Philippines: Lumad Women In Mindanao - New EO 79 Not An Answer To Old Mining Woes


Although women from various indigenous communities in Mindanao welcome some provisions in the mining EO 79 that may potentially improve the conduct of mining industry in the country, they still asserted that what they need are policies that would directly address the issues they have been raising against mining companies inside their ancestral domains.

According to the unified statement of about 30 IP women from 16 tribes and sub-tribes in Mindanao who participated in a consultation session in Davao City last July 13-16, EO 79 does not respond to the old and urgent issues being raised against mining which are also the primary concerns of women in the community such as threat on livelihood, food security and the continuing disrespect to the rights of the indigenous communities.

The IP women are also disappointed that EO 79 still recognizes current mining contracts as valid and binding as it proclaims that it will only be effective for incoming mining applications.

“Our appeal to the President, even before, was for him to listen to the woes on mining of the indigenous group. For us, B’laans, who are experiencing a lot of hardship because of the Tampakan mining project, the new mining EO has nothing to do with our problems. This does not cover the on-going application of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), We have no one else to depend on in our defense of our communities, but ourselves,” said Robina Poblador of a B’laan group in Sarangani Province.

While the EO mandated DENR to conduct review of the existing mining contracts and operations, IP women are still wary that they will not benefit in the process.

“Who will lead the review? DENR? There have been a lot of tears and sweat which went through as we bring our bring our complaints and documented reports of violations to DENR, but nothing has happened,” said Wilma Tenoro, member of Subanen tribe and one of the petitioners for Writ of Kalikasan against GAMI mining company in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Norte.

Tenoro also added, “Until there are institutional changes within DENR, and until the bias of the government to mining will change, then this provision of review and monitoring is useless. This EO does not respond to our grievances nor to our interests.”

The Lumad women asserted that the President’s intervention is needed not just for the future generation who will suffer from the impacts of mining, but also to the ones who are already experiencing the atrocities of degraded environment caused by mining.

According to Bae Rose Undag, a Higaonon leader from Misamis Oriental, “At present, large number of hectares of indigenous people’s forests and mountains are being denuded and flattened by mining operations. Several mining permits have been issued in small islands and worst in vast agricultural lands. Why are these not the ones covered by the moratorium? What ecosystems will remain, which the EO aims to protect, if the existing mining operations are not to be stopped in its wanton destruction of our environment? The protection of our environment, agriculture and forests should start now – not tomorrow.”

The IP women also asserted that the government should not only speed-up the process for all mining applications but more importantly its procedures in addressing human rights violations involving mining companies.

“This provision reflects the priority concern of the P-Noy Administration, which is to guarantee efficiency in collecting revenues for government – but at what cost? We fear that this process will fast-track mining applications but will side-track the new guidelines of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). If there should be a mining-related one-stop shop service, it should be one that addresses the human rights violations being reported from the ground. More than just economic efficiency, this EO should provide justice delivery,” pointed out by Froilyn Teorio-Mendoza, a Teduray leader from Maguindanao and also the IP spokesperson of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)

The government should acknowledge the complaints within 24 hours and ensures that resolutions will be imposed and served within the period of one year, the group added.

Judy Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK, an IP women rights’ advocates group, says, “EO 79 is being touted as a balanced mining policy, a win-win formula by the government, and the mining companies are lauding this. A balanced policy is not what is needed at this point – but a just and equitable mining policy. And we are not simply talking about economic benefits – but also about participation, opportunities for development, especially for the affected communities. While the government works hard to protect the interests of the investors, there should be more protection of the rights and interests of the communities, its constituencies.”

“A just and equitable mining policy is what the Alternative Minerals Management Bills (AMMB) is about. This should be passed now,” Pasimio asserted.

The Lumad women also committed themselves to work hard for the passage of the AMMB. According to them the call for the alternative laws such as the AMMB that looks at mineral resources as integral part of the biodiversity, environment, food security, livelihood and survival is the urgent task of the country right now.

The statement of the Lumad women was presented to the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) – Women Sectoral Council meeting held in Davao, on July 16-18.

Daryl Leyesa, Secretary General of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan said that it is imperative that women, especially indigenous women and rural women in the mining areas, be consulted on policies that affect their lives and livelihoods. “Mining projects have violated indigenous women’s rights in many aspects, especially their role to nurture their families and communities as part of their cultural identity and right to self-determination. It is time to reclaim these rights in every arena possible,” she added.

The NAPC Women Council adopted the Resolution that recommended the inclusion of the marginalized women in the processes of the IRR formulation for EO 79, as well as expressed support for the passage of the proposed AMMB.

Meanwhile, ATM said that it is obvious that the government failed to consult the affected communities in drafting the new mining EO. “We encourage the president to visit, stay and sleep in a mining affected community even for a day; talk to these women, to the mothers in the community so that he himself would feel their worries and witness the struggles they have to face because of mining. Let’s see if the president will have the same stand again,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.


Tags: Philippines  mining  Lumad  environment  

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