October 11, 2005
PROTESTERS BROUGHT OWN SHIELDS TO DEFEND THEIR RIGHTS AND NATIONAL PATRIMONY
It is shield against shield. Without any permit to hold a rally, about 500 environmental activists, indigenous peoples, and advocates from the church trooped to Makati City on Tuesday to denounce the government's mining liberalization policy. Their leaders carried wooden shields and placards against the metal ones of the police as they marched toward Shangri-la Hotel, venue of the Asia Pacific Mining Conference.
"We brought our own shields to assert our right to protest in defense of our patrimony," said Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of the alliance Defend Patrimony!
"The people condemn the continuous sale of the country's mineral and natural resources by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government. They remain steadfast in their opposition to the liberalization of the minerals industry and the unabated plunder and destruction of the resources."
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment warned that "the people will make Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her administration accountable for this, just as she will be made accountable for usurping the highest political position of the land."
"This is a stern warning to all the executives of transnational mining corporations attending the 'Asia-Pacific Conference on Mining' on October 11-13, 2005 at the Makati Shangrila. They are dealing with a beleaguered and illegitimate government which will soon be ousted and tried by the people whose rights she has outrightly and willfully violated."
Meanwhile, the protesters also sought the review of all the Executive and Administrative Orders, and laws that have been passed by the Arroyo Administration including the controversial reversal of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Mining Act of 1995's unconstitutionality.
According to Himpad Mangulmaas, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), "these laws which the GMA Administration in connivance with the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) is brandishing have caused untold destruction and sufferings on our people."
"The entry of large-scale mining projects in local communities has led to the dislocation, loss of livelihood and violation of human rights of thousands of indigenous people, peasants and small-scale miners."
Five indigenous people, environmental activists and leaders opposing government-mining projects were reported killed this year.
"The liberalization of the mining industry is one of the main reasons that the Arroyo administration has become extremely isolated," said Concepcion.
"The political crisis is worsening and her capacity to govern has been diminishing. More and more people are uniting for her ouster. No amount of repressive laws can stifle the people's right to seek for a government that is just and representing their will."
Mr. Bautista said "Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be replaced soon and we shall immediately ensure that a government that truly earns the people's mandate will be installed."
"We will then see to it that justice will be served, contracts violating people's rights, national sovereignty and environmental laws will be revoked, and their proponents will be punished," Bautista added.