By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Ramon Gallo of the Save the Cagayan Valley, a member of the North Luzon-wide alliance of environmental defenders Amianan Salakniban (Defend the North), said that there are five reasons why they do not like mining in Cagayan Valley.
First according to Gallo is the Cagayan area is a crucial watershed that hosts the water resources of many municipalities and provinces in the northern to southern Luzon. Large scale mining will destroy this and contaminate the water sources with toxic chemicals vital to mining operations.
Gallo said the second reason is they do not like the people’s main livelihood to suffer or their natural resources destroyed.
He added that the effects of large scale mining to the lives of the people are evident in other places like Mankayan, Benguet where the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company operates.
The third reason, Gallo said, is they want the rich and beautiful environment of Cagayan be preserved while people utilize it the traditional way without inflicting destruction to nature. He said that once mining enters, the forest cover of the region will greatly diminish as mining operations need lots of trees and rivers.
He also said there will be large excavations and diggings to extract the minerals from the earth.
The fourth reason, he continued, is that the region is prone to landslides. “Nu adda ti panagreggaay gapu iti panagkalkali dagiti kompanya ti minas, magaburan dagiti kataltalunan ken dagiti tattao,” (There will be landslides due to the diggings of the mining companies, farmlands and people will be buried). He said that agriculture is the major livelihood of the people in the region.
And the fifth reason, he said, is that they do not like people to be displaced by the ill-effects of destructive mining on their communities. He said they are tired of listening to stories and reading the news about people being forced to leave their lands to give way to mining and other large projects.
According to Gallo, they are opposing the entry of the mining companies of Australian-owned Oxiana Gold Philippines Incorporated and Canadian-owned FCF mining company.
He said that Oxiana acquired a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) covering an area of 81,000 hectares affecting municipalities of Kasibu and Didipio of Nueva Viscaya and portions of the provinces of Isabela and Quirino.
Aside from gold mining companies, Gallo said, there are foreign-owned magnetite mining corporations that are operating on the beaches of the region. Mostly Chinese and South Korean companies, he said.
The Save the Cagayan Valley is a regional formation composed of multi-sectoral organizations of the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant Churches, farmers, non-government organizations, students and the academe.
He said the movement with the rest of the people of Cagayan Valley submitted numerous petitions to the barangay councils and concerned government agencies and officials.
They have appealed to government units in the region should make appropriate resolutions and other actions to stop the entry of mining. “Ibagabaga da a madi da kayat ti mining ngem awan met ti aktwal a pakakitaan weno kongkreto nga aksiyon,” (They keep on saying that they are against mining but they have no concrete actions or proof that they are) said Gallo.
He said that the Save Cagayan Valley will not stop in its protest actions against mining and continue to delegate to the concerned agencies and offices of the government. He also called on to the present administration to scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 to put to a stop to the seemingly unstoppable entries of large-scale mining companies. He added that the president should consider the safety of the people and stop the deployment of military in the communities where there are strong opposition to such development aggressions and instead support the passage of a pro-peoples’ mining bill. # nordis.net