Suspected members of the Philippine military strafed the house of Bong Fulong Anteng Freay with gunfire at about 5:00 AM of August 23, instantly killing him and his son, Victor Freay, according to reports from the Social Action Center (SAC) of Marbel in South Cotabato.
Bong Fulong means elder or chief in B’laan; Anteng Freay is the head claimant of the Ancestral Domain Territory (ADT) of the Atbol Blaan territory. Majority of the B’laans oppose the Tampakan mining project.
“We are risking our lives to protect our territory from destruction. Do the dead bodies of Juvy, John, Jordan, Kitary and many more [locals] who died protecting our domain not enough to tell the truth? People are dying, government forces are killing us, and all of these happened under the nose of [Sagittarius Mines Inc.] SMI/XSTRATA.”
This is an excerpt from the statement of the local cultural communities in Tampakan, South Cotabato that supported the validity of the factual evidences included in the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) presented by International Network of Environmental Forensics (INEF).
DESPITE the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 79, SOS-Yamang Bayan Network still believes that it is only a piecemeal solution to the flaws in Republic Act 7942, also known as the Mining Act of 1995.
EO 79, issued by President Benigno Aquino III last 2011, was only the response of the administration to the address the current mining issues and the network further explains that the pronouncement of the government to come up with a new mining fiscal regime only responds to the financial or economic side of the industry, when what is needed is a paradigm shift.
A DAY after the International Earth Day, about 200 activists from church, human rights, and environment groups launched the Tao Muna, Hindi Mina campaign in time for the May elections to remind the mid-term electoral candidates to take a firm stand on different mining issues that have plagued the country.
To dramatize their stance on these mining issues, the group locked down the head office of Mines and Geosciences Bureau in North Avenue and marched to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The group demanded a moratorium on mining activities in the country and that the human rights be prioritized over mining.
“The Tao Muna-Hindi Mina campaign seeks to put at center stage large-scale destructive mining as a major electoral issue that candidates need to respond to,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.
“But even before and beyond elections, candidates as well as government itself must be able to heed the peoples demand for an end to largescale destructive mining.”
Noting the different agenda of electoral candidates specifically at the local level, anti-mining groups reminded the future leaders to prioritize the social issues being experienced by mining-affected communities and victims.
Judy A. Pasimio of LILAK - Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights said: “We are at this point where mining is no longer just an issue among environmentalists. Mining is a human rights issue. The different forms of human rights violations being experienced by the women, men and children especially from the indigenous communities in mining areas, need to be recognized and addressed by the government and those who are wanting to join the government through this election.”
Specifically, the groups demand that justice be given to families and victims of human rights violations in mining affected areas as well as put an end to largescale destructive mining in the country. In addition, they believe that it is time to seriously consider the Alternative Minerals Management Bill as a just resolution to the conflict engendered by the current corporate-biased, exploitative, unjust mining policy.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, a coalition of communities and organizations that call for a new policy on mining stated: “We challenge the candidates to take a stand on mining. At the national level, we are campaigning against senatoriables who have interests in mining and who we believe will push for their agenda to promote pro-mining policies.
Among the candidates mentioned were Cynthia Villar (own Queensberry Mining— directly involved in the King-king copper-gold project in Compostella Valley), Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara (member of the board of directors of Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority-APECO), Richard Gordon (independent director of Atlas Mining Corporation), and Rep. Jack Enrile from Cagayan where anti-mining advocates were threatened and some killed,“ he explained.