As GMA ups mining agenda: Igorots
picket Asia Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibit 2005
CITY (October 12) — Donned in their tapis and baag, Cordillera
indigenous peoples picketed the Asia Pacific Mining Conference and
2005 Exhibit at the Shangrila Hotel in Makati on October 11, on
a gathering of international mining corporations, graced herself
by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Apit-Tako (Peasant Alliance
in the Cordillera Homeland), Mankayan-Quirino-Tadian-Cervantes Danggayan
a Gunglo (an alliance of communities along the Abra River), Lepanto
Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU, the Metro Baguio Tribal Elders/Leaders
Assembly, Save Apayao Peoples Organization and CPA-Kalinga, trooped
to the conference, to condemn the GMA administration’s relentless
mining policy agenda and its impacts to indigenous peoples’
collective rights and their ancestral lands.
a reliable puppet and driving force of imperialist impositions,
the GMA regime has embarked on a policy to revitalize the mining
industry in the context of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, said
CPA Secretary General Windel Bolinget.
As of March
2005, 11 Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) covering
879,886.95 of Cordillera land was applied for, according to the
Mines and Geosciences Bureau-CAR.
think-tank IBON reports that mining investments soared from the
months of January to September 2005 amounting to $345 million, raked
in through mining firms Coral Bay (Palawan Nickel Project), Lafayette
Philippines Inc. (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project), Australasian
Philippines Mining Inc. (Didipio Copper-Gold Project), TVI Resources
(Canatuan Gold Project), Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (Far
Southeast Gold Project), Filmenera Resources (Masbate Gold Project)
and Eagle Cement Corporation (Akle Cement Project).
Joan Carling said that the entry of corporate mining in indigenous
peoples’ lands is a clear form of development aggression and
national oppression among IPs.
to claims for its development contributions and for economic progress,
affected indigenous communities have become more impoverished and
deprived of their land and resource which is the material base of
their culture and distinct lifestyle”, she said.
Kankanaey elder Simplicio Sicwan attested to this when he retold
their struggle against Benguet Corporation’s (BC) open-pit
mining from 1989 to 1997 in Itogon, Benguet. Lakay (elder) Simplicio
hails from the northern town of Bakun before settling in Itogon.
very destruction that BC caused our lands in Itogon is why we continue
to fight for our right to land and resources”, he said. He
continued to share the current struggle of the Itogon folk against
the Bulk Water Supply Project (BWSP), whose proponent is still the
BC. “Benguet Corporation has taken away our lands, now it
wants to take away our water… I am a no-read no-write person,
but whenever the City Hall conducts public hearings on the BWSP,
I do not let that hinder me from participating to guard my rights”,
from Didipio Valley in Nueva Vizcaya joined the picket, along with
farmers from Cagayan Valley, and member organizations under Defend
Patrimony. Government has approved the first 100%-owend commercial
mining production of Australia-based Climax-Arimco which will operate
in Didipio, covering 21,465 hectares of land.
10, Defend Patrimony, of which the CPA is a member organization,
held a press conference and a forum in Quezon City on the people’s
continuing fight against corporate mining. Aside from the Cordillera
mining situation, testimonies were delivered by representatives
of LEU, SAPO, and MACQUITACDG on the alleged corporate and social
responsibilities of large-scale mining.
and shield-wielding elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
led by Col. Sumulong and Col. Napoles did not discourage the picketers
from a program, despite repeated threats of dispersal from the police.
Congressman Joel Virador joined the picketers and called on the
GMA administration to heed the people’s call against destructive
mining projects. Virador was the keynote speaker in 21st Cordillera
Day celebrations in Bangilo, Malibcong, Abra province.
the nationwide call for GMA’s ouster, the same demand was
echoed at the close of the program to the resounding beat of gongs.
*** at bengwayan