Subanen -Philippine Flag unity
Showing posts with label Mining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mining. Show all posts

Canadian mining firm admits wrongdoings to Gukom State of Subanon Territories in Mindanao

 Gukom sog Pito ko Dolungan (Gukom of the Seven Rivers Region)

After years of violating the human rights and customary laws of the Subanon Territory, TVI Resource Development, Inc. (TVIRDI)  a Canadian firm later then admitted to its wrongdoings in a cleaning Ceremony led by the Subanon's traditional judicial authority in Gokom State.

TVIRDI, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining firm TVI Pacific, began exploiting the resources within Mount Canatuan in 1994. However, the company never obtained the Subanon's consent to occupy the sacred mountain, which is located within the ancestral domain lands in the Subanon Territoreis, Philippines province of Zamboanga del Norte. The Subanon Authority led by Honorable Timuay Jose Boy Anoy refused to give his consent to TVIRDI, because Mount Canatuan is sacred mountain to our ancestors.

Over the years, the Subanon did everything in power to protect the mountain; but with the Philippine government being a major investor in the mine, our efforts always fell through.

In 2007, with no other options in sight, the Subanon authority in Gukom State decided to turn to the own Traditional judicial authority for help. The Traditional authority, known to the Subanon here as the Gukom sog Pito ko Dolungan (Gukom of the Seven Rivers Region), agreed to step in.

After months of deliberation, the Gukom found that TVIRDI was guilty of violating human rights and Subanon customary law. The verdict mentioned, in part: TVI's refusal to recognize Timuay (traditional leader) Jose "Boy" Anoy as the traditional leader of the Subanon in the area; damages they caused to personal property and the environment, the physical abuse of certain individuals; and their failure to obtain the Subanon's free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

The verdict required TVIRDI to take part in a mandatory cleansing ceremony and pay fines to the Subanon for their actions.

Initially, the company would have no part of it; but, "In August 2009, after a series of consultations, Honorable Timuay Boy Anoy was formally installed by the Gukom as the legitimate Timuay in the titled ancestral domain in Canatuan. During the event, TVIRD also publicly declared their recognition of Timuay Anoy's leadership and declared its willingness to discuss ways of resolving their conflict with Timuay Anoy and his Council" the Gukom state, in a May 18 Press Release. "The act paved the way for further negotiations of the other penalties."

Two years later, on May 17, 2011, TVIRDI took part in that Ceremony.

During the Ceremony, the company finally acknowledged that Mount Canatuan is a sacred site and admitted that they were wrong for desecrating it. They also admitted to their other misdeeds and agreed to pay the fines as stipulated by the Gukom.

"Since TVIRDI admitted its fault and presented themselves to Honorable Timuay Boy Anoy whose authority they violated, the imposed penalty could be negotiated to an agreed minimum amount," explained Timuay Fernando Mudai. The fine was presented by a TVIRDI representative before the formal opening of the Boklug Ceremony.

Some may view the Ceremony--and indeed, TVIRDI's admission---as little more than a symbolic gesture; however, as Mines and Communities points out, "For the legitimate leaders who have struggled for recognition (and lost much in the process because of their anti-mining stance), this event is more than symbolic. The submission by TVI to tribal justice marks a victory in overcoming the huge imbalance of power faced by tribal people like the Subanon when confronting such companies."

The victory is of the rarest kind, given how Canadian mining companies incessantly claim they're accountable only to themselves.

That said, with the ceremony now over, TVI has to prove that it means it. Mines and Communities suggests that "TVI should back up its apparent new-found respect for the Subanon, by assuring that the Canatuan mine is closed according to best international practice and by agreeing not to mine on the lands of other Subanon peoples without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent."