XSTRATA-SMI guilty of plunder and environmental destruction in South Central Mindanao

By Ka Efren, Spokesperson
NDFP Far South Mindanao

In an en banc resolution of the People's Court in the Far South Mindanao Region (FMSR), the multinational mining company Xstrata-SMI has been found guilty for the continuing plunder of our natural resources and is causing irreversible damage to the watersheds and the major river systems in south central Mindanao. While still in their so-called "exploration stage," the company has already caused damage on the fragile ecosystem of the quadriboundary, destroyed mountains and are forcing tribal residents to leave their ancestral lands and find livelihood elsewhere.

Xstrata's large scale open pit mining will bring billions of dollars for the multinational company, but will leave the Filipino people nothing but dust, industrial waste and environmental ruin which would  effect not just us but the ngenerations.

Xstrata-SMI's large scale mining is proving to be very detrimental to the watersheds and major river systems of the provinces of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani. In Davao del Sur, the company is building its tailings pond right within the watersheds near Mal River which would contaminate and destroy two national and nineteen communal irrigation systems and the livelihood of at least 9,000 farmers. The same will happen to Koronadal Valley because the Koronadal watershed will also be affected by the open pit mines.

At stake is the food security of Mindanao's rice granaries. No less than the Davao City and Davao del Sur Federation of Irrigators Association has passed a resolution strongly opposing the mining operations of Xstrata-SMI. The Catholic Church has also expressed repeatedly its opposition to the company's operations. Even more stringent is the clamor of residents who want the company out. But Xstrata-SMI has remained deaf to the people's voice.

Not content with mining, Xstrata-SMI has also planned a coal fired power plant in Malalag town, Davao del Sur which would produce the electricity needed for the company's operations. A coal fired power plant which is another dirty industry, will be very harmful to the people living around Malalag Bay. It will also contaminate the Bay which is the source of livelihood of at least 30,000 fisherfolks.

To date, Xstrata-SMI has been busy convincing government agencies and other stakeholders to sign the Memorandum of Agreement for the Environmental Compliance Certificate which would give them the go signal for unrestrained plunder. They have used cash, 'environmental' tours, scholarship grants and propaganda gimmicks to get what they want — the immediate signing of the agreement before their partner in crime, Gloria Arroyo, bows out of Malacañang.

Xstrata-SMI wants all opposition silenced, hence it has funded and sponsored a military campaign of terror on those living within and in the peripheries of the mining area. Under the name of Oplan Bantay Laya, this military campaign which has been implemented mainly by the 27th IB and Task Force KITACO under the 10th Infantry Division — AFP has terrorized civilians, especially leaders of the open democratic mass movement, threatened and harassed them into silence. Many have been forced to evacuate.

Circumstantial evidence has pointed to the company Xstrata-SMI as one of the masterminds behind the death of anti-mining activist Boy Billanes who was killed in cold blood on March 9, 2009 in the Koronadal marketplace, a few distance from the police station. Up to this time, the gunmen remain at large.

In view of these findings and based on the basic principles of revolutionary justice, the People's Court of FarSouth Mindanao Region, on the occasion of Earth Day, has ordered the New People's Army, the Milisyang Bayan and the Barrio Self Defense Units of the People's Revolutionary Government to arrest corporate executive officers of Xstrata-SMI and/or their top level official representatives and to bring them to the People's Court for the proper legal and judicial proceedings.