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March 31, 2008

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Baay Licuan Communities Step Up Fight Vs. Olympus Mines in Abra

Binongan indigenous communities in Baay-Licuan, Abra province stepped up their opposition to the operations of Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals.

Olympus was found to have violated the indigenous communities right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), according to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Olympus conducted exploration activities in Capcapo, part of the Binongan peoples' ancestral domain, without securing their FPIC. Olympus has locally partnered with Abra Mining and Industrial Co. (AMIC) and Jabel Mining.
A tide of petitions has come from the affected communities reiterating that from the start, they never agreed to any exploration activity in Capcapo, where Olympus has started drilling in February 2007. Despite community opposition supported by petitions given to the NCIP regional office in March and July 2007, Olympus carried on drilling and only stopped when NCIP-CAR ordered it on August 30, 2007

The said report qualifies that Olympus has grossly violated the rights of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain and failed to comply with the requirements under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) or RA 8371 and NCIP Administrative Order No.1, S. 2006.

The indigenous communities have organized themselves into Baay Licuan Intay Salakniban (BLIS ) and Baay Licuan Takderan Omnu a Karbengan (Balitok) while sustaining their campaign against Olympus and the entry of other large mines in their territories.

Meanwhile, Olympus is complying with requirements of the FPIC process as a result of the protests. It is set to consult in the following barangays of Baay Licuan from April 1-19: Lenneng, Bunglo, Poblacion, Caoayan, Dominglay, Mogao, Bulbulala, Tumalip, Nalbuan,and Subagan.

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Secretary General Windel Bolinget maintains that Olympus should already desist from further activities in the area as the communities have already concretely stated their opposition to the project.
"The CPA will continue to support the Baay Licuan communities in their struggle to defend their ancestral domain from destructive projects," he said.

Also, CPA staff and community leaders in Brgy. Poblacion doing ground preparations for the 24th Cordillera Day reported cases of harassment from elements of the 41st IB as they are maliciously tagged as members of the New People's Army (NPA). "Branding organizations and community leaders as NPAs makes them open targets of the AFP, giving them a license to attack and violate the rights of civilians and communities whose activities and opposition to defend their lives, ancestral domain and resources is but just and legitimate," Bolinget ended.# AT Bengwayan/Cordillera Peoples Alliance Public Information Commission

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