T’bolis Tribe Call On Noynoy To Protect Their Land From San Miguel Corporation

Indigenous Peoples belonging to the T’boli tribe in the remote barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato want the President-apparent Noynoy Aquino to look into their plight and demand that their ancestral domain claim be spared from extractive projects including coal mining.

This developed after San Miguel Corporation (SMC) acquired three coal mining projects with a total land area of 17,000 hectares that would impact the ancestral domains of the T’bolis and the Ned Agrarian Reform Community (ARC).

“Gusto namon ipahibalo sa Presidente nga ang San Miguel nagakapot na sang permiso halin sa gobyerno para angkonon ang amon duta nga nabilin”, said T’boli leader Datu Victor Danyan. (We bring to the President’s attention the fact that San Miguel has now acquired a government permit to take over our ancestral lands)

The giant conglomerate SMC is owned by Danding Cojuanco, a close relative of President-apparent Aquino.

“Ang amon nga duta nga nabilin amo ang amon kinabuhi, ginahalinan sang amon pagkaon kag amo lang ang amon pwede ibilin sa amon kabataan. Indi kami sugot nga mahalin kami kay magsulod ang mga kompanya kag kaluton ang karbon” Danyan added. (Our remaining ancestral land is our life, the source of our food and the only inheritance we could leave our children. We don’t want to be displaced to give way to coal mining companies).

Danyan chairs the Taboli-Manubo S’daf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO), which ancestral domain claims are being encroached by SMC-acquired coal operating contract and that of DMC Construction Equipment Resources Incorporated coal contract, the latter being owned by the Consunjis.

Agrarian beneficiaries defiant

Agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) vowed to fight the entry of SMC into their agricultural areas to extract coal reserves that would feed proposed coal fired power plants in the region and other existing thermal plants in the country.

“Ginbalabagan gani namon ang nauna nga mga kompanya, wala rason para hindi kami magbalabag sa San Miguel ilabina kay dako ini nga kompanya” saidYellen Zata, Chairperson of the anti-coal mining group Hublag Kontra Mina (HUKOM) based in the area. (We have opposed previous companies, there’s no reason why we should not oppose San Miguel especially that this is a big company).

HUKOM is composed mainly of indigenous claimant organizations and agrarian reform beneficiaries as well as women and church formations.

SMC acquired Daguma Agro Minerals Inc (DAMI) and sister company Bonanza Energy Resources Inc (BERI) and Sultan Mining and Energy Development Corp. (SMEDC) that holds coal operating contracts for production and development in the coal rich community.

The said coal operating contracts and holder companies have been opposed by indigenous peoples and agrarian reform beneficiaries since exploration stage in late 90’s

“Daw maubos na ang ARC erya sang Barangay Ned sang mga kontrata sang karbon. Wala na sang kadtuan ang mga tao mabato na lang” added Zata. (The ARC area of Barangay Ned is almost covered by coal contracts. The people has nowhere to go but to fight)

Aside from DAMI, BERI and SMEDC, another coal operating contract was awarded to Dell Equipment and Construction Corporation’s covering 10,000 hectares of land also within the ARC of Ned, bringing the area that will be impacted by the various coal contracts close to 17,000 hectares of the 22,000 hectares Ned ARC.

Zata also raised concern over the president-apparent’s affinity to SMC owners.

“Gapanawagan kami sa bag-o nga Presidente nga unahon ang interes sa katawhan kaysa interes sa iyang pamilya ug ilang mga negosyo” said Zata. (We call on the new President to put the interest of the people first before that of his family and their businesses)

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources – Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils) call on SMC to rethink its diversification into coal mining and coal plant infrastructure business.

“SMC will surely face strong resistance from coal mining and coal plant affected communities, and from civil society organizations and environmental and land rights groups” said Erwin Quinones of LRC-KsK/FoE Phils adding that SMC only adds to the long list of companies that destroys communities and ecosystems in the country.

On March this year, SMC announced that it will build a 300MW coal fired power plant in General Santos City, and plans to build more elsewhere in the country.

Tags: Philippines  mining  T'bolis  land  

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