BAGUIO CITY — Residents of Didipio village in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, prevented OceanaGold Philippines, Incorporated (OGPI) from bringing fuel into its mine site to continue its operation.

Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (Sapakmmi) Chairperson Julie Simongo sounded the alarm that tankers arrived at around 4:00 am. She informed residents, their members, and supporters through text and a Facebook post, early morning today, December 16.

According to Kagawad (barangay council member) Celia Bahag, the tankers containing fuel arrived and tried to enter the premises of OGPI. Eight police personnel from the 21st Maneuver Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion escorted the vehicles. Members of the OGPI Community Relations were also present.

“Idi simmangpet kami idiay ti mga 5:00 am ket addan dagidiay tanker nga ineskortan dagiti police. Ngem nagbuweltadan, nagsublidan ta saanda met makastrek (When we arrive there at around 5:00 am, the tanker was there, escorted by the police. But they already turned around and left since they cannot enter),” she narrated.

As of 8:00 am, Bahag said that aside from Didipio residents, some people from nearby villages their supporters have arrived to reinforce the “people’s barricade.” She said other groups and individuals informed them that they are on their way to support.

Before this incident, OGPI General Manager David Way asked the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 2 to allow the company to deliver six trucks of diesel fuel for its generators. The letter dated December 4 also requested entry of 40,000 liters of diesel daily until OGPI can restore its Over Head Power Lines.

On the same day, MGB Region 2 Officer-in-Charge Engr. Mario Ancheta wrote PNP Regional Director Angelito Casimiro to provide police security for the company. The request cited the September 23 memorandum from the national office regarding the fuel resupply for OGPI’s “dewatering activities” for its tunnels.

This incident is the second try of OGPI to bring supplies inside their compound after the people, backed by the local governments, put up the barricade and checkpoints. On October 10, one of the company’s contractors tried to enter the area to fix some equipment, but the people thwarted the attempt.

People, not checkpoints

Bahag noted that the order of the Department Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the province to dismantle the checkpoints might have encouraged the company. DILG Secretary Eduardo Año wrote the provincial government last month, asking Governor Carlos Padilla to remove the checkpoints.

The department also urged the province to “maintain the status quo” before Padilla issued a Cease and Desist Order against OGPI. Compliance with Año’s directive would mean allowing the company to continue its operation, which OGPI was doing prior to the issuance of the CDO on June 25 by the province.

Bahag retorted that the people of Kasibu not the checkpoints are the ones preventing the entry of supplies to the mine site. She explained the negative impact on their livelihood and environment of the mining operation compelled them to act after the expiration of its permit. According to her, if the province will remove the checkpoints, the people would maintain the barricade to prevent the company from operating.

Dayta order ti [Department of Interior and Local Government] nga ibagbagada nga illegal daytoy checkpoint ta awan ti order manipud ti [Philippine National Police], para kanyami ditoy saan met a dayta checkpoint ti mangbabbawal kanyada no di ket dakami nga umili (That DILG order saying that the checkpoint is illegal because there is no order from the PNP, for us here, the checkpoint is not the one prohibiting them but the people),” she said.

The kagawad pointed out that the local governments, from the barangay up to the province, did not give OGPI permits to conduct business. She also reiterated that the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) between the company and the government already expired.

“Adda met a ti rights ti tattao ditoy nga agharang nga umuneg dagiti equipment ti company karkaro dagiti suppliesda for operation (The people here have the right to block the entry of equipment of the company especially the supplies for operation),” she said.

Bahag also expressed concern over the DILG directive. She believes the department, together with OGPI, will find ways to impose the order, but she also reiterated their readiness.

“Nakasaganakami a sumango, ta umuna unay karbenganmi daytoy nga umili ken awan met ti pammalubos manipud barangay inggana probinsia, aglalo dagiti tattao ditoy (We are ready to face them, in the first place this is our right, and the local governments from barangay up to the province, especially the people did not give permit),” she said. # nordis.net

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