; please forgive us)."

Miss Yeban added that they are not hiding the fact that TVI stands accused of various cases of human rights violations.

As a response to the call of forgiveness of Miss Yeban, Onsino Mato, one of the Subanon traditional leaders in Siocon, said, "Dili lang didto taman (It does not end there [asking for forgiveness])."

In 2001, Mr. Mato accused TVI of committing atrocities against the Subanon tribe before the 19th Session of the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Switzerland. Among the issues raised before the UN by Mr. Mato are the following:

1. Militarization and acts of violence and intimidation;
2. Establishment of checkpoints and blockade on the entry of food and other basic necessities; and
3. Disrupting travel from farm to market road.

In 2002, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 9, through its director, Jose Manuel Mamauag, released an investigation report on the alleged development aggression of TVI.

CHR reported that TVI secured its mining area with security forces belonging to the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA).

The human rights commission added, "Basically SCAA members were trained, supplied with arms and with allowance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were designed to assist the regular government forces in the maintenance of peace and order in their respective barangays. Surprisingly however, these SCAA under the TVI performed their duties in such a manner that as if the TVI is their employer when it should be the residents whom they should serve. These SCAA members even harassed the residents."

CHR then recommended that a "representation be made before the AFP-Southern Command for administrative action against the erring SCAA members."

Early this year, 29-year-old Vivian Balingit, a Siocon resident, reported to the UN Representative for Indigenous Peoples that while walking on the road in Canatuan with her three children and husband, she was blocked by four armed SCAA members.

Ms. Balingit, daughter of Subanon tribal leader Jose Anoy (who has consistently opposed the operation of TVI in Siocon), reported that one of the SCAA members pushed the tip of his rifle on her stomach, right shoulder, and right temple.

"They said the road is not ours but belongs to the TVI so we should pass through the forest," Ms. Balingit said.

Also, last June 16, a number; that is, 12 residents of Canatuan executed similar affidavits alleging TVI of development aggression. Specifically, in the affidavit executed by Mely Daguhoy, she alleged that her house was bulldozed and her crops uprooted by TVI with the
aid of SCAA.

Rather than going to government agencies or courts to seek justice, Ms. Balingit and the 12 residents of Canatuan, all alleged survivors of human rights violations committed by TVI, have manifested their will and desire to submit these conflicts to the Subanon traditional conflict resolution mechanism called Gukom Pito Ko Dulungan.

Likewise, Miss Yeban, the vice president for social commitments of TVI, told the participants of the community consultative assembly held in Paduan last June 17 that TVI had already expressed its desire to submit to the Gukom Pito Ko Dulungan for Miss Balingit's alleged human rights violation case.

However, this early, Miss Yeban has clarified that based on Philippine law, the SCAA is under the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and not under TVI.


Pro-TVI Member of the Siocon Council of Elders Admits Misrepresentation and Pays Penalty to Legitimate Chieftain

Pigsalabukan Bansa SubanÖn (PBS)

23rd June 2007

Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. One of the pro-TVI member of the Siocon Council of Elders (SCE), Lydia Dandana, admited fault in claiming to be a leader of the traditional Council of Elders of the Subanons of Canatuan and, on the spot, paid her salâ or penalty to Timuay Jose Boy Anoy, the legitimate chieftain in the territory during the community consultation held on June 17, 2007 at the Office of the Council of Elders in Poduan, Candiz, Zamboanga del Norte.

Lydia Dandana, who upon questioning by Engr. Abdul Poingan, the leader of the team of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) facilitating the conduct of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, admitted that she is a resident of Barangay Riconalla and was only in Canatuan to work with TVI. Dandana claimed that she is one of the members of the 30-member Siocon Council of Elders that claimed to represent the Subanons in the ancestral domain claim. The Siocon Council of Elders was organized by the NCIP with the support of the TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVIRD) sometime in 2002. TVIRD recognize and subsequently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the SCE for the full-blown mining operation within the CADT area. The company, with the help of the SCE subsequently, hired Subanons from outside the ancestral domain to work in the company who claimed to be legitimate residents of the ancestral domain, effectively marginalizing the original Subanon residents of Canatuan.

The existence of the SCE was vehemently questioned by Timuay Jose Anoy and the Kobogolalan (traditional councils) within the CADT on the grounds that it duplicates the existing traditional structure and violates certain provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The mining operation was also opposed by Timuay Jose Anoy, the Kobogolalan and the original residents of the ancestral domain on the grounds that it illegally encroached their domain and desecrated Mt. Canatuan, their sacred mountain.

During the community consultation, Timuay Fernando Mudai, a cousin of Timuay Jose Anoy, challenged all the people who claimed to be traditional leaders to speak and prove themselves to be real traditional leaders. He noted that it they could not prove their claim, the real Timuays would fine them with the traditional sopulo bu dua bolos (roughly translated into the amount of P120,000), the maximum penalty for the crime of usurpation of traditional leadership position. Lydia Dandana, honestly admitted her membership with the SCE and voluntarily paid gonom pilak or tolu polu piseta (equivalent to 6 pesos) the minimum penalty for self-admission of a crime against the legitimate traditional leaders.

