MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining Law Stays, Weakens Community Land Rights

Published by MAC on 2006-07-24
Source: DESAMA

Mining Law Stays, Weakens Community Land Rights

DESAMA Press Release

24th July 2006

The Didipio Earth Savers' Multi-Purpose Association, Inc. (DESAMA) is unfazed by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court's First Division in the case they filed against the DENR Secretary and Climax-Arimco Mining Corp. as they vowed to defend their lands against mining firms.

"Di kami titigil sa paglaban para sa lupa at kabuhayan. Ang lupa ay para sa mamamayan, hindi para sa dayuhang minahan," stressed Peter Duyapat, leader of the DESAMA, after learning of the Supreme Court's ruling on July 19. In the said case, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act even as it declared the entry of mining concessionaires into private property, as a "taking". Under section 9, Article III of the Constitution, a valid exercise of the eminent domain requires (1) taking for (2) public use and (3) upon payment of just compensation. The court affirms the first while the other two requirements remained unsettled.

DESAMA, in its Motion for Reconsideration, argued that the Philippine Mining Act does not provide for a public purpose for such a taking nor does it provide for the payment of just compensation to affected landowners.

Other concerned groups have also filed a petition for intervention on the case, claiming that the taking under Section 76 is a violation of the constitutional right to due process, However, this motion for intervention was also denied in the same ruling. This is all in contrast to a decision of the Court rendered EN BANC in the case of La Bugal B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. where it allowed the intervention of the Chamber of Mines.

"We feel that a lot of questions remain unanswered and poses a threat to our rights." says Francis Joseph Ballesteros of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc., counsel for DESAMA.

Despite the series of setbacks in the legal arena, DESAMA, together with other communities threatened by the large scale mining corporations as well as advocates for community control of natural resources remain resilient. The community spirit and resistance against the watering down of their rights to land and livelihood seeks out new venues and forms.

For questions and comments, please contact: Mary Ann Dela Peña or Francis Joseph Ballesteros,
0917-3229998 or (02)4344079.

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