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Cagayanos want blacksand mining ‘disguised as dredging’ stopped

By ACE ALEGRE
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Cagayanos asked President Rodrigo Duterte’s help in stopping dredging activities at the mouth of Cagayan River they said is “disguised” magnetite mining.

The Cagayan Province Provincial Board approved last August 7 a resolution asking the president to suspend the dredging operations at the mouth of the Cagayan River in Aparri town.

This came after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) confirmed that it did not issue any dredging permit to the private firm involved in the dredging.

Pacific Offshore Exploration Inc.  (POEI), a firm owned by a former Isabela town mayor, has been dredging the country’s biggest river system for months.

The company reportedly ships the dredged materials to a reclamation project in Hong Kong and may earn about $50 million monthly if it sells the sand at current local prices, according to the resolution.

A cubic meter of sand in Cagayan is being sold at P160 to P180.

The exportation of black sand to Hong Kong was met with protests from locals.

Provincial Board member and resolution author Mila Lauigan said the deal with the dredgers has to be investigated.

“That is why we are appealing to the President to immediately suspend the dredging operations and inquire whether the company has complied with all the requirements before it proceeds,” Lauigan said.

According to the provincial legislator, “the contractor is only extracting black sand and leaves waste (non-mineral sand) material back into the river.”

It is reason why environmentalists and locals are raising heaven and hell [while] Gov. Manuel Mamba had been defending POEI’s operations amidst the environmental mess it has been causing, she said.

Mamba’s camp had been defending the dredging operation they said is meant to prepare for the reopening the Port of Aparri.

Mamba said the port’s reopening would improve economic and trade relations between Cagayan province and China as well as neighboring Asian countries.

Mamba, who entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Pacific Offshore Exploration Inc. (POEI) under the authority of a resolution passed by the Cagayan Provincial Board last January, insists there is only dredging activities in the area and not magnetite (black sand) mining.

The provincial board has yet to be shown a copy of the memorandum of agreement between Mamba and POEI.

Mamba’s camp said there is no economic value to the exportation and the dredging activities help clear the river of heavy silt for free.

Engr. Mario Ancheta of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau agreed with the governor that there is no mining but dredging operations that should be sanctioned by the DPWH.

“There is sand extraction, but it is not mining but dredging,” Ancheta said.

The Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA), meanwhile, had been silent on the controversial dredging and “exporting” of the dredged sand to HK.

Immigration officials and the maritime police in Cagayan are also silent on the presence of foreign workers on the sand barges regularly approaching the shores of Aparri town. # (With additional reports from Raymund B. Villanueva) nordis.net / Photo from Gising Cagayan Facebook Page

Court junks Aussie firm’s plea on closure of Nueva Vizcaya mine

By Melvin Gascon

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — A regional trial court in this province on Thursday (July 25) denied the request of an Australian mining firm to continue its operations despite the lapse of its mining license and opposition from local host communities.

In a 10-page resolution, Judge Paul Attolba, Jr. said OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. failed to prove it was entitled to a “clear and unmistakeable right” to be protected after it was ordered to stop operations by the provincial government.

“There is no sufficient evidence on record to support that (OceanaGold) is indeed authorized to continue minimg operations pending the renewal by the President of the FTAA which would establish a clear and unmistakable right warranting the issuance of an injunctive relief,” he said.

The FTAA refers to the financial and technical assistance agreement, which is a mining license allowed by the Mining Act of 1995 for a foreign-owned firm to exploit the country’s mineral resources.

The court case stemmed from a petition filed by OceanaGold after Gov. Carlos Padilla ordered local governments to block the passage of the firm’s shipments of gold and copper ore from its site in Didipio village in Kasibu town after its FTAA expired on June 20.

OceanaGold filed the petition asking the court to restrain residents from blockading the access roads leading to and from the mine site, and prevent the mayor and village governments from cancelling local permits granted to it.

The provincial, town and village governments have earlier issued resolutions rejecting OceanaGold’s renewal of its FTAA, citing the environmental and social damage, as well as the cases of human rights violations it has supposedly caused on the host communities over the years that it was in operation.

Last month, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Cuaresma also asked Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu to reject OceanaGold’s FTAA application.

The Australian mining firm has since defied the local governments’ stoppage orders, maintaining that they were allowed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to continue operations pending the approval of their request for renewal.

Provincial officials, as well as anti-mining advocates, however, have condemned the “surreptitious” manner by which OceanaGold, in alleged connivance with corrupt MGB officials, processed the renewal of the Didipio FTAA.

The mining controversy has continued to cause tension among residents of the ore-rich village, as anti-mining locals continue to barricade the access roads leading to the site.

In its July 25 resolution, the court cited the terms of OceanaGold’s FTAA that it should terminate after 25 years from the date of its effectivity.

“Since the FTAA took effect on June 20, 1994, the agreement terminated on June 20, 2019. As such, the right from which (OceanaGold) derives its authority to conduct mining operations ceased to exist,” the court said.

The court dismissed OceanaGold’s insistence that it had the permission of the MGB to continue its operations.

“From the wording of the (MGB) letter, it appears that the MGB acting director was merely informing the company of the position of their bureau, which he communicated to the (Environment) Secretary (Roy Cimatu); that his statement is merely recommendatory in nature awaiting the action of the DENR Secretary or the President,” Attolba said. # MCG

MGB hit for ‘lawyering’ for embattled Aussie mine firm

By Melvin Gascon

Environment and civil society groups on Friday slammed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for supposedly coming to the defense of a foreign mining firm and allowed it to resume operations despite the lapse of its 25-year mining license.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the MGB’s endorsement of the continued operation of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. at its gold-copper mining site is an “insult” against the people of Nueva Vizcaya, who are calling for its stoppage.

“This dubious endorsement it is being used by the mining company to insult the people of Nueva Vizcaya by continuing their operations,” he said in a statement.

Bayan Muna, as well as environment groups Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and Alyansa Tigil Mina have questioned the endorsement by the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the renewal of OceanaGold’s financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA), the processing of which was supposedly done surreptitiously.

OceanaGold is seeking to continue its operations at its mine project in Kasibu town in Nueva Vizcaya despite the expiration of its 25-year FTAA on June 20.

Based on the Mining Act of 1995, the FTAA is the mining license that allows foreign companies to exploit the country’s mineral resources.

In a letter to the OceanaGold, MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said the firm may continue to operate pending the approval of its renewed FTAA by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a special session on June 28, the provincial board of Nueva Vizcaya declared ongoing activities of OceanaGold as illegal after it failed to renew its FTAA. The board also authorized Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla to take “all necessary steps” to stop the mining firm’s operations.

On June 26, Padilla directed the Philippine National Police and the village governments to set up checkpoints along the roads and block any attempt by the company to ship out its mine production.

In a media statement, OceanaGold said it continues to operate the Didipio mine.

“We are committed to operating in accordance with the law and will always comply with all our responsibilities under our contract with the Philippine government,” the company said.

OceanaGold said it lodged its application for FTAA renewal in March 2018, and received confirmation on June 20 from the MGB that it is allowed to continue operations pending the approval of its renewed FTAA.

But Leon Dulce, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator, dismissed OceanaGold’s claims that it was conducting “responsible mining” in Didipio.

“No amount of greenwashing by OceanaGold can gloss over the fact that rivers are vastly silted, periodically dumped with undeclared chemicals, and depleted by its operations,” he said.

According to Dulce, OceanaGold’s operations are also “chronically exposing” the important biodiversity corridor of Caraballo mountain range to air, noise, and water pollution.

“These are just one of many sins of OceanaGold that should warrant the long-deserved cancellation of this foreign mine’s FTAA contract,” he said.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said that by stopping the mining activities, the local officials of Nueva Vizcaya are within their mandate of implementing the law.

He said he is verifying reports that MGB had allowed OceanaGold to continue its operations despite the lapse of the the FTAA.

“For me, it is rather simple: if one does not have a license, then it should not be allowed to operate,” he said in a phone interview.

