By Victoria Uy
In light of the mining operations in Bicol, Bicolano student organization UP Ibalon held a forum on mining towards national industrialization in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Mass Communication, Sept. 28.
Speakers from the UP College of Engineering as well as an alumna from the environmental organization UP Minggan tackled the present mining situation in the Philippines, the dangers of foreign mining, and mining in relation to national industrialization.
“Ang pagmimina, katulad ng agrikultura, ay primary base ng ating ekonomiya,” UP Ibalon Academics Committee Chairperson Jomar Camposano said. “Mahalaga ang pagmimina sa ating pagtatayo natin ng self-reliant at independent national industrialization program.”
This was supported by Janni Boydon, a faculty member from Department of Industrial Engineering, who discussed the need for national industrialization.
“National industrialization is a key to a modern and diversified industrial economy. We should own our local industries,” Boydon said. “The supply that we get should be from our demand.”
Another speaker, Christian Armand Magbag, a member of UP Mining Engineering Society (MINERS) and League of Filipino Students (LFS), deliberated on the Philippines’ mining situation.
“Ang problema mostly ng mines natin ay hindi natin ma-process kaya ineexport na natin,” Magbag said.
“Hindi natin kayang mag-process ng minerals at metals para gumawa ng finished products. Nandun ang export-dependency ng bansa natin,” he added.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the country’s mining industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) remains at an all-time low, bringing less than 1 percent of the annual GDP since 2012. Magbag stated that this is due to the lack of Philippine mining companies and mining sites.
Boydon also pointed out that mining does not produce finished products.
“Obviously yung contribution niya sa GDP ay mas maliit compared sa manufactured electronics or appliances,” he said.
On the other hand, UP Minggan alumna Bianca Aljibe emphasized the effects of mining operations on nearby communities.
Among the issues she discussed were militarization, human rights violations, disaster vulnerability, landgrabbing and displacement, citing the plight of the Lumads of Mindanao.
“Napakaraming cases of displacement hindi lang sa IPs (indigenous people) kung hindi pati sa mga peasant communities,” Aljibe said.
“Yung mga mining companies, ginagamit nila ang private armies at military. Kailangan nilang [Lumads] mag-evacuate sa mga lugar nila dahil sa ongoing conflicts sa areas nila,” she added.
Aljibe also recalled her experience at a potential mining site of Royalco Philippines, Inc., in Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya where she joined the locals’ protest action.
“Nakisama kami sa mga nagbabarikada. The next day, yung barangay captain ay kinuha na ng private armies,” Aljibe narrated. The barangay captain returned bearing death threats from the armies.
“That’s just one form of harassment. Sa totoo lang, everyday, ang daming cases ng harassment, killings ng mga tumututol sa pagmimina.”
According to the environmental advocacy group KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment, 49 environmental activists, 80 percent of whom are anti-mining, have been killed under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Those slain include victims of Lumad killings, among them Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Dionel Campos, chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and Datu Juvello Sinzo, tribal chieftain of the village of Kiwagan, Bgy. San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
ALCADEV was a concrete assertion of the Lumad’s opposition to destructive large-scale mining and other forms of development aggression, which sought to develop sustainable agriculture practices and to inculcate cultural pride linked with ecological consciousness among young Lumads.
In line with this, Camposano concluded that Philippine mining is “foreign-controlled, exploitative and extractive.”
“Hangga’t hindi natin inaalis ang control [over mining] muna sa foreign capitalists, hindi natin maitatayo ang ating self-reliant at matatag na national industry,” he said. #