Civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) bewailed the reports in the media that there is broad indigenous people support for the Tampakan mining project and labeled it as “pure propaganda by Sagittarius Mines, Inc.”
Primo Morillo, PMPI advocacy officer, said, “The truth is, the IP community is divided, but a clear majority is against the Tampakan mining project. And most of those favoring them are the ones benefitting from their bribes disguised as Corporate Social Responsibility projects. SMI’s claim of widespread IP support is but a figment of their imagination.”
Morillo also furnished the media of a scanned statement of several Blaan leaders affirming the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. The said HRIA found that SMI’s project in South Cotabato endangers and threatens the fulfillment of human rights especially of the Blaans.
The statement of the Blaan leaders asked, “Is it credible enough for SMI-Xstrata to continue using corruptible IP leaders instead of facing the consequences of what they have done to our tribe and particularly in Bong Mal? Do the dead bodies of Juvy, John, Jordan, Kitari and many more who died protecting our domain not enough to tell the truth?”
Juvy Capion, and her sons John and Jordan were murdered October last year in what was dubbed as Tampakan Massacre when alleged military personnel strafed their hut with gunfire, while Kitari Capion was killed earlier this year in what the military called as an “encounter”.
Morillo added, “Just last week, another massacre happened, this time against the Freay family where Anteng Freay, a tribal leader, and his son Victor was murdered in cold-blood. If there is indeed widespread IP support for SMI, why are they being killed by the military? We should not forget the fact that the military admitted in a congressional hearing that they are accepting money from SMI. What is this money for? Is it a bribe for the state to silence the IP leaders struggling against the mining project?”
Morillo also mentioned that a Barangay Captain, who is previously supporting SMI, is now thinking twice about supporting the project because of the Freay double-murder case. “If the military and SMI think that brutality will be effective in silencing dissent, they should know that it only strengthened the resolve and unity of principled Blaan leaders to protect their ancestral domain,” he concluded.