By Raïssa Robles
Much of the conflict in the Philippines arise from squabbles over land and how to use it.
For decades, wealthy and the powerful personalities have controlled land use. Thanks to them, many of our mountains are nearly bald from logging.
And now, they are training their sights on the valuable ore lying beneath vast tracts of land. Many of these areas happen to be collectively owned by indigenous communities.
Here is my latest story on the battle over land, which appeared today in South China Morning Post (HK):
Relatives of executed Philippine land rights activists hope campaign for justice will gain ally in President Duterte
Activists claim current laws governing mining and the rights of indigenous people contain gaping loopholes that firms exploit.
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 12:16am
When 18-year-old Michelle Campos last saw her father, Dionel, they had little time to chat. He was busy with an uncle’s wake and Michelle was caught up celebrating her school foundation day.
“The only thing papa told me was to do well in school,” she told the South China Morning Post. “No matter what happens, I should continue my studies.”
The next day during class, news reached her that her father had been killed. The gruesome details she learned later.
Before dawn on September 1, 2015 some 20 heavily armed men swooped on the village of Diatagon in Surigao del Sur. Two community leaders were singled out for execution. Dionel was one of them. He was shot in the face, the back of his head blown off.
Michelle’s uncle, Juvello Sinzo, a tribal chief, was also shot dead after his bones were broken. Later, the school director Emerito Samarca was found dead, his throat slashed from ear to ear.
One of the armed men – identified as belonging to Magahat-Bagani, a paramilitary force – shouted at terrified residents that the killings would not have happened if the leaders had signed the consent form to allow mining to operate in the community, according to Dr Natividad Castro, the area coordinator for Karapatan, a human rights group.
The Philippine army denied any role in the deaths but branded the village a communist-controlled enclave.
The three slain men were among the 25 Filipinos killed last year for defending their land, Global Witness said in its latest report, “On Dangerous Ground” . The London-based NGO documented 185 such killings worldwide. Brazil led the list with 50 deaths, followed by the Philippines (33), Colombia (26), Peru and Nicaragua (12 each).
“Major drivers were mining (42 deaths), agribusiness (20), logging (15) and hydropower (15),” the Global Witness report said.
Nearly a year later, Dionel Campos’ killers have not been arrested. Michelle, though, is “more optimistic” of resolution under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte – a student of Jose Maria Sison, who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines – has vowed to end decades of rebellion with a peace agreement. He has warned miners: “Making money out of the precious metals of the earth that belongs to the people, you have to do it right. If you can’t do it right, get out.”
To read the rest, please click on this link.
Looking at ‘conflicts’ from squabbles over land and how to use it one is the Metro Manila Traffic. There are ‘big’ and ‘small’ factor-problems. The problem is ‘which’ should be done first.
Big Problem: Less roads but increasing numbers of motor vehicles plus motorcycles plying. No motorcycle cops to handle traffic. I have not seen one or two for many months (or years now).
No working traffic lights on so many streets where bottle-neck traffic is mostly happening. Driving discipline on roads is poor. Pedestrians using the streets for waiting, crossing and what else. This is Jay-Walking too. Road diggings for weeks and months never ends. Worst, it is done during the rainy season.
Small Problems: Use of SIDE-WALKS by hawkers/vendors or etc. Double parking of vehicles daytime and nighttime. This happens also due to big establishments who have no parking spaces other than the streets.
So many street problems due to so many abuses and neglects by those task to control the flow.
Philippine news editorial prints it like – HELL-ON-EARTH for the 12 million ill-fated souls (deads?) forced to in Metro Manila.
Will this land abuse and neglect be solved soon? I guess not unless some of the BIG and SMALL problems are done. Mix the solutions altogether. Make it a PRIORITY.
Some of the apparent solutions are there but question is: Will there be someone as LEADER do it?
Joking or not, Pres. Dutz proposed: carnappers carnap the many vehicles. . . no rewards due.
A suggested long solution: build SUB-WAYS in the center of Metro Manila roads. Eh? Diggings again to cause more horrible road traffics. The odds is flooding in it. The editorial will be right: MM will be drowning and dying but will not be dead.
