By ALDWIN QUITASOL
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe
Lakay Rolly Bestoca, nearing his 70s narrated how he and his companions at the barricade against the drilling operations of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) and Gold Fields, Far South East Gold Project joint venture in Sitio Tabio, Madaymen, municipality of Mankayan, Benguet stopped the contingent of mining personnel escorted by more than 300 fully armed elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the 50th Infantry Battalion from demolishing their barricade.He said that they are only 180 men, women and their children at the barricade who are determined to defend their picket line to protect part of their ancestral lands. He confidently said that they know that when the drilling operations push through, it will mean greater destruction to their environment and it will severe their water source, and the agricultural livelihood of the whole of Mankayan’s Indigenous Peoples will die.
When they saw the company men and the armed state forces approaching their barricade, they positioned their selves at the entrances. He said that as negotiations ensued, he worried they were at a disadvantage as they were fighting against a big wall.
When the representative of LCMC told them that they must respect the order of the court and obey the law, they stood their ground.
The people expressed their dismay in the government ruling that ordered them to lift their defense – their barricades.
To this one of his companions said, “namin-ano kami a nagpatulong iti gobyerno ngem kasla saandakami met a dengdenggen, anyan ngay a gobyerno ti mabalin mi a pagkamangan?” (How many times we had asked the government to help us but is seems we are not being heard, so what government are we going to ask help from?).
Lakay Rolly said they are thankful that the confrontation was civil and did not turn bloody. He added that he was able to control his emotion and temper not to throw a punch. If he did that, he said there was no telling what would have happened next. There might have been bloodshed.
“Ti inkasta mi, dakami nga lallakay ken babbaket ti nagyan idiay sango, dagiti ub-ubbing idiay likod mi ken dagiti uubbing idiay liklikod,” (What we did was, we elders stayed in front, the younger ones were positioned behind us and the children were at the rearrest side) he continued.
Lakay Rolly said this was to ensure the safety of the children. “Di bale dakami a lallakay ken babbaket ta anya ngay, nu patayen dakami idiay nga oras a ket adda kadagiti uubbing nu anya ti sumaruno nga aramiden da, nu ituloy da a lumaban, adda kadakuada diayen,” (we the elders were ready for the inevitable, if they will kill us, it will then be up to the children to decide if they will continue to fight).
He emphasized that all they were thinking of was to defend the remaining resources of Mankayan that was ravaged by the many years of LCMC’s mining operations. He said that they were doing this so that the children and the future generations will not blame them for doing nothing while corporate greed was destroying everything. # nordis.net