MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Indigenous community harassed after more violence at the Didipio mine

Published by MAC on 2009-09-29

Despite making numerous complaints, both nationally and internationally, the besieged community at Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, in the Philippines continues to suffer violence and intimidation.

On September 20th, the killing of a company security guard by unidentified assailants has led to the further harassment of anti-mining activists.

A general urgent action on the situation has been released by Cultural Survival and Global Response - it can be be viewed at: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/news/article/didipio-mine-threatens-our-lands-homes-rivers-and-rights.

Indigenous peoples denounce illegal searches of homes by security forces of OceanaGold

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK) - Luzon Press Release

25 September 2009

Nueva Vizcaya -- An alarming situation continues in the upland village of Didipio, in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, where Ifugao indigenous peoples live. Homes of Ifugaos known for their anti-mining sentiments were searched without warrants by security personnel of a mining company.

The illegal search came after the death of a security guard of OceanaGold Philippines mining company. The security guard was shot dead last Sunday by still unidentified assailants. The security personnel searched the houses of indigenous peoples in the vicinity of the crime and were quick to accuse Alex Simungo and his brother-in-law who live nearby. Simungo is an active member of Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA), a known organization resisting mining in Didipio.

The security forces were also reportedly considering to include as suspects the owners of the four (4) houses they demolished in July and August without any court order and relocation for the victims. In July 2008, the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the demolition activities of OceanaGold saying “that the demolition was tainted with irregularity and contrary to law.” OceanaGold’s demolition activities that started since December 2007 were also marred with shooting incidents inflicting injuries to lives and property of Didipio residents.

The Commission on Human Rights vowed to investigate the spate of violence in Didipio based on the report they received in July 2008. The residents of Didipio led by DESAMA called the attention of Chairperson Leila De Lima yesterday with regards to the troubles they face on the continued presence of the mining company and its security personnel that has complete disregard to human rights. The message was relayed by their partner organisation Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils), a legal research and policy advocacy institution focusing on issues and concerns of indigenous peoples.

In its petition to CHR, DESAMA reiterated its call to the national government to protect them and punish OceanaGold for its notorious business conduct in dealing with the indigenous residents of Didipio.

According to Manang Carmen Ananayo, a village official and secretary of DESAMA, “The unabated harassments and violations perpetuated by the mining company and its security forces in our village needs to be stopped so that we can live peacefully again.”

These illegal searches and baseless accusation by the mining company is the latest string of harrassment against the indigenous residents of Didipio. Last September 21, 2009, Mayor Romeo Tayaban of Kasibu, Neuva Vizcaya went to Didipio with his council members and confronted the officials of OceanaGold for blocking the access roads that farmer indigenous peoples are complaining.

“By blocking the access roads, OceanaGold is basically depriving us of our livelihood. We could not transport our farm products to the center of Didipio and then to downtown markets. We have been complaining about this since last year.” Ananayo added

In support of this call, Ronald A. Gregorio of LRC-KsK Luzon Office asserted, "The violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples in Didipio by OceanaGold are clear indications of the true nature of this mining company. It is of paramount importance that the state protects its citizens from OceanaGold."

For additional information please contact Ronald A. Gregorio, +632 926 4409; +632 434 4079; ronald.gregorio@lrcksk.org; gerry.arances@lrcksk.org; luzon.lrc@gmail.com.

--
Ronald A. Gregorio
Team Leader
LRC Luzon Regional Office
41-B Mapagsangguni St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 926 4409
Fax: +63 2 434 4079
email: lrc.luzon@lrcksk.org
blog: lrcluzon.multiply.com


CHR asked to probe alleged abusive acts of mining firm

By ELLALYN B. DE VERA

Manila Bulletin

25 September 2009

An association representing indigenous peoples (IPs) in Nueva Vizcaya called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate alleged incidents of residents of Dipidio town being harassed by security men of mining firms.

The Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA), a local organization composed of Ifugaos, asked CHR chairperson Leila De Lima to investigate the alleged illegal search of their houses by security personnel of mining firm OceanaGold Philippines operating in Didipio.

In a petition submitted to the CHR last Thursday, DESAMA reiterated its call to the national government to protect the IPs and reprimand the mining firm “for its notorious business conduct in dealing with the indigenous residents of Didipio.”

“Homes of Ifugaos known for their anti-mining sentiments were searched without warrants by security personnel of a mining company,” DESAMA said in a press statement.

The group claimed the illegal search came after a security guard of OceanaGold was shot dead last Sunday by still unidentified assailants

It said the security personnel searched the houses of indigenous peoples in the vicinity of the crime.

It said Alex Simungo, a member of the DESAMA, and his brother-in-law, who are living nearby the place of incident, were accused of the crime.

“The security forces were also reportedly considering to include as suspects the owners of the four houses they demolished in July and August without any court order and relocation for the victims,” DESAMA said.

The group noted that in July 2008, the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the demolition activities of OceanaGold saying that “the demolition was tainted with irregularity and contrary to law.”

The group also claimed that OceanaGold’s demolition activities, which started in December, 2007, “were also marred with shooting incidents inflicting injuries to lives and property of Didipio residents.”

It said the CHR earlier committed to investigate the spate of violence in Didipio town in July, 2008.

The group renewed its call last Thursday for the investigation of continuing mining activities and reports of abusive security personnel.

DESAMA’s call was echoed by partner organization Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center -- Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils), a legal research and policy advocacy institution focusing on issues and concerns of indigenous peoples.

“The unabated harassment and violations perpetuated by the mining company and its security forces in our village needs to be stopped so that we can live peacefully again,” DESAMA village official Carmen Ananayo said.

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