MAC/20: Mines and Communities

A Call for the Cancellation of TVI's MPSA

Published by MAC on 2004-10-23

A Call for the Cancellation of TVI's MPSA

DIOCESE OF DIPOLOG Bishop's Residence Sicayab, Dipolog City 7100 Tel. No. 212-2879 Philippines

23rd October 2004

I have known the Subanons as a peace-loving and hospitable people. Settled in the wide expanse of Zamboanga peninsula, in Western Mindanao, since time immemorial, these people nurtured the land, took care of it, as they equitably worked and shared its bounties. They are real stewards of this beautiful and prosperous land ­ a land which is truly God' gift to man.

One day in 1994, Canadian mining prospectors arrived in Canatuan like an army of occupying forces. These foreigners staked claims over the sacred Mount Canatuan, the altar of Subanons. Eventually upon securing a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) with the government, they established a mine called TVI Resource Development Philippines, and started undoing God's gift and creation, using guns, gold, goons and employing lies and deception.

Suddenly, the life of the peace-loving and hospitable Subanons of Canatuan was never the same again. They now live in pain, in fear, in misery. The Subanon traditional leaders like Timuay Boy Anoy and Onsino Mato cannot even move freely in their ancestral land ­ a land which even the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had recognized when it issued a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) on June 12, 2003.

Canatuan is such a volatile issue, where the Subanons and TVI are the contending forces. On one side, the Subanons assert their right of ownership of ancestral domain, invoking the government-issued CADT. On the other hand, TVI invokes its right to operate by MPSA permit on the same CADT domain.

Since the government issued both right (i.e. CADT and the MPSA) over the same domain, it is logical to conclude that the government is a casual party to the contention which breeds an unpeace situation in that area.

Today, there is only un-peace, exacerbated by hundreds of armed paramilitaries strutting here and there to guard and serve the mining company. Why, even the government is a party to the absence of peace in this part.

Canatuan is also a contention of values. TVI focuses on the monetary values of gold, counting the stakes in profits. The Subanons regard the land and its resources as the source of life. Losing their land, they lose life.

With mining, the land is permanently damaged. Next come our rivers, and then our seas. Mining is such a short-term engagement while its adverse effects are long-term. There is no such thing as sustainable development with mining, more so with open pit mining.

I join our Subanon brothers and sisters and the people of Siocon, who are equally badly effected, in calling for the cancellation of TVI's MPSA. I add my voice in condemning human rights abuses on defenseless people, acts of deception and blatant lies. I urge you, my brothers and sisters to join us.

(Sgd) Most Rev. Jose R. Manguiran, D.D. Bishop, Diocese of Dipolog and DCMI Bishop in Charge

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