𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗪𝗜𝗧𝗛 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗣𝗘𝗢𝗣𝗟𝗘 𝗢𝗙 𝗕𝗨𝗟𝗔𝗟𝗔𝗖𝗔𝗢, 𝗠𝗔𝗡𝗞𝗔𝗬𝗔𝗡!𝗡𝗼 𝘁𝗼 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗣𝗹𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀!𝗡𝗼 𝘁𝗼 𝗟𝗮𝗿𝗴𝗲-𝗦𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴!
June 27, 2022
The people of Bulalacao, Mankayan are torchbearers in these dark times for Indigenous peoples and environment defenders.
Barricading errant mining companies is a tradition in Benguet, a tradition we should all take pride and honor in. The anti-open pit mining barricade in Itogon in the 1990’s, the barricade against Gold Field in Tabio, Mankayan in 2011 that lasted for a year, and now the ongoing barricade against the Crescent Mining and Development Corporation (CMDC), these are excellent execution of the activist tradition of community defense. In the case of Bulalacao, this is the second time they have to barricade against mining companies. The first Bulalacao barricade was in 1999-2000 which stopped the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMC) drilling operation.
The CMDC is a Filipino corporation conducting mineral exploration in 534 hectares land area covering barangays Bulalacao and Guinaoang in Mankayan, Benguet as per the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) no. 057 granted to them in 1996. They are partnered with multinational companies for this particular mining project in Benguet.
This year in March 2, the terms of the MPSA were renewed per Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) order. The residents of Bulalacao, however, stand by their claim that no Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process was conducted for its renewal and that no consent was given for the drilling activities of CMDC, hence the barricade.
In addition, Benguet province is one of the major sources of highland vegetables in the country. Bulalacao is a vegetable producing barangay in Mankayan, Benguet. Most of the residents are vegetable farmers. A mining operation in their community would result into massive losses for these local farmers as well as food insecurity for the wider Filipino nation.
At a time when climate crisis is at its worst, the Benguet barricades are symbolic of the Indigenous peoples’ role in the global quest for climate justice. Our struggle against the destruction of our ancestral territories by big mining companies, large energy projects and other forms of development aggression is central in the campaigns for environment protection.
While these barricades are put up in protest against the corporate plunder of the natural resources in our territories threatening our livelihood, it is also serving as defense for environment, consequentially. Being hosts to most of the world’s biodiversity, Indigenous peoples are role models in environment defense and preservation.
Drawing lessons and inspiration from the past barricades, we extend our full support to the ongoing barricade in Bulalacao, Mankayan. The DENR who issued the order for the MPSA renewal and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that is supposed to safeguard the rights of Indigenous peoples to their lands and to FPIC should be held accountable for this negligence.
We enjoin fellow, Indigenous peoples, advocates and environmental defenders to support and join the people of Mankayan in defense of ancestral domain, livelihood and community.
We can show support by helping to man the barricades if possible, issue statements of support for the communities affected and condemnation of CMDC’s plunder of Indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain. Demand that the peoples’ voices be heard!
Raise the barricades! Defend land, life and resources!