On this particular solution: why not think of building along the coastlines from Roxas Blvd to up North – Bulacan to Zambales, an Expressway for provincial and etc. vehicles to use by using the ‘sea-water area’ built into for the Expressway. It won’t cause traffic. More or less, straight lines as can be, following the topographic land situation of the coasts. And another Express Way on the Eastern part (Quezon province, etc.) of the country this time not on the sea-area but on the land.
Restrain more DIGGING, big or small, inside METRO MANILA.
“A suggested long solution: build SUB-WAYS in the center of Metro Manila roads. Eh? Diggings again to cause more horrible road traffics.”
Have you ever heard of tunnel boring machines?
Yes. My uncle a civil engineer who went to the USA and still worked there for construction projects before he retired and passed away, told me the tunnel boring machines in the USA are much BIGGER than a two-house that in ‘Pinas does not have (yet).
I only saw one machine on Nat’l Graphic TV show (I think) boring for the English Channel project years ago. Really HUGE!
Why do you ask me about those machines?
Ancient Mariner says
Whether the tunnels are excavated by pick and shovel or tunnel boring machine the same amount of spoil will arise and have to be disposed of 24/7. More traffic chaos.
the tons of unwanted soil can be used as landfill. there are localities na nagka-landslide and need landfill, cheap and clean landfill. hindi landfill na may asbestos, o ubod ng arsenic as result of mining.
yong tunnel boring machine can be rented from countries like Germany, cost is billions but worth it. the machine is dismantled and then, shipped and assembled on arrival. we have engineers who can oversee the assembly.
Just buy from the hardware one driller – manual BARENA, to bore the heads of our road-planners eager to bore more tunnels in the center roads of Metro Manila!
he he he
From land and seas, everyone is seeking the holy grail of gold, gas and treasures.
Mountain lands and islands are a hot real pieces of properties people covet and steal and claimed.
After July 12, whatever maybe the verdict,Is it free for all or win of ownership within the PH territory?
WOULD THERE BE ASS -KISSING IF UNFAVORABLE OR VIOLENCE IN THE ORIENT IF CHINA IS ANNOYED?
Thanks Raissa for this important article. Let us hope Sec. Gina Lopez will do a big thing to preserve our lands.
This is a now or never issue to be dealt with by Pres. Duterte. Land use and land abuse are opposites to a country’s agriculture. Land as much as can be possible must be preserved.
‘ Agriculture is the backbone of economic system of a given country.’
With Ms. Gina Lopez heading the Department, mining which is many and most instances is abused on the land must now be suspended. If the bureau statistics shows that only the the mining industry contributed only 0.5 per cent to the country’s GDP last year and a mere 2 per cent of its earnings to the government, while retaining 98 per cent.’ (Raissa’s) isn’t it time to think of doing away with mining of natural resources in the country?
The land abuse particularly on mining has involved the loss of lives. The country is not only losing the lands we have but also the killings of those who have a cause to stop these mining.
What is a mere 2% earning to the government? Is it worth it? How much would be spent to bring back the destroyed lands to its natural form for agriculture purposes? Millions or billions in pesos?
One time in the past I was in SF (USA) vicinity, looking out the window of the home where I was residing. I looked at across the SF Bay towards the mountains eastward, just about only 1 or 3 trees standing. The mountain was BALD. Must be the same for California’s other mountains. No wonder drought, too much lack of water supply is a big problem in that State now.
Drought and floods happens when our trees are gone. No tilling and planting on the lands. Gone too. Food become scarce for the people. Because there is no more productive lands around. We and the country are killing all our lands with mining by mining companies. Deaths results as a consequence.
Preserve our lands. Stop mining. Protect our agriculture. We need food for life. A dead land is fit for a cemetery.
Land is life.
A link on land Agriculture
Winston Churchill said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
Would or should one invest in mining? One answered: “I would NEVER invest in a mining company—they destroy land, pollute our water and air, and wreck the habitat of plants and animals.”
We now can see how mining destroy the land: pollute the water and the air; wreck the habitat of plants and animals. With government only getting 2% income from mining.
Read more on the impacts on the economy and the physical environment. . . this Link
. . . the beauty in Internet search
“2% for the nation”
i heard that through ted failon’s program discussion with his guest.
we don’t know how many % go to our officials.
then you should divest yourself of EVERYTHING that comes from mining.
Mining can be done in a controlled, responsible way.
