Philippines: Northern folk barrage mining companies in the Metro
Three hundred people coming from different Northern provinces trooped to mining corporations’ offices in Manila to protest the violations of people’s rights in connection to the inrush of mining projects in the Northern regions.
The group, led by Amianan, Salakniban! (Defend the North), Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and green group Kalikasan-PNE, went around the capital and staged protests in front of the offices of the Chamber of Mines, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation, Coolabah Mining Corporation, Red Earth Mining Corporation and Lasseter Mining Corporation.
The mining companies barraged by the groups are among those that have mining applications and operations in the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley and Pampanga. According to KAMP, there are 24360.5696 hectares of offshore magnetite mining applications in Ilocos alone, while 60% of the total land area of the Cordilleras has been approved for mining applications and operations. Indigenous communities in Pampanga and Cagayan Valley also contend with the massive influx of large-scale mines.
“These people have come from Northern provinces, as far as Cagayan Valley, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, and the Cordilleras. Clearly, large-scale and foreign dominated mining operations in the Philippines are threatening the existence of many communities, especially that of indigenous peoples,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said.
The group was composed mainly of indigenous peoples from various tribes, and peasants.
Stop large-scale destructive mining
KAMP recently launched the Thousand Streamer Campaign, a streamer hanging protest against destructive large-scale mining.
“The Aquino government has accelerated the influx of mining TNCs into the country, despite pronouncements of a keener protection of the environment. Different forms of protests are ongoing, such as the Thousand Streamer Campaign. It portrays how the Filipino people are determined to protect the environment, and defend our national patrimony against plunder and destruction,” Malayao said.
The group also called for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995. “The law practically surrendered the country’s patrimony by offering so many incentives, privileges and guarantees to foreign investors: 100% ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, easement rights, water rights, timber rights and tax incentives. As long as it is in place, there is no place for people’s rights in the mining industry,” Malayao added.
Aquino’s mining policy
A draft of Aquino’s mining policy went out in the media in mid-February, garnering ire from both ends of the mining squabble. KAMP says the draft policy intends to deceive. “We find that this is but another populist maneuvering of the Aquino government to palliate the objections of these sectors, or prevent local government units from declaring mining moratoriums. It intends to weaken the people’s resistance from the grassroots to the local government level to the wanton destruction of the environment and the plunder of our natural resources.” Malayao said.
All photos: KAMP
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