MILITIA PROTECTION FOR MINING: AGAINST WHOM?
Indigenous Women Ask
President Noynoy Aquino recently approved the military proposal to allow mining companies to form and fund militias or Special Civilian Active Auxiliary units.
In just 9 days after the Surigao mining attack, the Aquino administration has immediately acted on the demand of the mining industry for protection.
We now ask – protection against whom?
In our meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, one said that the militias are necessary to protect the mining companies from attacks and threats to foreign investments.
This sends chills to our bones. This sounds like a blanket call to intensify attacks against us - protectors of the environment and defenders of our indigenous communities, who have often been referred to as anti-development, and threats to investments.
As indigenous women, we have been struggling for so long against mining in our territories – as mining destroys our watersheds in Mindoro and in Negros Occidental; mining poisons our rivers in Agusan del Sur; causes divisiveness among our Subanen people, destroys our sources of food in Zambales, in Nueva Vizcaya and desecrates our sacred lands in Misamis Oriental. Mining violently forces our communities to leave our lands.
As defenders of our rights, we organize campaigns, we sign petitions, we write complaints, we seek for dialogues, we file cases, we take to the streets, and some of us, have launched hunger strike for more than a week. We monitor, document, report and expose violations committed by the mining companies in our areas.
As a result, our leaders have been killed. We experience harassment and threats. We have been labeled as NPA-supporters, or rebels ourselves. Prices are put on our heads. All these, because we oppose mining; because we exercise our right to say no to mining; and we assert our right to our land.
Through all this, we get no protection from the government. We have no assurance that we can continue to assert our rights free from harassment, threats and violence. With this approval of P’Noy to form and fund militias for the protection of mining companies, we fear for the escalation of violence against us, in our communities. We fear for our security, for our lives.
Militias, which have been organized and funded by different politicos and companies, have a long track record of human rights violations against women and men from indigenous communities who defend our territories from encroachment and destruction. And these violations have enjoyed immunity, all in the name of defending investments and so-called national interest.
Who then do we turn to, to protect us? If P’Noy who we expected to enforce changes in our system and governance, has resulted to the same militaristic response against our legitimate concerns and issues against mining, then we are losing hope in this government.
And so, we turn to ourselves, and draw inspiration and strength from each other – we, indigenous women from mining-affected and other development project-affected communities.
And we hope that this solidarity will protect us from those who consider us threats to their investments, and obstacles to their opportunity to earn for themselves.
Because now we realize, we only have ourselves to rely on.
As we now know who the real boss is of PNoy.
SPECIAL COMMITTEE of the KORONADAL IP WOMEN GATHERING
Signed byBae Anahaw Ruth C. Tila-on (Manobo/ Agusan del Sur)
Conchita Bigong (Alangan-Mangyan / Oriental Mindoro)
Nena “Bae Rose” D. Undag (Higaonon / Misamis Oriental)
Nilda M. Mangilay (Subanen / Zamboanga del Norte)
Judith P. Maranes (Ibaloi / Baguio City)
Shirley D. Sombuador (Ati-Bukidnon / Bacolod, Negros Occidental)
Marilyn V. Masaganda (Aeta / Capas, Tarlac)
Maria Tialang (Blaan / South Cotabato)Lily Quindo (Blaan / South Cotabato)
The Koronadal IP Women Gathering held in Marbel, South Cotabato last July 22-24, 2011 was participated in by 56 women from different indigenous communities. The women developed and came up with an Indigenous Women Declaration which contains their plight and situation, as well as their demands from the government.
Contact through – judy a. pasimio /Legal Rights and Natural Resources CenterJudy.firstname.lastname@example.org / 9281372