The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) joins the Filipino people and the global community in their campaign to stop the destructive operations of the transnational mining company OceanaGold Corporation (OGC) in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya in the Philippines. We are one with you on the International Day of Action in Support of People’s Barricade against OceanaGold. It is fitting to celebrate August 9 as the International Day of the World Indigenous Peoples and commemorate the long-history struggle of the indigenous people for their rights, resources, and territories.
OceanaGold, an Australia-Canadian owned mining company, has plundered the natural resources and violated the rights of the people of the province of Nueva Vizcaya. It took over the operations of Climax-Arimco Mining Corporation that secured the first mining Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Philippine government in 1994. They have been depleting the gold and mineral resources, displacing indigenous people communities, destroying the forest, and polluting water bodies in Nueva Vizcaya.
In June 20, 2019, after 25 years of human rights violations and environmental destruction, the OceanaGold mining agreement expired. It submitted its renewal application in 2018 and insists on continuing operations despite the strong opposition of the people. The local government units have repudiated and made clear of their stand against the renewal of OceanaGold’s mining agreement.
The Philippine government continues to entertain thoughts of giving OGC a new mining lease. Both the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) recommended the extension of the mining operation of OceanaGold.
OceanaGold human rights violations and environmental crimes extend beyond the Philippines. It was barred by the El Salvadoran government to operate in their country for the reason of conserving and protecting their water bodies. For three decades it has been depleting the mineral reserves of the islands of New Zealand and is now extracting gold in South Carolina of the United States of America.
The greediness of OceanaGold is insatiable. It insists to operate even without social license and has led to massive ecological degradation. Amidst repression, the people of Nueva Vizcaya continue to struggle for life, land and resources. Their community barricade is standing strong since July 1, 2019 which is successful in stopping the operations of the company.
We hope their struggle will emulate the successful campaign of their neighboring indigenous communities who kicked the Australian mining company Royalco Resources in 2014 out of Nueva Vizcaya. We also hope that Novo Vizcayanos will be victorious like the El Salvadorans in their stoppage of OceanaGold and having their national moratorium on metal mining.
ILPS, an international anti-imperialist alliance sees that the on-going campaigns against corporate mining and the global mining industry, especially those being done by indigenous peoples, peasants, mine workers, environmental activists, are one of the strongest and inspiring struggles that defend the rights of the people, the integrity of our ecosystem, and the conservation of our natural resources against capitalist plunder and destruction. This is part and parcel of the global movement for environmental justice and the establishment of a just society. ###
Clemente Bautista Jr.
ILPS Commission on the Environment and Climate Justice