In a news report, indigenous groups, local government units and host villages are expected to benefit from as much as P65 billion ($1.5 billion) in royalties and taxes. The company is also expected to pay P225 billion ($5.2 billion) in taxes to the national government over the life of the mine. Tribal leaders also believe that if the mining project would push through, a great opportunity would come not only for the people of Tampakan but for the whole of Mindanao as well.
But the green groups see the opposite. In Columbio, Sulatan Kudarat alone 8,000 hectares of B’laan ancestral land would be destroyed if the mining project would operate, said Malayao. Aside from poisoning the rivers and other fresh and ground water resources, more than 70 varieties of trees and other livelihood resources would also be destroyed.
“The destruction of the environment also means destroying the livelihood of the indigenous peoples. It is where they till, hunt and get rattan for extra income,” Malayao pointed out.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Taiwanese mining companies like Shaitan Cagayan Sand and Gravel Corp., San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd., and Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Corporation were given permits by the Cagayan provincial government to operate. These mining companies were operating in municipalities of Lallo, Camalaniugan, Gonzaga and Aparri.
“In Cagayan province, several local government units at barangay and municipal levels stated their opposition to mining but the provincial government still allows mining to operate in their areas,” Bautista said.
In Cagayan Valley, municipalities of Aparri, Camalaniugan, Gonzaga and Lallo are greatly affected of magnetite mining operation by small scale mining company. (Photo courtesy of CEC / bulatlat.com)
On June 2, the Mines ad Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Region II issued a stoppage order to San You Mining to refrain its blacksand mining and processing operations along the Cagayan river. On July 7, a week after Aquino’s inauguration MGB Region II lifted the stoppage order.
On June 28, former South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Fuentes signed an environment code which bans open pit mining methods, a resolution that is blocking the operations of the Tampaka project. The MGB in the region also stated that environment code violates the mining policy of the national government. But on July 17, Aquino instructed DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to intervene on the issue and talk to the South Cotabato provincial government.
“It demonstrates his [Aquino] bias towards the mining projects and its opponents. He has given orders and mediated to reverse the decision of the local governments disallowing mining in their jurisdiction,” Bautista said.
Dire Effects of Mining
The group’s investigation missions show that the means of livelihood of the people would be affected if mining operations would take place or mining operations would continue. In Sultan Kudarat, the group said farming is the way of life of the communities of Columbio that contribute to the food security and self-sufficiency of the province of Sultan Kudarat.
“The steady rice production is due to agricultural productivity that is the natural attribute of Columbio. For this reason, agricultural-based economy of the said municipality need not to be sacrificed to allow the operation of open pit mining in a watershed area that is the source of irrigation for its farm areas,” Finesa Cosico agriculturist, member of Agham and coordinator of the mission said.