By CITA MANAGUELOD
BAGUIO CITY — On the 20th anniversary of the signing into law of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (PMA) on the 3rd of March, people’s organizations in the Cagayan region staged coordinated protest actions in three provinces calling to scrap the mining act of 1995.
In Isabela, protesters led by the militant peasant alliance, DAGAMI marched to the town center of Cordon and staged a picket rally in front of the municipal hall to call for the immediate stop to the large scale destructive and illegal open pit mining of Golden Summit Mining Corp. and Oceana Gold in three barrios of Cordon, the scrapping of mining applications of four big companies here and the junking of the Mining Act of 1995.
“We are sending a strong message to (President Benigno Simeon) Aquino, the DENR and the provincial, municipal and barrio local government bodies that we have had enough of the lies, deception, dispossession and destruction of our lands and livelihoods,” says DAGAMI-Cordon chair Ben Cardenas. He blasted at the companies’ plunder of the gold resources of Cordon using Ore Transport Permits issued by the provincial government for “rehabilitation” of the former mine site and removal of contaminated mine tailing stockpiles.
“In truth, these companies’ open pit mining operations have destroyed three mountains, bulldozed corn fields and blocked irrigation water from Buneg and San Luis Creeks, drying up the ricelands downstream. Mining operations are rapidly expanding, embarking on a DENR-sponsored buying spree of forest lands and fast tracking the setting up of a huge processing plant,“ Cardenas said. “We are also opposing the planned Minahang Bayan and huge processing plant which will further degrade the environment and restrict the mining area and income of small scale miners,“ Cardenas added.
In Nueva Vizcaya, on the eve of the anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, rallyists led by Desama, Annvik and Samana marched to the remote barrio of Didipio, Kasibu to vehemently oppose mine expansion done through underground tunneling. Angry protesters picketing at the Oceana Gold gate, denounced the poisoning of rivers, air and noise pollution in their community as well as worsening human rights violations brought about by the mining operations of Oceana Gold.
In Cagayan, protesters staged a rally at the DENR MGB Region 2 offices before marching towards the public market where they burned an effigy of Pres. Aquino. Isabelo Adviento of Kagimungan, the Cagayan peasant alliance, said “We demand the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which has resulted into the 20-year wholesale plunder by foreign owned mining operations, usurpation of peasant lands, eviction of whole communities and widespread environmental destruction. Instead, the People’s Mining Bill, a pro-people, pro-environment and nationalist bill should be promoted,” added the peasant leader.
Adviento said the coordinated people’s protests in Cagayan Valley also highlighted the growing call for the ouster of the Aquino government which has proven to be shamefully subservient to foreign mining plunderers.
Bino Abrogena of Danggayan – Cagayan Valley said “Aquino’s mining liberalization policies and bogus land reform policies continue to deny access to land for us, poor peasants, settlers and IPs while allowing big mining companies, local landlords, foreign agribusiness and commercial tree plantations the control, monopoly and private militarization of the land and our communities.”
Abrogena said “Only through peasants and IPs’ unity and collective actions can we continuously defend our rights to possess and till these lands as in the past,” Abrogena said, adding: “This is a challenge for all of us to rise up, unite and defend our lands, livelihoods and mineral wealth from foreign plunder and destruction.” # nordis.net