A Filipino miner is causing social unrest in the Pacific island of Bougainville, the same way he stirred up Mindanao tribesmen against his mining. Tens of thousands of Bougainville natives are livid that SR Metals Inc., owned by Eric Gutierrez, is to log and consequently extract copper.
Central authorities in Papua New Guinea are being asked why an outsider has been allowed into the Panguna forest. Foreign mining in Panguna had triggered a ten-year civil war, 1988-1998, that claimed the lives of 20,000 people. Since then Panguna has been declared a “no-go zone.”
Gutierrez’s SRMI up to recently was extracting nickel in the mountains of Tubay, Agusan del Norte. Dispossessed Lumad had opposed his 20 years of supposed small-scale mining that actually exceeded legal limits. It also denuded forests in and beyond its 128-hectare concession.
Three thousand tribe folk and lowlanders had petitioned for SRMI’s closure, to no avail. Their lawyer was assassinated in broad daylight and a protesting priest falsely accused of rape. Violent clashes spread to other mines in other towns over the years, during which 68 tribesmen were killed.
SRMI claims to have received exploration rights from Papua president John Momis, a defrocked Catholic priest. Gutierrez’s partner, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice was reported to have said they are moving all their equipment from Agusan to Bougainville. Supposedly the government in that Papuan territory welcomes them into 183 square kilometers of forest and proven copper mines.
For the rest of this article: https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/10/29/1864037/papuans-want-filipino-miner-out-their-ancestral-land