MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Letter to President of the Philippines on the eviction by TVI of families from Canatuan

Published by MAC on 2005-02-22

Letter to President of the Philippines on the eviction by TVI of families from Canatuan

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
J.P.Laurel Street
San Miguel
Metro Manila 1005

22nd February 2005

Madame President,

We are gravely concerned by the most recent reports from Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, regarding the activities of TVI, a Canadian mining company. These reports document in detail the threats and efforts of company personnel to evict local residents against their will, including some of the ancestral land holders of the area, to make way for mining activities. We appeal to you to intervene to prevent the perpetration of further human rights violations and injustices against the long suffering residents of Canatuan, Siocon, by ordering the withdrawal of the armed personnel of TVI and an immediate halt to their operations. We urge the need to hold a dialogue with local indigenous, civil society, church and local authority representatives in the immediate area to confirm the continued opposition of the people to TVI. There should be a credible independent inquiry into the illegality of current and past actions of TVI mining company personnel.

The substantial and long standing opposition to TVI among the Subanon of Canatuan and Siocon and of other local residents, the local municipal authorities, civil society and churches is a matter of public record. It is deeply regrettable that despite long standing protests the wishes of Indigenous Peoples and other local residents in Siocon have not been respected to date. It is even more regretful that government agencies and military units have been complicit in efforts to force local people to accept this unwelcome project against their wishes. Their rights should be protected by law, including those outlined in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (1997) and Mining Code (1995).

The Philippine Government is bound by domestic law and international commitments to uphold human rights. This includes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands and their right to their homes and subsistence base. All citizens have the right to live in peace in their homes. Over the past 10 years TVI has maintained a regime in Canatuan which has included the establishment of checkpoints, the maintenance of a large armed security force and, the imposition of harsh controls on the entry of goods and materials, and the arbitrary exclusion of some local residents. Unarmed protestors have been beaten with sticks, abused, arrested and most recently shot at. The traditional leadership of the community opposed to TVI has been ignored and abused and a bogus pro company organisation belatedly established from among company employees and migrants, who have no traditional links to the land of Canatuan, to sign a consent to mining that lacks all credibility among the Subanon. This "leadership" and some of the government officials and company employees who conspired in its establishment have been denounced and fined by traditional leaders from across the region in their Gukom hearing of the issues in February 2004. The company has worked to subjugate, suppress and depopulate Canatuan. TVI has behaved in the manner of an abusive overlord going beyond any rights accorded to it, and has committed clear human rights violations, including several incidents of shooting and wounding of unarmed local residents.

We are further concerned that these latest efforts to evict long standing residents reveal, past reporting failures of TVI and, the failure of government agencies to adequately safeguard the interests of local Indigenous Peoples and other residents. The residents now being threatened
have long established houses, including many that predate TVI on the site.

TVI has proved to be an abuser of local rights. We call upon your government to protect Philippine citizens and to order a halt to the destructive mining operations of this Canadian company.

Yours sincerely,

(in alphabetical order of forename)

Aimee Beboso, Carleton University Filipino Students' Association (CUFSA), Canada

Alberto Achito, OREWA (organización regional indigena Embera Wounaan), Colombia

Alfonso Vanzijl, Multi-Sectoral Action Group of Aurora Province, The Philippines

Armand McKenzie, Innu Council of Nitassinan, Canada

Barbara Waldern, Chair, BC Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Canada

Catherine Coumans, Ph.D., Research Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Cecilio Solís Librado, Asamblea Nacional Indígena Plural por la Autonomía (ANIPA), México

Christopher Abbott, Oxford Research Group, UK

Doug Booker, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Canada

Elizabeth P. Dollaga, BC Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (Vancouver), Canada

Eduardo C. de Guzman, Mindoro Assistance for Human Advancement thru Linkages, Inc. (MAHAL), Philippines

Emelina G. Regis, Institute for Environment Conservation and Research (INECAR), Philippines

Emily Caruso, Forest Peoples Programme, UK

Fr. Archie Casey SX, JPICC Coordinator, Xaverian Missionaries, Philippines

Fr. Frank Nally, Missionary Society of St. Columban, UK

Geoff Nettleton, Philippines Indigenous Peoples Links, UK

Gerard van Dorp, Asia Dept, Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples (NCIV), Netherlands

Godofredo Galos, Save Siocon Paradise Movement, Philippines

Haroldo Salazar, Presidente de AIDESEP, Peru

Helen Leake, International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Thailand

Jaume Formosa i Esteva, Alternativa Solidaria - Plenty, Spain

Joan Carling, Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines

Jocelyn M. Villanueva, LRC-KSK/Friends of the Earth-Phils., Philippines

Jorge Fedrick, Coordinador Nacional del Movimiento Indigena de Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Most Rev. Jose R. Manguiran, Bishop of Diocese of Dipolog, Philippines

Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House, UK

Patricia Borraz, ALMACIGA, Spain

Roger Moody, Nostromo Research, UK

Siti Maemunah, JATAM, Mining Advocacy Network, Indonesia

Sylvia R. Mesina, Quezon City, Philippines

Ted & Cora Alcuitas, B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Timuay Noval Lambo, Gukom of the Seven Rivers, Zamboanga City, Philippines

Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues, Philippines

Tony Clarke, Polaris Institute, Canada

Tracy Glynn, Memorial University's Society for Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility, Canada

Washington Bolivar, Presidente del INECA, Peru

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