Gariguez to use prize money to protect IP lands

QUEZON City, April 27, 2012—Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-Nassa) executive secretary, Fr. Edwin “Edu” Gariguez said he will use the US$150,000 (P6,400,680.64) Goldman prize money he received to protect the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

In a news report from The Catholic San Francisco, Gariguez was quoted saying that it was a nightmare for him to see how the livelihood of the Mangyans, the native peoples of Mindoro; fisherfolks and peasants are being destroyed by irresponsible mining in the area.

Even though it has been an uphill battle, the Catholic priest had campaigned extensively against the Norwegian mining company Intex operating in the area.

The government had temporarily suspended the mining operations because of the series of protests they had launched.

The campaign had given birth to the wide anti-irresponsible mining alliance, Alliance against Mining (ALAMIN).

Despite the assassination of a Protestant pastor, who was part of Gariguez’s co-founded alliance, the anti-irresponsible mining campaign continued, and in 2009, Gariguez himself has staged an 11-day hunger strike, forcing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into the matter. But the results of their investigation or review, is yet to be publicized.

Gariguez even took the courage to bring his campaign before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European counterpart of the IMF and WorldBank, and had a dialogue with the Intex shareholders to tell them how the company had allegedly committed some social and environmental abuses.

But the Intex Resources had enticed some 10,000 people with permanent jobs during the erection of the mining tunnels, and another 2,000 jobs as the mining operations started.

While this is the case, Gariguez said, still there are people who remained in the frontline in the fight against destructive mining practices in Mindoro (the name of the island comes from the Spanish words, mina de oro or mines of gold), knowing that the land is what they really have for life. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]