July 26, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
SAGADA, Mountain Province — People from three municipalities of this province oppose the exploration of a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC mining company in their communities.
In a statement issued by different organizations and individuals led by the Cordillera People’s Alliance-Mountain Province (CPA-MP), they stated that the Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. (CEXI) applied for an exploration permit covering 1,872.50 hectares within the ancestral domain of the nine barangays of Bauko, two barangays of Tadian and one barangay of Sagada.
The said applied areas include Barangay Ambasing, Sagada; Barangays Sumadel and Duagan of Tadian; Guinzadan Norte, Guinzadan Sur, Tapapan, Lesseb, Sadsadan, Mabaay, Bangnen Oriente, Bangnen Proper and Bila of Bauko.
“ Nan maapektaran et baken laeng nan barangays ay covered sin explorasyon no di ket pati nan asideg da ay barangays” (this affects not only the barangays covered by the area of exploration but all nearby barangays as well), the statement said.
CEXI filed an application at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as early as October 6, 1997. CEXI is a subsidiary of the largest transnational mining company in the world, Anglo American PLC.
Anglo American has another subsidiary applying for mining permits, the Northern Luzon Exploration and Mining Co. Inc. At least three of Anglo-American’s pet projects are included in the 24 Priority Mining Projects of the Arroyo administration, namely the Boyongan Copper Project in Surigao del Norte (expected to have been into full commercial operations in 2009), the Padcal Copper Extension Project in Tuba, Benguet with Philex Mining Corporation (expected to have been in full commercial operations in 2007) and the Conner Copper Gold Project in Apayao and Kalinga provinces by CEXI.
Opposition to large scale mining has been championed by the Cordillera People’s Alliance. In Baguio, CPA deputy secretary Santos Mero, an Ibaloi, warned of Anglo-American’s notorious record as a mining company.
Mero hails from Itogon, Benguet, a town where Benguet Corporation (BC), Philex Mines, and several other mining firms operated open pit and strip mining for the past 100 years.
“Anglo-American violated the rights of its cheap labor force in South African mining communities by paying them the world’s lowest wages and housing them in barracks comparable to prison camps of the 1800s.
In 2005, the Canada Commission for Environmental Cooperation named Anglo-American a main toxic lead polluter throughout North America. Its operations killed crops and contaminated water sources in Venezuela, and displaced the population and ruined the local Church in Tabaco, Columbia, where the largest coal strip mine in the regions lies,” Mero said.
“We learned of the notorious human rights and environmental track record of the Anglo American in South Africa and Latin America. We surely do not want this to happen in the Philippines, particularly in the Cordillera. Certainly, we do not want Anglo-American to unleash its greed for profit and duplicate the same health hazards, human rights violations, anti-labor practices, and environmental destruction here,” Mero stressed.
Cordillera Exploration Co. Inc. also applied for exploration permits in Baay-Licuan, Malibcong, Daguioman, Abra; Balbalan, Kalinga for a toral of 15,880 hectares.
The Mt Province statement said that the municipal officials of the affected municipalities were informed on the exploration application only on the first week of June 2010 when notifications on the application were posted.
No community consultations were ever conducted to get the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the people. As integrated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of the Philippines, FPIC is a must for every mining firm before any explorations and operations will be conducted. It is also a responsibility of every country to strictly implement these rulings as written in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Meanwhile, the secretary to the mayor of Tadian Benny Likwet said the Sangguniang Bayan registered their vehement opposition to the exploration with a resolution. According to the Barangay Captain of Ambasing, the community together with other folks from the nearby barangays of Sagada are against the entry of any mining related activities in their places.
Bauko Mayor Simon Lacwasan said the exploration is considered a disaster thus he directed the municipal disaster coordinating committee to take charge in sustaining the opposition.
According to the statement, the exploration by CEXI will destroy the water supply going to the households as well as the irrigation system, it will also worsen the landslides and land subsidence and the resources of the people will be very much affected if not totally disappear. As with any mining exploration, the statement reiterated would be the start of a bigger mining operation.
The opposing groups further said that the exploration and any mining operation in the area will destroy scenic tourists spots in the province and the tourism industry will be greatly affected.
“Nan esa, no isnan Montanyosa, no into nan kad-an di mining ken exploration application, siya gedan nan kad-an nan military (Other than that, here in Montañosa, wherever there is mining and explorations, is where the military is), the statement said.
The CPA-MP said it seems this is a continuity of the programs of the old regimes as the application was filed in 1997 and now the new administration is bringing it back.
The statement stressed that they will not allow any exploration and big mining companies to enter their community. The groups asked the MGB not to approve the application of CEXI. They also urged the local government units not to endorse the application but instead take a strong stand opposing the entry of CEXI – Anglo American. They also asked the support of the different churches in the province, civic organizations, institutions and the rest of the people of the Mountain Province.
“Karbengan kas nainsigudan ay umili ay mangi-assert isnan karbengan mi mangsalaknib isnan tawid mi ay daga ta adi madadael para isnan sumaruno kapututan (We as indigenous peoples should assert our rights to protect our ancestral land from destruction as a heritage for the next generations), the statement ended.# nordis.net