17 Nov 2015
As Katnis Everdeen and the District 13 prepares to attack the Capitol on the last sequel of the Hunger Games Trilogy, the people of the North prepares to attack the ‘Capitol’ of the real world – the world leaders at the APEC Summit 2015.
On the Annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila on November 18-19, 2015, at most 750 indigenous peoples, peasants, workers and environmental advocates in the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera region is joining the nationally coordinated People’s Caravan Against Imperialist Globalization II on November 19 in Manila to bring the plight of the indigenous peoples, peasants and other progressive sectors to defend our land, life and natural resources against capitalist plunder.
In the national and international platform brought by the APEC meeting, the network composed of different people’s organization and environment advocates in the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera, will present to the public the impacts of APEC’s neoliberal policies in mining to the lives of the people in the North.
The delegation is spearheaded by Amianan Salakniban, the broadest environmental and human rights network in North Luzon composed of peoples organizations, non-government organizations, church institution, school organizations, professionals and environment and human rights advocates.
Attack on our Environment and Indigenous Peoples
A century experience of mining in the Cordillera brought nothing but plunder and environmental destruction. Among these environmental disasters are the Philex tailings spill in 2012, massive ground sinking in Colalo in 1999 and Poblacion, Mankayan in 2009 caused by the underground tunneling by Lepanto, and the most recent Virac sinkhole due to the mining operations by Benguet Corporation in Itogon, Benguet since 1903.
Instead of serving these incidents as reminders, applications under the PNoy administration amassed. Based on the mining tenement map of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), there are already 343 inland and offshore large-scale mining applications in north Luzon while 81 are approved large-scale mining operations. Among them are foreign large-scale mining companies of APEC member countries such as the United States, Australia, China, and Canada.
Canadian mining companies top the list of foreign mining investors in NL. According to Cordillera People’s Alliance, the founding member of AS, among these companies applying in the Cordillera are Columbus; Magellan; Olympus; Solfotara and its subsidiaries such as Adanacex, Canex; Pacific Metals; and Metallum Canada. These applications cover the municipalities of Bokod; Bakun; Kibungan, all from Benguet. In Abra, the municipalities covered by the applications are: Baay-Licuan; Tubo; Bucloc; Boliney; and Daguioman. Calanasan, Apayao is also covered by Canadian mining applications.
Australian mining corporations are already extensively operating in NL. Melbourne based- OceanaGold mining company, is operating with 2 Financial Technical Assistance Application from the government for open pit and underground mining. The negative effects of mining in the land, water and air are already being experienced by the residents in Didipio. Their human rights have been violated since their forced displacement and their water sources have been scientifically proven to be contaminated with high levels of copper. Oceana Gold is also applying to mine in Benguet as well as Australian mining companies, Royalco and IndoPhil.
Two US mining companies are also in the region, Phelps Dodge and Freeport McMoran. Their applications cover Balbalan and Lubuagan in Kalinga and Tubo in Abra.Chinese legal and illegal onshore and offshore magnetite mining in Ilocos and Cagayan valley region have made communities near the seas vulnerable to the effects of climate change. After tropical storms, Rice fields near the coasts have been flooded causing salt water intrusion to the soil. The lack of magnetite in the sands make the seashores erode and lessen the capacity to block tidal waves, causing shoreline retreat and gobbling villages in the process.
Attack on People’s Rights
Most of the areas applied for large-scale mining are ancestral lands of indigenous peoples (IPs). Based from the experiences and documentation done by grassroots people’s organizations and researches conducted by environment advocates under the AS network, mining companies constantly violate the collective rights of the IPs especially on the Free Prior Informed Consent.
Stories shared in the annual conveners meetings of AS saw common proof to the connivance between corporations and the government agencies such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). NCIP, supposedly protecting IP rights have become the mouthpiece of the mining companies, misinforming and bribing community leaders to give consent to their entry.
Communities resisting exploration and operations are being met with militarization, harassment, vilification, red tagging, trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, detention and torture; rape and threat to the security of women and children; extrajudicial killings; and enforced disappearances red tagging, false charges and even extra-judicial killings. Military operations are always visible in areas with mining applications to protect the interest of the companies. Under the counter insurgency program of the government called Oplan Bayanihan, instead of helping the communities, the military act as the security forces of mining companies threatening the people to resist. Communities have reported months-long military operations wherein they used schools and civilian houses as their camp and forcing residents to guide and act as shields in their military operations.
Attack on Patrimony
The laws of our country consents this situation in favor of foreign corporation’s interest. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 designed after liberal laws promoted by the APEC meetings in 1990s have further pushed the mining industry towards a complete sell-out of our national patrimony to foreign corporations.
The Philippine government has been docile to the dictates of big foreign mining capitalists attending the APEC summit such as Canada, US, Japan, Australia and China to liberalize our mining industry. In exchange for the myth of development, almost three decades of cooperation with them brought economic dislocation, displacement of communities, environmental destruction, health hazards and violations collective rights of the people especially the IPs.
Ergo Attack the Capitol
In a capitalist system such as the world we live in, the poor people are always the main players in the Hunger games of their everyday lives. The Capitol manipulating the impoverished districts is as much as real as how imperialist countries such as the key players in APEC control the economies of developing nations.
In the context of the Philippijnes, APEC clearly has become a venue for corporations to profit from our natural resources and our cheap labor. This is the reasons why the North will march the streets of Manila. We will make the voices of the marginalized be heard. We will turn all our weapons – our fists, our flags and banners, to the capitol and shout,
Daga, biag, Kinabaknang, Salakniban! (Defend our land, life and Natural resources!)***
For more information and follow-up interviews, please contact:
Amianan Salakniban Spokesperson
(+63) 0998 864 9167, 09079224889