MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Sample letter sent by Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links)

Published by MAC on 2002-12-15

Sample letter sent by Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links)

Her Excellency
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
Metro Manila

Your Excellency,

We write following the tragic attack on 26 December 2002 upon community members from Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte perpetrated by, as yet, unknown assailants. Madam President we wish to express through you our sympathy for the victims of this act of violence.

We respectfully urge your Government to act to end the violence and the sources of violence in the Canatuan area. It is clear to us based on visits to the area and consultation with local people that the presence of the TVI Pacific Mining Company in Canatuan has been a source of tragedy, tension and conflict since their first arrival in the area in 1994. It is the people of the local community who have suffered the effects both of bandit attacks upon company vehicles and also suffered violence and intimidation at the hands of the company guards. These abuses committed by company personnel are seen locally as the efforts of the company to silence the consistent and legitimate opposition of local people to TVI's entry into their community. Past incidents have included other ambushes and hold ups, the militarization of the community by the mining company, the imposition of checkpoints and blockades by company guards, shooting incidents by company employees and the wounding of local residents, the violent dispersal of peaceful protestors from the community, arrests, the bulldozing of local small scale mining operations and many other incidents.

Madam President your Government's stated commitment to implement the 1997 Indigenous Peoples Rights Act has, we believe, given new hope to many indigenous communities in the Philippines and observers and friends of the Philippines around the world. The historic injustice perpetrated by successive Philippine Governments and developers at the expense of Indigenous Peoples and their lands has long been a source of suffering, internal conflict and has also done serious damage to the international reputation of the Philippines. We hope that your Government can take significant steps to change this situation. The clear and strong opposition of the Subanon to the operations and activities of TVI is well known around the world. This case is therefore one, which many Indigenous Peoples and observers see as an indicator of your Government's stance and resolve in support of Indigenous Peoples rights.

There has been conflict and opposition to the plans of TVI to mine in Canatuan since the first arrival of the company in the area. It is clear that strong opposition continues. TVI have clearly failed to secure the necessary support in the local community. Their plans are opposed by the Siocon Subanon Association Inc which is the local indigenous organisation in Canatuan and by the majority of all Subanon organisations elsewhere in the vicinity of the proposed mine and across the region. The municipal authorities and other local community organisations also oppose company plans.

We therefore appeal to you to act with speed
To immediately withdraw all TVI personnel from the area
To cancel the mining licenses of TVI due to their failure to secure social acceptability and their disruptive and abusive presence in the community
To find and bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26 December ambush

Yours respectfully

Geoff Nettleton
Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links

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