LRC STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT AQUINO’S APPROVAL OF THE CREATION OF MINING MILITIAS
October 16, 2011
Protect Indigenous and Rural Communities, not Mining Companies
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center calls on President Aquino to stop the cycle of violence in ancestral domains and rural communities by taking back his approval of the military proposal of mining firms funding and organizing their own Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) units to secure their operations. It is the indigenous peoples and rural communities that are in dire need of protection from violence and attacks, not mining corporations.
Indigenous peoples in ancestral domains targeted by corporations for large scale extraction of their mineral wealth have never been plagued with continuous perpetration and threats of violations and violence in the history of their tribes’ existence as they are going through right now with the government’s implementation of the Mining Act of 1995. Their lives and territories have always been under attack due to conflicts caused by mining.
President Aquino’s approval of mining militias violates indigenous peoples right to self determination inside their ancestral domains. Genuine peace and development in ancestral domains demand that the state respect the right to self determination of indigenous peoples which includes their right to decide their own path to development and their free, prior and informed consent to any policies and actions that would intrude in their lives and territories. The entry of mining corporations into ancestral domains have been marked with violations of indigenous peoples rights and this will be terribly aggravated with the presidential approval of the creation of mining militias in indigenous peoples territories.
We are demanding from President Aquino to make a break in the cycle of violence that has marked government policies and actions in the past. Do not use the rebel attacks against mining operations in Claver as an excuse to again escalate conflict and violence in ancestral domains and rural communities.
In 2008, ex-president Arroyo created the Investments Defense Force after NPA rebels attacked a gold processing plant in Compostela Valley. In just a couple of months, heightened military deployment and operations in minderal rich areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental had resulted in the displacement of hundreds of Mansaka, Mandaya and peasant settler families as well as allegations of harassment, physical assault and torture of individuals.
Regular security forces of mining corporations have already racked up a growing number of violent attacks on community members and protesters against mining operations. In 2007 the chief security of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC) shot to death Sibuyan councilor Armin Marin during a protest outside the mine. Just this March the company guard of TVI Resources Development (TVIRD) also shot to death Rudy Segovia in a road blockade that was set up in protest of TVIRD operations.
Members of the CAFGU, SCAAs, and other militias have a long history of human rights violations in the Philippines including torture and killings, approving mining militias would be tantamount to formalizing mining related human rights violations. As it is, even without P-Noy’s approval of mining militias, there already is a long list of indigenous peoples leaders, environmentalists and human rights defenders who have been killed in the course of their struggle against mining. Eliezer Billianes who led campaigns against the Swiss Xstrata Tampakan Gold Copper Project was killed in a public market in 2009. Ricardo Banad who had opposed the Mindoro Nickel Project of Norwegian Intex Resources was killed in his house in 2010. Just this January, Dr. Jerry Ortega who had opposed mining in Palawan was shot dead hired killers.
Again we urge President Aquino to put an end to all this violence, prioritize the protection of indigenous peoples and rural communities and work to give justice to mining related human rights violations.
It is also time for government to end facilitating and protecting corporate plunder of the environment at all costs in exchange for a pittance in government revenues. A new Minerals Management Law must be enacted to replace the conflict causing Mining Act of 1995.
Statement from the men and women of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan / Friends of the Earth – Philippines (LRCK-KsK/FoE-Philippines)