KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya—Residents and village officials have setup barricades today along the access roads leading to the Didipio large-scale gold and copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya province, backed by a restraining order earlier issued by the provincial government.
Owned by Australian-Canadian transnational corporation Oceanagold, the 12,864-hectare mining project has been defying the restraining order issued after its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) recently expired, saying it has secured endorsements for FTAA renewal from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the Office of the President.
“We want Oceanagold to stop operations regardless of whether its FTAA gets renewed or not. We Novo Vizcayanons have had enough of destructive mining in our lands,” said village councilor Celia Bahag, an indigenous Ifugao woman who leads the environment and agriculture committee of Barangay Didipio, the host community of the mine.
Her sentiments were echoed by Julie Simongo, a fellow Ifugao and current chairwoman of the Didipio-based people’s organization Samahang Pang Karapatan ng Katutubong Manggagawa at Magsasaka Inc. (SAPAKKMMI).
“Even if President Rodrigo Duterte decides to sign Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal, they cannot stop the sovereign will of the people of Nueva Vizcaya to stop this mine from further destroying the environment and the rights of future generations,” said Simongo.
National environmental activist alliance Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hailed the action, saying Oceanagold has figured in various “environmental and humanitarian crimes” over the course of its mine development and commercial operations that warrant the stoppage of its operations and the cancellation of its FTAA.
“Various studies and investigations on Oceanagold’s impacts have revealed how 80% of Didipio’s residents now have problems accessing clean water and how rivers are polluted up to eight times above safety levels for riverine biodiversity. There are also various problems affecting forests, land use, chemicals management, and labor, indigenous, and other human rights,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“We cannot accept how government regulators have been willfully blind to these violations and demand that they close down Ocenagold’s mine immediately,” Dulce furthered.
The network said it would mobilize its provincial and national multi-sectoral member organizations to support the people’s barricade until Duterte, who has been outspoken against mining throughout his presidency, cancels the FTAA of Oceanagold.
The final authority to decide upon the fate of Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal application lies in Duterte’s office.
“The Vizcaya people’s barricade to restrain Oceanagold’s operations is a morally and politically just action that is also a legitimate exercise of local government enforcement and citizen’s arrest powers. Duterte must heed the people’s cry for justice and swiftly cancel Oceanagold’s FTAA with finality,” Dulce ended.#
1 July 2019
Sign the petition against Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal:https://bit.ly/2MMAPTe