DAVAO City, May 14, 2015—Representing the majority of Mindanao’s 18 ethnolinguistic groups, the largest alliance of indigenous peoples (IP) in the region has dismissed anew the claim that mining brings prosperity, and pushed for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
“The bias for the unbridled extraction of mineral wealth by multinational corporations has only fuelled violence in the communities and brought unspeakable destruction to the environment. The so-called benefits of mining are just but myths created by those who want to control the exploitation and utilization of our natural resources,” shares the Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) in a recent statement.
People’s Mining Bill
Given this reason, Dulphing B. Ogan, KALUMARAN secretary-general, says the IP coalition and other other militant and progressive organizations call for the enactment of the “People’s Mining Bill.”
Authored by the Makabayan bloc in Congress, the bill, explains Ogan, seeks to “reorient the mining industry towards a rational manner for national industrialization and local development within a framework which upholds social justice, respect for people’s rights and welfare, environmental conservation, and the defense of national sovereignty and patrimony.”
However, KALUMARAN predicts the political pressures that will be coming from the national government and mining companies in an effort to strike down the ordinance the Davao City Council had passed banning mining in the area.
“President Aquino [PNoy] will invoke Executive Order 79 to subvert local autonomy; Albertos Gold Corp. and Penson Corp. will surely mobilize their lobby machineries. These two United States-based mining companies are eyeing to explore some 17,000 hectares in Paquibato District which is home to indigenous peoples,” laments Ogan.
He expresses assurance that KALUMARAN will stand firm in its conviction to uphold the people’s constitutional right for a balanced and healthful ecology, and calls on the people of Davao to continue their vigilance and defence of their hard-earned victory.
“Let us not allow self-serving policy imposition to clip the power of the people to determine their appropriate local economic development,” Ogan adds.
Meanwhile, in an earlier CBCP News post, Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA/Caritas Philippines), and a vocal opponent of mining in the country, particularly in Mindoro, criticized the Aquino government for allegedly favoring mining firm Intex in reinstating its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for its Mindoro Nickel Project, denouncing the act as no less than a “betrayal to the people of Mindoro and their natural resources.”
“We will not let this betrayal extinguish our fire of passion to protect our lands and mountains against corporate greed, pursued in collusion with our own government,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)