MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining Protest Goes To England - Ip Leaders Register Opposition To Cexi

Published by MAC on 2007-04-20
Source: Northern Dispatch Weekly

Mining protest goes to England - IP leaders register opposition to CEXI

Northern Dispatch Weekly

20th April 2007

BAGUIO CITY - Two representatives of Filipino indigenous peoples from the Cordillera traveled to London recently and attended the Anglo American annual general meeting on April 17 to register their opposition to the company's mining activities in the region.

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Deputy Secretary-general Santos Mero and Save Apayao Peoples Organization (SAPO) Chairperson Rupina "Tina" Moyaen demanded for the pull out and cancellation of the mining applications of Anglo-American's subsidiaries Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CEXI) and Northern Luzon Exploration Mining Company Inc. (NLEMCI) over ancestral lands in the Cordillera.

Mero said Anglo-American is most aggressive in Apayao and Kalinga, where there is strong opposition among Cordillera communities against mining. He added that communities where strong opposition prevails are characterized by heavy military presence characterized by military operations, setting up of military detachments in indigenous communities, and recruitment of para-military forces.

"Intended to suppress community opposition and instill fear, militarization results to various human rights violations, harassment and intimidation, illegal arrests and detention, threats and extra-judicial killings," he said.

Mero added that community leaders are often subjected to threats, harassment and eventually, extra-judicial killings.

"We call for a stop to the political and extra-judicial killings in the Cordillera and the Philippines. Anglo American and other mining companies must be held accountable for these extra-judicial killings and human rights violations taking place in areas where they operate," he stressed.

Moyaen, a native of Conner, Apayao and community leader disclosed that since 2005, SAPO launched an active information campaign and lobbying to discourage CEXI's intended operations in their area.

"It took us years to return to normal life after the heavy militarization. In the course of recovery, we are again facing another nightmare. The passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 facilitated the entry of mining corporations to our land. Giant transnational mining corporations applied 81% of our land leaving only 19% for our agriculture," she said.

Moyaen further said that CEXI's applications are strongly supported by national government agencies like the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Mines and Geo-Sciences Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) and local government officials.

"The local government units, composed of the provincial and municipal officials, committed the gravest treachery on the people by holding on to their pro-mining position," she stressed.

Moyaen also questioned NCIP's sincerity in conducting consultations with affected communities. She disclosed that NCIP conducted three consultations from March to May 2005 when CEXI first applied for its mining explorations. She said that in all three consultations, affected communities consistently responded negatively to the mining application. She added the communities' position was supported through petitions submitted to the MGB-DENR regional office, NCIP, the municipal and provincial governments of Apayao.

She said NCIP eventually endorsed CEXI's application to the MGB-DENR despite strong opposition.

Moyaen also disclosed that local leaders are being threatened by local officials. She added that she also received death threats. She said unidentified motorcycle-riding men are seen at night near her house and her parents' house. "We learned many lessons from our struggle. We realized that we have to link with the broader public for strength and support. We also realized that it takes courage, sacrifice and patience amidst fear to do the right thing for the people," she said.

MGB-DENR data showed that CEXI has a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) over 1, 787.98 hectares (has.) in Benguet and a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) over 77, 549 Ifugao, Benguet and Mountain Province. CEXI still has pending applications for Exploration Permit Application (EPA) over Apayao (9, 332 has.), Kalinga and Abra (25, 212 has.) and Mountain Province (2,592 has.).

The NLEMCI has an approved MPSA in Benguet covering 872 has. and EPA applications covering 2, 815 has. also of the same province.

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