By MERING DASON
BONTOC, Mountain Province — Representatives from the different municipalities of Mountain Province stood united against the operation of large scale mining in their province in a forum on the mining and human rights situation.
Two hundred delegates from the nine municipalities of the province and their local government officials and representatives from the business, church, women, youth and peoples organizations agreed that mining is destructive to their communities.
The delegates came up with a position paper expressing their opposition to the destruction wrought by large scale mining which is addressed to and copies of which will be sent to appropriate government agencies and officials for due action.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)-Mountain Province, the federation of sectoral organizations of indigenous peoples in the province maintained that large scale mining violates indigenous peoples rights.
Loreta Yocogan of CPA reiterated that mining operations should not be allowed in indigenous communities because aside from being destructive it does not respect the rights of indigenous peoples over their territories.
She added that the approval of the law that opened the province and the Philippines to multi national mining companies did not follow the procedures of consultations with affected communities.
Yocogan added that areas covered by mining applications are also heavily militarized. She explained that military and paramilitary forces set up their detatchment in communities covered by mining applications especially in areas where community opposition is strong.
She added that human rights violations against residents, especially among women and children, were recorded in areas where state military forces are encamped and frequently visit.
Mountain Province Governor Loenard Mayaen, who also attended the forum expressed his opposition to large scale mining saying that it is not socially viable. He, however, said he will support small scale mining (SSM).
A joint resolution opposing the large scale mining operations in their areas was drafted by the local government units of Sagada, Bauko, Tadian and Sabangan.
Moreover, farmers claimed they are most affected by the operations of large scale mining as they are the ones who work the soil. They assert that mining operations destroy the soil and water sources.
According to CPA data, Mountain Province is covered with overlapping mine applications. Some applicants applied for the same application under different names to confuse people.
The same data show that this year, three companies namely Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CEXI) a subsidiary of Anglo-American covering Tadian, Sagada, and Bauko; Mt. Franz Company covering Tadian, Bauko, Sabangan, Sagada, Besao; and Horizons Resources Corp covering Bontoc and Sadanga; were added to the string of supposed “investors” .
In their position paper, the participants to the forum also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The said forum was held at the Ridgebrook Hotel in Samoki, Bontoc on December 7. # nordis.net