Communities reject mineral reservation plan in Saranggani
Saranggani – Sanguniang Bayan of Kiamba and Maitum and Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 12 are currently under fire with the local communities after news broke out that a municipal-wide consultation will be done aiming to create an ordinance declaring 11 thousand hectares of land as mineral reserves.
“We received news last week that the Sanguniang Bayan and MGB-Region 12 are pushing for this municipal-wide consultation for an ordinance and we were really surprised since they have already attempted to do this two years ago and failed.” said Pastor Jerry Bangon, Chairman of Kiamba Municipal Tribal Council (KMTC) and a member of the local IP community.
SOCKSARGEND CARE, a local anti-mining campaign center in Mindanao also lambasted the municipal-wide consultation.
“Communities have already spoken and expressed their opposition to this plan due to environmental and socio-economic concerns and yet here they are again pushing for this as if our message has not been clear the first time.” said Rene Pamplona, Coordinator of SOCKSARGEND CARE.
“Sanguniang Bayan and MGB Region-12 are saying that they are doing the consultation to gain social acceptability, well, we are clearly not accepting it, so what’s with the persistence?” added Pamplona.
Kiamba and Maitum are known for the lands’ abundance in gold, silver, iron, copper and other base metals.
Based on MGB data, there are two (2) Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) in Saranggani and six (6) MPSA applications in process. It also has one (1) on going mineral exploration and 10 applications.
Upon passage, the said ordinance will convert 11 thousand Has worth of forest and agricultural lands which will affect thousands of families depending on the agricultural production of the area.
It will also convert three (3) ancestral domains belonging to T’boli-Blaan-Manubo-lobo, T’Boli-Blaan and T’Boli-Manubo-Ubo and Mt. Busa, a common watershed area for the municipalities of Kiamba and Maitum, into mineral lands.
According to Bangon the United Nations’ Indigenous Community and Conserved Area (ICCA) has an international law governing Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) rights declaring common watersheds such as Mt. Busa as off-limits to economic activities such as large-scale mining.
“Sanguniang Bayan and MGB Region 12’s attempt to destroy Mt. Busa is clearly an abomination to IP cultural and traditional rights.” said Bangon.
“Also, this ordinance that they are planning to pass will not just destroy our common watershed and agricultural lands but our other bodies of water as well, especially in Kiamba since almost half of the municipality are coastal areas. In short, this ordinance will kill our ecosystem in general. ” added Bangon.
Meanwhile, national environmental non-government organization, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) expressed its support to the communities rejecting the municipal-wide consultation.
“These people, these communities are the ones who know what they need and what they want. Kiamba and Maitum are fighting for an environment that is socio-economically sustainable and as for the Indigenous Peoples, their rights to preserve their ancestral lands.” Said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
“We are calling on MGB region 12 and the Sanguniang Bayan of Kiamba and Maitum to listen and respect the voices of the communities and adhere to their purpose of prioritizing the welfare of the people and the environment.” concluded Garganera.
A public hearing will be held on March 25, in Kiamba Municipal Gym where Sanguniang Bayan will present the Mineral Reservation plan in Kiamba and Maitum. It aims to consolidate the opinions and reactions from different sectors regarding the proposed plan and ordinance.
The public hearing will be attended by representatives from MGB Region 12, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and from the affected communities.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.
For more information:
Rene Pamplona, SOCKSARGEND CARE Coordinator, (0918) 380.99.23, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
24 March 2015
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