That’s the challenge :-p
I find it distressing how little interest and/or comment indigenous issues seems to draw. Land use vs. ancestral domains seem to particularly suffer from this sociopolitical blind spot. Remoteness is part of the problem. It’s hard to get to many of the real hot spots. The Lumads have a distrust of road improvements, largely, I suspect, because roads simply make their land more open to exploitation by outsiders.
For ages, the prevailing excuse was, first, that ancestral domains were ill-defined & often disputed; then that the cadastral surveys were difficult & time consuming (& sometimes dangerous or fatal) but, if I remember correctly, the Aquino admin announced that they were finally complete.
What followed, once legal title became at least a theoretical possibility, has been violent & (deliberately?) confusing…the military insisting various groups were Communists, vigilante groups making attacks, tribal members saying the groups are backed by the military & in the pocket of mining outfits, the military disavowing the vigilantes, NGOs labeled Communist & much, much more.
The cost of finding something beyond he said/she said being to physically venture into remote & hostile places. I now wonder if Duterte, who seems successful at weeding out military drug traffic involvement, will bother to do some weeding in this garden as well. He is reputedly well connected w/ both the mining companies & the NPA who have in common a lust for indigenous domains.
The problem is, as it so often is, that of the simple lie vs. the complex truth. Many campaign promises are already getting walked back & the plight of the Lumads seems to lack media pizzazz. Gina Lopez (with whom I am not in total agreement about some issues) at least has a solid rep in opposition to mining interests.
I thank you for keeping this tangled mess before the public eye & I hope eventual good will come of it. Meanwhile, just as w/ the ill-conceived drug war, innocents continue to die.
Again, thank you for giving voice to the silenced.
if you can’t do it right, get out. maling message yan sa mga minero. leaving the minero to regulate themselves is kalukuhan. kung ipaubaya lang naman sa kanila, it’s no wonder they played up. if mineros cannot be trusted with governing themselves, then government should step in and strictly enforce environmental policies, ensure that environmental policies and considerations are adhered to, and not put asunder. do it, and not delegate it, review it and not forget it, and review it again. don’t believe in words and reassurances, go there and see the sites whether policies are put into practice.
so, lumads have distrust of road improvements. well, they can try to make road improvements themselves, and make it easier for their own people to go from place to place, visiting the lowlands, trading wares, etc. they can also charge toll on their own roads, only those who can pay are allowed to pass. this is the 22nd century now, lumads ought to update their living and make most of what they got. they may keep their lands now, but succeeding generations may not that much of land lovers and sell parcels of land for next to nothing. make hay while the sun shines. lumads can’t take their lands with them.
lumads can mine their own lands, borrow money from banks and be entrepreneurs. leaving minerals in the ground and deprived themselves of good living, sa akin lang po, is cretin-ous. unlike greedy and exploitative mining companies, lumads will be more environmentally conscious, they wont mine their own lands to the death.
TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao
“A form of ethnocide” the attacks on the indigenous communities in the last 4 months are concentrated in Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur
Kalumaran, a confederation of different indigenous tribes in Mindanao, has expressed alarm over a series of direct attacks, killings, arrests, harassments, zoning, and vilification in Lumad areas where it says there is a strong resistance against environmental plunder.
The attacks are concentrated in the provinces of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, which are hosts to Lumad schools that are privately operated but are regulated by the DepEd.
‘It is a form of ethnocide but it is worse because there are specific characteristics of impunity and killings (by para-military groups, AFP soldiers and PNP SAF in the pursuit of the NPAs) targeting the Lumad. What is alarming is that it is happening all over Mindanao,’ said Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan
Several incidents have been reported in the last 4 months x-x-x-
Martial Bonifacio says
Congrats Raissa for your award recently. Im glad that he supports the IP but hopefully he also supports the fishermen in West Philippine Sea.
Im just wondering what are your thoughts on the current DFA secretary Perfecto Yasay and his recent submissive statements towards China.
As the decision of the UN arbitration tribunal nears (July 12) each statement of this current administration gives me a impression of the old administration of Gloria Arroyo when she signed Joint Seismic Maritime Undertaking.
Worst Duterte banned media and independent journalist which makes it harder to see the current maneuvers of Digong and Yasay regarding West Philippine Sea. Will they fight for it or just FOLLOW China’s order and disregard our case in ITLOS.