N. Vizcaya folk hail looming suspension of Aussie mine firm

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Residents of this province expressed delight over the impending suspension of operations of an Australian mining firm in upland village in Kasibu town after it failed a recent mine audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).



What used to be a vast green rice and vegetable farms in Didipio village is now the reservoir of toxic mine tailings from the gold-copper project of OceanaGold, Philippines, Inc.

But they said people of Nueva Vizcaya should remain vigilant that the “temporary victory” will produce good results, and make OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. pay for the damage it has caused on the people and the environment in Didipio village, site of its gold-copper project.

“This is a welcome development. After several years of struggle, mass actions, position/petition papers, international study tours whose findings fell on deaf ears—thanks God our prayers have been heard,” said Teresita Acosta, executive director of Friends of the Environment for Development and Sustainability (Frends), a non-government organization.

Frends belongs to an alliance of groups opposed to mining in Nueva Vizcaya, which include civil society, as well as religious and people’s organizations.

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Villagers rebuff mine firm over failed promises

By Melvin Gascon

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya—Officials and residents of a mining community here on Wednesday confronted a mining company over unfulfilled promises, as it now plans to increase production rate of its gold-copper mining operation in this upland town, some 270 km north of Manila.

In a public meeting, community leaders and villagers took turns in assailing OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. for seeking to amend its existing environmental compliance certificate (ECC) without showing that it has complied with it commitments when it was first granted a mining license in 1994.

“You (Oceanagold) must first inform the people what the original ECC contained and show proof that you have faithfully complied with it, because without that, you should not even be looking to amend it,” village councilor Celia Bahag told OceanaGold representatives.

Villagers have become highly skeptical of the company, council member the official said, because of its failure to honor past commitments, such as the improvement of village roads, and construction of a hospital and a community park.


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Mine firms blamed for breakup of families, communities in N. Vizcaya

Delegates of an international solidarity mission have scored foreign mining companies operating in Nueva Vizcaya for supposedly causing division among families and residents in the upland communities they have occupied.

The group expressed disgust over how mining companies OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. and Metals Exploration, Inc. have “systematically” destroyed close-knit relationships among clans and villagers, allowing them to enter the areas and carry out their mining activities despite local opposition.

They noted the “great disparity” between claims of the mining companies, which operate two large-scale mining projects in Nueva Vizcaya, on their treatment of the communities and the “reality on the ground”.

This view of the Didipio mine site in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya gives villagers a constant reminder of the extent of destruction that the OceanaGold Philippines’ gold-copper project has caused on the mountains and the valley that used to be their main source of livelihood. The damage, however, is not only environmental. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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CSC to N. Vizcaya gov: comply or face sanctions

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The Civil Service Commission has issued a final warning to Gov. Ruth Padilla over her alleged failure to abide by the commission’s order that affirmed the appointments and promotions of 62 permanent employees she illegally dismissed and demoted in 2013.

In a resolution, the CSC directed Padilla to “fully implement” its March 17 decision reinstating the employees to their former positions, and to pay them their back salaries from the time they were ousted from their posts.

The CSC also gave Padilla 10 days to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for failure to implement “a lawful order”.

“Her failure to comply with this order within the specified period shall be considered a waiver thereof and appropriate action will be rendered based on the available records,” the CSC said, through Commissioner Robert Martinez.


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N. Vizcaya execs bought car bling worth P.7M sans bidding

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The provincial government has surreptitiously purchased car accessories worth almost P700,000 for 12 sports utility vehicles (SUVs) of board members here without following the law and procedures on government procurement, documents have revealed.

Records showed that as early June last year, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, who were each issued brand new Toyota Fortuner units, bought car accessories worth P682,823 without public bidding, in violation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

A listing of the items bought also revealed that the board members had installed accessories on their vehicles not classified by law as necessary, but merely for ornament and comfort.

This Toyota Fortuner issued to Board Member Efren Quiben was installed with P102,000-worth of car accessories. Photo by Melvin Gascon
This Toyota Fortuner (license plate SHZ 299) issued to provincial board member Efren Quiben was installed with about P102,000-worth of car accessories, the most for any member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. It now features a carrier, chrome light covers, side mirror covers and door handle fittings, and LED lights. Inside the vehicle, there’s more. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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COA scores N. Vizcaya gov’t for ‘low’ performance

THE COMMISSION on Audit (COA) has chided the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya for its supposed “low performance” on the implementation of its projects and programs that were supposed to have been completed last year.

In an audit observation memorandum (AOM) addressed to Gov. Ruth Padilla, the COA noted that the province failed to implement some P426.2 million-worth of projects funded out of its P662.6 million development fund for year 2014.

“Hence, the constituents did not benefit on (sic) the timely delivery of basic services that could have uplifted their socio-economic condition,” the COA said in a document issued on March 30, copies of which were obtained by this writer last week.

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Black sand mining in Cagayan goes off-shore

Large-scale mining operations for magnetite are shifting to offshore areas in the northern towns of Cagayan province, records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.

MGB records said at least four mining companies are eyeing to conduct black sand mining activities in the Cagayan towns of Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga.

Peniel Resources Mining Corp., JDVC Resources Corp., T&T Resources and Mining Corp. and J&M Resources Mining and Exploration Corp. have each entered into a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) with the government, for an area covering 53,664 hectares offshore in northern Cagayan, the MGB said.

In this file photo taken in 2012, the beaches of Barangay (village) Villa Leonora in Buguey, Cagayan are dotted with villagers trying to eke out a living from scooping blacksand and sell this to foreign mining companies operating in the area. This time, mining companies are eyeing to mine the seabed in the off-shore areas of the town, through a mining permit issued in 2010 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
In this file photo taken in 2012, the beaches of Barangay (village) Villa Leonora in Buguey, Cagayan are dotted with villagers trying to eke out a living from scooping black sand and sell this to foreign mining companies operating in the area. This time, mining companies are eyeing to mine the seabed in the off-shore areas of the town, through a mining permit issued in 2010 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

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