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, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya remains suspended.
BY ABE ALMIROL
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 25, July 27-August 2, 2008
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya (268 kms. north of Manila) – 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, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya remains suspended.
Jamila Abassi, the company’s newly appointed Director for Corporate Social Responsibility, has been seen going around having talks with local stakeholders here since Monday, July 21. Her itinerary included the offices of non-government organizations (NGOs) opposing the Didipio Project and the capitol where Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma 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 (PRRM), 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, expects that House Resolution No. 594 authored by Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna (People First), calling for an inquiry on OceanaGold’s alleged abuses against the tribal communities of Didipio, will bring out the defects of the Mining Act of 1995 which gives foreign mining companies the right to 100-percent ownership of land.
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 conducted in the 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 affected by the OceanaGold operations.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported July 23 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,” Reuters quoted Darren Klinck, spokesman for the company, as saying.
OceanaGold stocks have plunged to an all-time low of $0.82 per share. The company’s stock prices had been on a downward trend since bad news about the company’s performance in Didipio plagued the Philippine and Australian media. The wave of bad news spread following this year’s Black Saturday shooting which 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 sign that the two spoke about the shooting incident. (Bulatlat.com)