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You are here: Home News Blog General Santos News Blog Picket vs SMI signals countdown in next month’s long march

Picket vs SMI signals countdown in next month’s long march

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General Santos City – With barely three weeks before the designed long march to dramatize its strong opposition against large scale mining, regional militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN) today staged a protest in front of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) office here morning to signal the countdown for its upcoming second Lakbayan in December.

Following the group’s successfully concluded 4-day long march from South Cotabato to Davao del Sur last year, it is now again geared up for another 5-day and 150-kilometer long march, this time switching its route. The Lakbayan II “The fight continues against large-scale mining and human rights violations” is set on December 6-10 from Davao del Sur to South Cotabato.

“Aggressive as Xstrata-SMI’s operations, protest-actions in various forms against the giant company are likewise geared up in the coming weeks. Protests are readied by different sectors including environmentalists, church people and lumads to signify support in Lakbayan” said Ryan Lariba, secetary general of BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN.

BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN has consistently opposing the $5.9 billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Project claiming it poses a big threat to environment and would evict thousands of lumads and farmers from their ancestral lands.

“People should determinedly resist this giant company craving to exploit region’s mineral resources. With the existing mining industry’s orientation and supposed utilization of the minerals, obviously, people would not benefit out of it, much less, improve the lives of farmers and lumads in the far-flung localities” said Lariba.

The Swiss-based Xstrata is chasing to take advantage of region’s 1.1 Million MT of gold and copper for 20 years or at least 375,000 tonnes per annum of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per year.

Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, Support the People’s Mining Bill
The group also lambasts Aquino government for not heeding people’s demand to immediately scrap the most-hated Mining Act of 1995.  The existing mining law was used by the government to attract foreign mining investors.

“Mining Act of 1995 has already caused large-scale damage in the environment and instigated wide-scale human rights violations against the people in different parts of the country. Large scale mining put the people’s lives and environment at stake. With this, some mining ventures were also attacked by New People’s Army” Lariba further said.

The group, on the other hand, expressed support to People’s Mining Bill that seeks to reorient the current policy on mining industry. People’s Mining Bill or HB 4315, with Rep. Teddy Casino of BAYAN MUNA as principal author, was formally filed in the 15th Congress last March 2, 2011.

“Certainly, we are not against mining. However, our minerals should be utilized to help improve the people’s lives, to help improve our economy. Mining Industry is very essential to national industrialization. It should not be in the framework of profiteering by big foreign investors and big businesses” ended Lariba.