• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

PRESS RELEASE: CPA decries DENR Secretary’s Statement on FPIC and redtagging in the Philippines

December 7, 2023

In a side-event held on December 6, 2023 at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Toni Yulo Loyzaga claimed that the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process in the Philippines is being respected despite the numerous reported violations just in the Cordillera region alone. Further, Loyzaga stated that redtagging in the Philippines is "taken into consideration", while a number of the victims are now facing trumped-up charges and terrorist designations. CPA decries such vague and uninformed statements that belie the realities of indigenous communities in the country.

"We expected no less than a mere whitewashing from the DENR. This is exactly why we, Indigenous Peoples affected by mining projects and redtagging, are here in the COP — to register that violations of Free Prior and Informed Consent are continuing on the ground, and the redtagging of Indigenous Peoples and Defenders have worsened. In fact, under the current administration of President Marcos Jr., redtagging has already been elevated to arbitrary terrorist designation as in the recent case of CPA leaders. Human rights violations continue to reign with impunity while destructive mining projects are pursued by the", said CPA Secretary General Bestang Dekdeken.

Loyzaga's statements were responses to a question raised at the side-event entitled "Sustainable Mineral Supplies for the Energy Transition: Why Responsible Mining Matters", led by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), and the Philippine government. CPA volunteered to attend a dialogue with Loyzaga precisely to discuss the lived experiences of indigenous peoples amid conversations surrounding the climate negotiations, but CPA eventually stepped back in hopes that indigenous organizations who followed the COP negotiations will be true to their word in representing IP communities in the Philippines.

"The DENR and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), in collusion with corporations, are not truly addressing the situation and are instead serving as instruments to perpetuate violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and human rights. How can the DENR talk about responsible mining without addressing the laws that allow foreign-control over our resources, and the plundered mineral reserves in indigenous territories?", Dekdeken added.

The current administration of Marcos Jr. is currently pushing for the revitalization of mining in the country. In the Cordillera, 106 mining projects and applications cover 35% of the region's total land area as per the latest available mining tenements map from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). Energy, on the other hand, remains the overall top threat with 100 proposed hydropower projects scattered across the provinces. CPA estimates that all the proposed mining and energy projects will affect 60% of the Cordillera land area.

The COP is an annual international meeting of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where global concerns on the climate crisis are talked about and decided upon. CPA decided to attend this year's COP considering the Cordillera peoples experience in bearing the brunt of the climate crisis worsened by imperialist plunder, and the stake for indigenous peoples in the just transition.

"We reiterate our demands for the Philippine government and corporations to recognize that a NO consent of Indigenous communities should mean a complete pull out of corporate projects. We also call on the government and corporations to ensure state and corporate accountabilities especially on the human rights violations resulting from Indigenous Peoples’ resistance against destructive projects such as large-scale mining and dams.” Dekdeken ended. ###