KATRIBU PARTYLIST Release
MANILA — The indigenous peoples’ organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and indigenous peoples party, KATRIBU Partylist picketed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), demanding the revocation of mining permits especially in ancestral lands.
DENR secretary Ramon Paje announced during the National Mine Environment Conference held in Baguio City last Saturday that President Noynoy Aquino “supports mining” but is tiptoeing in issues of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) process enshrined in the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371.) The FPIC process requires mining companies to secure community’s permission before exploring ancestral domains.
“Mere consent is not what we are seeking. We demand genuine respect for our rights to land and resources,” Piya Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said.
KAMP says that the FPIC process alone will not suffice in protecting indigenous peoples rights. “Our rights encompass not only the economic, but cultural, social and political concerns as well,” Malayao stressed.
“The little acknowledge-ment that Aquino regards the indigenous peoples is demeaning to the centuries of struggle of our people. To merely ‘study’ the FPIC process is way below the mark. Our communities are being ravaged, militarized, and our people have been killed in favor of mining interests. We demand no less than a revocation of mining permits in indigenous communities resisting mining plunder,” Malayao added.
Malayao is a young Bontoc Igorot.
People’s Mining Bill
The 1,700-strong Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) in the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC) in Man-kayan, Benguet has filed a notice of strike after the company notified 140 workers that they are laid-off by December 2.
“Unjust labor practices and the Mining Act of 1995 is a lethal combination for mine workers and affected communities, as manifested in the experiences of the Lepanto mines,” Beverly Longid, president of KATRIBU Partylist said.
The 70 year-old Lepanto mines is the oldest in the country, and employs 1, 875 mine workers. Aside from labor quandaries and mine safety, LCMC is also criticized because of environmental disasters attributed to the protracted mine operations such as landslides, subsidence, and poisoning of land and water resources.
KATRIBU Partylist has pushed for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995. “A mining law that recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights and geared towards national industrialization should be passed,” Longid shared. “KATRIBU has been working towards the creation of the People’s Mining Bill,” she added.
Trodding the beaten path
KAMP believes that Aquino’s appreciation of mining’s alleged contribution to the country’s GDP during the Arroyo administration is a dangerous indicator.
“President Aquino praised the past administration’s ‘achievements’ in the mining sector, notwithstanding the tremendous negative environmental and social impacts of large-scale mines to communities. Accompanied by militarization, corporate mining caused the largest distress among indigenous peoples during Arroyo’s term,” Malayao added. KAMP believes that mining has provided no real contribution to the country’s economy, because the industry is mainly extractive.
According to KAMP research, there are around 55 mining explorations, sharing agreements, processing permits and other mining agreements approved in 2010 alone. Under the 5-month old Aquino presidency, 24, 316.70 has. of mineral lands were given to mining exploration.
“Aquino has been turning a deaf ear to the people’s most crucial demands. So far, we see no departure from Arroyo’s hated regime particularly on indigenous peoples’ issues,” Malayao declared. “His sponsorship of ‘public-private partnerships’ and the speeding up of mining applications is resonant of Arroyo’s Mining Revitalization Program, that ravaged the nation’s natural resources and denied many indigenous communities of their rights to ancestral lands, Malayao concluded. # nordis.net