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William Holden, Kathleen Nadeau and R. Daniel Jacobson

HOLDEN, W., NADEAU, K. and JACOBSON, R. D. (2011): useful in the twenty-first century for understanding
‘Exemplifying accumulation by dispossession: mining and indig- how capitalism replaces indigenous tribal commu-
enous peoples in the Philippines’, Geografiska Annaler: Series B,
Human Geography 93 (2): 141–161. nities by displacing them and, thereby, creating a
pool of landless workers to draw on who may opt,
ABSTRACT. Using a case study from the Philippines, this article instead, for revolution.
applies David Harvey’s theory of accumulation by dispossession
to show how neoliberal policies enable mining corporations to lo-
cate, lay claim to, and develop mineral resources in formerly in-
accessible areas, which for centuries have provided safe haven for Theoretical framework
indigenous peoples and their cultures. It explains why these fac- Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation
tors are leading to an increase in armed conflict between military In describing the transformation from feudalism to
forces and guerrilla groups, which recruit their members from dis-
placed indigenous people. The article concludes that the theory of capitalism occurring in Europe during the fifteenth
accumulation by dispossession offers an appropriate analytical to eighteenth centuries, Marx coined the term prim-
tool for understanding these processes. itive accumulation to refer to a process through
which people were being pushed off their land to
Key words: accumulation by dispossession, indigenous peoples,
militarization, mining, Philippines, primitive accumulation look for work in factories or on ships heading to
plunder and pillage the New World. This was a time
when slavery (for example the transatlantic slave
Introduction trade) was a highly profitable industry protected by
Indigenous people’s movements are part of a Western colonial business codes and state-led legal
worldwide campaign for human rights and social institutions. Peasants, who for centuries engaged in
and economic justice that takes into account a no- mutual relationships of reciprocity with feudal
tion of responsible stewardship for the natural lords, could no longer rely on their overlords for a
world. These movements struggle for the rights of modicum of social security and livelihood rights.
all indigenous peoples to live on their ancestral Rather, explains Harvey (2003, p. 144), this was a
land and to govern themselves. Indigenous peoples time of ‘disjuncture’ and change when traditional
rights are already protected by United Nation’s by- societies were being severed from the past, as a new
laws and decrees, such as the United Nations Dec- set of businessmen rose into the ranks of power and
laration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but authority through unscrupulous means of ‘accumu-
these international laws are difficult to enforce on lation, predation, fraud, and violence’, which set
the ground. This article uses Marx’s theoretical the stage for the beginnings of capitalism as we
framework of ‘primitive accumulation’ and David know it today.
Harvey’s concept of ‘accumulation by disposses-
sion’ to analyse how mining operations, currently,
are taking over ancestral ‘tribal’ lands and destroy- Harvey’s concept of accumulation by
ing natural habitats, while divesting people of their dispossession
properties and traditional means of livelihood. It is To Marx, primitive accumulation was a temporary
arranged accordingly. After defining the concept of and transitory stage occurring as capitalism came
accumulation by dispossession, it is applied to the to overtake feudalism and his discussion focused
Philippine example. The conclusion is that Marx’s largely on how it served to create a proletariat class
concept of primitive accumulation, far from being of urban-industrial workers who would, ultimate-
a defunct and outdated theory, continues to be ly, overthrow capitalism (Glassman 2006). Marx

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identified and defined the concept of primitive ac- the goal of neoliberalism is to increase foreign in-
cumulation, which he referred to as an evolution- vestment (McCarthy 2007). Since the state is pre-
ary stage having occurred in the development of sumed to be inefficient, neoliberalism eschews
capitalism and, then, moved on to discuss the con- any role for the state in responding to the needs of
flict between capital and labour, which he figured the populace (McCarthy 2007). Under the auspic-
must occur to bring in socialism. This left many es of neoliberalism, major multilateral agencies
Marxist scholars treating the concept of primitive such as the Asian Development Bank, World
accumulation more as a historical event than as a Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World
theoretical approach (Glassman 2006). This treat- Trade Organization, ‘have become increasingly
ment continued until Harvey (2003) resurrected aggressive in their willingness to look inside coun-
primitive accumulation within the rubric of accu- tries, evaluate their governance structures, and
mulation by dispossession for modern day social recommend both sweeping and highly specific
analysis. According to this framework, ‘the fea- changes’ (McCarthy 2007, p. 40). These multilat-
tures of primitive accumulation that Marx men- eral agencies have called for foreign investors in
tions have remained powerfully present within developing countries to be guaranteed parity
capitalism’s historical geography’ (Harvey 2003, rights and protections against expropriation, and
p. 145). That is, contemporary peasant populations to be allowed to freely move investment funds and
are being displaced by many of the same unscru- profits into, and out of, a country as they wish
pulous means that disbanded them in Europe dur- (McCarthy 2007).
ing the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Harvey
(2003, p. 144) applies the concept of accumulation
by dispossession for the study of this ongoing phe- Mining: a specific example of neoliberalism
nomenon occurring when long standing indige- One specific example of primitive accumulation
nous modes of production, largely, based on cited by Marx ([1867] 1990) was the extraction of
traditional forms of reciprocity and exchange are the mineral resources of the New World by the
replaced by new capitalist modes. This occurs as Spanish. To Bridge (2007) the appropriation of
capitalism (seeking new sources of raw materials minerals through the implementation of mining
and new markets for manufactured products) codes, thus allowing a natural resource to be ren-
opens up ‘new fields for capital accumulation in dered a commodity and extracted by private corpo-
domains hitherto regarded [as] off-limits to the rations, exemplifies what Marx called primitive
calculus of profitability’ (Harvey 2006, p. 153). accumulation. Mining investment flows into a juris-
The poor located in the peripheries of society are diction can be induced, or accelerated, as the result
systematically deprived of their means of making of changes effecting that jurisdiction’s risk and re-
a living and forced to look for work from the rich ward ranking relative to other potential targets for
and powerful. mining investment (Bridge 2004). Over the ten
years from 1985 until 1995, largely, as a result of
the influence of the World Bank, over 90 countries
Neoliberalism: capitalism redux either adopted new mining codes or revised exist-
What has brought about accumulation by dispos- ing ones in an effort to promote foreign direct in-
session has been the ascendency of the neoliberal vestment in their minerals sectors (Bridge 2004,
paradigm among many governments in the devel- 2007). These efforts at mining sector liberalization
oping world and among those international agen- have led to a palpable increase in investment by cor-
cies, such as the World Bank, who advise them porations engaged in the extraction of nonferrous
(Harvey 2003, 2006). Harvey (2006, p. 145) metals in the developing nations of the world
defines neoliberalism as ‘a theory of political eco- (Bebbington et al. 2008). From 1990 to 2001, for
nomic practices which proposes that human well- example, mining companies invested over USD
being can best be advanced by the maximization 90,000 million in the developing world (Hayter
of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional et al. 2003). Investment by mining companies in
framework characterized by private property new projects in developing countries is an excellent
rights, individual liberty, free markets, and free example of what Harvey (2003, p. 158) described as
trade’. Neoliberalism’s policy prescription is an neoliberalism’s tendency to have assets held by the
almost exclusive reliance upon the market as the state released into the market where capital can ‘in-
institution to be used for resource allocation and vest in them, upgrade them, and speculate in them’.

