By RENDILYN CUYOP
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) challenges incoming government officials to push for the passage of the People’s Mining Act to address the long-standing infractions committed by big mining operations in the Cordilleras.
The People’s Mining Act of 2011 or House Bill (HB) 4315 primarily seeks to reorient the country’s mining industry for domestic management and utilization of minerals and profits that is not at the benefit of local communities. HB 4315 was proposed as an alternative to the existing Mining Act of 1995 which has been proven to be flawed and was even used to cause environmental damage, militarization of communities and human rights violations.
“By bringing in these big mining corporations, there are communities displaced because of the destruction of the waters and lands which are their basic sources of living,” CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget said.
Cordillera, with its population mainly composed of indigenous peoples (IP), is also one of the regions with the highest concentration of operating mines. According to Bolinget, local chief executives should help stop development aggression, including destructive energy projects that are detrimental to the environment. “We are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of these operations instead of benefitting from the profits made from our resources,” he added.
“The mineral resources in ancestral domains should benefit primarily the people in that locality, not only the select few who control the operations,” Bolinget said. He emphasized the need for this Act because it adheres to the IP’s call for self-determination.
CPA plans to present the Indigenous Peoples Agenda to incoming President Rodrigo Duterte which includes a call for Duterte to address the problems posed by environmentally destructive projects like large-scale mining and enable indigenous communities to develop their own plans for their ancestral domains. Locally, CPA asked for those elected to listen to their constituents and their demands. They called for the prioritization of social services and demilitarization of communities.
“The challenge is for government officials to support policies that push for national development and self-sufficiency as it is the clamor of their constituency,” says Bolinget.
HB 4315 was filed in the 15th congress by representatives of progressive party lists under the Makabayan Coalition, and is still pending with the committee on natural resources. Bolinget emphasized that the passing of the bill is a recognition of the indigenous people’s right to their ancestral lands and territories. # nordis.net