MAC/20: Mines and Communities

7th October 2004 (Ref 0424HPHL)

Published by MAC on 2004-10-15

7th October 2004 (Ref 0424HPHL)

Philippines: Mining operations threaten the right to food of indigenous peoples, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte

The right to food of more than 250 families of Subanon indigenous peoples in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte is threatened by the activities of a mining company, TVI Resource Development Philippines. Under the guise of “exploration”, TVI Resource Development Philippines has been producing gold since 1995 by using the mining tailings which they have appropriated from local small-scale miners. In June 2004, the company has started to conduct large-scale mining in over 508 hectares of land belonging to the Subanon, based on the mining rights which it obtained from the Government of the Philippines in 1998. Not only are 300 families threatened to be evicted from their farm lands, water resource will also be contaminated by mining activities thus threatening the access to resources of many more. The people opposing the mining activities face harassment from the side of security guards of the company.

An international intervention is urgently needed in order to protect the right to food of indigenous families living in Siocon. Please write a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, requesting her immediately take measures to ensure this right.

Profile

Siocon Municipality is located in the southern part of the province of Zamboanga del Norte and is the home to the indigenous peoples of Subanon. Agriculture is their main source of income for the Subanon, while some also work as small-scale miners.

Under the guise of “exploration”, TVI Resource Development Philippines, a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Inc., has been producing gold and forcibly appropriating properties of small-scale miners since 1995. Since then, a total of 10,000 small-scale miners have been affected by the company’s operations. Apart from this, the agriculture workers have been facing difficulties in accessing their farmlands and transporting their farm products to town due to four checkpoints which were established by the company along the way.

TVI Resource Development Philippines obtained the mining rights from the government of the Philippines in 1998 and has started conducting large-scale mining in over 508 hectares of Subanon land in June 2004. The operations of the company will not only threaten the farming lands and the water source of Siocon, but the target site is also an ancestral domain of the indigenous Subanon and sacred to the natives. Many indigenous peoples also fear the pollution of their rivers by the waste of mining activities containing mercury and cyanide. In addition, around 300 families will be evicted due to mining activities. Thus the protest group “Save Paradise Water Movement” has been heavily opposing the mining activities.

On March 14, 2004, around 100 persons built a human barricade to prevent the translocation of the company’s technical equipment from the town to the mining site. After 3 days of permanent blockade, the company guards fired into the group on March 17, 2004, wounding four persons. Now the area is constantly under guard by armed security called SCAA (Special Citizen Armed Forces Active Auxiliary) who are threatening the people to vacate from the area and warning them that they would bulldoze their homes and farms.

FIAN Mandate

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Philippines is duty-bound under international law to respect and protect the right to adequate food of the population of Siocon. The mining operation of TVI Resource Development Philippines will threaten the right to food as well as the right to water of the Subanons who are farmers and small-scale miners. As such, the government of the Philippines must immediately take action to stop the physical harassment by the armed forces of TVI and ensure the right to food of Subanons.

End of Action: 10.12.04

Addresses:

Her Excellency
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
New Executive Building
Malacanang Palace Compound
Manila, Philippines

Fax: 0063 2 8323793

Copies to:

Honourable Elisea G. Gozun
Secretary
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Visayas Ave., Diliman,
Quezon City, Philippines

Fax: 0063 2 9204352

TVI Pacific Inc.
Suite 2000
736 – 6th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
T29 3 T7, Canada

Fax: 001 403 264 7028

DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI) (A support group for the victims)
G/F, Diocesan Pastoral Center
Sicayab, Dipolog City
Philippines

Tel/Fax: 0063 65 212-3678

Please inform FIAN about any responses to your letters and faxes

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