Philippines: Lumad communities set up blockades to resist relocation

Minda News, March 26, 2012

NOT ALLOWED. A notice in sitio Nakultana at Bong Mal District in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur states that company vehicles of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. are not allowed passage. Photo by Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews

Indigenous Lumad communities in South Cotabato have organized a set of blockades against an Australian-owned mining company that wants to relocate them to make way for a new copper-gold mine project.

A group of journalists were invited by a local Catholic Church this past weekend to sit down with the Lumads and discuss the situation.

Speaking through interpreters, the Lumad explained how Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), an affiliate of Australia’s Xstrata Copper, recently outlined the terms of a proposed relocation project on a bunch of tarpaulins which it posted in the region without telling anyone3.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the terms of the relocation were written in Cebuano, a common language in the Philippines, but which most Lumads can neither read nor write.

As the Lumads later learned, SMI had given them until March 22 to agree to the relocation proposal, which also included compensation for their land and their farms.

“The community was shocked by the relocation notice. I don’t want my family relocated,” said Juli Samling, a Lumad community member.

“Here in our community, everything is almost free. You have a land where you can plant to put food on the table. In the relocation site, you have to pay for everything to sustain the family”, Samling added. Continue reading