Would CASER have prevented mining disasters?

SPECIAL REPORT

By Raymund B. Villanueva

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao can only shake his head as he looked at photos of the landslide in Itogon, Benguet last month that reportedly killed 69 residents, majority of whom were miners and their families. Initial reports said the tragedy was brought about by the torrential rains brought about by typhoon “Ompong” that wreaked havoc all over Northern Luzon. Eventually, however, it was accepted that the typhoon only triggered the disaster and that mining activities in the area—both large and small scale—was its main cause.

“It should not have come to this,” Malayao said. “This could have been prevented if only the Manila government listens to the people,” he added.

Since his release from prison as a political detainee in 2012, Malayao has resumed his work as a consultant of the NDFP’s negotiating panel, attending formal negotiations in Europe and reciprocal working group meetings in the Philippines and abroad. As the NDFP’s resource person from Northern Luzon, he is intimate with mining issues in his home region of Cagayan Valley, as well as the Ilocos Region and the Cordilleras. Environmental protection was one of his advocacies that made him a victim of abduction and intense torture in the hands of the Philippine Army. He spent four and a half years inside various jails as a political prisoner.

“The countless discussions I attended on what makes our people poor, especially the peasants, opened my eyes that environmental degradation contributes to their poverty, contrary to what has been promised them for more than a hundred years. Mining activities in Northern Luzon has made its people poorer,” he said.

Rescuers try to clear part of the landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogo, Benguet that killed 69 residents. (Photo by Kim Quitasol)

The victims of the Itogon landslide are a case in point. Malayao said that mining activities, primarily when mining giant Benguet Corporation was active in the area, caused its forest cover to be denuded and its soil unstable. The landslide last month was only the latest in a string of similar incidents and it is unfair to blame the victims who he suspects are allowed to continue their activities with the consent of the company that still owns the mining licenses in the area.

Northern Luzon is one of the Philippines’ mining hotspots. Gold, copper, and molybdenum are mined in Nueva Vizcaya; gold and nickel are extracted in Isabela; gold has been mined in the Cordilleras for hundreds of years, and gold and magnetite (also known as black sand) are mined in the Ilocos Region and Cagayan Province’s coastal and offshore areas. As a mountainous area, the regions are also a prime source of sand and gravel as well as lumber. But despite the nearing depletion of its mineral wealth, it is agriculture that keeps the regions’ economy afloat. While it has enriched a few corporations beyond belief, mining has only kept many of its residents in poverty. Not a few have lost in their lives.

It was because of this situation that the NDFP has pushed for environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation as one of the top agenda under the substantive issue of social and economic reforms of the peace negotiations between itself and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

CASER and the environment

It was as far back as September 1, 1992 that both the GRP and the NDFP agreed in the document called The Hague Joint Declaration to discuss social and economic reforms to address “the root causes of armed conflict.” Both parties agreed that a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) is a program that could end poverty and other social. It was only recently, however, that a section on environmental protection was finally approved, even if the issue had always been on the table for more than 26 years already.

“[NDFP’s] latest version of [its draft] CASER is the result of careful study and analysis started in the middle of 2016. The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) looked at the relevant experience and practice of the revolutionary forces in the cities and, especially, the countryside,” the NDFP said in the preface of its book on the peace talks agenda.

As expected, the NDFP had been scathing in its assessment of the state of environment in the

Philippines, especially mining.

“Corporate mining depletes our minerals as well as destroys forests and mountains. National minorities are displaced from their communities and ancestral lands. Critical resources for national industrialization are lost,” the NDFP said. “The profit-driven nature of capitalist production with the particular neo-colonial pattern of production and trade, that overrides social and ecological considerations has been the main factor in the devastation of the Philippine environment and the consequent disasters that have plagued the country,” the NDFP explained.

It may come as a surprise to most, however, that under its CASER proposal, the NDFP is not against mining. Rather, the NDFP says it is for responsible and pro-people mining.

NDFP urges environmental protection with economic development

For the NDFP, mining is not evil. It only becomes so because the environment is being destroyed by current mining practices and it only benefits members of the local ruling elite and foreign economic interests.

