[Press Release] IP Solon, groups enraged by TRO issued by Aurora RTC Judge Bewildered by decision against community right to rally – ATM

Quezon City—Cong. Teddy Brawner Baguilat and civil society groups expressed outrage with a temporary restraint order (TRO) released by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aurora Branch last June 16, 2011.  The order favored the mining corporation conducting drilling operations in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur. Philippine National Police were further intstructed by the TRO to extend legal assistance to MMSON Mining and Exploration Corporation, the mining company operating in the area.

Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator, Jaybee Garganera said, “This is weird. Instead of hearing the Motion for Reconsideration opposing the TRO filed on behalf of defendants belonging to environmental groups including the IP group Kesalabuukan Tupusumi Organization (KTO), the RTC Judge decided to order the people to stop ‘harassing the mining operators bringing in drilling machines and bulldozers’ there”. Garganera said that the TRO effectively puts on hold the right of indigenous peoples to protest and their right to assemble. “How biased is the RTC and the local government there?”, Garganera concluded.

Kesalabuukan Tupusumi Organization is local community organization of Subanens in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur focused on environmental protection and preservation of cultural identity. They continue to call for a moratorium on mining, especially in their ancestral lands.

“On June 29, at around 9am, more or less 60 policemen accompanied the employees of MMSON to bring the drilling machines to the exploration site,” said KTO spokesperson Wilma Tero.

Cong. Baguilat, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on National Cultural Communities and convenor of Consultative Group of Indigenous Peoples (CGIP) said, “It is inconceivable to think that the very same institution, the courts, who are supposed to be the bastion for protecting peoples’ rights is the one who restricted the rights of the Midsalip indigenous peoples to protest against mining.”

Baguilat further asked, “And why are police men accompanying the mining company? I have visited the place and the people are peaceful. There is no possibility of violence. We will ask Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to look into why the PNP brought excessive force into the area and also validate if the actions of the local government there are ethical,” upon knowledge of Tero’s report.

Tero added, “We travelled for two hours to attend the court hearing, but the court does not hear what we are saying.  What the Subanen want is for our land and our watershed area to be protected, because if mining destroys the Mt. Sugarloaf Ranges, the livelihood of people in Midsalip and surrounding areas will be gravely affected.” Tero also asserted that their territory is located in a geohazard area and that they are prone to natural disasters.  She also observed that the court appeared to be refusing to hear them because they are biased in favor of the mining company. “We would like to know why we who are protecting our environment are being treated as criminals, while the mining company is being assisted by the agencies of government. ”

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. Alyansa Tigil Mina is also a part of CGIP.

Press Release
July 1, 2011

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