Scrutiny

House probes Aussie mining firm’s ‘abuses’

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya–The House Committee on Cultural Communities has launched an investigation into the alleged abuses committed by Australian firm OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. against indigenous peoples in an upland village in Kasibu town.

House Resolution No. 594, filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, seeks to look into cases of illegal demolition of houses and ejection of Ifugao and Bugkalot natives in remote Didipio village, as the company clears the land for its planned US$117-million gold-copper project.

“Tribal residents have expressed disgust over the rapid loss of their rice lands amid the clearing operations by OceanaGold. Village officials have also denounced the alleged haphazard destruction of their water sources,” the resolution said.

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Warning

N. Vizcaya solon cautions DENR execs: Watch your moves

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla on Sunday warned environment officials to be “more careful” in directing a foreign mining company to resume operations and defying an order of stoppage from the provincial government.

Padilla came to the defense of his allies in the provincial government after Environment Sec. Lito Atienza, in a media statement, warned them for doing a supposed illegal act in halting the earth-moving activities of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. in upland Didipio village in Kasibu town.

“Nobody can stop the governor, not even Atienza. I am warning the secretary, that being a former city mayor, and a person in authority,he should not be violating the provisions of law; he should uphold the law,” the lawmaker said.

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Anomalous

N. Vizcaya’s ‘luxury buses’ draw flak

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Officials and residents here denounced the alleged anomalous purchase by the provincial government of two brand new luxury buses worth P10.2 million, at a time when the country was suffering from severe food crisis and high power rates.

Board member Patricio Dumlao Jr. said the “questionable” purchase of a new 45-seater and a 25-seater Hyundai buses was made without the required public bidding, raising suspicion that this could be another graft-ridden deal entered into by unscrupulous provincial officials.

“This is highly anomalous because the province had to buy from a Korean supplier through direct purchase, when there are many other suppliers in the country that could have provided the same vehicles, maybe at less cost to the government,” Dumlao said.

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Ugly fight

Gov’s allies want ‘kalabasa’ award for DENR’s Atienza

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–A provincial board member here on Wednesday filed a resolution awarding the “kalabasa” (squash) award to Environment Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza, for “mishandling” the
controversy between the provincial government and a foreign mining firm operating here.

Board member Efren Quiben said Atienza deserves the award for favoring and defending OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm, and “betraying” the local government code which empowers provinces to collect quarry taxes.

squash

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Bluff

N. Vizcaya gov’t squeezes Aussie mining firm

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The provincial board on Wednesday continued to add pressure on a foreign company here when it initiated a resolution withdrawing its support to the firm’s gold-copper project over its “blatant” refusal to pay quarry taxes to the local government.

The 13-member Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) voted to pass on first reading the resolution filed by board member Edgardo Balgos, which also took to task OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm, for the “unfulfilled promises” as well as human rights violations allegedly committed against the people of Didipio in Kasibu town.

Observers who witnessed Wednesday’s SP deliberations, however, noted that the resolution could be a bluff, an arm-twisting strategy to compel the company to negotiate with the provincial government.

OceanaGold Didipio

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Shut down

N. Vizcaya gov’t stops mining operations over tax dues

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – The provincial government has blocked earth-moving operations by an Australian mining firm for its refusal to pay taxes imposed by the local government.

On Tuesday, a group of about 50 provincial officials, department heads and police and security personnel went to Barangay Didipio in Kasibu town to stop the operations of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. and Delta Corp., a subcontractor of earth-moving activities there.

Lawyer Desiderio Perez, provincial legal officer, said officials, led by Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, have vowed to stay in the area to prevent the company from resuming its activities until it agrees to pay the estimated P30 million business license and quarry fees.
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Apathy

Tribes score mining firm for ‘lack of concern’ for villagers

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Tribal leaders in an upland community here on Tuesday criticized the supposed apathy shown by an Australian mining firm by claiming that its project was underway, despite widespread clamor for its stoppage over controversies.

Village officials of Didipio in upland Kasibu town assailed the alleged claims by officials of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. that downplay the conflicts surrounding its construction of the US$117-million gold copper project in the area.

Makitatayon ti agpayso nga kulay daytoy nga kumpania nga awan nga pulos panangimasakitda ti tattao, ta ti napateg laeng kaniada ket ti minas (We are now seeing the true color of this company, that it does not care at all about the welfare of the people because all it cares about is the mines),” said village councilor Carmen Ananayo.
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