The NDFP said that environmental protection, conservation and the wise use of natural resources are necessary components of socio-economic development policies and that ecological balance is integral to national development.

By this, it means two things.

First, current destructive mining practices must be stopped and replaced with more environment-responsive ways. Not a few were amazed when the NDFP expressed full support to former GRP environment secretary Gina Lopez when she ordered the ban on open pit mining and a review of all mining activities nationwide. In turn, Lopez said she was willing to work with the revolutionary New People’s Army (NPA) in protecting the environment. This prompted the NDFP invite Lopez to attend the NDFP-GRP formal peace negotiations in Europe to present her views the Left said were in accordance with its programs on the environment.

“The desire of Gina Lopez to work with the NPA for peace and development is welcome by the NDFP.  It is directly related to the environment, agrarian reform and rural development now being negotiated under the substantive item Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” NDFP chief political consultant Sison said. “It will be fine if Gina attends the fifth round of formal talks,” Sison added.

Lopez told Kodao she would accept the invitation provided she would be confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments. “Yes, I’ll go,” Lopez said. “What I would want to do is to create models first than just talking.  What I would like to do is to work with the NPA and create models where we get people out of poverty in like six months to a year.  Then I’ll go talk to him (Sison): ‘Sir, look at what we did here. What if we do these everywhere?’” Lopez explained.

Lopez was eventually rejected by the CA and Duterte decided to not reappoint her controversial environment secretary.

Second, the NDFP wanted that upon signing of the CASER, most of the raw materials from the country’s mining activities would stay in the country to be used for its national industrialization drive. “The strategy of export-led economic growth has opened the country’s natural resource to control and plunder by the foreign monopoly capitalists, big comprador bourgeoisie and bureaucrat capitalists. As the imperialists and the local exploiting classes freely siphon off the nation’s natural wealth, they leave behind a ravaged environment, Industrial wastes like mine tailings and carbon monoxide emissions and unsafe agricultural products pollute and destroy the environment,” the NDFP said.

The group added that existing laws such as the Mining Act of 1995 mean the wholesale delivery of the national patrimony to the unbridled exploitation by foreign investors through the liberalization of the mining industry. They open the door wider to the destruction of the environment and the displacement of the national and ethnic minorities from their ancestral lands.

Under Section 2 of NDFP CASER’s principles of environment protection and economic development, the group proposes that the parties “…commit to pursue economic development with due regard to the protection and efficient use of the country’s renewable and non-renewable resources and to institute measures for ensuring a healthy national environment.”

GRP panel’s ‘surprising’ draft

It was not only the NDFP that sprung surprises in its environment protection drafts of the CASER. The GRP was not to be outdone when it submitted its own environmental protection, rehabilitation, and compensation draft after the fourth round of formal talks in Noordwijk An Zee in The Netherlands in June 2017.

“The GRP’s draft has many provisions similar to NDFP’s. While there are differences between their drafts and ours, there are enough similar provisions that could be the foundation of a favorable agreement on this issue,” an NDFP source told Kodao.

For example, on the issue of mining, the GRP RWC-SER’s draft said that the pursuit of economic development must integrate protection, efficiency, and just use of the country’s resources and ecology, including making sure that the carrying capacity of the environment is not breached.

Taking a cue from the NDFP draft, the GRP draft, under Section 6 of its draft Priority Actions for Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice, says that all mining operations are to be regulated “to ensure domestic processing of mineral resources, guarantee environmental protection and justice, safeguard mine workers, compensate communities for damages, uphold democratic consultation and the consent of communities, allocate mining revenues and benefits equitably, and charge the costs of mine maintenance, disasters and rehabilitation to the revenues of mining firms.”

Support from environmentalists

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment national coordinator Leon Dulce hailed both the NDFP and GRP negotiators’ respective drafts as steps towards the protection of the environment and national development.

“What both parties have shown is that, at the very least, they were willing to discuss how mining could be more environment-responsive and beneficial to the Filipino people at the same time,” Dulce said.

