Gabriela slams AFP’s move to militarize mining communities

Feb. 02, 2008

Militarization of mining communities will lead to more human rights violations and the displacement of tens of thousands in mining areas all over the country. This has been the experience of many Lumad communities in Mindanao and even in other regions when indigenous groups opt to oppose the destruction of their land and the disruption of their lives by the operations of big mining firms all over the country.”

This was the statement by Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan, lambasting proposals by AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon to train and provide militias to mining corporations in the country.

The Gabriela solon from Mindanao cited the evacuation of 12 lumad communities in November last year due to military operations intended to protect mining explorations around the Andap Valley complex, the second largest coal deposit in the country, where Chinese mining corporations have investments.

“Military activities threatened the lumad and peasant communities in the municipalities of Tago, Cagwait, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga and San Miguel in Surigao del Sur who are actively opposing the mining operations,” she said.

Ilagan said it is very alarming that instead of conducting consultations with the communities, mining firms and multinationals opt for the military solution to continue operations and pursue profits at the expense our communities.

We received reports that the increasing presence of military detachments and the installation of police checkpoints are observed in other mining areas nationwide, including Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu island, Albay, Filminera in Masbate island, Marcopper in Marinduque island, TVI in Zamboanga del Norte, NMRDC in Mt. Diwalwal, Rio Tuba in Palawan, Crew Minerals in Mindoro Oriental, Climax Arimco/Oxiana in Nueva Vizcaya, Abra, Batangas, and Zambales.”

Ilagan said that of the 886 victims of extra-judicial killings documented by the human rights Karapatan from January 2001 to July last year, 17 were identified to be active in the campaign against mining projects in their communities.

News reports revealed, that the AFP has offered to assist mining firms secure their areas; offering to organize, train and equip private security guards to protect exploration and production sites from rebel attacks.

“This is clearly a move towards intensifying military presence in mining communities and has to be stopped,” said Ilagan.

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