Philippines: indigenous peoples, environmentalists ejected from mining conference
A group of indigenous peoples and environment activists staged protest at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel in Pasay City where a conference of mining investors was being held. Members of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment led the protest.
The protesters were ‘pushed out’ of the hotel lobby by security. The hotel security forcibly took the protesters’ placards and manhandled the protesters. “We are killed, mauled, harassed, and threatened in the grounds. This is nothing compared to the extent of human rights abuse we suffer because of mining,” Piya Malayao, KAMP spokeperson said.
The groups protested about mining transnational corporations that cause environmental destruction and rights violations against indigenous communities. According to KAMP, 1 million hectares of Philippine mineral lands are sold off to mining corporations, and 60% of these are ancestral territories.
“They are trading our ancestral lands and our resources inside that building,” Malayao added. “We will not stand by while they talk about selling or lands, our life.”
The group is joined by community members of the Yabbi town in Nueva Vizcaya, where Australian mining company Royalco Mining Incorporated are pushing for mining development.
“All the big shots in the mining industry are there, including government representatives, it’s high time they heed our voice.”
‘Not anti-mining, but mining for the People’
The group called for the immediate scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. “We believe that mining is essential for development, but the sort of mining that the Mining Act espouses is contrary to the rights and development of the people. It serves mining corporations solely,” Malayao explained.
Even indigenous peoples are miners, Malayao said. “We are not anti-mining. Small-scale mining is a traditional and community-based activity in indigenous communities. This is far from the destructive and plundering mining that the Aquino government endorses.”
President Aquino recently flaunted mining contracts set with Chinese mining investors during his State visit to China, and expects more investments in the mining sector. “Aquino should be ashamed. While the people are being exploited, abused, and killed by mining corporations, he has the audacity to sell off more of our minerals. He does not serve the interests of the Filipino people.”#
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