MAC/20: Mines and Communities

TVI Apologizes for Human Rights Violations

Published by MAC on 2007-06-22

TVI Apologizes for Human Rights Violations

By Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

22nd June 2007

Sitio Paduan, Candiz, Siocon Zamboanga del Norte – The top management of the Canadian mining firm TVI Pacific’s Philippine partner, Resource Development Philippines, Inc., apologized on 17th June to the Subanon communities for any human rights violations allegedly committed by the company.

The apology came during a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, which was conducted under the auspices of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Region 9 Office at the Subanon Tribal Hall of Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy.

Felice Yeban, TVI’s local Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, admitted to the assembled people that her company stood accused of human rights violations since its entry to the community of Timuay Anoy.

“We could not deny that our company had been accused of committing several human rights violations. That’s why we are hired in order to design a special program of human rights education for different department head and managers.” Ms. Yeban told the crowd.

According to Ms. Yeban the company has hired people who previously worked with Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) related to human rights work specifically because some of the human rights accusations have involved the company’s armed security.

Yeban proudly claimed that she had worked with the Amnesty International Philippine Office and the company has hired her as Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, with responsibility for the creation of a Community Relations and Development Office (CREDO).

She also told the crowd that CREDO is composed of people who have previous experience working with the human rights related NGOs, like Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process.

She declared that those TVI personnel involved in human rights violations are no longer working with the company, and she reiterated several times her apology to the legal and legitimate holder of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy.

But Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, who has himself been the prime victim of much of the violations perpetrated by the company (which has long ignored his authority as the CADT holder), accused Yeban of being dishonest in several of her claims.

“The company’s dishonesty goes right to its top management, because they are still working even though they are the ones responsible for human rights violations, such as the demolition of community houses without a proper court order,” Timuay Anoy said.

He named names of those involved in alleged human rights violations who were still working with the company, such as Eudolo Comisas, Ret. Col. Gilbert Cayton, the SCAA head, Loly Micabalo and many more.

Even one of TVI’s CREDO officials, Oscar Covarubias, in an interview outside the tribal hall of Timuay Anoy admitted that Cayton is still working with the company, which was contrary to the claim of Ms. Yeban.

Meanwhile, Timuay Noval Lambo, who is head of the Subanon’s traditional judicial body, the “Gukom”, noted that the apology given for the human rights abuses involving their personnel is not enough to heal the damage.

“If the company is sincere in its intention it must admit full responsibility of the damage and suffering experienced by the community of Timuay Boy Anoy, before extending an apology to the Subanon community and the necessary Subanon rituals must be done. The company’s failure to recognize the Subanon’s duly constituted traditional authority, as well as other forms of rights violations, must be admitted by the company on paper and the ritual for forgiveness of sins should be conducted”, asserted Timuay Lambo.

Since 1997, TVI has been accused by the Subanon People of Mount Canatuan in Zamboanga Del Norte of committing various human rights violations, including employing an economic and food blockade, the shooting of protestors and employing nail traps on the roads.

Several fact finding missions conducted over Mount Canatuan, including participants from the United Kingdom and Canada, have reaffirmed these alleged human rights violations.

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