Posted Thursday, 20 January 2011 14:32
Indigenous Peoples, Issues & Resources, indigenouspeoplesissues.com
Environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE lauds the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigation, urging the national government to revoke the permit of the Australian mining company Oceana Gold Corporation (OGC) after it was found to have violated the rights of the indigenous peoples in Nueva Vizcaya.
“Companies like OGC that violate human rights and destroy the environment have no reason to stay and should not be allowed to operate in our country. President Noynoy Aquino should immediately rescind the mineral agreement of OGC if he is truly concerned about the environment and if his ‘responsible mining’ advocacy is pro-people and not pro-corporate,” said Clemente G. Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Ocean Gold acquired a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) covering 17,626 hectares of mineral lands in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya. In December 2008, OGC stopped their mining development in the area because of financial trouble, disapproval of local government units, and strong community resistance.
“The local indigenous people’s organizations, environmental groups, the local Churches, municipal government, the provincial government, and even the House of Congress have the same findings and position as the CHR. We want Oceana Gold to be kicked out of Nueva Vizcaya, it should pack up and go immediately. Only the corrupt and pro-mining administration of Gloria Arroyo allowed Oceana Gold to stay in the past.”
In the 14th Congress, the Committee on National Cultural Communities investigated mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya in 2008 and found out that Oceana Gold had committed several violations. The Committee reported that OGC did not properly follow the required Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, it violated the rights of the indigenous communities, and failed to report its FTAA to Congress which is required by law. The House Committee also recommended the reprocessing of the mining agreement of Oceana Gold.
Defend Patrimony; a multisectoral alliance opposing foreign mining, urged the government to follow the recommendation of CHR and the House Committee. “The national government should heed the demands of the local government units and communities especially the indigenous people of Nueva Vizcaya. The new Aquino administration should prove that it is an opposite of the previous administration of Arroyo which at the expense of the indigenous people and the environment, has allowed foreign mining companies to plunder our mineral resources and degrade our ecosystem,” say Pia Malayao, an indigenous leader from Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and spokesperson of Defend Patrimony.
“More so, the Aquino administration should stop and reverse its policy of mining liberalization. As long this policy continues, the operation of foreign mining companies will continue to result to human rights violations and displacement of indigenous people’s communities,” Malayao explained.