MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines anti-mining protestors shot

Published by MAC on 2004-03-18


Philippines anti-mining protestors shot

Press Release - Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links

Thursday 18 March 2004

Four protesters - who are attempting to stop a Canadian mining company, TVI Pacific from digging an open-pit gold mine on their land - were shot at and wounded at approximately 5.00 pm 17 March while blockading the company's equipment in Canatuan, Zamboanga del Norte on the Philippines island of Mindanao.

The blockade has been on-going since Sunday 14th March, and is made up of church and community leaders, as well as local indigenous (Subanon) and Muslim (Moro) workers, farmers and fishermen. They have gathered together under a multi-sectoral movement, called "Save our Paradise". Over 100 demonstrators have shown up daily, surrounding TVI's excavator, two bulldozers, two dump trucks and a ball mill (mining equipment used for separating ore).

There was an attempt by the company to break the blockade, using members of the company's own paramilitary guard, or SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary). The SCAA fired their automatic rifles and four of the demonstrators were hit and wounded and were treated in hospital. The wounded are Subanon Timuay (tribal elder) Macario Salacao, a President of the Siocon Federation of Subanon Tribal Councils (SFSTC), Edie Cayabyab, Juan Veloria and Dakbot Lorete. Despite this incident the blockade continues. Three of the injured suffered minor injuries perhaps resulting from ricochets. Mr Cayabyab has a bullet lodged in his leg.

The local Subanon people have been struggling to resist the entry of TVI into their territory since 1994. They have repeatedly asserted their total opposition to the operations of TVI. Timuay (local tribal leaders) from the different regions of the Zamboanga peninsula who are members of the Piksolobukan nog Bansa Subanen (PBS), an organization of traditional leaders, are supporting the protesters. Other Subanon organizations also oppose. The Timuay said the TVI operation will ruin their ancestral land, destroy their livelihood, and cause displacement. They also said TVI will be operating in violation of some of its legal requirements. The picketers are drawn from the affected Subanon communities and Subanon, Settler and Moro (Muslim) people from downstream of the mine who fear and oppose the planned mine.

In 2002, the municipal government of the town of Siocon, which covers the mine site, passed a resolution banning any form of destruction especially large-scale mining. On February 26th the Mayor of Siocon promised to file a temporary restraining order on TVI for its alleged violation of the "social acceptability clause" that requires the agreement of the community before the project could proceed to a full-blast open-pit mining operation. The protesters are asking for the mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) granted to TVI to be cancelled.

Quote: "The people have spoken that TVI is a threat and they should pack up and leave at once … Our Bible states in the Book of Genesis that God creates but out of greed and profit, some men desecrate nature." Fr. Mamert Dolera, priest of Siocon

Quote: "We are appealing to all mining companies and governments if, as they claim, they are concerned about community development they must go away from our territory because what we have experienced is not development and not what we want for our sustainable future."

Onsino Mato, Secretary General Siocon Subanon Association Inc addressing the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, July 2001

More Information:

Andrew Whitmore
Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links
Email: comms@piplinks.org

Tito Fiel, Coordinator
DCMI, Philippines
Email: dcmi@qmile.com.ph

Further background information is available at the following websites:-
http://www.mindanews.com/2004/03/15nws-mining.html
http://www.mindanews.com/2004/03/04nws-siocon.html
http://www.mindanews.com/2004/02/15nws-mine.html

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