BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – In a bid to widen its chances of getting its much needed funds, OceanaGold is taking time to do some image boosting while its construction work in Didipio remains suspended.
Jamila Abassi, newly appointed director for Corporate Social Responsibility, has been seen going around having talks with local stakeholders here since Monday. Her itinerary included the offices of non-government organizations (NGOs) opposing the Didipio Project and the capitol where Gov. Luisa Lloren Curesma holds office.
Cuaresma turned hostile to the company after failing to collect the quarry taxes it demanded OceanaGold to pay. In turn, OceanaGold filed a grave coercion case against her at the Ombudsman after she used her power to stop the construction of the mine.
“We had a candid conversation with her and our unity as NGOs here is to present to her documented records of OceanaGold’s poor rating in terms of corporate social responsibility,” said Merlinda Calubaquib of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, one of the NGOs that met with Abassi on Wednesday.
The Save the Valley Serve the People Movement, a local alliance against the entry of large-scale mining in Cagayan Rivers watershed, are expectant that the inquiry on House Resolution 594 authored by Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna will bring out the defects of the Mining Act of 1995 which gave OceanaGold the right to own 100% of the Didipio Gold-Copper mining tenement.
NGOs also told Abassi that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) took cognizance of their fact-finding mission report. The report is a summary of the findings of a three-day NGO mission in Didipio on first week of April.
Earlier Commissioner Leila de Lima ordered a full investigation of the reported cases of human rights violations, mostly arising from illegal demolition of houses in communities within the OceanaGold operations.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported Wednesday that the troubled Melbourne-based company is seeking a joint venture with rival companies, including Sino Gold Mining Ltd and Gold Fields, to raise $185-million fund to start its operation in Didipio.
“These options include funding through debt and to a lesser extent equity, and also through possible joint venture arrangements, asset sales, or equity investments into the Filipino assets or OceanaGold Corp as a whole,” said Reuters quoting Darren Klinck, spokesman for the company.
OceanaGold stocks fell to an all time low $0.825 per share\since bad news about the company’s performance in Didipio plagued the Philippines and Australian media since the black Saturday shooting that wounded a villager named Emilio Pumihic. A company guard named Wesley Dongiahon was positively identified by police investigators as the one who shot Pumihic.
Abassi and Pumihic met at the Saber Inn café lately when the latter came to inform NGOs about the status of his case at the prosecutor’s office. However, there was no chance that two spoke about the shooting incident. # Abe Almirol