By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Posted by: Bulatlat.com
SAGADA, Mountain Province ? People from three municipalities of this province oppose the exploration activities of a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC mining company in their communities.
The Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. (CEXI) applied for an exploration permit covering 1,872.50 hectares within the ancestral domain of the nine barangays of Bauko, two barangays of Tadian and one barangay of Sagada.
The said areas include Barangay Ambasing, Sagada; Barangays Sumadel and Duagan of Tadian; Guinzadan Norte, Guinzadan Sur, Tapapan, Lesseb, Sadsadan, Mabaay, Bangnen Oriente, Bangnen Proper and Bila of Bauko.
CEXI filed an application at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as early as October 6, 1997. CEXI is a subsidiary of the largest transnational mining company in the world, Anglo American PLC.
“This affects not only the barangays covered by the area of exploration but all nearby barangays as well,” the Cordillera People’s Alliance-Mountain Province (CPA-MP) said in a statement.
Opposition to large scale mining has been championed by the Cordillera People’s Alliance. In Baguio, CPA deputy secretary Santos Mero, an Ibaloi, warned of Anglo-American’s notorious record as a mining company.
Mero hails from Itogon, Benguet, a town where Benguet Corporation (BC), Philex Mines, and several other mining firms operated open pit and strip mining for the past 100 years.
“Anglo-American violated the rights of its cheap labor force in South African mining communities by paying them the world’s lowest wages and housing them in barracks comparable to prison camps of the 1800s.
In 2005, the Canada Commission for Environmental Cooperation named Anglo-American a main toxic lead polluter throughout North America. Its operations killed crops and contaminated water sources in Venezuela, and displaced the population and ruined the local Church in Tabaco, Columbia, where the largest coal strip mine in the regions lies, Mero said.
“We learned of the notorious human rights and environmental track record of the Anglo American in South Africa and Latin America. We surely do not want this to happen in the Philippines, particularly in the Cordillera. Certainly, we do not want Anglo-American to unleash its greed for profit and duplicate the same health hazards, human rights violations, anti-labor practices, and environmental destruction here,” Mero said.
Officials of the affected municipalities were informed about the exploration application only on the first week of June this year when notifications on the application were posted.
No community consultations were ever conducted to get the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). According to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra) of the Philippines, FPIC is a must for every mining firm before any exploration and operation are conducted. It is also a responsibility of every country to strictly implement these rulings as provided for in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Meanwhile, the secretary to the mayor of Tadian Benny Likwet said the Sangguniang Bayan registered their vehement opposition to the exploration with a resolution. According to the Barangay Captain of Ambasing, the community together with other folks from the nearby barangays of Sagada are against the entry of any mining-related activities in their places.
Bauko Mayor Simon Lacwasan said the exploration is considered a disaster thus he directed the municipal disaster coordinating committee to take charge in sustaining the opposition.
The exploration by CEXI would destroy the water supply going to the households as well as the irrigation system, it would also worsen the landslides and land subsidence and the resources of the people would be very much affected if not totally disappear, the CPA said.
The opposing groups further said that the exploration and any mining operation in the area would destroy scenic tourist spots in the province and the tourism industry would be greatly affected.
“We as indigenous peoples should assert our rights to protect our ancestral land from destruction as a heritage for the next generations,” the CPA said. Posted By: (Bulatlat.com)