Kalikasan said the country may have around 7.1 billion metric tons of metallic mineral reserves (such as gold, copper) and nickel) and 51 billion metric tons of non-metallic deposits. “The total revenue of these reserves may be worth US$1 trillion, ten times the country’s gross domestic product and 14 to 17 times larger than its entire external debt,” the group said.

Like the NDFP and GRP’s drafts on environment protection, Kalikasan seeks a reversal of the nature of the country’s mining industry.

“In forums and symposiums organized and attended by Kalikasan, including congressional hearings on the People’s Mining Bill (House Bill 2715, filed by Bayan Muna) that we are suporting, we have always said that the mining industry should be geared towards national industrialization,” Dulce said.

Kalikasan said that the mining industry should be redefined for the production of raw materials—such as base metals, basic chemicals and petrochemicals needed by the basic, medium and heavy industries—to produce as much consumer, intermediate and capital good with the country’s stock of finite mineral and non-mineral industrial raw materials and in the process provide jobs to the country’s vast human resources.

“In other words, our country should not be exporting everything that is mined within our territory because we need them for when we finally industrialize. And that may be possible if the GRP and the NDFP agree to sign a CASER and honestly implement it,” Dulce said.

The environmental activist also clarified that under both the NDFP and GRP drafts of the CASER as well as HB 2715, that the drafts are not necessarily against foreign mining corporations.

“I think these documents clarified that as long as these foreign mining corporations have no bad records and they agree to contribute to national industrialization, they are welcome,” he said. The People’s Mining Bill says that the State shall in cases allow foreign corporations to invest in the mineral industry.

“Based on the National Industrialization Program and the country’s capability and capacity, the government must identify the mineral areas where foreigners can help and invest subject to rigorous screening and strict regulations…The participation of foreign companies in the critical stages of mineral extraction and processing shall be in accordance with a mandatory program or agreement for technology transfer and equity shares that do not exceed 40 percent of the full capital requirements,” HB 2715 reads.

“Alas, the GRP principal (Duterte) is unwilling to continue the talks,” Dulce bewailed.

Wasted opportunity

Malayao agrees with Dulce that Duterte is wasting the opportunity to have an environmental protection agreement signed with the NDFP.

“I could not begin to describe to you the hard work put into crafting both the NDFP and GRP drafts on environmental protection under the prospective CASER. It was supposed to have been discussed as early as June 2017 by the negotiating panels,” Malayao said.

A signed agreement between the GRP and the NDFP is a binding and legal document, Malayao explained. Even without a final peace agreement, both the GRP and NDFP can already implement its provisions, as they did with their agreement on human rights and international law when they established a joint monitoring office in 2004.

“If the CASER was signed and implemented last year, perhaps extractive activities in Itogon, as well as in Naga City in Cebu Province, could have been more strictly regulated. Perhaps, the near simultaneous tragedies last month would have been averted,” Malayao said. #

 

AFP, PNP enforce another food blockade against Lianga evacuees

The Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are enforcing another food blockade against the Lumad evacuees in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, a human rights group reported.

The 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (75th IBPA) as well as the local PNP blocked food aid brought by Church groups at around 11:30 AM, Karapatan Caraga said in an alert Wednesday, July 18.

Troopers have also been deployed around the Barangay Diatagon Gymnasium where the evacuees have stayed since their forced evacuation Monday, the group said.

“We should not tolerate the bakwit (evacuees) so that they will be forced to go back to their community,” the soldiers reportedly told the donors in Cebuano.

The soldiers erected a checkpoint by the national highway leading to Diatagon gym to prevent motorcycles carrying food items bought from the town market passing through the blockade, the group added.

“[The 75th IBPA and the PNP] threaten(ed) to arrest non-Lianga residents who are extending humanitarian support for about 1600 Manobo evacuees [are],” the group said.

The same army unit has also implemented a similar blockade when the Lumad evacuated last January.

The Lumad were forced to evacuate from their communities 33 days after the military put up detachments and encamped at Kilometer 9 of the said barangay.

