NCIP steps in

Agency seeks to stop demolition of tribe’s houses in N. Vizcaya mining project

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya–The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) called for the stoppage of the operations of an Australian mining company amid the alleged violations of human rights it has committed against tribal peoples of an upland village here that is the site of a large-scale mining project.

Lawyer Basilio Wandag, NCIP legal affairs director, asked OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., owner and operator of the proposed Didipio gold-copper project, to stop demolition of properties of tribal residents until their complaints are addressed by the company.

Wandag made the call upon the recommendation of eight-member NCIP team led by NCIP Commissioner Rizalino Segundo that conducted a field investigation in the area earlier this month.

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Rights watch

Mining watchdog seeks probe of Aussie firms’ rights ‘abuses’

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The Australian mining ombudswoman has called on the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines to investigate the alleged human rights abuses committed by a Melbourne-based mining firm in remote Didipio village, site of its proposed US$117-million gold-copper project.

Shanta Martin, Oxfam Australia mining ombudsman, made the call amid reports of escalating human rights violations by OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. highlighted by last month’s shooting of an Ifugao native by a company-hired security guard.

“I urge the (CHR) to please investigate the situation as an independent party, and to assist the communities of Didipio to defend their human rights,” she said in a letter to Dr. Purificacion Valera-Quisumbing, CHR chair.
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Wait begins

Campbell slay trial ends; verdict out June 30

BANAUE, Ifugao–The trial of the murder case of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell ended here Wednesday, exactly one day after her first death anniversary.

Presiding Judge Ester Piscoso-Flor of Regional Trial Court branch 34 gave the prosecution and the defense 30 days to file their memorandum, or a summary of the evidence that they have presented in the case.

She set the issuance of the court’s decision for June 30.
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Cash cow

N. Vizcaya farmers, officials hit diversion of rice funds

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Officials and residents here have assailed the provincial government for sacrificing funds for a rice program in favor of road construction and a bulldozer.

Documents showed that a P2 million allotment for the province’s rice modernization program has been used to fund farm-to-market roads worth P500,000 and the purchase of a bulldozer for Kasibu town worth P1.5 million.

“This questionable move is highlighted now that the entire country is on the verge of a food crisis. At a time when we were supposed to improve rice production, roads and bulldozers are given priority,” said Board Member Patricio Dumlao Jr.

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Flashback

Campbell’s ma returns, hears suspect’s witness

BANAUE, Ifugao–The mother of slain US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell made an emotional return to this mountain town Wednesday, listening to a defense witness that brought back to her sad memories of the tragedy that had befallen her and her family exactly a year ago.

Linda Campbell, 65, said it was important for her to come back to Banaue for Tuesday’s hearing since it fell on Julia’s first death anniversary, and the first time that the defense was presenting its witnesses.

“It is very difficult for us (members of the family) to be in the US. It is different for us just to get a report as to what has happened (in the hearings) as compared to actually hearing the witnesses,” she said.

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Coming home

Campbell’s quest for justice brought to Banaue

LAGAWE, Ifugao–The search for justice on the death of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell came back home to Banaue town April 8, exactly one year after her death.

The trial for the Campbell killing is set to resume today as the Regional Trial Court branch 34 finally holds trial at its permanent home at the old Banaue municipal town hall, moving from its temporary station in this capital town.

The trial of lone accused Juan Donald Duntugan, along with other cases handled by RTC branch 34, has been held at the old Sangguniang Panlalawigan building at the capitol compound here, due to the previous lack of a suitable building to serve as courthouse in Banaue.

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Blockade

N. Vizcaya villagers dig in vs Australian mining company

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya–Residents of a remote village in this upland town have set up a barricade to prevent a foreign company from clearing their land and building a dam for its gold-copper project.

About 100 villagers of Didipio have been holding a round-the-clock watch over a blockade they have set up along the road in the sub-village of Dinauyan, site of the proposed mine tailings dam for the $117-million project of OceanaGold Philippines Inc., an Australian firm.

Village leaders and officers of the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (Desama) are protesting the demolition of houses and the bulldozing of their lands allegedly by the company, despite the landowners’ objection and the company’s nonpayment of its obligations.

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