By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Members of the Gubang tribe of Bangilo, Malibcong municipality, Abra expressed their dissent to large-scale mining (LSM) exploration in their ancestral domain and call to the rest of Filipinos to do the same and condemn such attempts.
In a statement jointly signed by the residents of Barangays Umnap, Buanao and Lat-ey, they said as indigenous people whose very existence and survival are in oneness with the land, they will not allow any corporation to exploit their mineral resource and place their domain under foreign control.
“Our lesson from the intrusion of Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC) which has been allowed a logging concession in their municipal domain in the 1980′s stands today as an experience of being in constant fear and constant precarious-state due to the threat over our very existence and way of life,” the statement stressed.
Barely a year after Martial Law was declared by then dictator Ferdinand Marcos, CRC owned by the Marcos crony Herminio T. Dissini was awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR that time) with a Timber and Pulpwood License Agreement (TPLA) which covered around 99, 565 hectares of pine forests in Abra, Kalinga and Apayao.
CRC began its full blast operations in the late 70′s scraping large areas of North Abra and nearby mountains of pine trees. For this, people from the communities especially Bangilo and supporters formed a wide anti-CRC opposition. Many of them even opted to join the higher form of resistance by joining the armed struggle led by the New Peoples Army (NPA).
The members of the Gubang tribe also stated that for the same reason as in opposing the entry of the CRC, they commit themselves to their steadfast stand and declare their strongest opposition and resistance to any LSM exploration.
In their statement, they presented the following reasons for such: that they are aware of the three phases of LSM operations from exploration, exploitation and rehabilitation; LSM corporations risk the investment of hefty amounts of money for exploration, a venture that may generate maximum profit not for the community but for the investors leaving future generations deprived of the rich natural resources which their forefathers fought for; the potential destruction to the environment that will bring irreversible damage to the way of life, and may result to the collapse of their culture; any promise of development by LSM corporations is not sustainable.
While short-lived benefits may be derived from LSM, the need of the future generation is compromised; and they are entitled to a full use of their natural resources through their own methods in their own time while keeping in mind their children.
“We are not going to do a disservice to the future generation by allowing our wealth to be stashed away by foreign agents while being left with a pittance out of their generosity,” the statement added.
The tribe members demand sincere recognition of their constitutional rights to life and property which the State vows to uphold and respect. They also reiterated their rights as indigenous peoples as mandated in the Indigenous and Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
They urged also President Benigno Aquino III to demonstrate his moral leadership by spearheading the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 which they said is the license of mining corporations to invade Philippine patrimony.
“We ask our local government leaders to keep in mind the future IP constituents in Abra,” the statement ended. # nordis.net