MANILA. The lumad (indigenous people) of Mindanao today walked along skyscrapers of the country’s financial district to protest mining transnational companies in the Philippines. They were joined by people’s organizations and environment groups preparing for the Nov. 14-16 meeting of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS).

The lumad stormed the country office of Canadian Toronto Ventures Inc.-Resources and Development (TVI-RD), operating a 5,287-hectare large-scale mine in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The local chapter of the ILPS said that “the lumad struggle against mining plunder is one of the highlights” in the run-up to the APEC Summit here.

Mining TNCs especially those from Australia and Canada were given extensive permits to tap some 9.5 million ha. of high mineral potential. The country is 3rd in the world’s gold reserves, 4th in copper, 5th in nickel, and 6th in chromite.

As of 2013, the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the government has approved 712 mining operations covering 967,530.86 hectares. More than half of government’s armed forces or 55 combat battalions, together with 20 state para-military troops, are deployed in Mindanao to secure their interests.

Over 40,000 lumad have been displaced and 76 killed under the Aquino administration due to mining and militarization.

“We are addressing the mining and militarization issues as part of our global struggle against plunder and war,” the ILPS-Phils said.

“Foreign governments, including those in APEC economies, have fast-tracked neoliberal trade agreements which proved to be inimical to the people like the lumad. We are up against these governments and TNCs,” the ILPS-Phils Chair Bong Labog said.

Australian and Canadian delegates form part of the ILPS assembly from dozens of countries to challenge world leaders meeting for APEC.

Among those leading the 5th international assembly of the ILPS is its vice-chairperson, Australian Len Cooper, and the secretary-general, Canadian Malcolm Guy.