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The political economy of modern mining According to Moody (2007, p. 156), ‘By the dawn
The political economy of the mining industry is of the twenty-first century, most untapped gold,
what has made these mining law liberalizations so copper, iron, bauxite, nickel and diamonds had
appealing to the mining industry. Mining compa- been identified as effectively indigenous “proper-
nies require as much access as possible to land due ty”.’ Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Develop-
to the rarity of nonferrous metals. Metals, such as ment (2002, p. 152) defines ‘indigenous peoples’
chromium, copper, gold, nickel, lead, and zinc, are, as those ‘having a historical continuity with pre-
from a geological perspective, rare (Skinner 1976). invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed
This means that the probability of finding a deposit on their territories who consider themselves dis-
of such minerals in a concentration rich enough to tinct from other sectors of the societies now pre-
warrant profitable extraction is extremely low. For vailing in those territories’. Across the developing
a perspective on this, consider that, according to world, some examples of situations where mining
the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and has occurred on lands inhabited by indigenous
Industry, at the end of 1996 there were 320 explo- peoples can be found in: Bougainville (Havini and
ration projects worldwide involving Japanese Johns 2001), Ghana (Hilson and Yakovleva 2007),
firms. Of these 320 projects, 278 failed to discover Guatemala (Holden and Jacobson 2008), and Indo-
an economically viable ore deposit while 23 pro- nesia (Kennedy and Abrash 2001). In many in-
ceeded to the next stage of development, a failure stances, the location of mining projects on lands
rate of almost 87 per cent (Masuda 1999). Accord- inhabited by indigenous peoples has led to conflict
ingly, to find an economically viable concentration between the national government and the mining
of ore, the mining industry requires as much access project proponent, on one hand, and the indige-
to land as possible. When viable ore deposits are nous communities living in the vicinity of the
found, those ore deposits have finite lifetimes and mine, on the other hand. Such conflicts occur over
mining companies, as extractors of non-renewable the issue of negative environmental impacts of
resources, must continually acquire access to new mining operations (Havini and Johns 2001;
reserves as a way of replenishing their assets. As Kennedy and Abrash 2001; Holden and Jacobson
Bridge (2004, p. 407) wrote: 2008), the aggressive behaviour of mining security
forces (Havini and Johns 2001; Kennedy and
As extractors of nonrenewable resources, min- Abrash 2001; Holden and Jacobson 2008), and the
ing firms necessarily consume their resource displacement of pre-existing indigenous miners us-
base during production so that, over time, ore ing primitive technologies (Hilson and Yakovleva
grades in established mining regions become 2007). In all of these instances, large-scale mining
degraded. Acquiring the rights to new land (for operations have led to some degree of accumula-
exploration) and to new resource deposits (for tion by dispossession as there has been what Har-
mine development) is one of the principal vey (2006, p. 153) would call ‘the suppression of
means by which mining firms renew their re- alternative (indigenous) forms of production and
source base and establish their competitive po- consumption’.
sition. Perhaps the most serious threat mining poses to
indigenous peoples is the threat of displacement
from their lands. Anthropologists have long em-
phasized the risks to indigenous cultures posed by
Mining on lands inhabited by indigenous peoples displacement (Eder 1987). ‘Land’, wrote Ballard
As multinational mining corporations have moved and Banks (2003, p. 300), ‘condenses a host of so-
into the developing world to seek access to mineral cial relationships for which territory serves as a
deposits made available to them by mining law lib- form of shorthand reference’. If an indigenous
eralizations they have increasingly come into con- community is displaced from its ancestral lands the
flict with indigenous peoples inhabiting areas individual members of that community will contin-
where mineral deposits are located (Ali 2003). As ue to exist but the culture of that community may
Ballard and Banks (2003, p. 288) wrote, ‘Most of be gravely threatened. ‘Those unfamiliar with in-
the mining projects realized as a result of the 1980s digenous culture may mistakenly believe that min-
exploration bonanza have been located in green- ing poses minimal risks, since indigenous peoples
field territories or frontier zones, among relatively have little income or wealth to lose and [suffer
remote or marginalized indigenous communities.’ from] high unemployment’ (Mining, Minerals, and

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Sustainable Development 2002, p. 152) However, and international NGOs, legal agencies, and indi-
such a view is incorrect because ‘the wealth that vidual lawyers, and a globalizing media served by
supports the sustainability of their culture is found novel means of communication such as the Inter-
in institutions, environmental knowledge, local re- net, has produced a multi-sited and multi-vocal are-
sources, and especially in land embellished with na for interaction of exceptional proportions.’
cultural meaning’ (Mining, Minerals, and Sustain- This anti-globalization movement is something
able Development 2002, p. 152). accessible to indigenous peoples finding them-
selves confronted by a multinational mining com-
pany. Around the developing world many
Indigenous peoples and the anti-globalization indigenous communities who have had their ances-
movement tral lands encroached upon by multinational min-
Just as the primitive accumulation described by ing companies have entered into alliances with
Marx during the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries NGOs from the developed world (Ali 2003). One
gave rise to a series of violent and episodic strug- of the ways that NGOs can help to ameliorate the
gles, today’s accumulation by dispossession has power imbalances between multinational mining
also generated resistance movements against glo- corporations and marginalized and impoverished
bal capitalism (Harvey 2003, 2005, 2006). Much of indigenous communities is by acting on behalf of
this resistance constitutes what Harvey (2003, p. indigenous people as they face a mining corpora-
74) refers to as ‘a world-wide anti-globalization tion that poses a major threat to their cultural
movement’ or what Harvey (2005, p. 186) refers to survival (Jochnick and Garzón 2006). Social move-
as ‘social movements struggling against specific ments for greater equity, social-and environmental
aspects of neoliberal practices, particularly accu- justice, and indigenous rights also offer a model for
mulation by dispossession’. These social move- appropriate and sustainable development practic-
ments protest neoliberalism’s preoccupation with es. They share a common perspective that is critical
unfettered market forces and market society’s un- of top-down development and counterpoise bot-
toward effects (Glassman 2006). They voice egali- tom-up development alternatives that identify the
tarian political demands, seek economic justice, close relationship between indigenous cultural
fair trade, and greater economic security for mar- communities and nature. These movements are
ginalized peoples (Harvey 2006). In many ways, grounded on the idea of the growing economic dis-
this anti-globalization movement can be referred parity between the rich and poor. They are indica-
to as a ‘global civil society’, which Hussain and tive of an international trend for the development of
Mishra (2007, p. 5) define as ‘the sphere of cross- new alternatives to the discourses of neoliberal
border relationships and activities undertaken by capitalism and the new world order. Attention now
the players, which are independent of governments turns to a discussion of the Philippine example of
and private firms operating outside the internation- indigenous peoples struggling to protect their envi-
al reach of states and markets, in a cross-cultural ronment from being irreparably damaged by the
and cross-national manner’. influx of mining operations conducted by multina-
One thing that has certainly facilitated the profu- tional corporations.
sion of the anti-globalization movement has been
the increased ease, and lowered cost, of internation-
al communications (Holden 2010). As Vanden The Philippine case study
(2006, p. 291) wrote, ‘International communica- Mining and mineral resources of the Philippines
tions, including cellular phones and, especially e- The Philippines, an archipelago of approximately
mail, have greatly facilitated the globalization of 7,100 island located in Southeast Asia (Fig. 1), is
awareness about local struggles and the support and well endowed with base (chromium, copper, lead,
solidarity they receive.’ Worldwide, advocacy- nickel, zinc) and precious (gold and silver) metals
oriented NGOs have built deep transnational net- (Holden and Jacobson 2007). The archipelago has
works with the capability to respond rapidly to con- a long history of mining but, by the early 1990s, the
cerns raised by local communities and are able to ability of the mining industry to serve as a mecha-
make arguments about environmental and social is- nism for economic growth began to become viewed
sues that resonate well with the broader public and as underutilized (Holden and Jacobson 2007). At
media (Thorne 2007). In the words of Ballard and this time, both the Asian Development Bank and
Banks (2003, p. 289), ‘The involvement of national the World Bank began calling for a liberalization of

