Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) bucked Australian-Canadian large-scale mining corporation Oceanagold for continuing its mining operations in Kasibu town, Nueva Vizcaya province, despite the expiry of its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) license and the subsequent advisory by the provincial government to restrain the operations of the mine.

“We condemn the continuing mining operations of Oceanagold despite its FTAA contract expiration. Oceanagold clearly violates the recent legal directives of the Vizcaya provincial government to restrain its mine operations. There are plenty of pending reports, complaints, government resolutions, and other documented evidence that Oceanagold violated various environmental, socio-economic, and human rights regulations which should warrant the mine’s stoppage and not its perpetuation,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

In an advisory released by Nueva Vizcaya governor Carlos Padilla last June 20, 2019, the provincial government cited Section 19.1 of Oceanagold’s FTAA stating that the agreement “shall be terminated and the parties shall be relieved of their respective obligations” upon the expiration of the contract.

It further enjoined the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Philippine National Police Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Office, the Municipal Government of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, and the Barangay Didipio Council to “restrain any operations of Oceanagold upon the termination of the FTAA” citing the Environment Code of Nueva Vizcaya and the Local Government Code.

A day after, however, Oceanagold general manager David Way sent a letter to the Barangay Didipio Council citing a June 20 letter from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), which in turn cites Section 18 of Executive Order 292 or the Administrative Code which states that existing licenses “shall not expire” until the application for renewal has been finally determined.

Dulce said, however, “in the first place, the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were remiss in its endorsement of Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal application to the Office of the President instead of cancelling it outright.”

“In the dialogues we conducted with the MGB and the DENR, these agencies admitted that they failed to put into consideration the body of evidence submitted to them over the past year. With concerns such as the full withdrawal of social acceptability and a lack of environment and human rights due diligence, there is no way a legitimate regulatory body would have let Oceanagold’s license renewal application go any further,” Dulce furthered.

Kalikasan PNE urged the MGB and DENR to withdraw their endorsement of Oceanagold’s FTAA to the Office of the President. The green group further asserted that the MGB’s legal opinion allowing Oceanagold to resume operations amid the absence of a mining agreement and the clear opposition of LGUs is “patently wrong and irresponsible.”

“It would be hypocritical of the Duterte government to claim that it wants to stop mining for creating a monster in our country, but then allowing a foreign corporation like Oceanagold to operate with impunity. MGB is even lawyering for this foreign mining corporation instead of defending our national patrimony from it. The people of Nueva Vizcaya will definitely take action to halt Oceanagold’s operations and demand indemnification and other just compensations for its various crimes against the people and the environment,” ended Dulce.#

PRESS RELEASE
24 June 2019

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