SOURCE: By: Aldwin Quitasol, InterAksyon.com
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The indigenous people of Nueva Vizcaya claimed victory, albeit one they acknowledged could be temporary, when their three-day barricade in Sitio Camgat, Barangay Didipio, Kasibu prompted a mining firm to halt its drilling operations.
“We will continue to be vigilant against the company’s dirty tactics of sneaking in drilling equipment in the area,” Erenio Bobola, chairman of the Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Mangagawa at Magsasaka Inc. (SAPAKMMI), said after Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. withdrew its drilling equipment.
SAPAKMMI, together with the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association, or DESAMA, and the Didipio barangay council spearheaded the barricade against Oceana Gold.
Explaining the need for vigilance, Bobola recalled that previously, Australian-owned Oceana Gold “sneaked in their equipment when the community was busy attending a wedding and a funeral.”
Immediately after the barricade was lifted, Didipio residents reported that Oceana Gold called with a meeting with village officials to discuss new amendments to their Environment Compliance Certificate, which is the basis of the firm’s entry into the area.
But DESAMA board member Myrna Duyan said: “We already signed a resolution in 2012 that the community will not allow any mining activity in the area. The company did not respect that by asking the approval only from the landowners (of the areas) where the drilling machines were situated.”
“We still need to consolidate the landowners and the barangay council to remain steady in their anti-mining stand and not be coopted by the company’s offers because even though it is their land, the effects of the operation will affect all of us in the barangay,” Bobola said.
Last week, Governor-elect Carlos Padilla visited the barricade and vowed to help the residents stop the drilling and exploration of Oceana Gold.
But the Didipio folk are hoping for an even more formidable ally – President-elect Rodrio Duterte.
“President Duterte, ipasardeng yo koma ti Oceana Gold. Naramanan mi ti impact na nga madi iti aglawlaw, pangkabiagan ken salun-at mi. Ipatungpal yo koma ti ibagbaga yo nga nu dakayoti mangabak, mapasardeng dagiti makadadael nga kumpanya. (President Duterte, please stop Oceana Gold. We have experienced its negative impacts on our environment, livelihood and health. Please make good on your promise that you will stop the operations of destructive mining companies once you are in power),” Bobola said.