MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Open Pit Campout Dispersed

Published by MAC on 2007-08-19
Source: Nordis

Open pit campout dispersed

Nordis -

19th August 2007

TUBA, Benguet (Aug. 16) ---Residents of communities from the outskirts of a mineral land being applied for a mineral production sharing agreement (APSA 102) by Philex Mining Corporation, were dispersed by company-hired security forces early morning Wednesday.

The manhandled residents were among those who camped out right at the mining site to await a scheduled dialog with company officials on August 14.

Dismayed over the arrogance of Philex management in the aborted dialog that would have finalized negotiations for community consent for APSA 102 covering the 98-hectare mineral land, some 100 heirs of claimants and residents of barangay Camp 3 here stayed put in the open pit site from August 14 until their violent dispersal during breakfast the following day.

"Ineggeman ti dua a guwardya ti maysa kadakami, bayat a dinanog-danog ti chief security officer ti siket na," (One of us was held by two guards while the chief security officer punch his lumbar area) Rufo Gayaso, an acknowledged community leader, told the media in a press conference in Baguio City on Aug. 16.

The rest were physically carried out of the premises by at least two guards and private security forces. One smaller elder Raymundo Tindaan, said he was even lifted by four men. A score were reportedly hurt, while more people were barred from passing through the provincial road leading to the communities from Philex.

"We agreed not to retaliate if when physically confronted," said Fely Pitas, an heir of the Bantasan estate, also affected by the block-caving operations of Philex.

Pitas said they were just waiting for management representatives to talk to them in a scheduled dialog.

The August 14 dialog was called by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as earlier requested by Philex for the company to clarify issues raised by the community in its statement of rejection of the company's APSA 102 on April 18, 2007.

The claimants, predominantly of Kalanguya and Ibaloy ancestry, said they are now constrained to resort to legal remedies now that Philex is bent on disregarding the processes as prescribed by the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA).

Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS

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