Mining operations in Salcedo, Eastern Samar is “out of control”
The government authorities have failed to enforce laws to protect human rights of the mining affected community in the province of Eastern Samar particularly in the town of Salcedo, said Atty. Mario Maderazo, Legal and Advocacy Officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI).
PMPI, a member of the Task Force Salcedo (Multi-Sectoral Monitoring Committee) stressed this lack of enforcement has led to “pervasive lawlessness” and “environment of fear” in the mining affected community of Salcedo.
The Task Force Salcedo is composed of several representatives of the Church, government agencies, peoples’ organizations and Civil Society Organizations to ensure and maintain cooperation with and coordinated response and action to address and resolve human rights issues in Salcedo, Eastern Samar. It was formed as a result of the dialogue conducted last July 27, 2012.
In its report, the group alleges that many alleged human rights violations in Brgy. Carapdapan and other parts of Salcedo, Eastern Samar since March 2012 are attributed, in large part, to the local communities’ opposition to mining.
In a 16-page report of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), “Mining Rush in Salcedo, Eastern Samar, Rakes Up Violence and Social Conflicts”, which was released on Friday at a press conference at Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte, the Task Force Salcedo emphasized the perceived propensity of some government authorities to favor mining companies only exacerbated the tension within the community.
The FFM was conducted last July 24-27, 2012 by representatives of eighteen (18) national and regional-based organizations led by the Diocesan Commission on Social Action (DSAC) of the Diocese of Borongan, Eastern Samar.
Ian Mosquisa Director of the Social Action Center (SAC) of Diocese of Borongan said “maintaining peace and order in Brgy. Carapdapan and other parts of Salcedo, Eastern Samar, by the authorities must be firmly grounded in the principles of human rights and rule of law. In this regard, accountability is a key, on the part of the authorities, that all those suspected of committing negligence and violating pertinent laws must be investigated and, where appropriate prosecuted.”
“The government has encouraged lawlessness by failing to enforce the law or even monitor whether mine operators are complying with it,” Mosquisa added.
Human rights violations
Salcedo has been hit by several mining related human rights violations in recent months.
The FFM report said that there are laws and regulations on mining to protect mining affected community from harm and violence, but their enforcement has essentially “collapsed”.
Last May 1, 2012, Mr. Francisco “Mano Ansing” Canayong, known human rights defender working in the campaign against mining in Brgy. Carapdapan, Salcedo and other parts of Eastern Samar, was killed. The authorities had been alerted of death threats against him and other human rights defenders a few weeks before the killing, Fr. Juderick Canlumpiano, DSAC Chairperson said.
The motive of the killing is directly related to Mr. Canayong’s work in the campaign against mining in Brgy. Carapdapan and other parts of Salcedo, Eastern Samar. Thus the findings are contrary to the initial report conducted by the CHR Region VIII in its Investigation Report saying that the killing of Mr. Canayong “could not have been mining-related,” is one of the findings of the FFM.
“Statements from witnesses and complainants, and documentary evidences gathered by the Mission have shown the lack of effective response by authorities to the killing of Mr. Canayong and alleged threats and harassment to human rights defenders of Brgy. Carapdapan, has resulted in the prevailing environment of fear amongst the population in the said mining affected community,” Farah Diva Gamalo of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)-Visayas stressed.
Three Catholic bishops namely Bishops Crispin Varquez of Borongan, Isabelo Abarquez of Calbayog and Emmanuel Trance of Catarman have voiced outrage over the murder of an anti-mining advocate in the province through a pastoral letter last May 18, 2012.
Based on the records of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Regional Office VIII, there are ongoing extraction of chromite ore by subsistence miners and buying/trading of said ores in Salcedo, Eastern Samar particularly in five barangays namely: Carapdapan, Cantamoja, Camanga, Palanas and Cagaut. The identified buyers/ traders of extracted chromite ores are Yinshu Mining Corporation, Terrestial Mining Corporation and Exotic Treasure Collection Mining Corporation.
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