[Press Release] Groups hit Tampakan miners in Mining Confab – alyansatigilmina.net

Activist spread out banner at the Sagittarius Mines Inc exhibit booth earlier this morning, at the International Mining Conference and Exhibit being held at the Sofitel Hotel. The activist were then escorted out of the hotel premises, while IP leaders and green groups are in front of the hotel holding their assembly.

Groups hit Tampakan miners in Mining Confab
Declared mining ‘intensifies struggles, communicates lies’

Manila – Mining activists and IP leaders staged a rally at the Sofitel Hotel on Thursday saying that the $5.2-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) will only worsen the lives of the people of Tampakan in South Cotabato, contrary to its claims that their project will ‘improve lives and give sustainable benefits to communities’.

Rene Pamplona, representative of the Diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato (SAC-Marbel) said “Hindi kami naniniwala sa sinasabi ng SMI at ng national government na malaki ang maitutulong ng $5.2-billion direct investment sa ekonomiya ng Pilipinas kung pagbabatayan ang mga epekto ng mina sa komunidad.” (We do not believe SMI and the national government when they say that the $5.2-billion direct investments will be good for the Philippine economy if we are to look at the impacts of this mining project to communities.)

The Xstrata-SMI Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) covers 23,571 hectares in four provinces namely, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Sarangani. A total of 10,000 hectares will be directly impacted by the mining operations.

Pamplona added, “Unang una, sa minerales na mawawala na hindi naman papasok sa magiging kita ng bansa. Pangalawa, sa magiging epekto ng mining operations sa kalikasan at water resources ng apat na probinsiya. Pangatlo, sa isyu ng epekto nito sa livelihood ng lahat ng stakeholders. Pang-apat, ang pagkamkam sa lupain ninuno ng mga katutubong B’laan. Idagdag mo pa ang social ills na dulot ngayon ng pagtulak ng proyektong ito.” (First, the earning from minerals that will be taken from our lands will not directly benefit the country. Second, the grave impacts of mining operations to the environment and water resources of four provinces. Third, the inevitable impact to the livelihoods of local residents and lastly, the FTAA literally takes away the ancestral lands of B’laans. We also cannot discount the fact that social ills caused by these happening.)

Meanwhile, Judy Pasimio, executive director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK/FOEI) said, “While Xstrata SMI is bragging that they will pour in more than $5 billion of investments, they will actually pollute approximately 7 billion liters of fresh water. Water that is currently used by communities, both upland and lowland in three provinces for domestic and agricultural use, including the approximately 5,000 thousand farmers and irrigators of South Cotabato that are dependent on these waters.”

Expert studies of the SMI draft Environmental Impact Statement for the mining project found that the mining project will result in extensive physical disturbance of forest lands, including old growth forests, threat water resources of four provinces, and further bring about tribal conflicts.

The mining operations overlap with four ancestral domains, including CADT 102, CADT 108, CADT 72 and CADC 74.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said, “As with many other mining projects in the Philippines, we believe that the Tampakan mining project, if pursued, will only add to the list of mining tragedies that in the end will not help the communities nor the national economy. We believe that this mining project will intensify human rights violations and conflicts and further aggravate the situation of our indigenous brothers and sisters in the mountains, not to mention the impact of the operations to agricultural activities.“

“Hinihiling namin na magbuo si Pangulong Aquino ng isang special body na mag-iimbistiga sa kasalukuyang kalagayan ng mine development area, pati na rin ang mga posibleng impact ng mining operations sa iba’t ibang stakeholders na hindi lang batay sa kung ano ang isasabmit ng SMI na Environmental Impact Statement at sigurado na makikita niyang dapat ikansela ang FTAA ng Xstrata SMI,” Pamplona concluded. (We call on to President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III to create a special body that will investigate the impacts of mining in the area and the people, and not just depend on the Environmental Impact System that SMI will submit. After careful studying it, we believe that the President will agree with us when we say that the FTAA of Xstrata SMI must be cancelled).

Proponents of the Tampakan mining project are now lobbying the Office of the President and the Department of Interior and Local Government to suspend the provision of the South Cotabato Provincial Environmental Code that bans open pit mining in the area—a move that will undermine the law passed by the local government in June 2010.

The picket coincided with the last day of a three-day International Mining Conference and Exhibition, hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, being held at the hotel.

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.

For more information:
Rene Pamplona, SAC-Marbel Advocacy Officer, <renepamplona@yahoo.com.ph>
Judy Pasiomio, LRC-KsK/FOEI Executive Director, (0917-5268341)
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61 <policy@alyansatigilmina.net>

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