January 30, 2008...2:52 am
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan today slammed proposals hatched by AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon to train and provide militias to mining corporations in the country. “Undoubtedly, this will lead to more human rights violations and 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,” said Rep. Ilagan.
The Gabriela solon from Mindanao cited the massive evacuation in 12 lumad communities in November last year due to military operations intended to protect mining explorations around the AndapValley Complex, the second largest coal deposit in the country and 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.”
According to Ilagan, “It is very alarming that instead of conducting consultations in communities, mining firms and multinationals opt for the military solution in order to continue operations and pursue profits at the expense our communities. We have received reports that the increasing presence of military detachments and the installation of police checkpoints are observed in other mining-affected 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 further said that of the 886 victims of extrajudicial killings documented by the human rights organization, KARAPATAN from January 2001 to July 2007, 17 have been identified as being active or leading the campaign against mining projects in their respective communities.
News reports revealed, that the AFP has offered to assist mining firms in their security requirements, offering to organize, train and equip private security guards to protect exploration and production sites from rebel attacks. “This is clearly a move towards the intensification of militarization of mining communities and has to be stopped.” said Ilagan. #