June 5, 2008

Cordillera: Renewed Plight Against Mining

Active ImageIn light of the worsening human rights situation and simultaneous militarization of the land of the indigenous peoples of Cordillera they seek international support for their plight.

Below is an article based on a newsletter of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance:

Last May 2008, community leaders, elders, women, and youth have reconfirmed their stand on Olympus Pacific Minerals and other large mines in their ancestral domain, in which they condemn them for “grossly violat[ing] the rights of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain and failed to comply with the requirements under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and NCIP AO No.1, S. 2006.”. In simultaneous caucuses on issues that affect them, the elders, women and youth came up with another set of resolutions strongly backing the tide of official petitions received by regional and provincial offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). 

In the community meetings with Olympus and the NCIP, community leaders called on them to stop the process of any further development of mining activities. Therefore, not allowing Olympus to conduct any large-scale mining to take effect in their ancestral domain. Furthermore stating that the violation of their collective rights over their ancestral lands, destruction of their livelihood resources and environmental disasters is connected to mining. 

Such reiteration clearly mirrors their uncompromising stand and collective decision versus Olympus destructive mining. The community position is clearly an overwhelming NO to Olympus Pacific Mining and destructive mining. 

The communities even complained that this questionable process initiated by Olympus and NCIP has been disturbing their economic activities and a waste of time and effort because they will not change their position. At this point, this so-called Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process - recognizes indigenous peoples’ inherent and prior rights to their lands and resources and respects their legitimate authority to require that third parties enter into an equal and respectful relationship with them, based on the principle of informed consent - has become an imposition and is undemocratic because it is still being pursued even as the communities have repeatedly stated its rejection to Olympus’ operations. A point has been reached where it is already being forced on them despite their rejection. It runs counter to the basic principle, procedure and intent of FPIC since it is not upholding or respecting the communities’ collective decision. Communities have the right to accept and reject such process. It is high time the NCIP and Olympus respects the communities’ decision and stop this unacceptable process immediately. Olympus is using the FPIC as a trap to later claim that indeed, it secured the communities’ FPIC when in fact violated it much earlier when it explored and drilled in Capcapo. Pursuing this would be no different from imposition and manipulation of FPIC to serve the selfish interest of Olympus in its intent to resume mining exploration towards operation at the expense of the affected communities. Pursuing the imposed process is Olympus’ interest, to note that it is conducting it under a climate of fear and militarization.


Note:

To download a copy of the newsletter, please click here. (PDF 876kb).