“The act of Lydia is a gesture of a Subanon’s faithfulness to tradition and high respect to legitimate leaders. It is also a silent act of revoking the commands of those who manipulated her to commit the crime and rescue herself from the topo (curse) of our dead ancestors,” Timuay Mudai explained.

“Lydia upholds her belief to our long-held tradition. I pity her that she has allowed herself to be use by outsiders, some of them fellow Subanons, in causing the desecration of our sacred mountain. I pray that the spirits of our ancestors will spare her and her descendants from the topo. I hope the others will follow her noble example,” Timuay Anoy sadly commented in the local dialect.

Lydia Dandana, along with majority of the 30-member SCE, received a monthly honorarium from the royalty fee paid by TVIRDI to the SCE. She actively represented the SCE and promoted the policies of TVIRDI since the company started their operation in 2002.

The Kobogolalan and the Subanons of Canatuan, during the consultation, manifested their opposition to the expansion of TVIRDI’s mining operation within their domain.


TVI Apologizes for Human Rights Violations

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

22nd June 2007

Sitio Paduan, Candiz, Siocon Zamboanga del Norte – The top management of the Canadian mining firm TVI Pacific’s Philippine partner, Resource Development Philippines, Inc., apologized on 17th June to the Subanon communities for any human rights violations allegedly committed by the company.

The apology came during a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, which was conducted under the auspices of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Region 9 Office at the Subanon Tribal Hall of Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy.

Felice Yeban, TVI’s local Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, admitted to the assembled people that her company stood accused of human rights violations since its entry to the community of Timuay Anoy.

“We could not deny that our company had been accused of committing several human rights violations. That’s why we are hired in order to design a special program of human rights education for different department head and managers.” Ms. Yeban told the crowd.

According to Ms. Yeban the company has hired people who previously worked with Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) related to human rights work specifically because some of the human rights accusations have involved the company’s armed security.

Yeban proudly claimed that she had worked with the Amnesty International Philippine Office and the company has hired her as Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, with responsibility for the creation of a Community Relations and Development Office (CREDO).

She also told the crowd that CREDO is composed of people who have previous experience working with the human rights related NGOs, like Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process.

She declared that those TVI personnel involved in human rights violations are no longer working with the company, and she reiterated several times her apology to the legal and legitimate holder of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy.

But Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, who has himself been the prime victim of much of the violations perpetrated by the company (which has long ignored his authority as the CADT holder), accused Yeban of being dishonest in several of her claims.

“The company’s dishonesty goes right to its top management, because they are still working even though they are the ones responsible for human rights violations, such as the demolition of community houses without a proper court order,” Timuay Anoy said.

He named names of those involved in alleged human rights violations who were still working with the company, such as Eudolo Comisas, Ret. Col. Gilbert Cayton, the SCAA head, Loly Micabalo and many more.

Even one of TVI’s CREDO officials, Oscar Covarubias, in an interview outside the tribal hall of Timuay Anoy admitted that Cayton is still working with the company, which was contrary to the claim of Ms. Yeban.

Meanwhile, Timuay Noval Lambo, who is head of the Subanon’s traditional judicial body, the “Gukom”, noted that the apology given for the human rights abuses involving their personnel is not enough to heal the damage.

“If the company is sincere in its intention it must admit full responsibility of the damage and suffering experienced by the community of Timuay Boy Anoy, before extending an apology to the Subanon community and the necessary Subanon rituals must be done. The company’s failure to recognize the Subanon’s duly constituted traditional authority, as well as other forms of rights violations, must be admitted by the company on paper and the ritual for forgiveness of sins should be conducted”, asserted Timuay Lambo.

Since 1997, TVI has been accused by the Subanon People of Mount Canatuan in Zamboanga Del Norte of committing various human rights violations, including employing an economic and food blockade, the shooting of protestors and employing nail traps on the roads.

Several fact finding missions conducted over Mount Canatuan, including participants from the United Kingdom and Canada, have reaffirmed these alleged human rights violations.


Subanon refuse consent to TVI

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

22nd June 2007

Paduan Candiz, Siocon Zamboanga Del Norte – The Subanon, under the ancestral domain of their ancestor “Apu Manglang”, reiterated their position of not giving consent to the Canadian mining firm TVI Pacific’s application for expansion of its mining operations.

Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, in a speech before his people and the company on Sunday June 17, reiterated that they had not even given consent to the present operation of TVI within the 508 hectares’ MPSA, even though the company has stubbornly continued to operate its mine.

“Soliling” Onsino Mato, acted as spokesperson for Timuay Anoy during the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process conducted by the Regional NCIP. He said, “from the beginning our tribe has not given consent, even to your present mining operation in our sacred ground at Mount Canatuan, but you have disrespected it by continuing operations. We will be even stronger in not giving our consent for your expansion”.

Despite the sweeteners offered by the TVI Community Relations Personnel to the Subanon, such as providing lunch and an apologetic gesture during the consultative Assembly at the Tribal Hall of Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, the Subanon concluded that they would not give consent.

