Kalinga elders have disclosed that the food security of North Luzon and the Cordillera region will be threatened once the Batong Buhay Mines is reopened as a result of the reported sale of some 400 has.of the Balatoc ancestral domain.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) Kalinga elders disclosed that the food security of North Luzon and the Cordillera region will be threatened once the Batong Buhay Mines is reopened as a result of the reported sale of some 400 has.of the Balatoc ancestral domain.
Ama Julio Longan, Tony Ngayaan and Andres Wailan of the Cordillera Elders’ Alliance (CEA), the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the provincial Anakpawis, respectively – All participants to a forum on the Cordillera mining situation at the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio – were all alarmed at the prospect of the land sale, which they regarded as a desecration of the Kalinga ancestral domain.
“Saan nga isuda ti manglapped ti panagminas ti Balatoc” (It is not they who would stop the mines) Ama Longan, CEA chairperson said. He said there are far larger tracts of rice land in lowland Tabuk and in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan that would be left unproductive by any environmental destruction in Balatoc.
Longan recalled that the Balatoc tribe of Kalinga were not the only ones who stopped the Batong Buhay mining operations in the 1980s.
“Tao, saan nga utot, ti nangpukan kadagiti tower ti kumpanya idi” (People, not rodents, caused the collapse of power towers of the mining company before) Ama Longan vividly recounted. He said when the power towers were downed and the power supply was cut, the mines eventually closed down.
Similarly, Tony Ngayaan, secretary-general of the provincial chapter of CPA said several communities downstream of Balatoc in Pasil town would be deprived of irrigation water sources. Not only will the domestic water be polluted, but irrigation for rice fields would also be cut, he said.
“By then, Tabuk, the rice granary of the Cordillera will eventually lose its fields to the pollution from the mines,” Ngayaan said. He also said communities in Lubuagan, Tinglayan, Pasil, Tabuk, Pinukpuk –all in Kalinga; Tuao, Cagayan; and all towns in Isabela will be affected.
Cagayan and Isabela supply rice to other north Luzon and Central Luzon areas, including the Metro Manila area, said Andres Wailan, Anakpawis provincial coordinator.
Balatoc elder Victor Gumisa earlier said rice fields in Balatoc were covered by the communal land which nine of their tribesmen allegedly sold to Guidance Management Corporation (GMC), allegedly owned by Jack Rodriguez of the defunct Benguet Exploration (B-Ex) in Tuba, Benguet.
Although GMC has filed a corporate declaration for the return of the contested land due to petitions from the Balatoc tribe, the Cordillera elders find the idea very hard to buy. No Deed of Sale between the affected tribe and the company was involved in the alleged sale, although it has been registered with the Office of the Provincial Assessor of Kalinga. Northern Dispatch(Bulatlat.com)