BAGUIO CITY: The Cordillera Peoples Alliance urged the public not to support candidates without a clear position and stance against large scale and destructive mining operations.
The call was made during the 21st anniversary of the passage of the Philippine Mining Act (PMA) on March 3, 1995, saying that 21 years after the Mining Code, Cordillera remains to be among the poorest regions of the country.
Contrary to belief that liberalizing the mining industry would boost economic development, the PMA of 1995 did not bring development, instead, it caused irreversible environmental destruction and systematic violations of indigenous people’s rights, the group added.
In a statement, CPA said the issue of environmental protection should be a major agenda of candidates in the coming May elections. Candidates with a track record of supporting large scale and destructive mining must be rejected, adding that they will only support candidates who are “pro-environment, anti-large scale and destructive mining and anti-big dams.”
In the Cordillera region, the Mining Code paved the way for the entry of big foreign and local mining corporations. Presently, at least 102 mining applications for 672, 140.7946 hectares in the region are pending.
In areas with mining applications, the issues of corruption, bribery, manipulation and total disregard of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), threats, harassment and intimidation, and other forms of rights violations are used by mining corporations in cahoots with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Mines Geosciences and some local government units to make their way into the communities. Worse, government security forces are used as investment defense force and to quell people’s resistance in the communities affected by mining projects, CPA said.
THOM F. PICAÑA