Apayao Folk Oppose Anglo-American Mining Firm

A mining company dangled P100,000 ($1,782.53) and employment opportunities on the poor residents, but the latter are still unwavering in their stand against its exploration. The company is still not welcome to explore the area because of the people’s sense of history.

Northern Dispatch


Conner, Apayao – The Anglo-American Platinum Corporation (PLC) is not welcome in this town in northern Philippines.

Sixty-eight people belonging to the newly-formed Save Apayao Peoples Organization united to oppose the exploration of this company which is under the Cordillera Exploration Inc., (CEXI) in this province during the Apayao Mining Forum held here from July 8 to 9.

The delegates signed a position paper stating that the impending exploration is a threat to their land and livelihood. They believe that only a few will benefit from the said exploration.

They believe that environmental conservation is a better option, rather than sacrificing it for some short-term benefits.

“Let us preserve what we have now for the future of our children.” said United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Conner chairman Jose Leguiab. “Dumayo da ditoy lugar tayo nga apan agala ti honey. Addan tu ngata dayta nu matuloy ti minas? (People come to our place to get honey. Will it still be there if the mines will push through?)”

The Anglo-American Platinum Corporation (PLC) applied for Exploration Permit Applications (EPAs) in Barangays Puguin, Karikitan, Kalafug, and Upis, all in Conner. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) conducted a series of consultations with the said barangays in April 2005, where an NCIP Certification was obtained through a Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), and an endorsement of barangay officials based on a community consensus.

Of the four barangays, Barangay Karikitan disapproved of the mining exploration. According to an elder from Karikitan who requested anonymity, “Nakaadal kami iti leksiyon iti naglabasan ti lugar mi kas koma iti napalabas nga logging a saan nga inmannatop iti dawat ti umili. Malaksid ditoy, naammoan mi dagiti napaspasamak iti dadduma nga lugar a naminas idiay asideg ti Baguio ket dagitoy ti makagapu nu apay nga iparit mi nga maminas ti lugar mi. (We learned our lesson from history, such as in logging operations that did not address the needs of our people. Aside from this, we are aware of what has happened to these mining communities near Baguio City. These are the reasons why we do not allow mining in our community.)”

The communities and individuals who favored the exploration said that the company promised to give P100,000 ($1,782.53, based on an exchange rate of P56.10 for every U.S. dollar) for every barangay, in exchange for a two-year period of exploration. The company also assured residents of improvement in the roads and employment opportunities. “Sino ti agmadi iti pagsayaatan ket agited da met iti gatad, trabaho ken kalsada? (Who wouldn’t want money, employment, and roads?),” one respondent asked.

Representatives of the four communities said that MGB and NCIP told them that exploration would only determine which minerals were present in the said areas. Rodrigo Napigue, an employee of the DENR Provincial Office, said, “Ti exploration ket pannaka-ammo nu adda wenno awan ti minerals iti uneg ti daga. (Exploration would only determine if these lands hold minerals or not)” he said.

The application of Anglo American plc is one of seven EPAs for the province of Apayao covering a total of 63,158 hectares of land. The other mining companies are GreenWater Mining Corporation, Coohbalah Mining Corpionn, Cordillera Exploration Inc., Wolfland Resources, and Copper Fields Mining Corporation. Nordis/Bulatlat

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