Guns, Goons, Gold: Mining Revitalisation Turns into a Bloody WarPublished by MAC on 2005-06-09
Guns, Goons, Gold: Mining Revitalisation Turns into a Bloody War
Defend Patrimony! Alliance (Movement against Globalization of Mining Industry, Plunder and Destruction)
9 June 2005
One of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's supposedly "brilliant" solutions to the country's worsening fiscal crisis, the revitalization and liberalization of the country's mining sector, is quickly developing into an issue of concern not only in terms of economics, but also of fundamental human rights.
Defend Patrimony, a broad alliance of organizations which aspires for national development and industrialization, is gravely concerned about the rapidly increasing number of mineral explorations and operations conducted in the country, mostly by large foreign corporations. These projects, which occupy vast areas of land, have evicted countless numbers of people, impinged on the people's rights to their property and means for livelihood, and have often struck the most marginalized and powerless of groups, the indigenous people. These have therefore been met with strong opposition from the primary stakeholders, who are often ignored, suppressed, forcibly evicted and harassed, and even murdered.
With the rapid influx of mining applications and issuance of permits for either exploration or actual operation comes the entry of elements of force and coercion. In several cases around the country, military and paramilitary elements are being used extensively in order to quell the people's resistance to mining activities.
In the case of the Subanon indigenous people of Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, para-military group Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) has been used to harass and threaten the indigenous tribe. Food blockades have been established, depriving the people of their basic needs. Timuay Jose "Boy" Anoy, a Subanon leader, cannot live peacefully in his own home, having received death threats owing to his fierce opposition against mining in his community.
The picture is strikingly similar in many other areas in the country. Mining applications are swarming in Samar, despite its classification as a national park. This, furthermore, is accompanied by heavy militarization on the island. This is underlined by the deployment of Major General Jovito Palparan in Eastern Visayas, which has begun the terrible wave of activist killings and abductions. Palparan's declaration that demonstrations and rallies in the region are to be eradicated in six months under his draconian watch practically bans any form of dissent against administration-backed destructive and anti-people projects such as mining . Thus, the people are deprived of their right to protect their territory against activities which may prove detrimental to their welfare.
Meanwhile, the Assumption of Jurisdiction issued by Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and the subsequent deployment of members of the 58th IB at Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation is a blatant harassment of the mineworkers who have been on strike since June 2.
Such an effort to quell the growing resistance and efforts to protect mining workers' rights while denying the mineworkers' legitimate demands highlights the incapability and unwillingness of the Arroyo administration to protect its people in the face of multinational corporations' mining interests.
But the people will not cower in the face of intensified mining and state repression under the crumbling Arroyo administration. They are continuing the struggle head on, employing various modalities of political solidarity and action against the liberalization of mining industry, plunder, and repression. It is in this light that Defend Patrimony! Alliance!, Kalikasan-PNE, Tebtebba, KAMP, Center for Environmental Concerns and AGHAM are organizing the Second National People's Conference on Mining. The conference will be held on June 10-13, 2005 at the St. Michael's Retreat House in San Jose St. Antipolo City.
The conference theme is "Raising to Greater Heights Ten Years of People's Struggle against Mining Liberalization and Plunder." It will gather representatives of mining affected communities, people's organizations, environmental formations and anti-mining TNC alliances active in the campaign against the plunder of our mineral resources.
c/o Kalikasan-PNE 26 Matulungin St.,
Tel (02) 9248756;
Fax (02) 9209099