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Groups blame mining companies for killings, HRVs in Tampakan: “Their blood is in your hands!!!” -Tampakan Forum

Tampakan Forum Press Release
8 November 2013

Groups blame mining companies for killings, HRVs in Tampakan: “Their blood is in your hands!!!”

Tampakan Forum protest action in Makati. Photo by PMPI

Tampakan Forum protest action in Makati. Photo by PMPI

Members of the Tampakan Forum blamed the mining investments of Glencore, Xstrata, Indophil and Sagittarius Mines Inc of the Tampakan Gold Copper Project as the root of all human rights violations against indigenous communities in the mineral-rich area.

The activists gathered to give tribute to the lives of martyred environmentalists and human rights defenders, commemorated by advocates globally every Nov 10—anniversary of the death of Ken Saro Wiwa, a Nigerian environmentalist killed for his struggle against oil extraction in 1995.

Zoom in: Tampakan HRVs and killings

In Tampakan, host to the largest undeveloped copper deposit in Southeast Asia, there have been indigenous peoples killed due to their opposition to the mining project since the mining contract was issued .

Last year, Oct 18, a family was killed by members of the Philippine Army in an attempt to hunt down Daguil Capion—a Blaan leader who strongly opposed the project. To the military, Capion’s family members were mere collateral damage due to what they called as “operational lapses”.

After the October 2012 massacre, three separate military operations in January, June and August caused the killing of five more Blaans.

The groups believe that there is collaboration between the government and mining companies to displace affected communities to allow the operations of the Tampakan Copper Gold Project. While the B’laan communities continue to be threatened by the presence of military forces in their ancestral domains, more human rights violations were documented.

These human rights violations were attributed to the development investment there. This has been verified by several fact-finding missions by civil society organizations, and by a recent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA ) done by an international institution. The study, which was done this year, found that the mining project, if pursued, would likely result in conflict escalation and more violence. The study concluded that operating the mine even in a responsible manner was not feasible. It also recommended the cancellation of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) for the Tampakan project.

STOP THE KILLINGS!

In commemoration of victims of killings and human rights violations in Tampakan, groups in Manila marched to the SMI Office in Ayala Ave to condemn the killings.

”Since the entry of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Davao Del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Saranggani provinces, the lives of the affected communities especially the Blaans have never been at peace,” said Erwin Quinones of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.

He added that about ten (10) anti mining community elders, leaders and members of the tribe already lost their lives, eight of which happened in the last 10 months at Bong Mal and perpetrated by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit or (CAFGUs) and Task Force KITACO.

Erita Capion Dialang, relative of the martyred IPs and Blaan leader asked: “Pila pa ka kinabuhi sa mga Blaan ang kinahanglan makalas aron maminaw ug motuo ang gubyerno na dili gyud dawat sa mga tribu ug bisan pa sa mga katawhan sa patag ang mina? (How many more lives of the Blaans have to be taken for the government to listen that this project is not acceptable to the IP’s and to the lowlanders?)”

They also held a prayer gathering and candle lighting activity in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to commemorate the lives of environmental heroes and human rights defenders who where killed in the struggle against mining and other development aggressions.

They reminded the government of its role to protect, respect and fulfill its human rights commitments, specifically in the context of a large development project like the Tampakan mining project.

The Tampakan Forum also demanded the total pull-out of the military in the mine-affected area, and that the mining contract be reviewed and eventually cancelled.

“Most importantly, we demand JUSTICE for all the victims of the violations and killings. Military personnel, private militias, and business companies should be held liable for the injustices they have caused. Especially, we need an explanation from the government on how they will resolve this problem, and their readiness to manage and handle such project that endanger the lives of the IP’s and the livelihood of the directly and indirectly affected communities,” said Rene Pamplona, advocacy officer of SAC Marbel.

The SMI-Xstrata FTAA for the Tampakan Gold-Copper Mining Project covers 23, 571 hectares in four provinces namely, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Saranggani. The permit overlaps four ancestral domains including CADT 102, CADT 108, CADT 72 and CADC 74.

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Tampakan Forum is a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue convened by the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI) in collaboration with the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOEI), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS), Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines.

For more information:
Erwin Quinones, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, wengquins@gmail.com (0917) 5853817
Rene Pamplona, Social Action Center—Marbel, renepamplona@yahoo.com.ph (0908) 1264530

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