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Geografiska Annaler: Series B © 2011 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

Figure 1.

its mining law so as to transform it into a conduit for 1995 which contained several incentives to encour-
foreign direct investment (Holden and Ingelson age mining investment such as: income tax holi-
2007). The government began to heed the advice of days; duty-free capital equipment imports; value-
these multilateral agencies and, in 1995, President added tax exemptions; income tax deductions for
Fidel Ramos signed into law the Mining Act of operations posting losses; accelerated depreciation;

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exclusive rights to water on lands containing min- stitute 2009). Figure 2, and Table 1, display the
eral resources; exclusive rights to timber on lands locations of the major operating and proposed
containing mineral resources; easement rights to mines in the archipelago.
lands adjacent to those lands containing mineral re-
sources; and guarantees of the right of repatriation
of the entire profits of the investment as well as Indigenous peoples of the Philippines
freedom from expropriation (Holden and Ingelson In the Philippines, indigenous peoples are consid-
2007; Ilagan 2009). These incentives notwith- ered to be those who have a historical continuity
standing, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of with the pre-Islamic and pre-Hispanic society of
the Mining Act was its creation of two new types of the archipelago (Rood 1998). When Islam was in-
production agreements governing the mineral de- troduced to the archipelago in the fourteenth cen-
posit ownership requirements under which a tury, those who resisted Islam retreated to upland
foreign mining corporation could operate in the areas and continued their pre-Islamic animist be-
Philippines: the Mineral Production Sharing lief systems. Then, when Spain colonized the Phil-
Agreement (MPSA) and the Financial Technical ippines in the sixteenth century, they retreated
Assistance Agreement (FTAA). The MPSA is a even further into upland areas to resist the Spanish.
production agreement which can last for up to 25 This historical process of indigenous retreat into
years, is approved by the Department of Environ- mountainous areas has generated ‘one of the basic
ment and Natural Resources (DENR), and requires correlations in the Philippines’, the fact that ‘in-
that no more than 40 per cent of the mineral project digenous peoples tend to occupy uplands – since
be owned by a foreign corporation (Holden and In- the lowlands were Islamized and Hispanized’
gelson 2007). The FTAA is a production agreement (Rood 1998, p. 138). Indigenous people, who con-
that can last for up to 25 years, is approved by the stitute approximately 15 per cent of the popula-
President of the Philippines, and (in contrast to the tion, live primarily in upland rural areas and
MPSA) allows 100 per cent foreign ownership of engage in subsistence agro-forestry. The largest
the mineral concession (Holden and Ingelson concentration of indigenous peoples as a percent-
2007). age of the population is in the Cordillera Adminis-
The Mining Act became popular with the min- trative Region of the island of Luzon (Fig. 1), who
ing industry and the number of foreign mining are collectively referred to as Igorots. Approxi-
companies represented in the archipelago in- mately, one-third of all indigenous peoples in the
creased by 400 per cent between 1994 and 1996 Philippines are found in the Cordillera zone
(USGS 1998). The United States Geological Sur- (Anthrowatch 2005). The second largest concen-
vey went so far as to call the Mining Act of 1995 tration of indigenous peoples as a percentage of the
‘one of the most modern in Southeast Asia’ (USGS population (but largest total number) is on the is-
1999, p. x1). By the emergent years of the twenty- land of Mindanao (Fig. 1), who are collectively re-
first century the government of the Philippines had ferred to as Lumads, where approximately two-
adopted a development strategy led by mineral ex- thirds of all indigenous peoples in the Philippines
traction and was aggressively touting its minerali- are found (Anthrowatch 2005). According to
zation to the global mining industry (Bravante and Teresa Guia-Padilla (2005), the Executive Director
Holden 2009). Perhaps the best example of this of Anthrowatch (an NGO engaged in activism on
was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Execu- behalf of indigenous peoples), while the largest
tive Order No. 270, issued in 2004, which ordered number of indigenous peoples is found on Mind-
the preparation of a Minerals Action Plan stipulat- anao, the ratio of indigenous peoples to total pop-
ing the guidelines and procedures on the simplifi- ulation is lower due to the presence of Muslims
cation and streamlining of permitting and and Christian migrants from other parts of the ar-
clearance systems along with a reduction in the te- chipelago. There is also an appreciable concentra-
dious permitting process for mines in the Philip- tion of indigenous peoples on the islands of
pines (Bravante and Holden 2009). This appears to Mindoro and Palawan (Fig. 1); on the former, the
have had some degree of success; in the 2008/2009 indigenous people are the Mangyan (Anthrowatch
Fraser Institute survey of mining companies, 71 2005), on the latter, the indigenous people include
per cent of the 658 respondents cited the mineral the Palawan (or Palawano) of southern Palawan,
potential of the archipelago as something that en- the Tagbanua of central Palawan, and the Batak of
courages investment in the Philippines (Fraser In- northern Palawan (Eder 1987).

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Geografiska Annaler: Series B © 2011 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

Figure 2.

The overlap of mining and indigenous peoples peoples emerges from an intersection of geology
The efforts of the Philippine government to attract with anthropology. Mineral deposits are usually
mining investment have brought mining and indig- found in mountainous regions because of the com-
enous peoples into conflict with each other. The in- plicated geological forces that occasion their gene-
teraction of mining projects with indigenous sis (National Research Council 1999; Scholle

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Geografiska Annaler: Series B © 2011 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

Table 1. Mine location information for the Philippines.

Nr Mineral Name of project Proponent of project Province
1 Cu, Au Claveria Copper-Gold Project Oceana Gold Cagayan
2 Cu, Au Conner Copper-Gold Project Cordillera Exploration Corporation Apayao
3 Cu Tabuk Copper Project Wolfland Resources Kalinga
4 Cu, Au Batong-Buhay Copper-Gold Project Batong-Buahy Gold Mines Kalinga
5 Au Victoria Gold Project Lepanto Consolidated Mining Benguet
6 Au Far South East Gold Project Lepanto Consolidated Mining Benguet
7 Au Teresa Gold Project Lepanto Consolidated Mining Benguet
8 Au Gambang Gold Project Oxiana Philippines Incorporated Benguet
9 Au Itogon Suyoc Gold Project Itogon Suyoc Mines Incorporated Benguet
10 Cu Cordon Copper Gold Project Vulcan Industrial Mining Isabela
11 Ni Dinapigue Nickle Project Platinum Group Minerals Isabela
12 Au Camp 3 Gold Project Northern Luzon Mining Benguet
13 Au Runruno Gold Project Metex Mineral Resources Nueva Vizcaya
14 Au Acupan SSM Operations Benguet Corporation Benguet
15 Cu, Au Didipio Copper-Gold Project Oceana Gold Nueva Vizcaya
16 Cu Padcal Copper Expansion Project Philex Mining Corporation Benguet
17 Ni Acoje PGE/Nickel Project Crau Minerals Zambales
18 Cr Masinloc Chromite Project Benguet Corporation Zambales
19 Au Bataan Gold Project Balanga, Bataan Mineral Exploration Bataan
20 Au Paracale Gold Project Johson Mining Corporation Camarines Norte
21 Au Labo Gold Project Indophil Resources Camarines Norte
22 Au Del Gallengo Gold Project Phelps Dodge Exploration Quezon
23 Au Lobo Gold Project Mindoro Resources Limited Batangas
24 Cu, Au, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project Lafayette Philippines Incorporated Albay
Ag, Zn
25 Ni Mindoro Nickel Project Crew Development Corporation Mindoro Oriental
26 Au Masbate Gold Project Filiminera Resources Masbate
27 Ni Romblon Nickel Project Pelican Resources Romblon
28 Cr Homonhon Chromite Project Heritage Resources Eastern Samar
29 Cr Omasdang Chromite Project CRAU Mineral Resources Surigao del Norte
30 Cu, Au Sogod Copper-Gold Project UP Mines Southern Leyte
31 Cu Toldeo Copper Project Atlas Consolidated Mining Cebu
32 Au, Cr, Ni Vista Buena Mining II Vista Buena Mining Surigao del Norte
33 Au, Cr, Ni Vista Buena Mining I Vista Buena Mining Surigao del Norte
34 Ni Nonoc Nickel Project Pacific Nickel Philippines Surigao del Norte
35 Ni Sigbanog Nickel Project Hinatuan Mining Surigao del Norte
36 Cu, Au Colet Copper-Gold Project Colet Mining Negros Occidental
37 Cu, Au Makalaya Copper Gold Project Manila Mining Corporation Surigao del Norte
38 Cu Boyongan Copper Project Silangan Mindanao Mining Surigao del Norte
39 Au Siana Gold Project JCG Resources Surigao Del Norte
40 Au, Cu Tapian San Francisco Project Mindoro Resources Surigao del Norte
41 Ni Adlay-Cagdianao-Tandawa Nickel Project Case Mining Corporation Surigao del Sur
42 Ni Berong Nickel Project Berong Nickel Corporation Palawan
43 Ni Taganito Nickel Project Taganito Mining Corporation Surigao del Sur
44 Au, Cu, Agata Project Minimax Mineral Exploration Agusan del Norte
Ni, Co
45 Ni Celestial Nickel Project Toledo Mining Corporation Palawan
46 Ni Palawan Nickel Project Coral Bay Mining Palawan
47 Au, Ag, Balabag Project TVI Pacific Zamboanga Sibugay
Cu, Pb
48 Au, Ag Diwalwal Direct State Development Project National Resources Mining Development Compostela Valley
49 Au Canatuan Gold Project TVI Pacific Zamboanga del Norte
50 Au Manat Gold Project Indophil Resources Compostela Valley
51 Cu Tagpura Copper Project Philco Mining Compostela Valley
52 Cu Amacan Copper Project North Davao Mining Corporation Compostela Valley
53 Au Hijio Gold Project North Davao Mining Corporation Compostela Valley
54 Cu, Au King King Copper Gold Project Benguet Corporation Compostela Valley
55 Ni Pujada Nickel Project Hallmark Mining Corporation Davao Oriental
56 Cu, Au Tampakan Copper Project Sagittarius Mines Incorporated and Xstrata Copper South Cotabato
57 Au T’boli Gold Project Cadan Resources South Cotabato

Notes: Ag = Silver, Au = Gold, Co = Cobalt, Cr = Chromium, Sources: Mines and Geosciences Bureau (2006, 2007a, 2007b,
Cu = Copper, Ni = Nickel, Pb = Lead, Pt = Platinum, Zn = Zinc. 2007c).

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Figure 3.

2005). Figure 3 demonstrates this in a Philippine peoples are also found in mountainous regions due
context by overlaying the location of mining to the historical process of indigenous retreat into
projects, from Figure 2, with the percentage of mountainous areas and Figure 4 depicts the inter-
each province consisting of land with a slope great- action of mining projects with indigenous peoples
er than 30 degrees. In the Philippines, indigenous by overlaying the location of mining projects, from

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Geografiska Annaler: Series B © 2011 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

Figure 4.

Figure 2, with the percentage of indigenous people Conflicting laws: the Mining Act and the
in each province. It is estimated that half of all are- Indigenous Peoples Rights Act
as identified in mining applications in the archipel- The most immediate clash between the govern-
ago are in areas inhabited by indigenous people ment’s aggressive promotion of mining and the in-
(Holden and Ingelson 2007). digenous inhabitants of the lands where the

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mineral resources are found is the inconsistency When IPRA was passed in 1997 it was regarded
between the law promoting mining, the Mining as ‘a blow to the mining industry’ (Mining, Miner-
Act, and the law codifying the rights of indigenous als, and Sustainable Development 2002, p. 154).
peoples, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act Consequently, in 1998, people with ties to the min-
(IPRA). The Mining Act, as previously mentioned, ing industry, petitioned the Philippine Supreme
is designed to provide mining companies with un- Court impugning IPRA as being in violation of the
impeded access to lands containing minerals. This 1987 Constitution by virtue of the fact that Section
is best demonstrated by the generous access provi- 2 of Article XII gives the Philippine State the prop-
sions of the FTAA, which provide a foreign corpo- erty rights to all natural resources (Holden and In-
ration with 100 per cent foreign ownership for 25 gelson 2007). On 6 December 2000 the Philippine
years. In sharp contrast to the Mining Act, IPRA Supreme Court, in the case of Isagani Cruz and Ce-
has no role as a conduit for foreign direct invest- sar Europa v. Secretary of Environment and Natu-
ment, and serves as a legislative response to Sec- ral Resources et al. (G.R. No. 135385), issued a
tion 5 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution of the split decision wherein seven of the fourteen Justic-
Philippines which states: ‘The State, subject to the es said that IPRA was indeed unconstitutional
provisions of this Constitution and national devel- while the remaining seven of the Justices said that
opment policies and programs, shall protect the it was constitutional. Since the clear majority need-
rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ed to declare a statute unconstitutional under the
ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, Philippine Rules of Court was not obtained, it was
and cultural well-being.’ deemed constitutional (Holden and Ingelson
The 1987 Constitution was described by Karnow 2007). On 22 December 2000, the petitioners ap-
(1989, p. 424), as ‘a thick, turgid document that de- plied for a reconsideration of their petition by the
fies easy comprehension’. It contains a number of Supreme Court but the justices denied their petition
provisions calling for legislation facilitating pro- for reconsideration on 16 September 2001 and
gressive social reforms and it was not until 29 Octo- IPRA remained constitutional (Holden and Ingel-
ber 1997 that the Philippine Congress could fulfil son 2007).
the requirements of Section 5 of Article XII and This court case should not be thought of as a
pass IPRA, a powerful statute providing for a wide case upholding the validity of IPRA. Rather a more
range of indigenous peoples rights such as the right accurate perception of it is that it was an unsuccess-
to ancestral domain, the right to self-governance, ful attempt to invalidate IPRA, since the case end-
and the right to cultural integrity (Holden and Ingel- ed in a split decision and no clear legal ruling was
son 2007). This statute also created the National made it may be litigated again at any time (Holden
Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), a gov- and Ingelson 2007). This is noteworthy because the
ernment agency responsible for protecting the mining industry has indicated an intense dislike of
rights of indigenous peoples, and on 28 June 1998, IPRA. In the 2004/2005 Fraser Institute survey of
the NCIP issued the implementing rules and regula- mining companies one unnamed exploration com-
tions under IPRA in NCIP Administrative Order pany president revealed his dislike of IPRA by stat-
(AO) 1998-1 (Holden and Ingelson 2007). These ing, the ‘Native Peoples Rights Act [sic] is entirely
rules and regulations contained a number of provi- unworkable’ (Fraser Institute 2005, p. 32). In the
sions facilitating control over lands occupied by in- 2008/2009 Fraser Institute survey, 90 per cent of
digenous peoples. In particular, NCIP AO 1998-1 the 658 respondents stated that they viewed the law
requires that the free prior informed consent (FPIC) regarding indigenous peoples rights as a deterrent
of all members of an indigenous cultural communi- to investment in the Philippines (Fraser Institute
ty be obtained as a precondition for any mining ac- 2009). Given the industry’s dislike of IPRA, com-
tivity located on lands which are the ancestral bined with the aggressive efforts of the government
domain of an indigenous community (Holden and to encourage mining, there may well be another at-
Ingelson 2007). While this requirement for FPIC tempt to invalidate IPRA.
has been referred to by some as the ‘heart and soul’ While the mining industry did not succeed in its
of IPRA (ESSC 1999, p. 33), the mining industry, attempt to have IPRA judicially invalidated it did,
an industry with an insatiable appetite for land, be- however, have some success against it when it con-
gan to quickly view IPRA, in general, and the re- vinced the NCIP to weaken the FPIC provisions of
quirement for FPIC, in particular, as an impediment the Implementing Rules and Regulations with
to its operations. NCIP AO No.1998-3. This Administrative Order

