By ALDWIN QUITASOL
MANKAYAN, Benguet — Nearly 2,000 residents of Mankayan, other parts of nearby towns of the province of Benguet, Mountain Province, Abra and Ilocos Sur call for a stop of operations of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) and the pull out of Gold Fields Mining Company to save the environment and remaining resources of the town for the future of the next generation.According to the Save the Mankayan Movement (SMM) president Marlo Pablo, the people of this mining municipality are already fed up by the more than 75 years of LCMC’s mining operations in the area.
He said in Kankanaey that the company for all those years extracted more than enough the richness of their land accumulating gigantic gains while the people are suffering from the environmental denudation the mining operation created.
Pablo, together with the members and officers of SMM and the rest of the residents of Tabio, Mankayan and nearby barangays are presently barricading the drilling operations of Gold Fields.
According to him, once the drilling will push through, their community and nearby communities will probably have the same fate as the mined out areas of Mankayan and other barangays and municipalities. He said that they will not let this happen.
“Pangaasi yo a Lepanto, isardeng yon ken pumanaw kayon, uston dayta manon a tawen a didigra a nasgsagrap mi,”(Lepanto, you should stop and leave us, the many years of disasters we experienced should come to an end.
Pablo said they will not let Lepanto get all what they have and will be left for nothing. He said that the company should leave and the people should be the ones to use the resources.
Pablo said that they can not forget what happened in Barangay Colalo of the said municipality when on July 1999, a school was destroyed when the soil eroded. Pablo Gomez, a father of five who was helping in transferring school materials in a bid to save things needed by the students was buried alive.
He also cited the massive ground subsidence in Aurora, Barangay Sapid of Mankayan where a highs school building and houses were destroyed displacing students and residents.
Pablo said there are numerous sinking areas, grounds in most parts of Mankayan and the people are afraid of possible disasters.
“Kamayatan a talaga a pumanaw ti Lepanto ken ti Gold Fields tapno agsubli ti talna ken kapya ditoy Mankayan, awan to ti panpanunuten mi a baka nu bigat ket lumned kami,” (It is best that Lepanto and Gold Fields will leave so that peace and serenity will reign again in Mankayan, our minds will be at ease from the fear that we will wake up one day sinking) stressed Pablo.
Pablo said they understand the workers because it is not easy to find jobs. But he said that they are also witnessing how hard the lives of the mine workers as the company is not compensating them well.
He also said that most of the workers are not from Mankayan and they come from far communities just to come here and experience the hard life of being workers.
An elder in nearby town of Quirino, Ilocos Sur Mang Rudy said that because of the pollution that Lepanto operations inflicted on the Abra River, their rice fields and other source of livelihood were destroyed.
He said that the people of Quirino and also the people of Cervantes and Abra are depending much on the water of the river for their farming activities, and the fishes and other products the river provides.
But the Abra river is poisoned by the toxic chemicals LCMC dumped for many years.
“Nu adda pay nabatbati a konsensiya yo ket pumanaw kayon, Lepanto. Denggen yo met dakami a babassit ta tao kami met, tapno agbiag kami a nasayaat a kasla idi,” (If you have still conscience then leave. Listen to the little people like is as we are also humans, so that we will have a good life just like before) said the elder.
The SMM members submitted a petition asking for the full stop of LCMC’s operation and the pull out of Gold Fields from Mankayan particularly in Tabio. # nordis.net