LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Reports from people’s organizations all over Northern Luzon show an increasing trend in development aggression. This was culled from the provincial surveys of people’s opposition to the encroachment of big, foreign corporate businesses in people’s lands and water systems in the recently concluded 6th General Assembly of Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan (Kaduami).
Kaduami is a service institution that aims to contribute to the development of communities in Northern Luzon.
The term development aggression was coined by communities who became victims of land grabbing, resource destruction and dislocation due to large-scale and corporate interests.
Cagayan province reported the growing opposition not only of people’s organizations but also of church and environment advocates to magnetite or black sand mining.
Colossal Mining Corporation, a 100-percent Filipino owned company that engages in exploration, mining, and production of iron ore in the Philippines, holds three exploration permits of 36,000 hectares of offshore magnetite iron ore sites in Northern Luzon (Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur) of which 13,483.89 hectares are located in the province of Cagayan alone, situated in the municipal waters of Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Appari, Buguey and Gonzaga of Cagayan. Colossal Mining Corporation is a partner of Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL, the sole company based in Australia that conducts marine diamond exploration.
Offshore mining of magnetite in Cagayan can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas as the experience of Bauang, La Union had shown. Bauang municipal government is now putting up seawalls as a mitigating measure for flooding. The experience of the Bauang river overflowing and flooding the barrios during Typhoon Pepeng is a very concrete example of the disastrous impact of near shore mining.
Food security of indigenous peoples in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya is threatened by the large-scale mining operations of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and Oxiana-RoyalCo. At the same time, the free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) process under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (Ipra) law brings disunity among the indigenous peoples residing in the mining-affected areas.
The areas stated in the mining permit granted to the mining companies are within an ancestral land applied by the Bugkalots for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The Bugkalots were not consulted by the NCIP during the process of securing the FPIC because they are allegedly only migrant IPs in the areas and are not holders of CADC.
Coal-fired power plants to tap coal deposits worth millions of dollars are planned for Cauayan, Benito Soliven and Naguilian in Isabela. American power corporations are seeking partnership with the Philippine government to help energize not only Isabela but Luzon as well.
Thousands of farming families are fighting to keep their land and have blocked the 50-megawatt project. The PNOC-Exploration Corp. has announced this month that it will soon start the 50-megawatt open-pit coal plant in Cauayan.
Quezon, Isabela is also being explored for natural gas. Farming communities are also opposing the move. There are also plans to mine nickel in Dinapigue, Isabela.
Cordillera has reported the most number of mining exploration claims among the three regions. Benguet alone has more than 37 permits for 117,000 hectares or 43 percent of the whole area of Benguet. Even the Abra river is not spared. A foreign firm is interested to mine its river aggregates.
The waters and watersheds of the mountain areas of Northern Luzon are also magnets for corporate interests as they drumbeat the need for energy and cheap energy sources. To date, the people of Northern Luzon have successfully stopped or delayed these huge, destructive projects.
The reports from the people’s organizations show communities bravely fighting these interests. The corporations have been using deception and military might to push their projects. The people’s organizations noted that communities experience human rights violations, militarization and rifts among them caused by the deception of the government, military authorities and big business.
In the face of the concerted effort to grab the people’s resources and livelihood, the people have steadfastly stood their ground. In the 6th General Assembly of Kaduami they have renewed their pledge to continue protecting their people, land and livelihood, and their right to full development. (Posted by: Bulatlat.com)