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FPIC of the local indigenous Bugkalots by creating

a ‘council of elders’, which consisted of people
who either did not belong to the community or who
were offered rewards in exchange for their consent
(Ilagan 2009). Similar allegations have been raised
with respect to the Canatuan Gold Project on the is-
land of Mindanao (Fig. 2 and Table 1), a mine de-
veloped by the Canadian mining company Toronto
Ventures Incorporated (TVI) Pacific, where a
council of elders consented to the mine (Sanz
2007). The granting of consent by such a body was
highly controversial since this was alien to the tra-
Figure 5. Indigenous peoples protesting outside the Davao
City Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the De- ditions of the local Lumads, known as Subanon,
partment of Environment and Natural Resources, March 2009. and since many members of the council were paid
Sign says, ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite to Defend Ancestral Do- a monthly honorarium by TVI Pacific (Sanz 2007).
main and Self-Determination’. Photo credit: Keith Bacongco. It is also alleged that TVI Pacific engaged in other
‘underhanded tactics’ to show it had obtained FPIC
stated that mining firms with concessions approved such as inviting people to an ‘information session’
prior to the implementation of IPRA (29 October on the mine and then asking those who attended to
1997) did not need to obtain the FPIC of an indige- sign an ‘attendance sheet’ (Sanz 2007). This ‘at-
nous community (Holden and Ingelson 2007). This tendance sheet’ was then produced by the mining
weakening of IPRA in 1998 meant that all produc- company to falsely demonstrate that the mine had
tion agreements acquired by mining companies be- received overwhelming public support among the
tween March 1995 and October 1997 would be Subanon (Sanz 2007).
exempt from obtaining the consent of the indige- The second way mining may dispossess indige-
nous peoples claiming the land where the mining nous peoples relates to the physical displacement
project would be located (Holden and Ingelson of indigenous peoples by mining. The appropria-
2007). There is clearly a tension between the Min- tion of the lands of indigenous peoples for mining
ing Act and IPRA and the administrative weakening results in massive displacement of people (Carreon
of IPRA carried out by NCIP AO No.1998-3 shows 2009). At the Taganito nickel laterite mine on the
how the Mining Act has come to trump IPRA. Hav- island of Mindanao (Fig. 2 and Table 1), thirty fam-
ing discussed the inconsistencies between the law ilies of the local Lumads, known as Mamanwa,
promoting mining and the law codifying the rights displaced by mining, live underneath a bridge
of indigenous peoples attention now turns to how (Stavenhagen 2003). At the Canatuan Gold Project
mining in the Philippines leads to a dispossession of there have been forcible evictions of Subanon
that archipelago’s indigenous peoples. since mid-2003 (Rights and Democracy 2007).
Once displaced by mining indigenous peoples end
up as poor urban migrants where they live in poor
Dispossession of indigenous peoples by mining conditions lacking adequate shelter, jobs or basic
Local conflicts between mining and indigenous services (Stavenhagen 2003). In Baguio City, for
peoples have generated substantial controversy in- example, over half of the population consists of
cluding protests (Fig. 5), litigation, and allegations displaced Igorots, approximately, 65 per cent who
of violence and human rights abuses (Holden and suffer from extreme poverty (Stavenhagen 2003).
Ingelson 2007). The initial way mining may dis- Since the archipelago’s indigenous peoples prac-
possess indigenous peoples is through the acquisi- tice animistic religions, any displacement from
tion of fraudulent IPRA consent by mining their ancestral domain will often involve removing
companies from indigenous communities. ‘The ac- them from an environment with which they have
quisition of FPIC’, wrote Ilagan (2009, p. 122), established a spiritual relationship and such dis-
‘can be cheated, bypassed, and even ignored by placement can prove devastating to an indigenous
companies who want to exploit ancestral lands’. At person (Tauli-Corpuz 1996). Magallanes Inocen-
the Didipio Copper-Gold Project on the island of cio, the Chair of Haribon Palawan (an NGO en-
Luzon (Fig. 2 and Table 1) it is alleged that Oceana gaged in indigenous advocacy on Palawan),
Gold, an Australian mining company, obtained the regards mining as a threat to the cultural survival of

