indigenous peasants affirm opposition to entry of mines
Kalinga — “We have all the valid reasons to oppose the
entry of mining companies. Once they intrude into our territories,
we will lose everything. Our productive farmlands, our rich forests,
and our rivers will disappear.”
These were the
very words of Ama Baguingan, an peasant elder from Balbalan town
of this province when he participated in the Provincial Mining Conference
in Tabuk from October 22 to 23.
Kalinga Homeland Against Destructive Corporate Mining,” around
300 delegates from all over Kalinga, mostly peasants, professionals,
church people and some local government units gathered to discuss
the disadvantages and impacts that corporate mining operations would
bring to the people of Kalinga.
the Timpuyog ti Mannalon iti Kalinga (TMK) or Peasant Association
in of Kalina, the activity aimed to bring the issue to the broadest
public and come up with resolutions that will be carried out by
the participants themselves. The conference was very timely for
the peasants in Kalinga since October has become a tradition for
peasants all over the country to launch mass actions to air their
grievances and issues affecting them.
To provide the
participants a better understanding on the mining issue itself,
resource speakers from the Alyansa Dagiti Pesante Iti Taeng Kordilyera
(APIT TAKO) or Peasant Alliance in the Cordillera Homeland, gave
inputs on the international, national and regional mining situations.
These discussions posed striking question to the peasant participants,
such as the impoverishment of host countries or communities of mining
operations and the “development” that corporate mines
will bring to these countries or communities.
As of 2002,
large mining in the Philippines employed only 115,000 persons, with
small-scale mining employing 300,000 persons. Meanwhile, agriculture
and fisheries employed 11,006,000 persons for the same year.
Some of the
peasant participants who have gone to the mining-ravaged towns of
Itogon and Mankayan towns in Benguet province as part of their farmers’
exchange program witnessed the environmental and social devastation
caused by the operations of Benguet Corporation and Lepanto Consolidated
Mining Company, respectively.
these, Ama Baguingan said “that this will be the beginning
of our stand to oppose large-scale mining in our province. Saan
tayo koma nga agduadua iti takder tayo gapu ta nu ipalubos tayo
ti panagserrek ti minas ditoy ili tayo, adu ti biag a maibuwis ken
mapukaw amin a paggapuan ti pangkabiagan tayo.(We should be firm
in our position, otherwise, our communities and lives will be sacrificed
and all our sources of livelihood will vanish if we allow the entry
of large mines).
Another delegate, Mario Baggas in his ullalim (Kalinga ballad) expressed
optimistic that they will be successful in opposing these multi-national
corporations if they will all be united in fighting this problem
because even if they don’t, they will die anyway.
a teacher and a staunch supporter of the peasant struggle in the
province, hoped that the activity will forge stronger ties among
the people of Kalinga for their defense of land and life.
to the entry of mines and other destructive projects in our homeland
will only cause us hardship, so let us inspire more of our provincemates
to join us in our fight. Long live Kalinga!”, she said.
To the peasant
delegates, the two day conference was more than successful. Much
has been learned and shared as they marched back to their communities,
manifested in the declaration they signed at the close of the activity.
# APIT TAKO