By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Indigenous peoples (IP) groups call for the passage of a mining policy that respects the rights of IPs to self-determination, to manage and develop their own resources amid the anticipated signing of a new executive mining order by President Benigno Aquino III.
Abigail Anongos, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Secretary General said IPs do not need another mining law that would further open indigenous territories to destructive large-scale mining. She said that any mining policy that reinforces the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 will further violate the IPs collective right to ancestral land and self determination.
Anongos reiterated that the Cordillera experience tells how corporate mining violated the IPs collective right to their ancestral lands and to free prior and informed consent (FPIC). She stressed that large mining displaced IPs from their lands and traditional sources of livelihood and denying them the right to ownership and control over their territories and resources. She added that such displacement from their land violates the IPs right to cultural integrity and self determination. Land is the basis of existence and identity of IPs.
“We owe it to people’s resistance that local government units decisively and categorically passed resolutions supporting people’s struggles versus large and destructive mining, who categorically banned large mining from their communities, and issued environment codes for the protection of existing or remaining resources and ecosystems. If PNoy’s mining EO were to supersede such local legislation, then this proves the myth behind PNoy’s daang matuwid and kayo ang boss ko,” said Anongos.
Anongos further stressed that what IPs really need is the realization of their right to own their ancestral land and resources and freely determine the means for self development. “We continue to urgently demand from PNoy the realization and concrete implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Agenda and not another policy that will make IPs suffer more,” she added.
Katribu Partylist President Beverly Longid called on the PNoy to make public the content of the proposed executive order on mining to allow IPs to read and analyze its content in the spirit of democracy.
Longid pointed out that IPs have forwarded to the Aquino government petitions, resolutions and the position of IPs on large-scale mining in many occasions including the IP Agenda which was submitted in 2010. “We want to see if indeed there is truth to his famous statement ‘kayo ang boss ko’,” she said.
She further said that the new mining policy should at least recognize and fully implement the IPs rights to FPIC. “In relation to this, to prevent coercion and manipulation of the FPIC, we call for the pull out of State security forces and State-backed paramilitary forces from indigenous communities especially where there are pending mining applications or in communities that the FPIC is underway,” she added.
Katribu Secretary General Kakay Tolentino in a separate statement said the proposed mining order attempts to pacify and deceive the growing anti-mining sentiments of IPs and other sectors. She added that what is needed is a mining policy that re-orients and nationalizes the current mining industry.
Tolentino further called for the passage of House Bill No. 3415 also known as the Peoples Mining Bill that is people-oriented and responsive law towards a genuine sustainable development of the country’s resources.
Teodoro B. Baguilat Jr., Ifugao Representative, in a statement reiterated that the new executive order on mining should not do away with the requirement that mining companies first secure free prior and informed consent from the indigenous peoples who will be affected by mining projects.
Baguilat, who chairs the National Cultural Communities committee of the House of Representatives, also said that there should be a clear definition of small scale mining in the awaited executive order that will define the government’s mining policy.
“For example, should heavy equipment be allowed? How about the capitalization? There should be a clear definition because there are some medium and even large mining operations that are operating in the guise of a minahang bayan,” said Baguilat.
National daily reports show that a group of governors are geared to challenge the impending executive order on mining at the Supreme Court asserting that it undermines the independence of local government units (LGU) in crafting their own policies in favor of national laws and regulation on the mining industry. The same reports also showed that there are at least 11 provincial governments with existing ordinances calling for a mining moratorium in their areas.
In the Cordillera, Mountain Province passed SP Resolution No. 2010-129 opposing the granting of permits to large-scale mining exploration and operation within the territorial jurisdiction of the province in 2010. The provincial board also passed SP Resolution No. 2011-147 which sought to inform the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Cordillera and mining companies that large scale mining exploration and operation is not allowed in the province in consideration to the clamor of the people.
Also in 2010, Benguet Board Members Johnny Waguis and Bernard Waclin filed a resolution at the provincial board for a 25 year moratorium on large scale mining in the province. # nordis.net