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indigenous peoples because it deprives them of The fourth way mining may dispossess indigenous
their ancestral lands, which are their life support peoples is through its environmental effects
systems. Just as large areas of habitat must be set (Bravante and Holden 2009). Mining is an activity
aside to protect biodiversity, large areas must also with a substantial potential for environmental deg-
be set aside to protect ethnodiversity (Inocencio radation. The first environmental problem associat-
2005). To Ajim Inni, an advocacy staff member ed with mining is the amount of waste it generates;
with the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindan- on average, many ore deposits are of low grade and
ao, ‘The very identity of indigenous peoples is tied this entails the generation of substantial amounts of
to the land; mining is a threat to ethnodiversity, it waste. Much of the waste produced is in the form
will displace indigenous people and cause them to of tailings, finely grained waste particles left over
lose their culture’ (Inni 2005). To Teresa Guia- from mineral processing, which are frequently
Padilla, the overlap of mining and indigenous peo- stored in large ponds called tailings ponds contain-
ples (Fig. 4) is a serious threat to indigenous cul- ing extremely toxic water. The danger of a cata-
tures and there is a danger of indigenous cultures strophic tailings pond failure is an eminent
being exterminated in a form of ethnocide; the peo- possibility and major spills seem to occur almost
ple will continue to exist as individuals but their every year. One of the most disturbing examples of
cultures will die and their unique ethnic traditions such a tailings spill occurred in the Philippines in
will disappear thus rendering them indistinguisha- 1996 at the Marcopper mine, on the island of
ble from the rest of lowland Christian Filipinos Marinduque (Fig. 1), when a spill of mining wastes
(Guia-Padilla 2005). As Bello et al. (2009, p. 228) caused a 24-kilometre length of the Boac River to
wrote in describing the effect of mining upon the be declared biologically dead (Mining, Minerals,
indigenous peoples of the archipelago: ‘Indige- and Sustainable Development 2002).
nous peoples have been thrown out of their lands, Toxic chemical spills have also occurred while
forced to find new homes or go down to the cities transporting chemicals, such as cyanide and mer-
where they become street urchins or part of the cury, to and from mines (Ingelson et al. 2006). In
squatters in slum areas. Entire communities are the state of Montana, in the United States, a series
dislocated, disrupting cultural and family ties.’ of cyanide leaks from mining operations led to a
Intimately related to the second way mining citizen initiative in 1998 outlawing the use of cya-
may dispossess indigenous peoples is the third: de- nide as a processing agent (Holden et al. 2007). In
struction of sacred sites. Often, due to the location 2000, in Peru, 151 kilograms of liquid mercury
of mineral deposits in the uplands (Fig. 3), moun- produced as a by-product of gold mining was
tains, places regarded as sacred places by indige- spilled over a 45-kilometre stretch of road, while
nous peoples, are destroyed by mining operations. being transported from a mine, which resulted in
This was the case with the Canatuan Gold Project more than 200 people being hospitalized due to
which is located on Mount Canatuan, a place re- mercury poisoning (Ingelson et al. 2006).
vered by the Subanon (Sanz 2007). According to Arguably, the most serious environmental prob-
the organization Rights and Democracy (2007, p. lem facing mining is the phenomena known as acid
38), ‘One of the most controversial aspects of the mine drainage. Often minerals are found in ore de-
mine is that it is located on the peak of Mount Ca- posits containing high amounts of sulphur; when
natuan, which the Subanon living in the area con- oxygen and water come in contact with this sulphur,
sider to be sacred.’ As Tauli-Corpuz (1996, p. 106) acid will be generated (Bravante and Holden 2009).
wrote about importance of sacred places in the de- The leaching, and migration of heavy metals, such
termination of ancestral domain: as arsenic, frequently occurs as a result of acid mine
drainage (Bravante and Holden 2009). Once acid
The struggle for the defense of the ancestral mine drainage starts it is impossible to stop. In Eu-
domain, which is participated in by whole rope, there are mines that were operating at the time
communities, is itself a defense of this earth- of the Roman Empire which are still emitting acid
based spirituality. It is a defense of the whole today (National Research Council 1999).
philosophy, religion and lifestyle which is sus- These concerns about the environmental effects
tainable and viable. It is a defense of the indig- of mining are particularly acute among indigenous
enous people’s spiritual relationship or people due to the overlap of mineral resources with
partnership with the land. their ancestral domain (Fig. 4). This overlap is
most prominent in northern Luzon where mining

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companies in the Cordillera Administrative Region subsistence activities but with the advent of min-
have fouled rivers and endangered the environmen- ing, these activities are replaced by the market
tal health and well being of indigenous communi- economy over which indigenous peoples lack con-
ties (FESS 2007). Explains Abigail Bengwayan trol. In particular, this leads to the marginalization
(2007), the Public Information Officer of the Cor- of women as food producers and their traditional
dillera Peoples Alliance, mine tailings spilled into roles as gathers, water providers, care givers, and
and poisoned the Abra River causing widespread nurturers are eroded (Carreon 2009).
siltation of upland rice terraces, thus, leading to di- The final, and most problematic, way mining
minished rice production, which has deprived may dispossess indigenous peoples is through the
many indigenous peoples of their right to make a militarization of areas where mining projects are
living and contributed to rising poverty and health located. The Philippines is the site of one of the
concerns in the region. This area is home to indig- world’s longest running insurgencies as the New
enous communities whose ancestors include those Peoples Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Com-
who built the famous rice terraces of the Ifugao munist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been en-
Mountains, which are hailed as ‘the eighth wonder gaged in guerrilla warfare against the Philippine
of the ancient world!’ state since 1969 and an estimated 40,000 lives have
Mining projects in the Philippines are subjected been lost in confrontations between the Armed
to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the NPA
precondition of their development but the EIA sys- (Rutten 2008). In 2006, the NPA were estimated to
tem for mining projects in the Philippines has been have approximately 7,000 active cadres and the
described as a tokenism designed to make it appear government described it as the major security
as if mining projects are being evaluated with re- threat facing the country (Rutten 2008). Just as
spect to their environmental impacts when really there is an overlap of mining with indigenous peo-
there is no serious intent to do so (Bravante and ples, there is also an overlap of mining, indigenous
Holden 2009). To provide perspective on the lack peoples, and NPA activity because mountainous
of safeguards provided by this EIA system, consid- areas provide ideal terrain for guerrilla warfare
er that in the 2008/2009 Fraser Institute survey of (Mao [1937] 2005) and in the Philippines it is an
mining companies, only 3 per cent of the 658 re- established NPA doctrine to operate in mountain-
spondents stated that they would not invest in the ous areas (Guerrero [1970] 2006). The CPP also
Philippines due to its environmental regulations, has denounced mining companies in Ang Bayan,
while 15 per cent of the respondents stated that they its newsletter, describing them as ‘land grabbers’,
viewed the environmental regulations in the Philip- ‘foreign plunderers’, ‘imperialist corporations’,
pines as something that encourages investment ‘foreign monopoly capitalists’, and ‘imperialist
(Fraser Institute 2009). plunderers’. On some occasions the NPA has even
Just as mining can have substantial adverse im- attacked mining projects, most notably, the 1 Janu-
pacts upon the biophysical environment it also con- ary 2008 attack on the Tampakan Project (Fig. 2
tains substantial potential for adverse impacts upon and Table 1) wherein the NPA attacked the mine’s
the social environment and this is the fifth way base camp to punish the mining company for ‘en-
mining may dispossess indigenous peoples. As An- gaging in land grabbing, plunder, and environmen-
derson (1998, p. 16) wrote, ‘Prostitution, alcohol- tal destruction’ (Ang Bayan 2008, p. 3). The attack
ism, increased domestic violence, organized crime, was also declared to be ‘an important milestone in
cultural disruption, sexually transmitted diseases – the effort to defend the ancestral domain of the
all are on the long list of potential social effects B’laan tribe’ (Ang Bayan 2008, p. 3).
which can plague a community when a mine is With many mines being located in areas with
[nearby].’ In the Philippines, alcoholism, drug NPA activity, with the NPA having attacked mines,
abuse, prostitution, gambling, and extra-marital af- and with 78 per cent of the 658 respondents in the
fairs have increased in indigenous communities ad- 2008/2009 Fraser Institute survey of mining com-
jacent to mining projects (Carreon 2009). panies stating they view the security situation in the
The penultimate way mining may dispossess in- Philippines as something that deters investment
digenous peoples is by a replacement of their sub- (Fraser Institute 2009), the AFP has militarized
sistence agro-forestry with cash-based economic many areas in the vicinity of mining projects as a
activities. Generations of indigenous peoples have way of providing security for them (Capuyan 2009;
been nurtured by engagement in traditional Carreon 2009; Mora 2009). On 8 February 2008,

