MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines Environmental Group decries conflict sown by foreign mining companies in Indigenous Communities

Published by MAC on 2008-07-14

Decrying the divisive effect on many indigenous and farmer communities of the influx of transnational mining companies in the region, environmentalist group PANALIPDAN! - Southern Mindanao Region re-echoed the call for the stop of foreign-funded mining operations and pointed the blame at the controversial Mining Law which allows 100% foreign ownership of mining operations in the country.

PANALIPDAN! - SMR is concerned about the conflict arising between indigenous communities in Governor Generoso, San Isidro and Mati in the province of Davao Oriental affected by the intensifying brawl between Asiaticus Mining Corporation and mining giant BHP Billiton that has
initially promised to invest US $ 1.6 Billion by 2019 upon the president's invitation.

"The people, especially indigenous communities are pit against each other as they are deluded by the promises of mining companies such as basic social services that in the first place should be provided by the government," Fr. Medardo Salomia, vice-chairperson of PANALIPDAN - SMR.

He added, "Unknowing of the hazards posed by large-scale mining operations on their health, environment and most especially on their ancestral land rights, indigenous communities are lured into agreeing to mining operations hoping for some food on their table or education for their children as these mining companies promise, only to find out later that these are but in vain."

Fr. Salomia cited the case of the Lumad communities in Tamapakan, South Cotobato where the controversial Sagitarius Mines Inc. operate despite the peoples' opposition as well as the farmer communities in Marinduque in Southern Luzon wherein Marcopper's tailing's dam breakage has destroyed acres of lakes, rice and vegetable farmlands.

Fr. Salomia also lamented the current chaos wrought by the sweetheart mining deal between ZTE and Malacanang.

"With the ZTE broadband deal still unresolved, it was completely callous for the government to clandestinely enter into an agreement with ZTE which is now threatening those involved in small-scale mining industry in Diwalwal," Fr. Salomia said.

PANALIPDAN! - SMR henceforth called for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or RA 7942 which it scored as anti-Filipino,
unconstitutional and facilitates the massive plunder of the country's natural wealth.

It also said the law negates the concept of national development and poses grave environmental and resource peril to the people.

"The government should initiate development programs geared towards the nationalization of vital industries such as mining, dams and energy because the so-called "development" programs are designed now, it is clear that this government only has its loot and the foreign investor's loot in mind," Salomia expressed. >

Fr. Medardo Salomia
Media Desk: 0929-472-5250 (Paul)

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