The mining company is also under investigation by nine United Nation special rapporteurs as Kalikasan PNE and Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (Sapakkmmi) filed a complaint last December 7, 2018.
By JOHN MARK AARON MACARAEG
MANILA — Indigenous communities, local government leaders, and environmental advocates from the province of Nueva Vizcaya held a back-to-back press conference and dialogue June 18 to demand the cancellation of Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) license of Australian- anadian large-scale mining corporation Oceanagold.
Oceanagold’s FTAA license is set to expire June 20 and the local government of Nueva Vizcaya, headed by Governor Carlos Padilla stood firm in their stand to prevent its renewal and called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Department of Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to ban the mining company permanently.
Padilla said they filed a petition with DENR signed by residents of the province yesterday.
“This resolution is the embodiment of combined thoughts of Nueva Vizcaya constituents, so there would be no more mining operations in barangay Didipio,” Padilla said.
In a statement, Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, said that the indigenous community of baranggay Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Ecija, has long been battling Oceanagold in operating in their area because of its environmental and human rights offenses.
The mining company is also under investigation by nine United Nation special rapporteurs as Kalikasan PNE and Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (Sapakkmmi) filed a complaint last December 7, 2018. The complaint consisted of charges such as rampant and civil and political rights violations, violation of rights and other environmental rights, and deprivation of livelihood and other economic and social rights.
“We are hoping that the UN Treaty bodies under the special rapporteurs will decide based on the complaint. We are hopeful they will rule in favor of us so that Oceanagold can finally answer their offenses and be held accountable, said the complaint’s legal counsel and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
In 2014, an environmental investigation mission led by scientist group Agham found damages to forests, air pollution from dusty roads and stockpiles, and massive water pollution, all affecting the health and livelihood of affected residents.
Lorenzo Pulido of Didipio Earth-Savers Multi-purpose Association (Desama) narrated in detail how Oceanagold’s mining operation was destroying his community’s natural resources and how their daily life was affected.
“The people cry the lack of potable drinking water. Ever since they operated in the area, the groundwater disappeared. Even the rivers were also greatly damaged. We cannot bathe in there anymore because every time we do, our skin develops rashes,” Pulido said.
Mining policy reform
Dulce of Kalikasan PNE demands reforms on how mining operations are being managed by the government.
He stressed the need for mining policies that will require the mining companies to make minimal impact on affected natural resources.
The contracts that the government give to the companies should not put the affected communities at a disadvantage but rather ensure that the promised environmental responsibilities would be met, Dulce said.
Moreover, Dulce claimed that proper utilization of mineral resources like sustainable mining can help the country achieve agricultural reform and national industrialization.
Present in the press conference were representatives Sapakkmmi, Desama, Alyansa ng Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (Anvik) Kalikasan PNE, Alyansa Tigil Muna, and Greenthumb Coalition, together with Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla, and Reverend Fr. Vicente Tiam of the Diocese of Bayambang and Kagawad Celia Bahag of Barangay Didipio.