By Gaia Mandala
Environmentalists under the banner of Tampakan Forum held a protest outside the building of National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) central office, October 23, denouncing the agency's continued inaction on the killings and other human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples across the country.
CRIMSON RAGE.Protesters show their 'bloodied' hands symbolizing deaths among their tribes from the violence and militarization brought by mining activities in their communities, and how the office of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples's alleged silence on the killings render them as guilty as the perpetrators of neglect and inaction.
Ed Garingan, anti-mining campaigner of Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI) added that the NCIP should be alarmed on the continuing militarization of various ancestral domain areas in the countryside.
During the protest, environmental groups Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), PMPI, and Lilak - Purple Women's Action for Indigenous Women's Rights, and representatives of different IP tribes including B'laans, Teduray, Dulangan Manobo, Higaonon, and Lambangian lighted candles in honor of the slain IPs. The group also poured stage blood in front of the NCIP building, a symbolic representation of blood shed by the victims of human rights violations in provinces affected by mining.
COMMIT TO THE ENVIRONMENT!
COMMIT TO HUMAN RIGHTS!
October 12 to 16, 2015
To our aspiring government leaders,
Today, as you file your candidacy, we ask you to think about our environment – our rivers, seas, our forests, our mountains, our home; we ask you to think about our rights – our food, our water, our security, our future. Like the great appeal of Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudatu Si, let us protect our common home and upholds the integrity of creation.
As the Senate probes the killing of Manobo leaders in Lianga, members of the clergy of the Diocese of Tandag mobilized support for the Lumads on October 1, a month after the incident.
Led by Bishop Nereo Odchimar, the local church leaders claim that the series of harassment and recent murders are related to the extensive mining operations in the Caraga region.
“We can observe that only the Lumads who firmly stand against mining activities were the ones being intimidated by the Magahat-Bagani group suspected as being trained and funded by the military," Director of the Diocesan Social Action Center of Tandag Fr. Bong Galela.
Galela’s assertion is consistent with the Pastoral Letter issued by the Diocese during their Presbyterium meeting last September 8. The statement condemned not just the killings but also the harassment and terrorism towards the Manobos.
"Thus we call for the disarming and arrest of the members of the Magahat-Bagani group. We also demand the government to ensure that there will be no cover-up in the investigation of these gruesome murders," the priest added.
The diocese’s statement also suggested that the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights lead the investigation.
“This is necessary as the AFP must also be subjected to the investigation, and no other than a powerful executive department and a constitutional body must lead this important task,” Father Galela said.
Meanwhile, the faith-based civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said that the investigation should also look into the possible culpability of the mining companies operating in Surigao del Sur as more people has reported to observe the apparent connection of the killings to mining activities.
"While the possible liability of the AFP must be clearly established in the investigation, we think that they should also check if the mining companies have something to do with the killings," Fr. Stephen Brongcano, Director of the Social Action Center of Butuan, said.
Buenavista: will it be again?
For the people in Manila who work in Makati and commute via the MRT from the North, you get greeted “Buendia,” just before you reach Ayala Station.
Buendia is a name, yes, but it also means good morning in Spanish (Buenas Diaz). Buenavista, therefore, means something along the lines of good, if not scenic, view. There are places called that because they really boast breath-taking scenery.
The Municipality of Guiuan in Samar is a host to live paintings only nature can offer us humans to experience. In fact one of its islands, Manicani, is a home to a community called “Buenavista.”
Barangay Buenavista is a coastal barangay that stretches upland. Have the patience to climb and you will be treated to the panorama above: I am without words to describe its beauty.
But that’s another story—and that’s another photo. Uncropping it, you will see the whole picture below.
1) The whole picture
The above photo shows part of site where Hinatuan Mining Corporation has mined for years. DENR has suspended their mining operations more than ten years ago. You would expect grasses to start growing after such long time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case now.
Statement of Tampakan Forum on Glencore's Copper Project Pull-out
Recently, Anglo-Swiss Glencore Plc completed the sale of all its shares in the Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato to Filipino-owned Alsons Prime Investment Corporation. We consider this significant foreign divestment as a clear indicator that the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project is losing its glitter. And this is a victory for the Bla’an indigenous peoples, whose lands and domains are at the heart of the planned mining tenement, and who have consistently and persistently resisted the project.
This resistance has been met with series of human rights violations, and killings of Bla’an leaders and elders. But the directly and indirectly affected communities of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project (TGCP) stood firm on their stance because they know that the $5.9 billion project will bring nothing to their people but divisiveness, destruction of resources, different forms of violence, rendering them more vulnerable and marginalized.
The lack of consent to the mining project from the Bla’ans continues to be one of the strongest stumbling blocks to the commencement of mining operations in the areas. The Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) conducted by the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) remains problematic and questionable. The local government of South Cotabato, one of the 4 provinces covered by the project, provides yet another strong obstacle. The Provincial Board of South Cotabato recently reaffirmed the Provincial Environment Code (Resolution 84 Series of 2010: A Resolution Enacting the Environment Code of the Province of South Cotabato) including its ban on open-pit mining amidst the pressure from the national government to give up their exercise of local autonomy.
The project has been facing all forms of resistance – from petitions, direct actions, national and international campaign; and from different sectors of the affected provinces – indigenous peoples, farmers, irrigators, environmentalists, Church and religious. This unified stance has forced a giant global player such as Glencore Plc. out of the Tampakan project. We believe that with the unwavering peoples’ fight against this destruction, the entire Tampakan project will be out of the Bla’ans’ ancestral domains, with no investors, and with its permits revoked.
We, indigenous people’s rights and human rights advocates, activists and environmentalists, join the peoples of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani in their continued assertion of their rights to their ancestral domain, to food, a balanced ecology, and life.
Tampakan Forum is a campaign network of support groups to the struggle of the Bla’an community and the campaign of Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel against the Tampakan Mining project. Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) serves as the secretariat of the network. The list of members include Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOE), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS), and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines.
For more information, please contact:
Fr. Gillarme Joy Pelino, Director – Social Action Center Diocese of Marbel, 09106338181
Rene Pamplona – Social Action Center Diocese of Marbel, 09183809923
Primo Morillo – PMPI Advocacy Officer, 09228501874