Luwaran reported on February 23, that a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Central Mindanao has warned Canada about pursuing a gold mining operation in South Upi, Maguindanao. Inhabited by Tirurays, Maguindanaos, and settlers, the situation was described “as a ‘tinderbox’ that could bring about both bloodshed and sufferings to the people.”
The article continues,
The NGO’s spokesman, who requested anonymity, told Luwaran that the Canadian firm, which is still unnamed as of press time, has a tie-up with a powerful politician in Maguindanao, who claimed the town as part of his personal turf.
The spokesman said the Tiruray tribesmen would oppose the mining operation with everything they have, including resorting to the use of force if necessary.
“This is our last habitat and if the rivers are polluted, the trees cut down, and the earth moved usunder, then where will our life’s future be. Our traditional belief is identified with mother nature, especially the forest, mountains, rivers, and the [pristine] environment.”
He said in said town there are armed men belonging to the Lumad Military Force, which used to fight off loggers in the past and succeeded.
In a related development, Jun Mantawil, head of the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] MILF Peace Panel Secretariat, urged the Arroyo administration to freeze all applications for mining contracts in the proposed jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), saying such a move would help restore credibility to the on-going peace process with the MILF.
“What will happen to the BJE if all the gold, silver, copper, and other natural resources are consumed? he asked.
“The environment would be destroyed if we allow mining companies to rape our mineral resources,” he added.
“Spare the remaining natural resources for our people and not for the benefits of those huge multinational companies and their local contacts whose interests do not necessarily jibe with the masses of our people,” he stressed.
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