Ka TEMTEM CASTRO
Saulo Lumadao Front, NPA-Abra
The government of the Republic of the Philippines has long since targeted to increase mining investments in the country, citing as priority the mineral-rich regions of Compostela Valley in Mindanao and the Cordillera region. Particular in the Cordillera region, where all six provinces have mining applications, Abra is considered priority as a result of the pending mining applications of large scale mining companies in the entire province.
Processing of these mining applications as well as mining operations continue not only in the Cordillera but also in the entire country in pursuance with the government’s target to attract US$10 billion to 13 billion, despite opposition from different sectors and communities, more importantly those directly affected by these mining operations.
Over 14059.000 hectares in the municipalities of Bucloc, Boliney and Daguioman in South Central Abra are currently under application for a mining exploration permit by Adanacex Resources Inc. Pending applications are required to undergo thorough processes prior to approval such as the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and the Free and Prior Informed Consent of all the affected communities, not only by the LGU or a group of elders.
Consultations conducted by the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP) have started since 2008. In 2009, the affected communities of Boliney adamantly opposed the exploration followed by Bucloc in June 2011 after a series of consultations. Due to the failure to obtain the consent of the two municipalities, extra effort is being exerted in order to get the approval of the citizens of Daguioman. They even went so far as to bring some 40 residents of Daguioman to serve as an exposure trip to a mining site.
This, aside from consultations/talks that already took place wherein barangay captains and one elder per barangay were called upon to represent their respective communities. It is clear that Adanacex is set on obtaining the approval of the exploration permit.
Under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, it is stated that exploration is already defined as a mining operation. This is to straighten any apprehension the people of Daguioman may be having regarding mining applications that although preliminary, once explorations prove fruitful, this marks the beginning of full-blast mining operations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines have always been called upon by the puppet government to aid in its development aggression. Such was the experience of the people of Abra when the Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC), with the now defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) as its security forces, rampantly ravaged the forests while the people suffered from brutality in the hands of the PC. More recently, the previous regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo implemented 10 years of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2.
It was during this time that exploration by the Olympus-Pacific Mining Company got underway in Licuan-Baay, Abra, and massive military operations were being conducted by the 503rd Brigade of the Philippine Army in upland municipalities in the province where the people are strongly opposed to large scale mining. The AFP has once again proven its role as security forces for mining companies through the deployment of the entire 50th Infantry Battalion in southern Abra and the 41st Infantry Battalion in northern Abra. Their operations are focused in municipalities where there are mining applications. This is under the pretense of peace and development through the Aquino regime’s (counter-insurgency program) Oplan Bayanihan.
In Lacub, Abra, where explorations are also currently pending, the entire Alpha Company of the 41st IB was dispersed in all its six barangays. The municipality of Daguioman, which for almost two decades has not experienced direct AFP presence, is currently witness to the deployment of the Bravo Company of the 50th IB in all 4 barangays (Ableg, Tui, Pikek, Kabaruyan) led by Capt. Tambio.
Mining companies such as Adanacex Resources Inc. are hell-bent on continuously amassing large profits through extracting the country’s resources. To attain this objective, they resort to deception and dirty tactics in order to lure the people to give up their rights to their ancestral land in exchange for infrastructures and other services which the government has refused to offer. In the end, these mining operations only serve the interests of the imperialists and the local ruling classes, while the majority of the Filipino people suffer from the consequences of destructive mining.
The revolutionary movement is firm and resolute in its stand against all destructive, anti-people projects such as dams, large-scale mining and large-scale logging.
Collective experience has taught us that large-scale mining has neither benefited nor improved the lives of the people. As is the case in Benguet, where the longest-running mining operation by Lepanto Mining is located, many families have been displaced, livelihood destroyed, and the workers continue to struggle for their rights.
We continue to face challenges bequeathed by the tireless exploitation of the ruling classes. May the people of Lacub who collectively stood up in the past against the attempt of mining companies to explore their communities serve as an inspiration to those who continue to struggle for land, life and rights. The people of Bucloc, Daguioman, Boliney, and Sallapadan (BuDaBoSa) are going to face tough challenges ahead of them. Let us not forget, however, that only through collective action do we stand a chance of succeeding over these fights.