Bayan Muna, GWP and Anakpawis Partylists support Binongan Indigenous
Peoples Struggle in Baay Licuan, Abra
In behalf of the BALITOK (Baay Licuan, Takderan Omnu a Karbengan),
and KASTAN-CPA Abra, the CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE warmly welcomes
the move of partylists Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women's Party and Anakpawis
calling for an inquiry to the investigate the human rights violations
of Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals in the Binongan
indigenous communities of Baay Licuan, Abra province.
The representatives of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and
GWP authored House Resolution No. 762, "directing the Committee
on National and Cultural Communities to Conduct an Inquiry, in aid
of legislation, on the mining operation of Canadian mining firm
Olympus Pacific Minerals Inc. and its local conduits Abra Mining
Industrial Corp (AMIC) and Jabel Corporation that violate the rights
of the indigenous Binongan people in Baay Licuan, Abra."
We commend Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and GWP for having
sustained its support to the struggle of the Cordillera indigenous
peoples, and putting their concerns at par with the rest of nation's.
Again, these partylists have shown that they are genuinely for the
interest of indigenous peoples.
Olympus and its local subsidiaries AMIC and Jabel explored and drilled
in February 2007 at Mt. Capcapo in Baay Licuan, which is part of
the ancestral domain of the Binongan indigenous peoples, without
securing their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Tides of
petitions and sustained community protest halted the drilling, and
even pushed the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-CAR
to call on Olympus to suspend its activities due to the protests.
The provincial NCIP, in its Ocular/Site Inspection Report in August
2008 affirmed that indeed, the FPIC was not secured and that Olympus
"grossly violated the right of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous
peoples in their ancestral domain".
But before this, the Baay Licuan indigenous peoples
right to FPIC was again violated when a mining claim was approved
in April 1998 without them knowing.
Prior to the exploration and drilling, Jabel (also Kadabra Mining
Corporation) had already acquired a Mining Lease Agreement (MLA),
later converted into a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA)
through APSAs 057 and 058 in Baay Licuan in April 1998, one of those
fraudulently certified by the NCIP. Basis for the certification
was that there were no applications for Certificate for Ancestral
Land Claim (CALC) or Certificate for Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC),
as if implying that in the absence of these, there are no indigenous
peoples in Baay Licuan that must be consulted before any activity,
program or project in the area.
The Baay Licuan communities sustained their collective decision
denying consent to Olympus, even with the heavy militarization in
their areas while the "FPIC process", as per NCIP Administrative
Order No. 1 Series of 2006 was being carried out.
The 41st IB, 503rd IBde Recon and Composite Coys
stayed based under residents' houses, while conducting harassment,
intimidation and surveillance in the communities. Leaders of BALITOK,
KASTAN and CPA were maliciously tagged as NPA fronts and supporters,
making them open targets not only to harassment and intimidation
but to extrajudicial killings. Harassment and surveillance was intense,
as this was aimed at sowing fear and terror to weaken the solid,
collective stand of the communities concerned. Presently, the 41st
IB has detached in Brgy. Bakiro. Leaders of BALITOK are still being
harassed and intimidated, such BALITOK Chair Ernesto Quinto.
To date, the Binongan communities have not given
in, despite the various forms of harassment. They denied consent,
thereby rejecting Olympus. Their battle, however, does not end here.
The Capcapo Gold Project is one of the Priority Exploration Projects
of the Arroyo regime, along with Mt. Mines Copper-Gold Project (Lubuagan,
Kalinga) and the Conner Gold Project (Apayao). Thus, the Arroyo
regime will not easily let it go.
Government has liberalized the mining industry and crafted the National
Minerals Policy to further create conditions to accommodate imperialist
plunder. The Mining Act, approved in 1995, first created such conditions
that practically and totally sold out our national patrimony and
Capcapo was saved due to the concerted action of
the Binongan and the concrete support from the local, regional,
and international communities. Locally, the communities remain vigilant
for other mining attempts in their ancestral domain. Support in
legislation such as House Resolution 742 from Bayan Muna, Anakapwis
and GWP are integral to this, and to the other struggles of indigenous
peoples for their right to self determination. #