Thursday Feb, 29 2024 08:47:09 AM

Tedurays oppose mining activities in Upi, South Upi

Climate Change/Environment • 06:30 AM Thu Dec 7, 2023
Jennevie Cornelio, Media Liaison, TFBK
South Upi Vice Mayor Roldan Benito (center in red shirt) speaks with Tedurays who hold silent protest against mining exploration in their ancestral lands on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.(Photos by EOF)

SOUTH UPI, Maguindanao del Sur – Around 500 Lambangian, Teduray Indigenous peoples, and migrant settlers expressed their opposition to the first mineral reservation area proposal in South Upi, Maguindanao del Sur.

As an expression of concern, Task Force Bantay Kalikasan (TFBK), a campaign network formed by Teduray and Lambangian clans to defend their ancestral domain against environmental destruction and plunder, and Tanggol Karapatan ng Katutubong Kababaihan (TK3), an Indigenous women-led human rights documentation and monitoring team, mobilized a united action to oppose the proposed mineral reservation area in what was supposedly a Public Hearing turned Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign, with limited number of participants, organized by Geospatial Environmental Consultancy Services that is working with the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy – Mines and Geosciences Services (MENRE-MGS).

“Para sa amin, ang pagbabago ng programa ay isang paraan para lituhin kami. Mahihirapan kami na ipahayag ang pagtutol sa proposal ng mineral reservation sa loob ng aming fusaka inged (lupaing ninuno),” said Mary Joie Meliz, a Teduray woman leader from South Upi.

(The shift in the activity is a way to confuse us. This will make it difficult for us to express our opposition to the mineral reservation proposal which is within our ancestral domains.)

Since 2022, there have been reports of lack of permits in soil sampling activities in Upi, Maguindanao del Norte and South Upi, Maguindanao del Sur.

“Nilalabag nila ang Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) namin bilang mga katutubo sa lugar. Dapat nilang malaman na pending sa NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) ang Teduray and Lambangian Ancestral Domain Claim (TLADC) namin. Dapat maging transparent sila sa mga proseso,” said Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad, Chairperson of TFBK.

(These are clear violations to securing our FPIC as Indigenous peoples in the area. They should know that the TLADC is still pending at the NCIP. They should be transparent in all their activities.)

The proposed 3,566-hectare mineral reservation area is located within the TLADC, which has been on-process at the NCIP since 2005.

The existence of the pending ancestral domain claim obligates the MENRE-MGS to seek FPIC from affected Lambangian and Teduray Indigenous communities on all levels of activities they will conduct within the ancestral territories.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) also safeguards their right to native title or fusaka inged and “shall not in any manner diminish the rights and benefits of the non-Moro indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

MENRE-MGS produced a geological mapping report that showed findings of gold, copper, zinc and limestones in the Municipalities of Upi and South Upi. Most of these minerals are known to be extracted through the open-pit mining method.

“Napasok sa loob ng mineral reservation ang mga libingan ng mga ninuno namin at mga natitirang gubat gaya ng Uga, Fengalungon and Kinemkemare. Paano kung bubungkalin ito? Paano na lang ang susunod na henerasyon namin dito?” said Arman Calantungan, Lambangian youth from South Upi.

(The burial grounds of our ancestors and the remaining forests such as Uga, Fengalungon and Kinemkem are within the proposed mineral reservation area. What will happen if they eventually mine the area? What will happen to the next generation?)

The proposed mineral reservation area will cover Mt. Kulayan and Mt. Dakeluwan, which are sacred areas for Lambangian and Teduray Indigenous peoples.

"Tahanan na rin namin ang South Upi. Kaya kung ano ang mangyayari, poprotektahan din namin itong lugar. Nakikiisa kami sa pagtutol sa pagtayo ng mineral reservation dito," expressed Romeo Capilitan, a migrant settler who has long been residing in South Upi.

(South Upi is also our home. Whatever happens, we will protect this place. We are one in opposition to the establishment of mineral reservation here.)

“Nananawagan kami sa gobyerno na kilalanin ang aming karapatan. Nananawagan din kami sa mga tagapagtaguyod ng karapatan mga katutubo at kalikasan na makiisa sa aming nagkakaisang boses na tutulan ang pagtayo ng mineral reservation area.” added Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad.

(We call on the government to recognize our rights. We also call on Indigenous rights and environmental advocates to join our united call to oppose the establishment of mineral reservation area.)

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