Oceana Gold Threatens Kasibu People's Food Security
Food security of indigenous peoples in Kasibu,
Nueva Vizcaya is threatened by large-scale mining operations of
OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and Oxiana-RoyalCo. At the same
time, the FPIC process under the IPRA law brings disunity among
the IPs residing in the mining-affected areas.
Different organizations like the Philippine Network
for the Environment (PNE)-Kalikasan, Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti
Amianan (RDC-KADUAMI) which is a member of the EED-Task Force for
IP Rights (EED-TFIP), joined the Congressional hearing with their
partner Save the Valley Environmental Alliance together with the
local people organizations. The Committee on National Cultural Communities
of the House of Representatives conducted two on-site hearings and
investigations in June 7-9, 2008 in Brgy. Kakidugen and Brgy. Didipio,
Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya which are the sites of Oxiana-Royalco and
Indigenous peoples expressed their concern about
the adverse impacts that these mining operations will bring to the
environment and their sources of livelihood and subsistence. "How
do these mining operations address the food crisis of the people?
We have been displaced from our ancestral lands in Ifugao and Benguet
due to mining operations yet we are still facing the same problem
here. We have witnessed the destructive impacts that these mining
operations brought to the environment and we cannot allow this to
happen again here. The people in these areas already have a sustainable
source of livelihood than what these mining companies claim to provide
upon entry of these operations," said Lucas Buay of Kasibu
Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED).
The municipality of Kasibu has a wide forest area,
about 30% of the total land area is forest land. It is proven that
almost all crops except mango are suitable in this area.The primary
agricultural products of the province are still rice and corn, but
this gateway to the Cagayan Valley is envisioned to be the regional
center for fruit and vegetable production and spice-based industries.
"We cannot let the entry of these mining companies destroy
our lands as Kasibu is considered the citrus capital of the country,
with an annual output of about 10 million kilograms of oranges from
an estimated 20,000 hectares of citrus plantations. The citrus farmers
stand by its position that agriculture is still the sustainable
development for the people as our independent study on the success
of citrus industry here would show. We do not want mining here,"
Alfonso Namuhje II of the Mallabing Tribal Development Association
In Nueva Vizcaya, about forty percent of its total
population of 366,962 (based from the 2000 census) is comprised
of indigenous people, e.g. Bugkalots, Ifugaos, Ibalois, Gaddangs,
Isinais, Ikalahans and Ilongots. Bugkalots, a group of indigenous
people from Nueva Vizcaya has entered into a peace covenant through
a blood compact in 1950s with other IP groups who have migrated
to this area after they had been driven away from their ancestral
lands. The areas stated in the mining permit granted to the mining
companies are within an ancestral land applied by the Bugkalots
for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), through the National
Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). "We were not consulted
by the NCIP during the process of securing the FPIC certificate
because we are only migrant IPs in the areas and we are not holders
of CADC. But there was no such thing in the provisions of the IPRA
law that migrant IPs could not be consulted, especially that we
have been here for three decades now," Fidel Opay of the Lower
Muta Valley Farmers' Federation (LMVFF) explained.
The FPIC process is being questioned because of
the bribery and deception controversies in securing the certificate.
" Our peace pact with the Bugkalot tribe is also threatened
to be negated because of this conflict that arises due to these
controversies," Opay added.
Mayor Romeo Tayaban of Kasibu, who was one of the
resource speaker during the hearing said, "mining operations
claim that they will bring development to the people in Kasibu.
But what kind of development is this if our people are disunited?
We were once a peaceful community but these issues have divided
us because of these operations."#
Allan Barnacha- 09183816070
Mae Soledad- 09298482401