For comments and suggestions:
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or send us a message thru our MESSAGE TO THE EDITOR portion on our homepage
First Posted on Inside Mindanao (www.insidemindanao.com) on February 2, 2010
Alarm bell sounded over the opening
of Caraga watershed reserves to mining & quarrying
By Caraga Watch
SURIGAO DEL SUR—The Caraga Region is currently at the forefront of the Arroyo administration's attention as a yet untapped source to fill and line its coffers, an inexhaustible milking cow for funds for electoral kitties and instrument for creating a rosy picture of our bankrupt economy.
The Mining Act of 1995, the Indigenous People's Rights Law (IPRA) and its major implementing agency, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) set the stage for the legalized depletion of our national patrimony. These government policies and agencies, together with the Local Government Units (LGU), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Mining and Geosciences Bureau and the Department of Energy (DOE), are being used to guarantee profits in mining and undermine the interests and unity of lumad communities.
Even the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is at the disposal of mining and other companies in the extractive resource industries to provide protection for their investments. Coined in 2008 by GMA in one of her visits to Caraga, she announced the formation of the "investment defense force" (IDF), a composite group of AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and civilian armed guards to "protect mining investments in the country".
The MGB is beset with applications for production sharing agreements (APSAs) and Exploration Permits (EPs) that target lumad ancestral lands rich in forest and mineral resources in Caraga. Seven of the priority mining projects of the Arroyo government is in the Caraga Region. This spurred a virtual selling spree after GMA's assurances of incentives and security for mining investments in the region.
Once the center of the economic, political and cultural rights of the lumad in the region, encroachments and outright land–grabbing of ancestral lands by opportunistic mining companies through corrupted lumad dealers have made some of the most biodiverse rainforests in Caraga barren because of open pit mining. Even areas declared as watershed reserves like the Taguibo Watershed Forest Reserve in Butuan City, Andanan, Wawa and Pinagalaan Watershed Reserve in Sibagat and Bayugan, part of the PICOP areas in Bislig, the Cantilan Watershed Reserve and the Mabini Watershed in Surigao City, are being opened to mining and quarrying.
With the "more efficient" thus faster facilitation of the DENR, MGB, NCIP and other government agencies for the approval of these applications, mining has already eaten up 9.8% of the total land area of the Caraga region in 2008; with the approval of more applications, the land area in Caraga for mining is set to double by the end of the decade. This cements Caraga’s ominous title of being Asia's Mining Capital.
The human toll of this rape of ancestral lands and plunder of the national patrimony is just as disastrous. Lumad communities are displaced, without the assurance of habitable and productive resettlement within their ancestral lands, their lives beholden to the largesse of mining companies. This is the case of mining communities in Carrascal within the areas of CTP Mining and Construction Inc. and Carrascal Nickel Corp. (CNC), the Mamanwa communities in Claver within the areas of the Tag–anito Mining Corp. (TMC) and Platinum Group Mining Corp. (PGMC), Manobo and Mamanwa communities in Tubay within the areas of SR Metals Inc.
With strong protest against these encroachments, human rights violations are being committed to silence the protests and cow the people into allowing the operations to begin and continue unhampered.
We cannot deny the more frequent occurrence of deadly natural disasters like floods, landslides and the emergence of new diseases with the pollution of our land, water and air. The depletion of our forest resources and change in our ecology and terrain have resulted in the unpredictability of the global and local climate, further aggravating the losses to life and productivity.
Despite the operations of mining and logging companies in the region since the 1950's, it failed to deliver on its promise to develop the local and national economy and alleviate the poverty of residents in and around its operations. The people remain poor and jobless, their rights trampled upon and their initiatives quashed, the communities have become inhabitable and the environment irreversibly destroyed.
The lumad is sounding the alarm to make us all sit up and take notice. The GMA master plan to use the mineral resources of the Caraga Region, to sell our national patrimony, to destroy the ancestral lands for profit must be challenged because it is in the interest of not just the present generation but of all that will come after us.
It is in this context that the Caraga Watch for the Defense and Protection of the Environment for the Next Generation is formed.
We call on the people of Caraga to:
– Advance the struggle of the Lumad and the entire Filipino people against foreign plunder of our ancestral lands and national patrimony
– Abandon the National Minerals Revitalization Program
– Nationalize the Mining Industry
– Protect the Environment
– Protect Our Forest, Land and Water for the Next Generation
– Scrap the Mining Act of 1995
– Scrap the IPRA
Click here for the detailed report of Caraga Watch