MAC/20: Mines and Communities

VICTIMS OF HARASSMENT ACCUSE TVIRD OF LIES

Published by MAC on 2006-06-29

VICTIMS OF HARASSMENT ACCUSE TVIRD OF LIES

29th June 2006

Press Release Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues

Canatuan, Siocon Zamboanga Del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines – TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD), a Canadian mining firm, has claimed that it was the Subanon people who dismantled what they call an “un-occupied shanty” here, but the family of the destroyed house and those injured in the incident have accused it of lying.

The victims clearly lay the blame the demolition on members of TVIRD’s security force, the Special (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit or CAFGU) Armed Auxiliaries (SCAAs). They say the company has mobilised some young Subanon to claim they were responsible, via 500 Peso bribes handed out by Erdulfo Comisas, a TVI-declared “Timuay”, or chieftain.

In a statement, TVIRD claims that the Subanon dismantled the house of couple, who had refused to leave the TVI Canatuan Project area (which is also the Subanon Ancestral Domain), despite lengthy negotiations, and repeated requests for the couple to vacate the area (for their own safety).

However, the victims blame the company’s greed for the resulting demolition. Mrs. Manolita Galves, one of the victims, explained that the company does not negotiate fairly, but used force and intimidation.

She says that past experience shows that company negotiators would visit the targeted individual, asking them to go to the company’s office. When the individual was at the company’s office, they would make an initial payment and then force you to sign a paper that says you were entering negotiations voluntarily with the company and that your properties have been completely paid for.

But she said, she and her family are not interested in negotiations with the company, because she will only leave her home if the legal and legitimate holder of Ancestral Domain, Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, orders her to leave it. “TVI and SSAI have no right to order us to leave Canatuan. Only Anoy can order us to that.”

She notes that it is only TVI who call Mr. Erdulfo Comisas a Timuay. Mr. Comisas and his daughter are currently working with the company, but they have been residing in Barangay Makiang, Siocon, two hours drive from the Ancestral Domain where TVIRD is now operating.

Since its entry in Mt. Canatuan, the company has been accused repeatedly of human rights violations and abuses of the local Indigenous People and other settlers, through its practice of forced negotiations.

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