January 3, 2013 in Featured
by ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — As if to hit two birds with one stone, more than 200 members of the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) and indigenous people of Mankayan, Benguet manned their barricade lines and celebrated Christmas with a short program, exchange of gifts, games and singing carols.
SMM president Marlou Pablo said that despite the rain, they were able to hold their Christmas party and share the joy and message of the birth of Jesus Christ in their barricade lines set-up last year to prevent the drilling operations of the Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI).
He added, though many of their town mates and members were not able to join them because of the heavy rain and other priorities, it is touching and heart warming to know that despite the many difficulties they have gone through, especially the elders, the people did keep in mind the importance of keeping the spirit of the season alive.
He said that aside from the simple dishes that they shared and ate together, the kids and adult alike were all delighted by the exchange of gifts. It did not matter at all how much or how big the gifts were but it was the company, friendship and the happiness of being together, with everyone. And that can not be taken away from us by the mining companies and their goons and hired dispersal teams escorted by the police,” he said in Iloko.
Pablo said that they wish they will not spend Christmas in the picket lines again next year. He said they hope that their struggle in protecting their ancestral domain against the entry of mining will win next year.
He said that they are going to observe the first anniversary of their barricade against mining on January 23. According to him, a concert for a cause will be held by groups including the Mankayan Youth Movement.
On January 23, 2012, Madaymen folks set up barricade after FSGRI, a joint venture of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) and South African mining company Gold Fields started bringing in mine drilling equipment in the community.
For months, SMM and community members foiled attempts of LCMC personnel escorted by Benguet police to implement a court ruling to lift the barricades of the people. LCMC also sued the people for violating the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 but was dismissed on December 3, 2012 by Regional Trial Court Branch 64 Presiding Judge Agapito Laoagan.
Pablo said they have yet to wait for the ruling of the court on the civil case filed against them on January 21. He hopes it will be favorable to them. He vowed, whatever it will be, they will continue with their fight as it is for the future of their children.#www.nordis.net