Onsino Mato told DCMI that he felt the apologies of TVI personnel was just a deceitful way to win over the hearts and minds of the Subanon and get consent for their expansion. However, the wound inflicted by the company on the Subanon goes deeper and has not yet been healed.

TVI Pacific conducted mining exploration in Mount Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte between 1995 and 2003 without obtaining the genuine and legitimate consent from the legal and owner of the ancestral domain.

On 14 March 2004, TVI attempted to conduct open-cut mining in Mount Canatuan but were hampered by legitimate protests led by the Save Siocon Paradise Movement involving the Subanon, Muslims and Christians. But on 17 March, TVI’s Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliaries (SCAA) indiscriminately fired on the protesters resulting in the injury of the 70 year old Subanon Chieftain Timuay Macario Salacao and other protesters. However the company still failed to disperse the crowd and the protestors successfully prevented the company’s heavy equipment from proceeding to Mount Canatuan from the heart of the Siocon town.

TVI management declared on April 17 the same year that it would discontinue its operation as scheduled and finally withdrew its heavy equipments. But on June the same year the company resumed its operation using the roads from R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay into the mining site.


TVI and NCIP’s FPIC team accuse each other of negligence

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

22nd June 2007

Paduan, Candiz, Siocon Zamboanga Del Norte – The management of TVI Pacific and the leader of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) team of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Region 9 accused each other of failing to do their respective tasks.

On the recent FPIC process in Paduan, it is claimed that the NCIP Regional Office team failed to validate the exact location and number of people to be affected by TVI’s mining expansion plans. Engineer Abdol Puengan, of the NCIP’s FPIC team, claimed this was due to the company’s failure to submit the location map and operational plan.

“Until this point in time, the proponent [TVI] has failed to submit a location map as required by NCIP to determine the exact location and number of people to be affected”, Engineer Abdol Puengan warned the company.

But Jonathan Bañes, the manager of TVI’s Community Relation and Development Office (CREDO), accused the NCIP’s team of not properly reviewing the results of the Field Base Investigation (FBI) report conducted by the NCIP Provincial Office. He noted their application specifically named the coordinates of the affected area and barangays [villages], but the NCIP’s Field Base Investigator in Zamboanga Del Norte failed to validate exactly which they are, although they should apparently be in a position to know.

While the two sides were blaming each other, the Subanon People led by Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy pointed to the discrepancies and anomalies in the FBI report of Lista Cawanan Jr., the director of NCIP Zamboanga del Norte.

Onsino Mato, the Secretary of Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, noted that the Cawanan report indicates that the FBI was meant to have been done in 2005, but this is disputed by many of the people who should have been interviewed for the investigation.

It was also noted that the FBI report fails to cover TVI’s application for expansion in areas such as Sitio Kuyan, which is inside the ancestral claim of Timuay Fernando “Nanding” Mudai. The NCIP had failed to contact Timuay Mudai in this regard.


Subanon Leader accuses TVI’s CREDO of lying

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

22nd June 2007

Paduan, Candiz, Siocon Zamboanga del Norte – Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy accused TVI Pacific’s Community Relation and Development Office (CREDO) personnel of lying to the assembled Subanon and treating them like children who know nothing about mining.

Timuay Anoy criticized Cate Tosco, the company’s geologist with its exploration team, during the course of a consultative assembly at Anoy’s Tribal Hall.

Cate Tosco, who said she had been in the exploration services of TVI as geologist for two years, told the assembled people that TVI was applying only for exploration, which has less impact on the communities and environment.

She explained that “the equipment used in exploration, such as a GPS and a tiny hammer could be placed in a small bag, which would have precisely no impact. There would be no heavy equipment, as erroneously assumed by the people”.

But Timuay Anoy argued that Ms. Tosco failed to tell the truth, because what they are applying for is a Production Sharing Agreement, which if approved will be a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) between company and the government.

“What TVI’s speaker said was basically untrue and full of lies, because under the Philippine Mining Act the company can get an exploration permit for two years which would be renewable for another two years, although not more than six years”, Timuay Anoy stressed.

He said that experience showed that TVI’s exploration of the 508 hectares of land around Mount Canatuan between 1995 and 2003 was extremely intrusive. The exploration program started by excavating about fifty tons of ore per day for the first six months, then increased from seventy five to one hundred fifty tons per day for the next six months until the end of the year it increased again to around 500 to 750 tons per day. This was before the large-scale open-pit extraction started, so they had seen what exploration could mean.

Anoy said that when TVI found out there was enough gold and other minerals to mine profitably, they effectively proceeded to operation because they had supposedly already obtained the consent from the community at exploratory level.

In 1997, the London based mining company Rio Tinto applied for a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the Zamboanga Peninsula. In order to get the consent of Subanon from Sindangan Zamboanga del Norte it deceitfully convinced them not to worry because their activities will only be an exploration. But in 1999, the company withdrew from the Philippines when the deceitful actions of its staff in the FPIC application exposed to the local, national and international communities.

 

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