Mining-affected communities from the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Zambales claimed large-scale mining companies ordered to shut down are defying the mine closure and suspension orders of the environment department.
“The closure and suspension of big mining companies remain standing and in force, but these notorious offenders are still operating with impunity. These corporations should be penalized for stonewalling against the government’s regulations and prolonging the suffering of affected communities,” Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said.
Indigenous Ifugaos under the Samahang Pang Karapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa (SAPAKKMMI) and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Inang Kalikasan (ANNVIK) from Nueva Vizcaya picketed the offices of Australian-Canadian transnational mining corporation OceanaGold, demanding the gold and copper mine’s compliance to the suspension of their operations.
“OceanaGold should be reinvestigated for its continued defiance of the mining suspension order of the DENR and business-as-usual operations that continue to pollute our environment and displace our livelihood,” said town councilor Celia Bahag, a board member of SAPAKKMMI.
“Just recently, local state forces have heightened their harassment of our leaders to intimidate us from persisting with our opposition. This seems to be part of a recent wave of human rights violations against environment defenders to quell the resistance to environmentally destructive projects such as OceanaGold’s Didipio mine,” Bahag added.
Dulce of Kalikasan-PNE said groups including them are exploring actions to be taken to help uphold the DENR’s decision to suspend these mines, including possible legal or legislative interventions to help hasten the process.
The Movement for the Protection of the Environment in Zambales (MOVE Now! Zambales) who also picketed the offices of Benguet Corporation, one of four large-scale nickel mines closed down in Zambales, are alarmed over the imminent shipping out of raw ore stockpiles from the mine sites despite the firm’s supposed closed status.
According to Cristeta Sison, a peasant woman leader and spokesperson of MOVE Now! Zambales, “the big mines are trying to justify their last-ditch effort to plunder their stockpiles by posing it as a supposed rehabilitation measure. They should be paying for the burgeoning damages that our farmlands and fisheries have sustained through the years and not get a single cent out of our mineral wealth anymore.”
“If anything, the government should confiscate these stockpiles and ensure that its value will be used for the restoration of our agricultural lands, rivers, and seas,” Sison said.
“An important step forward is to hasten the passage of House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill. This will remove the various legal impediments that big miners like Benguet Corporation and OceanaGold are exploiting to continue plundering our mineralized lands,” ended Dulce. Ace Alegre / ABN
In this March 2022 file photo, Cong. Eric Go Yap of Benguet shares some light moment with Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang and coach Mark...