Tandag Bishop Raul Dael (center, with pectoral cross) visit the Lumad evacuees at Diatagon. (Kasalo Caraga photo)

Bishop visits evacuees

In a separate announcement, Lumad organization Kasalo Caraga said Roman Catholic Bishop Raul Dael as well as nuns of the Diocese of Tandag visited Diatagon Wednesday night to offer support to the evacuees.

Kasalo said the prelate were able to talk to Barangay Diatagon Chairperson Metong and leaders of the local Lumad organization Mapasu during their visit.

The barangay captain admitted he was pressured by the military to sign Barangay Resolution 11-2018 allowing the establishment of a military detachment in Km 9, forcing the Lumad to eventually evacuate, Kasalo said.

The barangay leader promised to review the said resolution, the group added.

Lumad evacuees sleeping in very crowded conditions. (Photo by Chad Booc)

Harassments

Karapatan Caraga said that aside from intimidating the evacuees, the army troopers also harassed the Manobo women, asking “Kinsa ang mga ababe nga pwedeng bayran diri?” (Who are the women that we can buy here?)

The evacuees also complain of lack of water and sanitation facilities at the gym arousing fears of a health crisis.

The Lumad said their resistance to five coal mining contracts in the Andap Valley Complex have made them targets of intense militarization of their communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Soldiers’ kill mother, injure daughter in Agusan ambush

A week before the start of the new school year, a mother and daughter who just bought school supplies were ambushed by suspected elements of the Philippine Army (PA), killing her and injuring the child.

Gunmen, suspected to be members of the PA’s 25th Infantry Battallion operating in Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces, gunned down Beverly Geronimo, 27, who sustained seven wounds, killing her instantly in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur at about noontime Sunday, May 26.

Her eight-year old daughter, an incoming Grade 3 student of the Lumad school Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI), was wounded on her arm.

Geronimo was an active member of the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA) and the Parents-Teachers’ Community Association of the MISFI.

The victims as well as two other relatives were on board a motorcycle and on their way home from the town center after buying school supplies for the incoming school year next week.

Two gunmen in civilian clothes stopped them and fired at them, an urgent alert from the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said.

Since 2009, Geronimo had been harassed, intimidated and coerced by Philippine Army soldiers for her opposition to large scale mining activities by OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum, SOS said.

MISFI is a network of Lumad Schools suffering attacks from the military that accused them of being symphatetic to the New People’s Army.

Barug Katungod, an alliance of human rights workers in Mindanao, said that as of February 2018, five Lumad have been victims of extra-judicial killings in Mindanao, two coming from Agusan Del Sur.

A total of nine battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed in the Northeastern Mindanao Region.

Due to intense military operations and aerial strikes, about 3,247 individuals have been forced to evacuate, Barug Katungod added.

In Manila, Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women, condemned the brutal killing.

Quoting Karapatan data, Amihan said that of the 125 farmer victims of extrajudicial killings under the Rodrigo Duterte government, Geronimo became the 21st peasant women victim.

Five children, five elderly and five farmer couples were included in the list, Amihan added.

The PA has yet to issue a statement about the ambush.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PH minerals benefit foreigners not Filipinos

By IBON.org

Majority of Philippine minerals are exported and mainly benefit foreign corporations, research group IBON said. While ensuring environmentally safe and responsible mining methods, the Duterte administration should also ban the exodus of the country’s raw minerals. These should instead be efficiently reserved for and utilized to support and develop the country’s key industries towards national industrialization, said the group. Read more

Agpayso A Balitok (Real gold)

This is a 2009 Kodao video-documentary produced in the once-remote villages of Didipio, Alimit and Malabing in Kasibu, Nueve Vizcaya. It tells of the people’s resistance against destructive mining operations by the Australian company Oceana Gold.

This film not only chronicles one struggle of the indigenous Ifugao communities in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya but also dramatizes and probes into the people’s rising resistance in defense of their patrimony and human rights. It shows how a people reclaims its unity and struggle as one to win back a beloved land torn apart by foreign greed and environmental destruction. Read more

NPA blasts Lepanto mine facilities

BAGUIO CITY— The Chadli Molintas Command (CMC) and Jennifer Carino Command (JCC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility over the attacks on Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company facilities in Mankayan, Benguet late evening of June 7 and early dawn of June 8.

