PHILIPPINES: Indigenous Peoples’ Group Challenges Aquino Regime: ‘Stop Foreign Mining And Plunder Of Resources’

Indigenous peoples under the progressive partylist KATRIBU, together with various environmental groups, called on the Aquino administration to halt foreign mining operations and defend national resources from plunder, in a protest action at Mendiola earlier today.

More than 600 people from KATRIBU and other groups held the protest in commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the passage of the Philippine Mining Act, which liberalized mining in the country and encouraged foreign investments in the industry.

Protesters decried Aquino’s policy on mining as subservient to foreign interests, and burned an effigy of a foreign puppeteer controlling a marionette of the Philippine president in a backhoe during the program to symbolize their condemnation.

“During the 17 years of the implementation of the Philippine Mining Act, all that the Philippines achieved was environmental destruction, violation of indigenous peoples’ rights and relentless foreign plunder of our rich mineral resources,” said Kakai Tolentino, Dumagat Spokesperson of KATRIBU Partylist.

“The promise of ‘economic and social development’ by mining companies is nothing but lip service. The lopsided mining policies have significantly contributed to the degradation of ‘host communities,’ which companies only see as repositories of minerals–not as homes to families and individuals,”

According Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, the nation’s largest alliance of indigenous people organizations, analysis of the data on the Approved Mining Tenements from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the Department of Natural Resources, the government has approved 184 mining applications in areas occupied by indigenous peoples, covering an estimated 595,058.11 hectares of ancestral lands in 28 provinces.

Of the 184 approved mining applications, five are Financial Technical Assistance Agreements; 118 are Mineral Production Sharing Agreements; 39 are for Exploration Permits; and eight are Mineral Processing Permits.

“The Philippine Mining Act should be repealed to halt violation of of indigenous peoples’ rights and salvage what’s left of our mineral resources,” said Tolentino.


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