“Ayta communities have long opposed the mining operations in Porac, where a tribal leader and a barangay chair were already killed as they opposed mining operations at their area,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL Chairperson.
CLAA said that Ayta communities opposing mining have been subjected to the implementation of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya that that caused the extra-judicial killings of Ayta activist leaders. Local Ayta group Pagkakaisa ng mga Ayta sa Camias said that their tribal leader Apo Alto was gunned down for opposing the mining operations and on October 2004, their barangay chair Bienvenido Capuno was also killed. Ayta farmers were also harassed by elements of the military by showing their names as listed on “order of battle,” limiting their movements at their communities, physical assault, warrantless searches in their houses and food blockade.
AMGL said that the Aquino government is now pushing for intensified mining operations as part of its program to further open up the country’s natural resources to foreign mining companies. AMGL together with CLAA leaders attended the recent 3rd Mining Conference held in Tagaytay City and organized by environmental and indigenous peoples’ group such as the Kalipunan ng mga Mamamayang Katutubo ng Pilipinas (KAMP). CLAA is a member organization of AMGL and national organization KAMP.
AMGL added that Aquino’s program and policies work mainly on peddling the country’s natural resources such as land, minerals and energy. It is hinted by the massive privatization of public land, land use conversion, construction of highways and dams and facilitation of entry of increasing number of mining corporations.
“Aquino is worsening the state of Ayta communities as they were already victims of massive land grabbing and displacement. Their cultural rights have long been violated as they were systematically displaced and relocated at resettlement camps where their rights to land were totally trampled. Being an Ayta means enriching their ancestral lands and its absence is an indicator of their rights being violated,” Canlas said.
“The Dizon family has covered many areas for their mining operations such as in San Marcelino, Zambales, they have also put up many names for their operations. They are now in partnership with SMI, owned by Chinese investors and Liwayway International executives Carlos Chan and Antonio Co. SMI is also a partner corporation of Carrascal Nickel Corp. that operates at 4,567-hectares in Carrascal town in Surigao del Sur,” Canlas said.
Liwayway (International) Co. Ltd is a partner corporation of Liwayway Marketing which is the maker of a popular snack brand in the country and its client is one of the biggest Chinese state-owned stainless steel corp Baosteel Desheng Stainless Steel Co., Ltd. in Fujian China. In addition, the Dizon family corporations include Dizon Copper Silver Mines Inc. with mining area of 8,576-has. in Brgy. Aglao and Buhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales, and application for 1,107-has. in Brgy. Pabanlag, Floridablanca, Pampanga; Pisumpan Copper Mines Inc., 1,160-has. in Porac and quarry operations in San Jose, Tarlac; Mabulilat Mining Corp., exploration for 825-has. in Brgy. Mabulilat, Porac; Lordiz & Co., application for 1,107 in San Marcelino, Zambales.
“It is very obvious that these mining firms have been colluding with each other just to plunder the country’s resources and president Aquino is promoting the very root cause of environmental destruction and disaster in our country,” Canlas said.
AMGL and CLAA declared a continuing protest of the mining operations in Porac and called for support from other sectors as it would affect not just Ayta areas but also urban areas of adjacent towns and cities. It is a potential hazard as would-be mine tailings would course through Porac-Gumain river which is the very source of irrigation of lowland farms. The further destruction of the mountains would also be potential factor for flashflood affecting not just Porac but also nearby towns and cities.
AMGL and CLAA is also demanding the repeal of Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of House Bill 4315 or People’s Mining Bill filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño at the House of Representatives.
“With the Mining Act in effect, Ayta communities would be constant victims of displacement as it serve the interests of foreign mining companies and disregard their rights to ancestral land and self-determination. We propose the passage of People’s Mining Bill as it prioritizes the welfare of the people rather than the foreign mining companies’,” Canlas said.
“Are we to wait for a disaster before we oppose mining? This is in front of our noses and yet the government is keen to implement it. Mining in Porac would destroy the ancestral land, livelihood and culture of Ayta communities, destroy productive agricultural farms below, pollute rivers extending to other towns and cities, floods caused by mining would destroy properties and cause much inconvenience. Its negative impact is immeasurable, thus, we call on other sectors to join the Ayta’s struggle against mining,” Canlas said. #