MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-06-26

Philippines Update

26th June 2006

100 TVI Armed SCAAs Harass Helpless Farmers, Demolish House and injure four 26th June 2006

Press Release Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues Canatuan, Tabayo, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines – It is difficult to imagine how terrified helpless farmers were, when they were harassed two nights ago by around 100 Special (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit or CAFGU) Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) of the Canadian mining firm TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.

According to Nonong Purigay of the Canatuan Farmers Association (CFA) four farmers were seriously injured, one of whom is a local catholic chapel lay minister called Jimmy Acope. The other three farmers injured were John-john Romano, Manolita Galves and her husband Loloy Galves.

The heartless SCAAs, who were led by Retired Lt. Cortes, mercilessly demolished the house of the Galves family and looted valuables such as the television, VCD and DVD player, other personal belongings and an undetermined amount of cash.At around 10pm on June 24 this year, Nonong Purigay telephoned the DCMI office and reported an unusual troop movement of the company’s SCAA. He warned at the time that TVI’s SCAA forces were gradually moving towards the Galves residence.

When they were a few meters from the house, the SCAAs stalled for a short while, but then finally overran the property, demolishing it and looting all the things found inside, according to Nonong Purigay’s account.

Purigay noted that around 50 SCAAs directly assisted on the demolition of Galves residence while the other 50 secured the surrounding area and prevented other farmers from assisting the Galves family in stopping the demolition. As a result of the incident, Mrs. Galves collapsed, and the SCAAs forcibly dragged her away from the house, while they were continuously demolishing the house. The SCAAs pointed their guns at the people who wanted to help Mrs. Galves.

According to Purigay the commotion ensued for an hour until the SCAAs gradually retreated from the Galves residence, after putting the materials from the house on TVI dump trucks and moving them to places unknown.

DCMI personnel telephoned the mobile phone of Eugene Mateo, the President of TVI Resource Development Philippines on the night of June 24 to inform him about the action taken by his SCAA in Canatuan, but despite ringing several times it was not answered. It was also not possible to get through to the mobile of Ed Coronel, the company’s Director for Social Commitment.

Manolita Galves and her husband Loloy suffered serious physical injuries as a result of the incident. It is hard for them to walk around without assistance, due to the punches and bat strokes employed by the SCAAs. The four who were injured are in need of medical treatment in the town of Siocon, or elsewhere in the province. However, the four victims feel anxious about reporting to the proper authorities for documentation and medical attention because the company bans them from passing through the company’s numerous checkpoints.

On June 13, fifty families near the open cut mining pit of TVI staged a vigil to guard their respective residences from any act of demolition by the company’s SCAA. Because of the vigil the company’s bulldozer operator failed to move the equipment towards the residences.

But on June 17, TVI - using large numbers of SCAA - bulldozed the farm-plants of the farmers, such as root crops, bananas and other farm durable plants. On this date, two staff of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) Cagayan de Oro office, the team leader, Carl Ceasar Rebutta, and Zherwinah Mosqueda, a paralegal officer, were to visit Canatuan.

When they arrived the company’s SCAA officer was initially instructed not to allow them to enter area of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), but then relented. But this was after people distinctly heard the instructing voice talking to the relevant office over the handheld radio say that "if they are from the LRC, do not let them enter the MPSA area, and ask them where they are going and for what purpose".

The SCAA forces of TVI have monitored the movement of the two LRC staff by keeping members of its forces close to the residence of Timuay Tii, which is close to Canatuan, but outside of the MPSA.

The two LRC personnel felt highly restricted in their work with the community, and decided to go back to R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay. The family of Timuay Lino Tii accompanied them to R.T. Lim, but when they returned home, the company’s SCAA held them for an hour at the checkpoint before allowing them to pass, because "they had received guests".

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