The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act, reiterated its call to scrap the said act, dubbing it as “clearly anti-people and anti-environment.”
In a media forum today with Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Apit Tako spokesperson Fernando Mangili said that indigenous communities have gained nothing but the plunder of their lands and resources and the violation of their right to self-determination, citing numerous experiences with large mining companies.
“Philippine experience shows that 23 years of the Mining Act has given nothing to both government especially local communities,” he said.
Mangili adds that there are more than 100 mining applications in the region under process, with various community complaints of FPIC manipulation. These applications are on top of the mining operations of Lepanto, Philex, and even Benguet Corporation (BC) in Benguet province.
“The Cordillera is the watershed area of northern Luzon. Yet, the Mining Act legalised its plunder and exploitation including violations of indigenous peoples’ rights,” he said.
Opportunity for fascism
Mangili also slammed the militarizing of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its creation of the National Task Force Mining Challenge (NTFMC), purporting it to be an aid to large mining companies to further encroach ancestral domains.
“The DENR is mobilizing State security forces, through the agency, to wreak havoc in communities of small-scale mining (SSM) operations,” he said, adding that the creation of the task force is another manifestation of the Duterte administration’s intensifying oppression of indigenous peoples.
Already, five SSM operations in Baguio and Benguet have been shut down by the task force.
“Targeting the SSM increases the opportunities for big mining corporations to encroach on our ancestral domains, expand their destructive operations and monopolize the mining industry,” he said.
Mangili also cited the railroading of the administration’s proposed Charter change (Cha-cha) as another opportunity for the government to intensify its oppression against indigenous peoples.
“More than opening up the country, including our ancestral domains, to foreign exploitation, this cha-cha will only worsen the already pitiful state of indigenous peoples in the country,” he said.
“As Duterte’s tyranny continues, our only choice is to unite against injustices and defend our rights to our ancestral domain, the very land from which our lives and identity as a peoples is tied to,” Mangili ended.
Apit Tako is the local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and is a member organization of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.