Militarization, Rights Violations Prevalent in Mining Areas

Heightened militarization in the boundaries of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra and Ilocos Sur led to various human rights violations of the collective rights of the residents in these areas, reported a human rights watchdog in the Cordillera region. These, according to residents, are also areas where mining applications have been approved.

BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) – Heightened militarization in the boundaries of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra and Ilocos Sur led to various human rights violations of the collective rights of the residents in these areas, reported a human rights watchdog in the Cordillera region.

Northern Dispatch or Nordis found out that 49.92 percent (or 555,140.775 hectares) of mining applications registered with the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) here covers 1,111,995.4351 hectares of land located at the boundaries of the abovementioned four provinces. The Cordillera has a land area of 1.8 million hectares.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said in its 2008 report that bombings and shelling, the firing of cannons within communities, illegal searches of houses, and the use by the military of schools, medical, religious and other public places, as well as private residences, are the most notable violations committed by government troops in the said areas.

Nineteen cases of illegal search and seizures affecting at least 108 persons were documented by the CHRA while three cases of bombings and shelling were documented with the same number of persons affected.

CHRA reported that there were eight cases of military troops using schools, medical, religious and other public places as well as private residences. At least 9,102 persons were affected in these cases.

It identified the 50th Infantry Battalion of the 503rd Brigade as the perpetrators in the said cases.

CHRA said that the headquarters of the 503rd Brigade was transferred from Narvacan, Ilocos Sur to Lagangilang, Abra, marking a shift in the focus of military operations from the Ilocos Region to the Cordillera.

Protector of mining companies?

Some residents of villages in the boundaries of the four provinces said that the military deployment could be traced to the approval of mining applications.

In the MGB mining tenement statistic report to MGB National Director Horacio Ramos, the bureau listed six applications for a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement FTAA) in the boundaries of the four provinces covering 480,492.775 hectares, five Exploration Permit Applications (EXPA) covering 65,657 hectares; and two applications for a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) covering 8,991 hectares.

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