MAC: Mines and Communities

Action Alert: help protest violation of Binongan Indigenous Peoples Rights in Philippines

Published by MAC on 2008-04-20
Protesting communities now militarised

Statement and Appeal from the Cordillera Poples Alliance, Philippines

18th April 2008

The Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Binongan indigenous peoples in Baay-Licuan, Abra Philippines, was grossly violated by Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals for not securing such prior to exploration and drilling in the indigenous peoples' ancestral domain at Capcapo mountain.

Now, the communities opposing Olympus are militarised with the presence of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Olympus and its local conduits AMIC and Jabel continued the exploration despite petitions filed by the communities as early as March 2007[i] . Olympus only stopped its operations in August 2007 when the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-CAR told them to defer all exploration activities. Also, there was no FPIC process conducted with the communities as they had no prior knowledge that there was a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) approved and issued to the local subsidiaries in April 1998.

Even the NCIP-CAR and NCIP-Abra's investigation findings[ii] state that indeed, Olympus Mines has "grossly violated the rights of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain (Capcapo) and failed to comply with the requirements under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and NCIP AO No.1, S. 2006."

The affected communities are stepping up their opposition with the continuing submission of petitions since March 2007 to the NCIP regional and provincial offices and local government units. As a result of the community complaints, Olympus was initially making haste to comply with the FPIC requirements thru consultations with the concerned barangays, but this was temporarily suspended as a result of the sustained opposition.

Mining and Militarization

With the presence of Olympus is the 41st Infantry Battalion in barrios adjacent and near Capcapo since January 2008. In Poblacion for instance, the Bravo and Charlie companies of the 41st IB have camped right under the houses of residents, sowing fear and terror in the community and putting at risk the security and safety of the communities. The spokesperson of the 41 st IB has denied that there presence has to do with securing mining interests of Olympus and cited that their presence is related to "regular Internal operations against the CPP/NPA/NDF". In line with this, they have maliciously tagged members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its provincial chapter, KASTAN-CPA Abra and the host community for Cordillera Day 2008 BALITOK, who are in Baay-Licuan for Cordillera Day 2008 ground preparations, as members of the New People's Army (NPA).

Branding these organizations and community leaders as NPAs put them as open targets and enemies of the state thereby giving the AFP license to attack and violate the rights of civilians and communities whose activities and opposition to defend their ancestral land, life and resources are just and legitimate.

BALITOK (Baay Licuan Takderan Omnu a Karbengan) is locally hosting Cordillera Day 2008, aptly themed *Resist Mining Plunder and State Terrorism.

Baay Licuan is composed of 11 barangays. It is part of the ancestral domain of the Binongan IPs in Abra. Being an ancestral domain, the indigenous communities have taken care of and developed the land, which gives them life and nourishes every generation. Olympus' operations will permanently destroy these including the lives of generations it has sustained.

Background: AMIC and Jabel

Olympus entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with AMIC and Jabel on November 23, 2006 over the 4, 300-hectare Capcapo project. AMIC and Jabel have mining claims in Baay Licuan MPSA (Mineral Sharing and Production Agreement) 144-99-CAR and 141-99-CAR. These mining claims[iii] were among those anomalously certified by the NCIP in April 1998 and consequently approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) along with seven others (Lepanto Mining, Philex, Discovery, Horizon Mineral and Oil Corp and Itogon Suyoc Mines), on the unfounded basis that there are no issued or pending applications for ancestral land and domain claims and titles, insinuating there are no indigenous peoples or they are not entitled to their inherent democratic rights as IPs with the absence of these claims or titles in these areas.

The CPA has long exposed and contested these certifications that blatantly and consciously violated indigenous peoples' inherent right to FPIC, ancestral lands and self determination. The NCIP has not responded to this matter up to date. This also shows the injustice committed to the indigenous communities from the very start, from the mining claims of Jabel and AMIC, and now, to their joint operations with Olympus.

The case of a transnational mining company partnering with local mining companies is not new, as this has been the trend in other areas in the region in the mining industry such as UK-based Anglo American and Cordillera Exploration in Apayao and US-based Phelps Dodge and Makilala Mining in Kalinga.

Take Action!

We call on the public to support the indigenous peoples of Baay-Licuan in their fight to protect their land and resources, not just for the present, but for the coming generations and for the rest of the province of Abra. The Philippine government must uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which it is a signatory. By virtue of indigenous peoples' right to self determination (Art.3) and by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development; that they have the right to participate in decision-making matters that affect them (Art.18), and thus States shall cooperate to obtain their FPIC (Art.19) prior to any legislative and administrative measure that may affect them. This provision of the UNDRIP must be implemented and respected by the government and mining companies for it to be meaningful to IPs and to prove sincerity of government and Olympus of recognizing the collective rights of indigenous peoples like the Binongan indigenous peoples.

Please fill in the Letter of Concern and send to the government offices and institutions either as individuals or as an organization to support the indigenous peoples of Baay Licuan and the petitions they have earlier submitted and their continuing opposition. Our immediate action can significantly help save and protect their ancestral land, the environment, and the people themselves. Please CC all letters to cpa@cpaphils.org and : pic@cpaphils.org.

