Press release by YLNM partner group Kalikasan PNE.
11 November 2015
Quezon City, Metro Manila—Over 200 indigenous Lumad protesters were joined by environmental activists under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in a picket action held today at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) central office, demanding the administration of President Noynoy Aquino to close mining operations with track records of environmental destruction and militarization of Lumad ancestral lands.
“Instead of trying to close the protest camp of the 700 indigenous Lumad who travelled more than 1,500 kilometers to Metro Manila to assert their marginalized voices, the Aquino administration should instead focus on issuing closure orders to various mining operations in Mindanao that have perpetuated militarization, plunder, and environmental destruction,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
With immense pressure coming from Malacanang, the Manila city government has cut short the allowed stay of the Manilakbayan, the protest caravan of Lumad from Mindanao to Metro Manila, from the end of the APEC Summit on November 19 down to just November 12.
“It should stop this clear attempt of green-washing over the realities of paramilitary troops burning down agricultural cooperatives and killing leaders of the Lumad to further the ‘APEC brand’ of mining liberalization the Philippine government has promoted over the past two decades,” Bautista furthered.
Yesterday, the groups led a protest caravan hopping around various mining companies with known links to paramilitary groups and military ‘investment defense forces,’ including Canadian-owned TVI-Resources and Development, and local middle-men companies ALSONS and DMCI.
Various other mining companies are known sponsors of paramilitary groups that terrorize peasant communities and indigenous ancestral lands, including the Tampakan mining project owned by ALSONS and previously funded by Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore, and the nickel mining operations of Nickel Asia, a local partner of Japanese miner Sumitomo.
These projects also have previously assessed major environmental threats and actual adverse impacts to water, agricultural lands, fisheries, and forests. Ironically, the mining companies that have interests in these mine projects are all members of the Chamber of Mines, the so-called ‘responsible mining’ lobby group of the mining industry.
“Aquino spent P10 billion for the rose-stained veneer of the 2015 APEC summit, not only by hiding street dwellers and urban poor sprawls away from the view, but by displacing the already dislocated and silencing the already voiceless Lumad. The MGB will play its role in this callousness by further ignoring the impunity of large-scale miners in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines to perpetuate the lie of peace and economic development in the mining industry,” lamented Bautista.
The groups demanded a statement from officials of the MGB to categorically demand the pull-out of military and paramilitary troops from mine-affected areas in Mindanao.
“If the silence and inaction of the MGB will be the hallmark of mining liberalization policies that will be promoted in the APEC, then the people across all 21 member economies of APEC should reject these policy dictates of imperialist globalization,” ended Bautista.