MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining Company tells Subanen Community to Cooperate or Face Immediate Eviction

Published by MAC on 2005-02-14

Mining Company tells Subanen Community to Cooperate or Face Immediate Eviction

February 14, 2005

DCMI Press statement

Sitio Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte - Eighty-six families face immediate eviction from their Ancestral Domain at the hands of the Canadian Mining company TVI Pacific Inc. (TVI). The community members have until the last day of February to accept a relocation fee and get ready to move. If they do not comply then TVI will file an eviction notice against them. The company is offering each family 250,000 pesos ($4,600 US).

Three of families have already received formal notices from the company. Emmanuel and Gaga Gonzaga, Ireneo and Luciana Calibo, and Joey and Josie Gonzaga have been ordered sign or get out. These families are among the many farmers who have been actively opposing the operations of the mining firm.

Timuay Boy Anoy, a Subanen leader, has responded to the recent pressure by saying that TVI will only have its wishes "over our slain bodies". He has started further that "Even if it means death, we will continue fighting TVI because our land is our life and it has already been taken from us by TVI which does not have the slightest respect for our indigenous rights and sacred practices."

TVI started open pit gold mining in Sitio Canatuan last year under a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement that they gained in 1998. Starting at the top of Mt. Canatuan, the Company has steadily worked its way down the mountain with earth scraping bulldozers. TVI operations are now just 15 meters from the houses of some members of the Canatuan community.

The Subanen community refuses to relocate since they believe it is their ancestral right to live on the land. Mt. Canatuan is sacred for the tribe and they consider it their most holy place. In 2003, the families obtained a Certificate of Ancestral Domain (CADT) to the area through the Indigenous People's Rights Act. This certificate makes it illegal for anyone to enter their land without their approval.

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