Our calls:

1. Stop the exploration and operation of Olympus Mines in Abra

2. Stop militarization of Baay-licuan and pull-out all military elements in the area

3. Revoke the MPSAs of Jabel and AMIC and cancell their MOA with Olympus

4. Respect the free, prior, and informed consent of the Baay Licuan communities

5. Respect the collective rights of Binongan indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain and self determination

6. Implement and respect the UNDRIP

Your support and solidarity is very much appreciated, as it significantly contributes to the human rights struggle of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera for the right to ancestral domain and self determination!

Thank You!

CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE




[i] As of March 15, 2007, barangays Lenneng and Poblacion already submitted their petitions to the NCIP CAR.

[ii] NCIP-Abra report to the NCIP-CAR on August 28, 2007 re Investigation and Ocular/Site Inspection Report of the Mining Activity of the Abra Mining and Industrial Corporation and its Conduit Olympus Mines at Capcapo, Licuan Baay, Abra.

[iii] Cordillera Peoples Alliance, 2002. Five of IPRA Implementation: Did it Really Serve the IPs?




Now here's how you can help: Send this Letter of Concern!

(Please insert relevant date and addressee)

LETTER OF CONCERN ON THE VIOLATION OF FPIC RIGHTS OF BINONGAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OVER THEIR ANCESTRAL DOMAIN IN BAAY LICUAN, ABRA, PHILIPPINES

Greetings!

In solidarity with the Binongan indigenous peoples of Abra province, Cordillera, Philippines, I/we hereby support their protest against Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals and its local subsidiaries Abra Industrial Mining Corporation (AMIC) and Jabel. We also express our solidarity for the defense of their ancestral land and assertion of their right to self determination as indigenous peoples as they battle against Olympus Pacific Minerals, AMIC and Jabel's entry and operations in Capcapo, Baay Licuan, Abra. These companies have blatantly violated the rights of the Binongan indigenous peoples in Baay Licuan by exploring and operating their mining project in their ancestral domain at Capcapo without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the communities and non-recognition of their collective rights over their ancestral domain and environment.

Moreover, there was no FPIC process conducted with the communities as they had no prior knowledge that there was a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) approved and issued to the local subsidiaries in April 1998.

Sustained community opposition has pushed the offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Cordillera Administrative Region and NCIP-Abra to intervene, resulting to the temporary suspension of the mining exploration/operation of Olympus. The NCIP particularly cited the violation of the communities' right to FPIC as provided in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 and its subsequent guidelines. The right to FPIC and the collective rights of indigenous peoples are fundamental human rights and, in fact, enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of which the Philippine government is a signatory.

Now, intensifying the violation of their rights is the deployment of the 41 st Infantry Batallion in the communities, sowing fear and terror therein and meant to silence the communities in their protest against Olympus and other destructive mining companies. The military have camped under residents' homes and have maliciously tagged members of peoples organizations therein, specifically the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its member organizations KASTAN-CPA Abra and BALITOK as members of the revolutionary New People's Army, making the civilians open targets to the attack of the military when in fact these legitimate organizations are but pursuing legitimate activities for their democratic rights and survival as a people.

I/we therefore call on your office to heed their particular demands to:

• Stop the exploration and operation of Olympus Mines in Abra

• Stop militarization of Baay-licuan and pull-out all military elements in the area

• Revoke the Mineral Sharing and Production Agreements (MPSA) of Jabel and AMIC and, subsequently, the cancellation of their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Olympus

• Uphold and respect the free, prior, and informed consent of the Baay Licuan communities

• Uphold and respect the collective rights of Binongan indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain and self determination

• Implement and respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of indigenous Peoples, of which the Philippine government is a signatory

Together with other individuals and organization, we look forward to your swift and positive response.

Name of Organization/Individual: Country: Address: Email:

Addresses to which to send your letters:

H. E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Republic of the Philippines Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel Commonwealth Avenue Manila, Philippines Tel: +632.564.1451 to 80 Tel: 928.5655/926.6188

Fax:+632.742.1642/929.3968 Fax: +632.929.0102

Cell: +63.919.898.4622 / +63.917.839.8462 Email: drpvq@yahoo.com

Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Sec. Jose L. Atienza Jr

Department of Environment & Natural Resources Central Office, Visayas Avenue Department of National Defense Diliman, 1100, Quezon City, Philippines

Tel: 928.06.91 to 93 loc. 2003, 2008 Email: osec@dem.gov.ph

Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488 Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

ATTY. EUGENIO A. INSIGNE Chairman National Commission on Indigenous Peoples 2nd Floor N. dela Merced Building, Hillside Square, Km. 4, La Trinidad, Quezon City, Metro Manila

Tel.: (074) 309-10-80

Telephone (63 2) 373-97-87 Fax no.: (074)422-41-73

Telefax (63 2) 373-97-65

Mr. David Seton Chairman & CEO OLYMPUS PACIFIC MINERALS INC., 500-10 King St., East Toronto, ON 118 West Avenue Canada, M5C 1C3

Ph: +1-416-572-2525 63 2 925 1605

Fx: +1-416-572-4202 63 2 925 1611

TF: +1-888-902-5522

info@olympuspacific.com

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