Tribesmen Say Mining Destroy Sacred Lands In Mindanao

August 15, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 15 Aug) – Lumad tribesmen on Wednesday slaughtered a white chicken in ritual to protest the destruction of their ancestral land by mining activities in the southern Philippines.

Datu Monico Cayog, the group’s leader, said mining activities have destroyed their lands and polluted rivers and mountain springs in Mindanao where large scale mining are going on.

The indigenous people, composed mostly of Manobo, Bagobo, Umayamnon, Blaan Lumad tribes, are members of the Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao under the larger group called PASAKA.

They were protesting also the government’s liberal mining policies and accused authorities of human rights violations against the indigenous tribes.

“The white chicken symbolizes the peace that we demand, while the blood symbolizes death to all destructive projects in their communities, particularly mining, logging, dams and militarization that resulted in uncountable human rights abuses perpetrated against the Lumads,” Cayog said.

He said human rights abuses perpetrated against indigenous tribes escalate due to mining activities and other government projects in their communities without public consultations.

“These projects are coupled with militarization, since the government knows that the Lumads protest these destructive projects. Genuine development will only be achieved thought nationalized industrialization which is free from the encroachment of foreign or local firms which only want to plunder our natural resources,” he said.

Norma Capuyan, chairperson of the Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa Cotabato (ASLPC), also denounced the transfer of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC) in the direct control of President Gloria Arroyo.

“Out of the 18 mining priority areas in Mindanao, at least 16 are inside ancestral domains of the indigenous peoples. The influx of mining companies is thus tantamount to the death of indigenous communities which depend greatly on their ancestral land for survival,” Capuyan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Capuyan said that aside from mining activities, commercial and illegal logging also caused the deforestation of many Lumad communities in Mindanao, such as Ata-Manobo ancestral lands in Davao Del Norte province.

She said the ongoing construction of the Tudaya hydro-power plant in Mount Apo, a protected area, is also threatening the denudation of Bagobo and Manobo communities.

Dolphing Ogan, secretary general of the group KALUMARAN, a federation of Lumad organizations in Mindanao, said the deteriorating situation has affected the political, socio-economic and rich culture of the indigenous people.

“The Lumad people are suffering from blatant neglect from the government due to the absence of education, health and other basic social services in our communities.”

“We are grabbed of our ancestral land which is the material base of our socio-cultural, economic, and political life. Appallingly, we are also tagged as rebels or enemies of state every time we defend the mere right to our land and life,” Ogan said.

There are at least 18 indigenous tribes in Mindanao.

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