MANIFESTO OF UNITY AGAINST MINING PLUNDER IN NORTHERN LUZON
We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the continous degradation of Northern Luzon’s natural resources due to unadulterated large-scale off-shore and on-shore mining operations. The Northern part of Luzon is characterized by a vast area of flat agricultural land in the Ilocos and Region and Cagayan Valley; and a cluster of mountainous provinces in the Cordillera. A long strip of shoreline binds Northern Luzon from Pangasinan up to Ilocos Norte, and goes all the way around to Cagayan, Isabela and Aurora. It is a major rice granary of the Philippines and a leading producer of corn, peanut, vegetables, as well as tobacco and mangoes for export. Northern Luzon is one of the nation’s surviving ecological frontiers and it remains as a cradle of biodiversity. It is also home to one of the largest population of indigenous peoples. It is a big treasure chest of both metallic and non-metallic minerals such as gold, manganese, copper, magnetite, iron, ore, limestone, sand and gravel to name a few. To date, Lepanto and Philex have been extracting mineral resources specifically in Benguet for 73 and 54 years respectively and are still planning to expand. The experiences felt by the operations of these two large companies and that of Benguet Corporation brought about destruction to the mountainous areas of Benguet and displaced thousands of Ibalois and Kankanaeys along with their livelihoods. Almost all of the provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region are almost entirely covered by overlapping mining applications at present. Such are also the cases in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions. Black sand or magnetite mining is looming in the coastal areas of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley. This can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas such as the experience of Bauang, La Union. Farm lands, as well as marine sources of food and livelihood near the coastal areas, were also lost due to flooding. In addition, residents in mining areas are put in health risks such as respiratory and skin diseases due to water and air pollution. Being a major supplier of agricultural products, the destruction of Northern Luzon also poses an impact to food security to its peoples and the Filipino people in the long run. The entry of large, foreign-dominated mining companies goes beyond environmental issues. It is primarily a glaring face of land grabbing. Thousands upon thousands of peasants and their families are being displaced from their homes and sources of livelihood. Indigenous groups are being deprived of their rights to their ancestral land and self-determination. The government actually peddles mineral-rich areas of the country to foreign mining companies and has failed time and again to protect the people from the perils and irreversible damages brought about by large scale mining operations. In addition, units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines serve as investment defence forces for the mining companies resulting to widespread militarization and human rights violations in the communities. We persist in our call to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and to change the national mining policy by passing the People’s Mining Bill. The bill promotes a mining industry based on the principles of social justice, respect for peoples’ rights and welfare, environmental conservation, defence of national sovereignty and patrimony, national industrialization and agricultural modernization. We urge the government to cease its program of liberalizing the mining industry. We believe particularly in Northern Luzon that this will bring destruction to the ridges of the Cordillera and Sierra Madre down to the reefs of Pangasinan, Ilocos, Cagayan and Isabela. It is high time to extend our support for the peoples of Northern Luzon. This fight is not only theirs but our as a nation. It is during these times of danger that we must stand side by side regardless of our land of origin. It is only through our collective action that we may find victory. People, unite! Defend our land, life and resources! Mining moratorium on Large-scale Mining Projects and Operation! No to foreign mining plunder! Junk the Mining Act of 1995! Pass the People’s Mining Bill! Long live the struggle for a prosperous and better life, now and in the future!