Mining in Compostela

Protesters rally against large-scale mining in Compostela Valley Province. This photo was taken in September 2013. (File photo)

TAGUM CITY — An alliance of indigenous peoples in the country urged candidates for the upcoming national elections to consider the abolition of Philippine Mining Act of 1995, replacing it with a regulation tailored to benefit indigenous communities where many of the country’s minerals are extracted.

“We call upon the presidential…and all the senatorial and congressional candidates to heed the call of the Filipino people and pledge to the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995,” said Rev. Irma Balaba, a member of the Scrap Mining Act of 1995 Network

The group first mounted its first campaign in June 14 which gathered thousands of signatures against the said law. By the end of 2015, they were able to gather more than 18,000 signatures in several activities in Manila.

As a replacement to the law, they are proposing that candidates mull over enacting a “People’s Mining Bill”: a patriotic, pro-Indigenous Peoples, and pro-environment mining bill.

“The 2016 National Elections should be a platform not just for flowery promises but to hear and act upon the people’s demands who are giving us constant warnings about economic sustainability and rampant destruction brought upon by wanton profiteering,” Balaba said.

‘Moved by Leonardo’

Rooting for Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s cringe-worthy acceptance speech during the 2016 Oscar’s Awards, Bro. Ciriaco Santiago III, a co-convener of the group said that politicians should speak for the indigenous peoples especially on issues about mining and environment.

“Yesterday, we heard the strong words of Mr. DiCaprio in the Academy Awards. It is very timely for us to reflect and respond to, especially after 21 years of plunder of our resources and destruction of our lands as facilitated by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. We call on the candidates to take Leonardo DiCaprio’s position and act upon our concrete and legitimate demands,” said Santiago.

On the other hand, Kasalo, a local organization of indigenous peoples in Caraga, said that mining operations in the region continue to pose destruction to the lives of the people while at the same time, lives are at risk because of the unabated military operations in the communities.

“There are 28 mining operations in our region by corporations such as Abacus and Benguet Mines, threatening our existence along with the intense military operations in our communities,” said Josephine Pagalan, spokesperson of Kasalo.

Pagalan, a Manobo evacuee from Tandag City, vowed that they will continue to defend their land and life against plunder and destruction of large-scale and destructive mining.

“We urgently call the national candidates to reject the liberalized, foreign controlled and export-oriented mining industry,” the group said. (

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