This article will show how data from the recent Tampakan Forum Fact Finding Mission (more information at the end) points to the inevitability of war in Tampakan, site of the proposed Xstrata-SMI gold-copper mine. The ‘loyalty matrix’ below shows the increasing polarization of forces leading towards war.
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- The B’laans (in red) are at the center of conflict, splintered beyond re-integration, the final victims of war. They make up the 25,000 of the affected 40,000 individuals. Is an inter-tribal peace pact possible? Yes, but improbable because both sides are extremely polarized.
- The President, beleaguered by powerful lobby forces on both sides, does not have a clear stand, postponing a promised EO, sticking to the status quo of contradicting laws (Mining Act versus the IPRA). He has expressed support for both mining and anti-mining groups.
- Xstrata stockholders in the London and Swiss stock markets are unaware of the human rights abuses against Filipinos. When a Subanen chieftain spoke during a London stockholders meeting of TVI, they were shocked at the inhuman treatment of indigenous people and voted that TVI close its Midsalip mine in Mindanao.
- National government agencies are predominantly pro-SMI for strange reasons. Note that either you are for or against, nothing in between, meaning if you are pro-SMI you are necessarily anti-people, based on abuses the B’laans are getting from SMI.
- The DENR temporarily denied the ECC of SMI based on an open pit ban imposed by the South Cotabato government. There are fears the provincial government may succumb to Xstrata-SMI financial and political pressures to reverse the ban.
- When the ECC was denied, this emboldened Xstrata-SMI to further intensify its mining activities, which is illegal. They have the gall to defy laws and continue committing human rights abuses because they know the government is too weak and incapable of stopping them, and can easily be bought with ‘development funds’ and an illusion of huge tax revenues, which are but a trickle of their profits. Powerful mining multinationals manipulating laws and mutilating weak Third World nations is a global trend. They are emboldened by weak resistance.
- The British embassy (representing its government) issued a statement in support of Xstrata, keeping silent about the abuses suffered by the B’laans. So it is grouped with the anti-people.
- Xstrata-SMI turns a blind eye on ongoing conflicts. Is it hoping that conflict escalates as an excuse for the military to raise havoc and leave a no-man’s land for SMI? They know the B’laans said they will never leave and would rather die in their ancestral domain. Do they have a so-be-it response?
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- The role of militarization, with SMI participation through its Australian mercenary, in the suppression of B’laan rights is a crucial factor in the vicious circle of escalation. This suppression is resulting in hunger through denial of food sources and curtailment of freedom to practice their ancient religion, forcing them to adopt more violent responses. This is the essence of the escalation principle.
- SMI never gave an inch to B’laan demands, hinting that they want to force an escalated conflict as an excuse for militarization and forced relocation. SMI, with its vast financial resources, could have easily paid for damages of crops, and land use rentals, which are a drop in the bucket. They have intensified relocation moves without an ECC, which is illegal.
- The anti-mining B’laans are agreeable to a peace process through a dialogue with pro-mining B’laans provided there are no SMI and military present. When comments were made that this is a useless exercise, they said they have to exploit all means, no matter how small, because it is the last resort. They do not want to be forced into a pangayao or an inter-tribal war of pro- and anti-mining groups, as this will result in B’laans killing B’laans.
- The NCIP wants to conduct a survey of pros and antis. Considering the bad reputation of NCIP personnel siding with miners, this is a dangerous move, since they can easily manipulate results.
- A pangayao will necessarily trigger instant total escalation as the antis will be forced to seek NPA help, and the pros military counter-response, resulting in genocide. In this Xstrata-SMI death wish, the cleansing will result in its take over to mine blood-drenched gold? Will President Aquino agree, for a fistful of blood-drenched gold?
- The Fact Finding Mission was crucial in having the B’laan voice heard and projected in the media. The Church support has two effects – to control growing B’laan anger seeking more violent options; and to assure the B’laans they are not alone in their struggle, so they look more towards peaceful resolution. The Church wants to focus on these peaceful options that will save the B’laans from genocide.
- Complete demilitarization of the mine site area, to be replaced by a civilian monitoring group representing all stakeholders. The NPA can also be asked to stay away through the ongoing peace talks of government and rebels.
- Ban the military in coordinating with Xstrata-SMI to satisfy its mining interests rather than establish ‘security’ and safety for residents.
- Work towards an inter-tribal dialogue without outside forces. Let them handle their peace process themselves as they have done for centuries.
- The government should order Xstrata-SMI to stop all illegal activities, especially continued exploration, road widening, relocation moves, until an ECC is acquired.
- Ban Xstrata-SMI from giving ‘development funds’ to buy LGU support.
- Ask the British Embassy and Government to clarify their stand on the safety of B’laans, and if this is against Filipino interest, file a diplomatic protest.
- Work towards the establishment of a ‘peace zone’ implemented in the Arakan Valley and Sagada in the past, where no armed groups are allowed in the zone, where both sides are allowed to monitor the other in terms of presence of arms.
Other FFM articles
Tampakan Forum – MINING CONFLICT AND DEATH OF IPs IN TAMPAKAN
Tampakan Forum – RELOCATION TANTAMOUNG TO DEATH – B’LAANS
Mindanews – Fact-finding mission blocked from entering Sagittarius mine site
Sunstar – Probe on ‘abuses’ at mine site starts
Veritas 846 News Team – Simbahang Katolika, kaisa ng mga katutubo sa paglaban sa operasyon ng pagmimina sa Tampakan
Indigenous People’s Issues & Resources – Stop the Divide, let the B’laans decide.
_____________________________________Fact Finding/Solidarity Mission Information. The Fact-Finding/Solidarity Mission was composed of the Tampakan Forum members – Philippine Human Rights (PhilRights) Center, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines / National Secretariat for Social Action,Justice and Peace ( CBCP-NASSA), Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI), Task Force Detainees of the Phil (TFDP), Radyo Veritas and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Tampakan Forum is a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue convened by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) in collaboration with Social Action Marbel, AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links ( PIPLINKS) and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines and IUCN CESP-SEAPRISE. Also present during the fact finding mission were Social Action Centers of Digos and Columbio, Passionist Fathers representatives, the Gensan Bureaus of Inquirer and ABS-CBN, and Mindanews. Inputs were also taken from an earlier Fact Finding Mission conducted on March 29, 2011, attended by Social Action Center Marbel, 27th Infantry Batallion (IB), CHR, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), DXCP, and Sto. Nino Parish, Tampakan. Tampakan Forum and Fact Finding Mission contacts include Fr. Gillarme Joy Peliño (083) 2283793, Atty. Mario E. Maderazo (02) 3534287, (mobile) 0922-8501873.