Indigenous peoples support ‘People’s Mining Bill’

INDIGENOUS peoples from the Katribu Partylist and the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) with green group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment showed their support to the People’s Mining Bill as the partylist lawmakers filed the bill in Congress today.

According to Beverly Longid, president of Katribu Partylist and an indigenous Bontok-Kankana-ey, “The Mining Act of 1995 brought only suffering for indigenous peoples. The law takes away our rights to our ancestral lands, and encourages foreign large-scale mining corporations to plunder not only the  resources in our ancestral territories but also the country’s mineral wealth.”

The Mining Act of 1995 is criticized by indigenous peoples and environment groups  as it allows for 100% ownership of foreign entities of Philippine mineral lands, and provides other concessions in favor of mining investors.

“It’s high time for the Philippines to have a new mining law that is pro-indigenous people and pro-environment, says Longid. We are faced with ecological disasters and climate change, amid the active land-grabbing of our ancestral lands. We called for the scrapping of the Mining Act  since its enactment 16 years ago,” she said.

The groups lauded progressive lawmakers Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party in drawing up the People’s Mining Bill, which “sums up the people’s call for a sustainable, pro-people, and pro-environment mining policy geared towards national industrialization.”

Most mining projects and pending applications in the Philippines are in indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains, says the group.

“The partylist groups worked closely with indigenous peoples, Longid shared,The indigenous peoples’ collective rights   and concerns were duly recognized in the crafting of this bill. We appreciate the respect that these lawmakers have for indigenous peoples.”

Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson, acknowledges that the bill strengthens the indigenous peoples’ rights to ancestral lands and self determination.

“A genuine free prior and informed consent with indigenous communities before approval of mining  applications is paramount in the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights,” Malayao said.

The Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from indigenous communities is a requirement for development projects operating in ancestral domains.

“It is the most violated procedure in mining applications. It is usually circumvented, extracted from the community by the use of coercion and deceit. The People’s Mining Bill will seek to eliminate this tradition,” Malayao said.

KAMP actively campaigns against ‘mining plunder’ in ancestral domains. “Today’s mining industry is very exploitative. The Filipino people are in the losing end of the deal. Companies rake in billions of dollars in profits while Filipinos and communities remain poor. The People’s Mining Bill ensures that mining will benefit the Filipino people, including indigenous peoples,” Malayao explained.

“The People’s Mining Bill is a step towards the genuine recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights,” Malayao said.

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