In a joint statement sent to the media, the NPA commands said the attacks were part of their continuing campaign to punish destructive and large scale mines like Lepanto as well as government troops for acting as the company’s security guards.

The CMC operates in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions while the JCC operates in Benguet Province.

The Philippine National Police in Mankayan earlier said that the gates of the LCMC Tailings Dam were attacked by armed men at 10:36 p.m., followed by a 10:46 p.m. attack on a chemical and mineral laboratory in Colalo village.

At 4 a.m., the police discovered that the armed men detonated explosives to destroy a police outpost, a backhoe and a copper processing machine.

Lepanto security personnel and soldiers claimed they drove back the rebels after the attackers succeeded in blasting a lime mixing plant and a bulldozer.

Police said two explosive devices attached to two dump trucks failed to set off.

Workers who witnessed the attack there said 7 armed men and a woman raided the facility.

Residents heard gunfire ring out followed by blasts near the mine site after midnight, Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian for his part said.

Luspian said he was also informed of the firefight in Colalo.

According to the NPA, Lepanto land grabbed tens of hectares of rice fields in 1990 between Cabiten and Colalo villages where it built its Tailings Dam 5A despite widespread protest.

Second attack

In April 25, 2013 the NPA also torched Lepanto’s drilling machine in Colalo village. At the time, Lepanto was planning to build its Tailings Dam 5B.

The NPA said they attacked soldiers under the 81st IB of the Philippine Army stationed near Tailings Dam 5A.

They claimed the government troops were being used to violently quell people’s opposition against the raising of the tailing dam’s embankment.

Aside from the attack at the tailings dam area, the NPA also destroyed the carbon-in-pulp (CIP) cyanide processing plant owned by Colalo Barangay Captain Ambino Padawi.

They also burned a backhoe and other equipment in the said plant.

The guerillas also blasted the Community Police Action Center (Compac) beside the CIP.

The NPA accused Padawi of taking away the ancestral land of a clan and built the CIP on it despite the protests by other residents. # (Kimberlie Quitasol of Northern Dispatch for Kodao Productions/Featured photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gina Lopez to Joma’s invitation to the peace talks: ‘Yeah, I’ll go’

ENVIRONMENT and Natural Resources secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez said she is willing to attend the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Asked for her reply to NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison’s invitation for her to attend the next round of formal talks, Lopez said, “Yeah, I’ll go.”

Sison earlier invited Lopez to the formal negotiations following her pronouncements she loves the New People’s Army and that she considers them selfless people only on the lookout for the welfare of poor Filipinos.

“The desire of Gina Lopez to work with the NPA for peace and development is welcome by the NDFP.  It is directly related to the environment, agrarian reform and rural development now being negotiated under the substantive item Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison said on his Facebook account.

“It will be fine if Gina attends the fifth round of formal talks,” Sison Added.

But Lopez said she wants to be confirmed first by the Commission on Appointments before attending.

“But if I don’t get confirmed, what will I do there? I have to have papel,” she said.

She added that she would also want to attend the formal negotiations with completed eco-tourism projects she could already present as viable alternatives to destructive activities such as mining.

“What I would want to do is to create models first than just talking.  What I would like to do is to work with the NPA and create models where we get people out of poverty in like six months to a year.  Then I’ll go talk to him (Sison): ‘Sir, look at what we did here. What if we do these everywhere?’” Lopez explained.

Lopez also said GRP President already knows her plans.

“Oh, yeah (the President knows). I like the President.  He is really matapang (brave),” Lopez said.

Environment Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation is Part VI of the ongoing GRP-NDFP negotiations on socio-economic reforms, along with Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV), National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V).

According to their April 6 Noordwijk Aan Zee Joint Statement, the parties said they will start negotiating on Part VI of the socio-economic reforms agenda. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)