MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mindanao Convergence Of Advocates for an Alternative Mining Policy

Published by MAC on 2006-04-15

Mindanao Convergence Of Advocates for an Alternative Mining Policy

Maharlika Training Center, Lipata, Surigao City

17th - 21st April 2006

Conference statement

"Remember, LORD, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows. We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price. Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest. (Lamentations 5: 1-5)

Our Witnessing

Ours is a mining industry lorded over by transnational corporations and by the whims and caprices of the globalized mining industry. It is a mining industry that further entrenches our maldevelopment by stunting our national industrialization ideally anchored on the rational utilization of our vast and varied mineral base. It is a mining industry that extracts, rapes, denudes, divests, drains, and brings about division and death to our environment and indigenous peoples. It is a mining industry that invades our territory, steals our sovereignty, corrupts our system of governance, circumvents the rule of law, and violates the dignity of persons and of Creation.

We have seen these things first hand in the destruction wrought by transnational and local large scale mining firms on the social and environmental landscape of Surigao del Norte. Deepening and widening wounds are eminent on the face of a province that is a haven for rich aquatic resources and marine life, rice fields, vegetation, and forestry. The environmental degradation that we have witnessed provided us a microcosm of the extensive damage large scale mining ushers into Mindanao, in particular.

Large scale mining companies are salivating and, in fact, are already ravaging part of Mindanao's3.6 billion metric tons of metallic and 8 billion metric tons of non-metallic mineral reserves--- making up half of the country's 7.1 billion metric tons of minerals. Eleven of the 24 priority mining projects declared by the government are in Mindanao. These foreign companies, aided by their local dummies, bring about displacement and human rights violations through militarization.

We debunk the sales pitch of the Arroyo administration to encourage large scale mining investments in the country. These are rehashed myths and lies spinned to portray large scale mining TNCs as harbingers of our development and economic salvation. The global and national mining situation is replete with evidence that TNC mining in fact displaces productive human resource and increase unemployment, leave mining areas as ghost towns, slacken national growth, and disintegrates cultures and societies, aside from the obvious ecological damage.

We are concerned that our people are fast losing faith in the institutional processes of government. As government engages in a fervid sales pitch abroad to promote the vast potentials of our mineral lands, we increasingly see the bureaucracy not standing on the side of the people. The Supreme Court ruling upholding the Constitutionality of the Mining Act also sends the signal to all that the judicial process is a long-shot recourse even as we try to avail of whatever remaining legal remedies we can to prolong, defend, or mitigate the incursion of large scale mining.

Our Convergence…

We are the mining-affected and threatened communities, the religious, indigenous peoples, Moro, small scale miners, people's organizations, and non-government organizations coming from various networks, charisms, persuasions, and subregions in Mindanao.

We bind ourselves in our common understanding that largescale mining is a great social and environmental plague that deserves to be exorcised from our country and from our communities. We likewise strongly uphold that the time to protect our national patrimony and sovereignty is now, when largescale mining plunder is unprecedented as ever in its insidious attacks

We endeavor to create an ever-increasing synergy of people's mobilizations to resist largescale mining in Mindanao by contributing our various independent, inter-dependent, and complementary anti-mining initiatives.

Our unity is propelled by our common appreciation of the need for genuine national industrialization and for a mining policy that is pro-people and pro-environment.

While we are aware that the initial unities we have gained in this convergence need to be further refined and strengthened given our social, economic, and cultural divergences, we are firm in our resolve that the fight at this moment is to be concentrated on largescale mining TNCs and their local agents.

We unite today with the pledge to continue deepening our understanding of national industrialization and enhancing the People's Alternative Mining Policy for the interest of the peoples and environment especially of Mindanao.

Our Calls and Commitment…

We therefore unwaveringly call to RESIST THE LIBERALIZATION OF THE MINING INDUSTRY by SCRAPPING THE MINING ACT OF 1995!

We oppose landgrabbing of ancestral domains by mining TNCs and the ensuing ethnocide of our Lumad peoples in Mindanao.

We push for Filipino-owned, regulated small-scale mining leading towards nationalization of the mining industry for genuine industrialization.

We oppose Charter Change as a sinister scheme of the Arroyo government to altogether delete the remaining provisions that protect the economy, our ecology, and our peoples civil and political liberties.

We uphold the People's Alternative Mining Policy as the framework of a sovereign national mining industry that serves as a catalyst of our national industrialization.

We call for greater accountability of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her fervent push for mining revitalization through the Mineral Action Plan.

We direct particular calls to the Church to be unrelenting in their opposition to largescale mining and to concretize its pastoral care and guidance by journeying with mining-affected communities in their struggles; we likewise call on the media to faithfully report and critically interpret the destruction large scale mining wreaks; we call on local government officials to support their people's calls for the scrapping of the Mining Act.

Finally, we call upon ourselves to KEEP FAITH, that our collective and organized action shall bear fruit as we struggle to defend our patrimony and ensure the same for the sake of our children.

Our Common action…

Today, we declare our CONVERGENCE.

We believe that our convergence should be an action- and response-oriented forum of anti-mining initiatives in Mindanao.

We shall continue to be a forum of learning the framework of national industrialization and enhancing our alternative policy and framework; we take up the Agham/Defend Patrimony and LRC framework and proposals as concrete first steps towards defining our alternatives Massive Information-Education-Campaign materials to aid our education drive in communities and organizations; a Mindanao-wide signature campaign to register our broadest opposition to large scale mining.

We commit to generate support and solidarity with and among the grassroots of Mindanao against large scale mining plunder. By this, we join with the farmers to call for the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform. We call for the end of militarization in the mining affected communities. Uphold the indigenous peoples and Moro cultural integrity and identity towards the rights to self-determination and self-governance over ancestral domain. Uphold the dignity and rights of women and children in mining affected communities.

We vow to make bolder steps by prosecuting large scale mining plunderers and their agents who have trampled upon our dignity, creation and patrimony

Approved by the 180 delegates to the Mindanao Convergence on April 20, 2006 Convenors :Sisters' Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), Foundation for Philippine Environment (FPE), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI), Philippine Misereor Partners (PMP), Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Mainit National Park Conservation Society, Zamboanga del Norte Peoples Network against Mining (ZNPAAM), Katawhang Simbahan Alang sa Malamboong Kabuhatan (KASAMAKA)

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