By DANIEL IBARRA
Spokesperson, Comval-Davao Gulf Subregional Command
NPA Southern Mindanao
Earlier today (12 April) at 9:00 am, the New People’s Army discharged command-detonated explosives against the reinforcing troops belonging to the 9th Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippines, at Masara Apex Tenement Complex. This latest NPA offensive was a follow-up to an earlier successful tactical offensive when Red fighters under the New People’s Army 6th Pulang Bagani Company, and the Guerrilla Front 27 Operations Command and Guerrilla Front 2 Operations Command imposed punitive sanction against the US-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., and Malaysia-owned Apex mining, two biggest foreign mining firms in Southern Mindanao on 7 and 10 April, respectively. The companies grossly and repeatedly violated regulations of the People’s Democratic Government with regards to environmental protection, workers’ welfare and people’s livelihood.
Destroyed at five Apex mining tunnels in Masara, Maco town, Compostela Valley, were the following: Level 840 — two units truck, two units drifter, two units loader, and one unit mixer machine; Maligaya tunnel — two units drifter, one unit shortcrate machine hornet; Barabadan tunnel — one unit truck, one unit loader; Level 400 — one unit Toyota Fortuner, one unit pick-up truck; Motor pool — one unit pick-up truck, one unit underground loader, one unit boom truck and one unit selfloading.
Destroyed at the St. Augustine mines in Pantukan town were several portable drills.
The NPA sanction against the Apex Mining — co-owned by the country’s fourth richest Filipino and among the biggest campaign contributors to GPH Pres. Benigno Aquino, Enrique Razon — was imposed due to the following specific violations:
- Failure to stop expansion of underground and open-pit mining operations despite warnings issued in April and October 2013
- Expansion of mining operations in reserved forest areas in Maco that were defined by the organs of political power in the area’s guerrilla base
- Failure to address and indemnify casualties after two landslides that also wiped out Barangay (village) Mainit, Maco. The Apex Mining Corporation has caused widespread ecological destruction and the massive displacement of peasant and Lumad families since the 1970s. The already damaged soil has caused landslides and flash floods even with minimal monsoon rains and storms.
- Low wages at PhP301.00 daily (US$6.80), retrenchment and threat of retrenchment of its mining workers by June this year.
- Failure to comply with its responsibility to rehabilitate streams and bridges in Maco as part of the reparation deal it signed with 91 families in Barangays Tagbarus, Elizalde, Panibasan, Panangan and Malamudao, who were affected by Supertyphoon Pablo in 4 December 2012.
- Company’s active role in funding and backing the 9th Infantry Battalion’s counter-revolutionary operations against the NPA that has led to the death of civilian, Wilmar Bargas, and arbitrary violation of human rights of residents and small-scale miners.
Maco Vice Mayor Voltaire Rimando is wrong in saying that the NPA sanction against Apex would force the firm’s closure and lead to the dislocation of hundreds of workers and residents. His concern for Apex workers is sham and inconsistent with his previous hands-off stance for victims of human rights abuses, militarization and environmental disaster. In truth, he is anxious that any sanction against the Apex would adversely result to a potential loss of his one percent dole-out and kickback that is channeled through opportunist tribal leaders of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Even then, if Apex ceases its mining operations and withdraw from the area, the poor miners and their families would be in a better condition to freely maximize the natural resources on their own, without exploitation and oppression.
With regards to St. Augustine mining in Pantukan town, it wantonly violated revolutionary policies when they operated outside of their tenements, and due to setting up of military outposts, conducting regular seizure and check-up of things brought in and out by small-scale miners, controlling of movement of civilians, and aggressive psychological warfare against tribal leaders through dole-out projects.
The people’s army is ever resolute in pursuing environmental protection in the light of the US-Aquino regime’s wanton destruction and plunder of our natural resources. It is steadfast to train its guns against the people’s biggest enemy, evade entrapment and master self-preservation while inflicting body and head blows amid relentless brigade-sized combat operations of the fascist AFP.