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Tribal campaigner denies anti-mines activism

Leader insists he is only against illegal activities

  • Joe Torres, Manila
  • Philippines
  • November 8, 2012
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A tribal leader in Mindanao whose 12-year-old son was killed in an ambush last September says he is not against mining, contrary to reports published in several local media outlets.

"I am not anti- nor am I pro-mining. I am not an activist, either," Timuay Lucenio Manda said in a statement obtained by ucanews.com through his lawyer.

"I am against illegal activities, not only in mining but all other forms inside our community," the Subanen tribal leader said.  If mining companies wanted to mine in the ancestral domain "they should undergo due process,” Manda continued.

His son was shot and killed last September in an ambush in Bayog town, Zamboanga del Sur province. Manda was driving his son to school when they were attacked by five armed men.

Manda, the likely target, was shot in the back.

The tribal leader appealed to the media to stop labeling him as an "anti-mining" advocate.

Since June 2010, 30 indigenous leaders and 25 environmental activists have been killed, many of them from Mindanao, environmental group Protect Mindanao said yesterday.

A congressional inquiry into the killings and other rights violations in Mindanao opened today in Davao City.

Human rights groups have said Manda and other tribal leaders in Mindanao might have been targeted for assassination because of their opposition to mining activities on the island.

Dr. Aurora Parong, director of Amnesty International Philippines, said the killing of Manda's son last September "is a painful reminder that indigenous peoples are not protected."

Parong said Manda’s stand for a moratorium on mining concessions in the town of Bayog might have led to the attack on him and his son.

“The killings in Bayog, and other parts affected by mining conflicts, must stop now. An immediate impartial investigation is urgently needed,” Parong said.

The Amnesty International director said the Subanen tribal people particularly oppose the entry of TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc, which claims to have exclusive mining rights to 4,779 hectares of land in one town alone.

Manda said two mining companies have illegal operations in his town: the Lupa Pigetatawan, which he said is using Subanen tribal men in its illegal operations, and the Monte de Oro Small Scale Mining Association.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau already ordered the two companies to stop operating in the area.

"You can’t oppose mining that is legal. But on illegal matters, mining and others, I am totally opposed to that because as a leader, it is my duty to protect my people," he said in the statement.

"Aside from the two, there are no other mining companies that I know of which are operating illegally in my town," Manda said.

He denied reports that quoted him as saying the third mining company in the area, TVI Resource Development (Phils)  is an illegal firm.

"I did not say that. I was surprised when I heard stories to that effect," Manda said.

TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc., the Philippine affiliate of TVI Pacific Inc., a publicly listed Canadian mining company, focuses on the exploration and development of precious and base metals and large, high-margin projects in the Philippines.

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