MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Tribe seeks end to mining on holy mount

Published by MAC on 2004-10-24

Tribe seeks end to mining on holy mount

October 24, 2004

By Norman Bordadora, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Members of the Subanon tribe on Saturday called on President Macapagal-Arroyo to order a Canadian firm to stop its mining operations on a Zamboanga del Norte mountain that they hold sacred.

Timuay Jose Anoy, leader of the Subanon tribe, said the group was a signatory to the Indigenous People's Rights Act (Ipra) and had been awarded a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title covering their settlement on Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

The Subanons have been living on Mt. Canatuan since the 17th century.

"We entered into the IPRA [Indigenous Peoples Rights Act 1997] and were awarded a certificate of ancestral domain title. Thus, we cannot understand why the government is allowing Toronto Ventures Inc. to operate [there]," Anoy said at a news conference in Quezon City yesterday.

Anoy said the mining firm had desecrated the Subanon's "altar" and its most sacred spot, the peak of Mt. Canatuan.

"(Toronto Ventures)... has no respect for our people and our way of life. They bulldozed the tip of the mountain, destroyed our most holy place, and in a matter of weeks, our community will be wiped out due to their mad drive for gold," Anoy said.

The tribal leader said they had met with officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and the Commission on Human Rights to demand a stop to the mining operations.

"But our appeals have been ignored by these agencies that are supposed to protect our community and environment," he said.

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