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Stop the destruction and plunder of our ancestral lands and resources by large-scale mining. Scrap the Mining Act of 1995!

March 2, 2017

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) reiterates its call for the scrapping of the vicious Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The Mining Act intensified the intrusion of foreign mining companies in our ancestral lands, disregarding our right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), human rights, collective rights to our ancestral lands and resources, and environmental protection.

Philippine experience shows that 22 years of the Mining Act has given nothing to both government especially local communities. Our indigenous communities gained nothing but the plunder of lands and resources and violation of our self-determination. There is sufficient evidence indicating that the law must be replaced.

Related to this, CPA iterates anew its strong support to DENR Secretary Gina Lopez in her decision to 23 mines; suspend 5 mines including the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company in Benguet, Acupan Mines of Benguet Corp. and Oceana Gold in Nueva Vizcaya; and cancel 75 Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) including 5 MPSA in Benguet and Abra.

The Cordillera is the watershed area of northern Luzon. Yet, the Mining Act legalised its plunder and exploitation including violations of indigenous peoples’ rights. To date, there are at least 102 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.

For over a century of BC mining, 81 years of Lepanto mining and more than 60 years of Philex mining, there has not been substantial contribution of the mining industry to the economic development of Benguet province. Agriculture remains the primary source of livelihood whereby an estimated 80% of the vegetable needs of Metro Manila come from the province. Nationwide, the mining industry is among the sectors that contribute the least to Philippine economy as seen in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (1% of GDP for several years now). This is because the Mining Act allows the exportation of raw materials, products and profits from mining operations, and favors mining companies especially foreign or trans-national companies over the welfare of the people.

The historic environmental destruction and the loss of lands and livelihood of the communities affected by the mining operations of Lepanto, Philex and BC are more than enough reasons for the government to heed the communities’ demand to stop large-scale mining operations, disallow the expansion of Lepanto and Philex, and not allow new mining projects to push through elsewhere in the region. We must not forget the massive ground subsidence and the continuing cracks in residential houses in Mankayan brought about by Lepanto mining operations, and the collapse of Philex’s Tailings Pond 3 in 2012, which was among the worst mining disasters in the country. These are just some of Lepanto and Philex mines’ crimes against the environment and the people. Their operations must be stopped to prevent further environmental destruction and disasters, and to save people’s lives.

The region is also faced with impacts of climate change, including super typhoons and natural disasters that are already putting people’s lives and livelihood in peril. Large-scale mining, energy projects (dams, hydropower, geothermal power) and other extractive projects will only worsen this situation.

The militarization of Cordillera communities, especially in areas where there are active opposition to mining projects, is an added burden to the people. The State military that serves as investment defense force for mining companies, which is a blatant attack to the people. In the history of our struggle against large-scale mining, community leaders and women have experienced harassment, rape, torture, intimidation and political killings, such as the 2014 massacre of the Ligiw family in Baay-Licuan, Abra. President Duterte’s All-Out War further subjects indigenous peoples to human rights violations as they become open targets of extra-judicial killings in the guise of counter insurgency and even the war against drugs. The All-Out War must be stopped.

We call on the Cordillera people to push for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and support a People’s Mining Bill that will reorient the current mining framework and practice towards nationalization of the mining industry., We must intensify our struggle to defend and nurture our ancestral lands, natural resources and the environment against corporate mining and plunder for the welfare of future generations.


Santos Mero

Deputy Secretary General

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