Indigenous peoples says Mining Act of 1995 allows DMCI to violate their collective rights; challenge presidentiables to repeal the law

Makati City — On the 21st year of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, indigenous peoples (IP) leaders of the Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU) with environmental groups held a protest action in front of the DMCI office to condemn its anti-people and anti-environment  operations. KATRIBU also challenged all the presidential and national candidates to enact the People’s Mining Bill, and scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (R.A. 7942) that  legitimizes violations of IP rights by corporations like DMCI.
“The DMCI is one of  the giant corporations that the Philippine Mining Act has allowed to plunder our natural resources and prey on indigenous communities. DMCI has a plantation, logging and mining exploration in Sultan Kudarat in the ancestral lands of the Dulanagan Monabo,” said Pya Macliing Malayao, a Bonok-Igorot, and Secretary General of KATRIBU.
The DMCI is suspected to be behind the enforced disappearance of John Calaba, a Dulangan Manobo leader on April 30, 2015. Calaba is the public information officer of the Kisasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KIDUMA) organization that is actively opposing the logging and mining operations of DMCI in Sultan Kudarat. “Since the 1990s, the DMCI logging and plantation projects took over their ancestral lands and displaced them,” Malayao said.
“The Abacus Consolidated Resources & Holdings, Inc. is another corporation that is now in Surigao del Sur to set up a coal mining operation. This is one of the reasons behind the continuous military operations in the province that led to the massacre of our lumad leaders and an educator in Lianga last September,” Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo evacuee in Tandag City and spokesperson of MAPASU lumad organization in Surigao del Sur expained.
“The Mining Act of 1995 not only legalizes the plunder of our mineral wealth by giant corporations but also gives them easement rights, water rights and timber rights. It is a total package that favors these corporations and not the Filipino people,” said Malayao.
The law exacerbated the plunder of mineral resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Indigenous communities’ meager benefit, if any, does not compensate for the destruction of our ancestral lands and communities.  The Mining Act of 1995 allowed the surge of mining projects in ancestral lands. Until the end of 2013, 251 applications that cover 532,368.36 hectares (or 55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by IP communities. 
“People’s resistance to unabated large-scale and destructive mining operations brought upon by the Mining Act of 1995 are met with repression. Human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats and harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests,” Malayao lamented.
“We challenge the presidential candidates and other national and local candidates to pledge their commitment to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and enact the People’s Mining Bill to reorient the mining industry towards building our national industry,” concluded Malayao. #