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after the NPA attack upon the Tampakan Project, Philippines even adopted a view that the militariza-
the Investment Defense Force (IDF), a special AFP tion of mining areas inhabited by indigenous peo-
command, was created ‘to protect vital mining in- ple is done to intimidate them into providing their
frastructures and projects from those who stand in consent under IPRA. Father Romeo Catedral, the
the way of development’ (Ilagan 2009, p. 121). Social Action Director of the Diocese of Marbel,
What makes the militarization of mining areas attests that there have been instances where indig-
troubling is a concern that the AFP may be milita- enous leaders have consented to mining out of fear.
rizing areas near mining projects, which are inhab- One indigenous leader, for example, consented to
ited by indigenous peoples, in order to intimidate the Tampakan Project but only after his brother had
them into discontinuing their opposition to mining been killed by the AFP (Catedral 2005).
(Capuyan 2009; Carreon 2009; Mora 2009). When Indeed, at the Canatuan Gold Project controver-
this happens indigenous people opposed to mining sy surrounding the impact of the mine’s paramili-
are accused of rebellion or engaging in ‘terrorist tary security force upon the Subanon living near
activities’ (International Coordinating Secretariat the mine lead to a human rights impact assessment
of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal 2007). Accord- being conducted by the International Centre for
ing to Andres Wailan, the Chair of the Cordillera Human Rights and Democratic Development, an
Peoples Alliance Kalinga Chapter, the province of independent Canadian institution created by the
Kalinga has been heavily militarized by the AFP, Canadian Parliament (Rights and Democracy
by a Philippine National Police Regional Mobile 2007). At this mine security is provided by a Spe-
Group, by paramilitary Citizen Armed Forces Ge- cial CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA), a security
ographical Units (CAFGUs), and by the Cordillera force trained and equipped by the AFP but funded
Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), a paramilitary by the mining company (Rights and Democracy
group staffed by Igorots (Wailan 2007). This is dis- 2007). This human rights impact assessment con-
concerting because both CAFGUs (Nadeau and cluded that the presence of the SCCA had not only
Suminguit 1996) and the CPLA (Finin 2008) have caused the mine to fail to provide benefits to the
become notorious for their history of brutality. Os- Subanon, but it had also imposed costs on them by
tensibly, this militarization has been encouraged to having ‘a negative impact on their ability to enjoy
provide security for the Tabuk Copper Project, a the human right to self-determination, to human se-
mining project developed by Wolfland Resources curity, to an adequate standard of living, to ade-
(Fig. 2 and Table 1), but people living in Kalinga quate housing, to work, and to education’ (Rights
have experienced heavy military harassment in- and Democracy 2007, p. 38).
cluding frequent interrogations by the AFP (Wailan In addition to concerns about the NPA attacking
2007). Although there is some NPA activity in the mining projects, another reason why the AFP mili-
area the government is exaggerating this as an ex- tarizes mining areas inhabited by indigenous people
cuse to crackdown on anti-mining activists (Wailan is a view that indigenous people are potential re-
2007). Kelly Delgado, the Southern Mindanao cruits for the NPA. Major Randolph Cabangbang,
Representative of the human rights NGO Karapa- the spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Com-
tan, related how, in southeastern Mindanao, the mand located in Davao City, stated that 70 per cent
AFP will militarize areas to suppress the opposi- of all NPA members in Eastern Mindanao are in-
tion of indigenous peoples to mining (Delgado digenous people and the NPA specifically tries to
2007). In particular, the AFP has formed Task recruit indigenous people as part of their doctrine,
Force Gantangan, a group of paramilitary forces particularly in mining areas. Many indigenous peo-
staffed by Lumads similar to the CPLA, which ple are taken advantage of by the NPA because of
‘spread terror among people who are suspected of their illiteracy and datus (Lumad leaders) encour-
being sympathetic to the NPA’ (Delgado 2007, in- age their people to join the NPA, probably, in an ef-
terview). The harassment, and threatening, of in- fort to reclaim back their land (Cabangbang 2007).
digenous people involved in anti-mining activism Professor Jose Maria Sison, a former English
becomes a matter of concern when one takes into professor from the University of the Philippines,
account how, since 2001, over 1,200 cause-orient- was the founder of both the CPP and the NPA and
ed activists have been killed by what are widely be- serves today as the Chief Political Consultant of
lieved to be members of the AFP; of these over the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic
1,200 victims, 89 of them have been indigenous Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the umbrella or-
people (Pratt 2008; Karapatan 2010). Some in the ganization containing the CPP and the NPA as well

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as several other left-wing groups; although he is no Indigenous peoples have also received assist-
longer involved in any leadership capacity with the ance from NGOs in other countries. Fernando
NPA, Sison indicated that it recruits from all sec- Mudai, a Subanon from near the Canatuan Gold
tors of society so it cannot be denied that the NPA Project, stated that indigenous people communi-
recruits indigenous people (Sison 2007). Sison also cate with foreign NGOs through email and they
made it clear that a heavily militarization of areas have been aided by Philippine Indigenous Peoples
inhabited by indigenous people could, however, Links, a British NGO advocating on behalf of the
actually lead to more indigenous membership in archipelago’s indigenous peoples, and Mining
the NPA as people react to the presence of troops in Watch Canada, a Canadian NGO specializing in
their communities. This was what happened in the mining issues (Mudai 2005). These NGOs facili-
Cordillera in the 1970s when the government at- tated visits by the Subanon to Geneva, where they
tempted to develop the Chico River hydroelectric presented their concerns before the United Nations
project (Finin 2008). The proposed World Bank Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and to
funded hydroelectric dam was fiercely resisted by Ottawa, where they presented their concerns be-
the Igorots and the area of the project was heavily fore a Canadian Parliamentary hearing (Vidal
militarized (Finin 2008). Then, when Macliing 2005). The drawing of this adverse attention to TVI
Dulag a highly respected Igorot leader was killed Pacific resulted in a withdrawal of financing for the
by the AFP on 24 April 1980, the militarization led Canatuan Gold Project by the Commonwealth De-
to even greater resistance by the Igorots who found velopment Corporation, a British government
the NPA an effective vehicle for resisting the dam owned corporation, and this imposed a major delay
and its associated militarization (Sison 2007). Luis upon TVI in commencing production (Vidal 2005).
Jalandoni, a member of the National Executive This also resulted in the Canadian Parliament or-
Committee of the NDFP (and Chair of its negotiat- dering the human rights impact assessment of the
ing panel in its peace talks with the Philippine Canatuan Gold Project (Rights and Democracy
government) echoed Sison stating that AFP milita- 2007).
rization of areas prior to mining projects further
contributes to the ‘social terrain’ that the NPA uti-
lizes; the AFP has the effect of getting people to Concluding discussion
join the NPA (Jalandoni 2007). In the words of Fa- Accumulation by dispossession has risen rapidly
ther Peter Geremia, the Tribal Filipino Program under neoliberalism, or so Harvey (2006) suggests,
Coordinator for the Diocese of Kidapawan on the and the impacts of mining upon the indigenous
island of Mindanao, ‘If there was no mining, there peoples of the Philippines exemplify accumulation
would be one less reason for people to join the in- by dispossession occurring as a result of a neolib-
surgency’ (Geremia 2005, interview). eral policy initiative undertaken by a government
‘long reputed to be among the most pliant in Asia
to the neoliberal prescriptions’ (Quimpo 2009, p.
Assistance from the anti-globalization movement 347). The efforts of the government to encourage
Despite the power imbalance between indigenous investment by multinational mining corporations
people and multinational mining companies, in- bear all the hallmarks of neoliberalism. Under con-
digenous people have resisted the encroachment of ditions of neoliberalism multilateral agencies ‘look
mining onto their lands and have sought assistance inside’ countries and assess polices (McCarthy
from what Harvey (2003, p. 74) called ‘the anti- 2007). This happened in the Philippine context
globalization movement’. The Philippines has a when the Asian Development Bank and World
thriving civil society that has one of the most active Bank called for a liberalization of its mining law so
NGO movements in the world (Holden 2005). One as to transform it into a conduit for foreign direct
prominent NGO that has been involved in advocat- investment (Holden and Jacobson 2007). Similar-
ing on behalf of indigenous peoples is the Quezon ly, under conditions of neoliberalism, these same
City based Legal Rights and Natural Resources multilateral agencies call for foreign investors in
Center (LRC), the Filipino affiliate of Friends of developing countries to be protected against expro-
the Earth International (Holden 2005). The LRC priation and to be allowed to move funds and prof-
represented the indigenous peoples who were in- its into, and out of, a country as they wish
terveners in the case wherein the constitutional va- (McCarthy 2007). This was facilitated by the Min-
lidity of IPRA was challenged (Holden 2005). ing Act of 1995 and its guarantees of the right of

