Philippines: IP community deals with violence and deaths after declining to give consent to the operations of a coffee plantation; some companies respond

In December 2017, eight members of an indigenous peoples community were killed. They were described as one of those who have been "locked in a 28-year struggle with DM Consunji Incorporated". The community was reported to have declined giving their free, prior, and informed consent for the continued operation of the company's coffee plantation. 

Three companies were mentioned in the reports: DM Consunji Incorporated/DMCI, Silvicultural Industries, and M&S Company. Nestle was mentioned as buyer of the coffee that these companies produce.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to the companies. DMCI and Nestle responded. M&S Company did not respond. Silvicultural Industries' corporate existence has expired.

The report and the responses are linked below.

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15 April 2019

Philippines: Deaths plague indigenous community that refuses to give consent to a coffee plantation

Author: Tony La Viña and Norly Grace Mercado, Rappler

"Coffee and the blood of indigenous peoples," 20 October 2018

On December 3, 2017...indigenous leader Datu Victor and 7 others were killed in a surprise attack by the Philippine military, according to a report from the Global Witness.

Datu Victor was part of a group of indigenous peoples locked in a 28-year struggle with DM Consunji Incorporated (DMCI) over land in South Cotabato, Mindanao.

DMCI, a billion-peso real estate and mining company, has expanded its portfolio to include coffee production.

Silvicultural Industries Incorporated (SII) runs the 1,800-hectare Dawang Coffee Plantation in the village of Ned, in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Some 300 hectares of this plantation belong to the T'boli-Manobo S'daf Claimants Organization (Tamasco), which was headed by Datu Victor before his death. SII is a subsidiary of DMCI.

SII operates the plantation through an agreement issued by issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Tamasco had resisted the agreement and the encroachment of SII into their territory, but SII won out in the end.

House Resolution No. 1550 filed in the House of Representatives in December 2017 stated that DMCI supplies its coffee beans to a food and beverage giant.

The agreement that allowed SII to run the coffee plantation was supposed to have expired on December 31, 2016. Asked in 2015 if they would give their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for the renewal of the agreement, Tamasco declined.

Datu Victor and members of Tamasco, all poor subsistence farmers, could now work on their land in peace, to plant crops and feed their families.

To Datu Victor’s surprise, a document, signed by a DENR undersecretary, had magically turned up in 2015 that gave SII permission to run the plantation until 2032.

DMCI chose to operate in the 300-hectare ancestral domain of Tamasco, without the FPIC of Tamasco. By doing so, it became party to a story ending with a cliff-hanger that involved 8 dead bodies.

Read the full post here

Company non-response
14 April 2019

M&S Company did not respond

Author: M&S Company

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre requested M&S Company to respond. It did not.

Company response
14 April 2019

Response by DMCI Holdings

Author: DMCI Holdings

This is in response to your 08 March 2019 email regarding D.M. Consunji, Inc., M&S Company and Silvicultural Industries Incorporated.

D.M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) is an engineering and construction company. It does not own or operate a coffee plantation, nor does it have a subsidiary that engages in such a business activity.

M&S Company  and Silvicultural Industries are not subsidiaries of DMCI or DMCI Holdings and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on alleged events that do not involve us.

In addition, Mr. Victor A. Consunji passed away on December 27, 2018.

We hope the above facts help clarify this issue.

Company response
14 April 2019

Response by Nestle

Author: Nestle

According to our records, DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), Silvicultural Industries, Inc. and M&S company do not supply coffee beans to Nestlé Philippines.

 We have reviewed our coffee bean supplier records for the past 11 years, and none of these companies is in our list of suppliers nor do we have any contract with them.

 We require all our suppliers to respect and adhere to our Responsible Sourcing Standard, which defines the non-negotiable standards when they do business with Nestlé, including adherence to all applicable laws and regulations and compliance with international and industry standards and best practices, including as they relate to indigenous peoples. Compliance with the Standard is regularly assessed and audited.

Download the full document here

Company non-response
14 April 2019

Silvicultural Industries did not respond

Author: Silvicultural Industries

Silvicultural Industries' corporate existence has expired.