BAGUIO CITY: Some 750 indigenous peoples, peasants, workers and environmental advocates from the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera regions are joining the march Wednesday for “People’s Caravan Against Imperialist Globalization II” going to Manila to bring their plight before world leaders attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
The group belonging to Amianan Salakniban gathered at Igorot Garden here Tuesday afternoon to kick off what they call March from the North and expected to arrive Manila in time for the APEC meeting.
Fernando Mangili, the group’s spokesman said they will make the voices of the marginalized be heard without the use of weapons but with clenched fists, flags and banners.
“We will present to the public the impacts of APEC’s neoliberal policies in mining to the lives of the people in the North,” Mangili added.
A century experience of mining in the Cordillera brought nothing but plunder and environmental destruction, Mangili, who hails from the mining district of Itogon, said.
He cited environmental disasters at the Philex tailings in 2012; massive ground sinking in Colalo in 1999 and in Poblacion, Mankayan in 2009 caused by the underground tunneling by Lepanto; and the most recent Virac sinkhole at the mining operations by Benguet Corporation in Itogon, Benguet.
In spite the spate of tragedy, he said, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) continues to grant allow some 343 inland and offshore large-scale mining applications in north Luzon. while 81 are approved large-scale mining operations. Among these are foreign large-scale mining companies of APEC member countries such as the United States, Australia, China, and Canada.
The Canadian mining companies reportedly top the list of foreign mining investors in Northern Luzon. These mining applications cover the municipalities of Bokod, Bakun, and Kibungan in Benguet; the towns of Baay-Licuan, Tubo, Bucloc, Boliney, and Daguioman in Abra; and in Calanasan, Apayao.
Mangili said these mining companies constantly violate the collective rights of the indigenous people, especially on the Free Prior Informed Consent.
Amianan Salakniban insists Philippine laws are in favor of foreign corporation’s interests, including the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which is designed after liberal laws promoted by the APEC meetings in 1990s have pushed further the mining industry towards a complete sell-out of our national patrimony to foreign corporations.