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repatriation of the entire profits of the investment the parties in agreement on whether mining should
as well as freedom from expropriation (Holden and take place but merely disagreeing over how to di-
Jacobson 2007). Under conditions of accumulation vide up the wealth created by mining. In these legal
by dispossession capitalism opens up ‘new fields proceedings, the parties were clearly aligned upon
for capital accumulation in domains hitherto an axis of whether or not mining should occur.
regarded [as] off-limits to the calculus of profitabil- Struggles surrounding accumulation by dispos-
ity’ (Harvey 2006, p. 153). In the Philippine con- session are often violent and, in developing coun-
text, this has occurred as the Mining Act has tries where opposition to accumulation by
encouraged a growth in mining investment across dispossession can be strong, the state often resorts
the archipelago. An essential characteristic of ac- to active repression even to the point of low-level
cumulation by dispossession is the replacement of warfare (Harvey 2006). In the Philippines this ac-
long-standing indigenous forms of production and tive repression is demonstrated by the militariza-
consumption by new market based forms of pro- tion of mining areas and the killing of activists;
duction and consumption (Harvey 2006). This has what Pratt (2008, p. 760) refers to as ‘militarized
occurred across the archipelago as mining has dis- commerce’. The extensive use of paramilitary
placed indigenous people and replaced their long- groups (such as CAFGUs, SCAAs, the CPLA, and
standing subsistence agriculture with mineral Task Force Gantangan) in the militarization of
extraction and transformed them from independent mining areas are an example of what Norget (2005,
agriculturalists living in hinterland areas into poor p. 131) calls ‘a growing privatization of the means
rural and urban migrants (Stavenhagen 2003). of violence’. Governments are wont to use such
The legal conflicts between mining and indige- groups as this allows them to take advantage of ex-
nous peoples show how, under conditions of accu- isting differences within communities and main-
mulation by dispossession, struggles over whether tain that violence is rooted in local conflicts as
or not mining should occur have replaced tradition- opposed to being deliberately imposed by the state
al struggles over dividing up the wealth created by (Norget 2005). The view articulated by the AFP
mining or what Bebbington et al. (2008, p. 903) re- that indigenous people are potential recruits for the
fer to as ‘accumulation by exploitation’. Struggles NPA shows how governments confronting indige-
over accumulation by exploitation accept that min- nous people engage is a process of ‘moral and so-
ing is a viable economic activity but then focus cial differentiation through “othering”’ (Norget
upon who should receive, and in what proportions, 2005, p. 135). ‘The identification of indigenous
its benefits. A classic example of struggles over ac- people as seditious guerrillas fuels existing stereo-
cumulation by exploitation would be the confronta- types of them as dangerous, primitive, hostile, and
tions between the Anaconda Copper Corporation subversive’ (Norget 2005, p. 135). By depicting in-
and organized labour in the State of Montana in the digenous peoples as poor, uneducated, and easily
early twentieth century (Swibold 2006). Both Ana- susceptible to manipulation by radicals, a militari-
conda and its unionized workers accepted the pres- zation of areas inhabited by them is made easier.
ence of mining while the former wished to receive In many ways, the aggressive militarization of
a greater share of its benefits in the form of higher mining areas because the indigenous inhabitants of
profits and the latter wished to receive a greater them could be recruited into the NPA is a self-
share of its benefits in the form of higher wages. In fulfilling prophesy. ‘Struggles against primitive
contrast to struggles over accumulation by exploi- accumulation could provide the seedbed of discon-
tation, struggles over accumulation by disposses- tent for insurgent movements’ (Harvey 2006, p.
sion do not accept that mining is a viable economic 165). The militarization of areas prior to mining
activity and one side attempts to see mining pro- projects further contributes to the ‘social terrain’
ceed while the other attempts to stop it from taking utilized by the NPA in its recruitment. With mining
place (Bebbington et al. 2008). Consider the efforts threatening to destroy the environment relied upon
of the mining industry in attempting to invalidate by indigenous peoples for subsistence and with
IPRA. By doing this, the mining industry was at- militarization crushing all peaceful forms of resist-
tempting to acquire unimpeded access to the lands ance, the appeal of armed groups, such as the NPA,
inhabited by indigenous peoples. The concern of can only grow.
the indigenous peoples who attempted to preserve The term accumulation by dispossession may
IPRA was to prevent encroachment onto their lands often be referred to by a term frequently used in the
by mining corporations. In neither instance, were Philippines: ‘development aggression’ (Fig. 6).

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simultaneous growth in social movements reacting

against this market orientation.
In summary, and conclusion, primitive accumu-
lation was a series of violent struggles from which
capitalism emerged (Harvey 2003). Today, under
conditions of neoliberalism (a utopian project de-
signed to create an ideal social order), primitive ac-
cumulation continues in the form Harvey (2003,
2006) refers to as accumulation by dispossession.
The effect of neoliberal-induced mining upon the
indigenous peoples of the Philippines provides a
specific example of this. As the twenty-first century
unfolds, and assuming that neoliberalism retains its
hegemonic stature, other examples of accumula-
tion by dispossession can be gleaned. The accumu-
lation by dispossession thesis is equal to the task of
looking at the impact of unwanted forms of devel-
opment on indigenous communities with their own
unique counter-reactions and resistance move-
ments, resulting from interactions taking place lo-
cally and beyond.

The authors would like to thank all of those who
Figure 6. Indigenous peoples protesting outside the Davao City were interviewed for generously providing their
Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department time, Robin Poitras for his cartography, Keith
of Environment and Natural Resources, March 2009. Bacongco for his photography, two anonymous re-
Photo credit: Keith Bacongco.
viewers for their insightful comments, and the
editorial staff of Geografiska Annaler: Series B,
‘Development aggression can be defined as the Human Geography for their assistance.
process of displacing people from their lands and
homes to make way for development schemes that William Holden
are being imposed from above without consent or Department of Geography
public debate’ (Nadeau 2005, p. 334). To the Inter- University of Calgary
national Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4
Peoples’ Tribunal (2007, p. 186) development ag- Canada
gression consists of ‘development projects that de- Email:
stroy [a community’s] traditional economy,
community structure, and cultural values.’ In the Kathleen Nadeau
opinion of Capuyan (2009, p. 114), ‘Blatant con- Department of Anthropology
nivance of the state and private capital is the es- California State University San Bernardino
sence of development aggression.’ 5500 University Parkway
The linking of indigenous peoples with the forces San Bernardino, CA, 92407
of the anti-globalization movement demonstrates USA
how accumulation by dispossession can generate ci- Email:
vilian resistance movements (Harvey 2003, p. 162).
As indigenous people across the archipelago con- R. Daniel Jacobson
front mining they have formed alliances with na- Department of Geography
tional and international NGOs to assist them. This is University of Calgary
an example of what Polanyi (1944) referred to as the Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4
‘double movement’, a situation where there is a Canada
growth in the market orientation of society and a Email:

158 © The authors 2011

Geografiska Annaler: Series B © 2011 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

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