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Blame no one in typhoon Pablo tragedy but Pres. Noynoy Aquino for allowing foreign large scale mining – ManiLakbayan

Press Release
December 6, 2012

MANILA  –  "No one else is to blame but President Noynoy and large scale mining corporations on the lives lost to typhoon Pablo," said Sr. Stella Matutina, secretary general of PANALIPDAN-Mindanao, a network of environmental defenders, in response to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (NDRRMC) Usec. Benito Ramos' statement that the typhoon Pablo tragedy is due to illegal mining.

PANALIPDAN-Mindanao, together with the KALUMARAN, spearhead the Manilakbayan, the Mindanao people’s journey in Manila to call the government’s attention to the disastrous effects of large-scale destructive mining in Mindanao communities, including extrajudicial killings of environmental advocates and indigenous peoples.

"Stop blaming the people of Mindanao for not leaving their disaster-stricken homes and the small-scale miners for doing such a living," Sr. Matutina said. "Small scale mining has been sustainable since the time of the Lumad forefathers. It is not like when large scale mining came in to our towns, destroy our ancestral lands – that's when disasters start coming upon us," Sr. Matutina said. "This typhoon would not have been this tragic if not for the logging and foreign mining companies ravaging our mineral resources," Sr. Matutina continued.

"Take note, these foreign companies are declared legal by Noynoy Aquino," Sr. Matutina stressed. The Aquino government has continued and strengthened the Mining Act of 1995 through the Executive Order 79 which opens the Philippines for foreign mining explorations and business.

"We are here in Manila to let every Filipino know, especially the Aquino government, that the peoples of Mindanao have suffered enough! Foreign large-scale mining has to stop now," Matutina said. "Our leaders had been killed by the AFP and the paramilitary groups because of their opposition to foreign mining companies. Typhoon Pablo’s disastrous effects on our people and communities only highlight our vulnerability because of these government-favored corporations. And now, the Noynoy government is blaming the Mindanawons for being stubborn to evacuate," Matutina said.

"EVACUATE?" the nun repeated the word. "We have already evacuated long before the typhoon came in," Sr. Stella said. She said indigenous peoples had long left their ancestral lands due to severe military operations and military harassments in their communities.

"Unless foreign large-scale extractive mining and other business interests will be stopped, we fear that Mindanao will soon be divided into three: one, foreign companies' land; two, evacuation centers of both people from disaster stricken areas and those affected by military operations; and three, cemetery." Sr. Matutina said.

Sr. Stella Matutina and 70 other indigenous peoples, tribal leaders and victims of human rights violations are here in Manila for series of activities to call to stop foreign large scale destructive mining and agribusiness plantations in Mindanao. "Manilakbayan" culminates on the International Human Rights Day, December 10. Due to the destruction of super typhoon Pablo that cost the lives of their brothers and sisters, Manilakbayan will also launch its campaign to gather relief goods for Mindanao typhoon victims while they are in Manila.