Saturday, November 28, 2009

Green advocates stirred by women resiliency vs. prime mining company

“This is a peaceful community, tension amongst us arises after the mining community encroached our village- narrated by Neneng Gamus, a mother of two children, a barangay councilor, and one of the mothers’ in the fore front of defending their land and life in Anislagan, Placer, Surigao del Norte, Philippines.”

CAGAYAN Journal (PR / Nov 28) - Alternative Law Groups (ALG), the biggest law groups in the Philippines composed of 21 laws groups with their assisted community representatives gathered for a two-day forum in sharing legal strategies of communities in defending the environment threatened by development aggressions.

“This is venue of lawyers and law groups in handling environment (EnDefense) cases of marginalized sectors to share interventions, legal actions, and learnings in the course of handling cases” narrated by ALG national coordinator lawyer Marlon Manuel.

ALG visited Barangay Anislagan, one of the communities supported by the EnDefense project. Anislagan is an agricultural village on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao with two thousand residents has vowed to keep their land protected from one of the world’s largest mining conglomerates, Anglo American Plc., and free of mining projects.

In March 2007, Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources (KCGR), a joint venture between Britain’s Anglo American and the Manila Mining Company (a subsidiary of Lepanto) was awarded an exploration permit covering an area the approximate size of three hundred hectares.

In this community, women have an important role to till, plant, and harvest the fields where corn, rice, a diversity of vegetables, coconuts, and other cash crops are grown.

Significantly, Anislagan is also the site of large spring water aquifers from which water is drawn and distributed to surrounding communities.

Knowing that the development of a gold mine would mean an end to their agricultural livelihoods, and to their locally accessible clean water sources, residents have been determined to keep mining companies off of the green fields they consider gold according to local councilor Neneng Gamos.

As early as 2002, residents of Anislagan quickly mobilized themselves into a multi-sectoral environmental watchdog organization that became known as the Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF).

This diverse collective includes village councilors, farmers, women, youth, and parishioners from different churches, who have continued to mobilize together over the years.

Their vision of Anislagan is for it to remain a productive agricultural zone that is free of mining, with clean water for drinking and irrigation--a resource of the ‘commons’ to be shared and protected. In particular, women activists in Anislagan, have tirelessly committed to protect the life, land and resources of all in their community.

Men and women have now returned to their land to prepare for the next planting season but vowing to remain vigilant and waiting for the next Church bell to toll for the whole community to block the next drilling machine coming to explore their village.

Carl Cesar Rebuta

Team Leader

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center- Cagayan de Oro Regional Office



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