BAGUIO CITY —The Cordillera Peoples Alliance, a federation of indigenous peoples’ organization, has urged voters to support candidates with clear position and stance against large-scale mining applications and operations.

In a statement made on the 21st anniversary of the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, CPA also exhorted the electorates to reject pro-mining candidates even as it underscored the fact that the Cordillera remains to be among the country’s poorest regions.

Contrary to the belief that liberalizing the mining industry would boost economic development, the Mining Code instead caused irreversible environmental destruction and systematic violations of indigenous people’s rights, CPA leaders said.

It was learned that the Mining Code paved way for the entry of big foreign and local mining corporations in the Cordillera region that includes Benguet, Mt. Province, Kalinga, among others. At present, there are at least 102 mining applications covering an area of 672, 140. 7946 hectares of land in the region.

The CPA claimed that in areas where there are mining applications, the issues of corruption, bribery, manipulation and total disregard of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), threat, harassment and intimidation, and other forms of rights violations are used by mining corporations in cahoots with the National Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (NCIP), Mines Geosciences and some local government units to make their way into the communities.

State security forces are used as investment defense force and to quell people’s resistance in the communities affected by mining projects, according to the CPA.

The issue of environmental protection should be a major agenda of candidates in the May elections, the CPA added. “Candidates with track record of supporting large scale and destructive mining must be rejected.”

Aside from the usual rhetoric during campaign, candidates should clearly speak of their positions and concrete plans and actions on the issues of mining and energy once elected into government positions. It is high time for politicians to discuss and debate on the issue of environment, the CPA said.

“We also support candidates who will come up with platforms on how to contribute in providing support for indigenous peoples who have already suffered and will continue to suffer enormous damage to their lands and environment due to long-term effects of mining”, the CPA
statement said.

Stressing that candidates should propose ways on how to provide adequate monetary compensation, sustainable livelihood, alternative land, employment and other sources of regular income, the group said, they should also include a program for the restoration and rehabilitation of lands and water systems destroyed by mining.

CPA supports congressional candidates who have clear position to review the Mining Code and its detrimental effects on the environment. There should be a new mining policy that favors, CPA said, Filipino people’s efforts towards nationalist industrialization and ensure the creation of jobs, food security, a stable economy, mitigation of environmental degradation and environmental rehabilitation. THOM F. PICANA/northboundasia.com