Aquino’s sweet policy on large-scale mining wholly to blame in Pantukan landslide tragedy

Photo from www.mindanews.comBy ANVIL GUINTO
Spokesperson, Crucifino Uballas Command
Front 2 Operations Command
NPA Southern Mindanao

The Crucifino Uballas Command-Front 2 Operations Command of the New People’s Army commiserates with the families of the victims of landslides in Diat, Barangay (village) Napnapan, Pantukan, and has mobilized resources to accord support to the suffering masses.

The US-Aquino regime has shamelessly caused the 5 January Pantukan landslides. The tragedy has put to the fore the disastrous policy of the US-Aquino regime that favours large-scale mining like that of US-owned Russell Mining, and the dislocation of small-scale miners in the area.

The tragedy and the aftermath demonstrated the ugly character of Aquino’s puppetry to greedy, hostile and destructive large-scale mining firms in the countryside.

Malacanang officials were quick to put the sole responsibility to local authorities of the GPH (government of the Republic of the Philippines) for tolerating small-scale miners who continue to eke out their livelihood in the perilous mountains of Pantukan. It is the height of hypocrisy on the part of the US-Aquino government that the small-scale miners — in fact the victims of this most recent tragedy — get all the blame. The exploited peasant masses have no adequate land to speak of and the urban poor have no jobs; the latter go to the countryside where they resort to backward and dangerous mining.

The poor miners and communities are also harassed and ordered to leave the very lands now being arrogantly owned by the likes of US firm Russell Mining. The 71st Infantry Battalion troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines serve as the fascist security forces of Russell Mining and Minerals Incorporated which operates a 4,000-hectare concession in the areas of Lumanggang, Chogdan, Gumayan, Biasung, Panganasun and Diat.

Prior to the disaster, the 71st IB troops conducted combat and CMO (Civil-Military operations) operations camouflaged as “peace and development operations”, to protect imperialist plunder. In an attempt to neutralize protesting small-scale miners and peasants, the 71st IB has committed various forms of abuses in the communities.

It changes skin to suit the avaricious interest of Russell Mining, as exemplified in its April-May operations last year when landslides struck Pantukan. The military used the Brgy. Kingking disaster,  as a devious cover for its repugnant combat operation and SOT (special operations team) operations.

Russell Mining — an affiliate of the US global mining company St. Augustine — maintains a huge number of armed personnel to protect their exploration area and the Americans who run the $30-million worth of investments over the 792 million tons of gold and copper deposits, considered one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold projects in the world. To secure Russell Mining and other big local large-scale mining firms, the 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army-Armed Forces of the Philippines stationed its 71st Infantry Battalion in Pantukan.

The AFP and the Russell Mining have made the 5 January disaster an occasion to justify the ultimate dislocation of small-scale miners and remove what they consider the last remaining impediment to the mining operations. The AFP-Russell Mining-Malacanang triumvirate now steps up the campaign to sweep away the toiling masses and falsely promote the dubious safety of large-scale mining and so-called responsible mining.

The sad reality is that the Filipino people are suffering from the massive environmental destruction, land grabbing and brutal modern-day conquest committed by big mining firms. The Aquino regime allows large-scale foreign mining companies, like Russell Mining, to earn superprofits by plundering the natural resources, including ancestral lands of indigenous peoples in the gold and copper-rich areas in the region and in the country.  It has allowed these firms to finance hostile regular AFP elements and paramilitary forces to protect their companies, collaborate in counterrevolutionary operations and contain the people’s resistance.

When Malacanang reportedly said that the tragedy was “totally unacceptable,” it should not look for culprits any farther; it has only to blame itself.

(Sgd.) Anvil Guinto
Spokesperson, Crucifino Uballas Command
NPA-Southern Mindanao

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