This is a victory for the B’laan people, the local communities in Tampakan and the Provincial Government of South Cotabato.
Contrary to the claims of SMI, Indophil, and Xstrata, the government rules on mining projects are clear. The miners have i) failed to secure the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the indigenous B’laan communities; ii) failed to secure the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR, and iii) failed to convince the local government to overturn its ban on open-pit mining.
SMI, Indophil, and Xstrata had failed to comply with Philippine laws and regulations, and cannot be allowed to proceed.
Employment and livelihoods will not be drastically affected with this downgrading of operations. In fact, 80,000 farmers will continue to benefit from the Mal River as water source to irrigate more than 200,000 hectares of farmlands in South Cotabato alone. Around 4,000 hectares of forestlands will be preserved, to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The rights of indigenous peoples will now be respected.
The struggle continues. ATM will sustain its support to the struggle of B’laans to resist the entry of mining in their ancestral domains. We will work with farmers and women groups to upscale and expand sustainable agriculture. We stand in solidarity with the local government of South Cotabato to define its own path of sustainable development, without destructive and irresponsible mining.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB. (30)