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.

On Monday, OceanaGold came out with its first-quarter report saying the company was “on schedule” in its “pre-stripping (activities) of its open-pit mine” this month, in preparation for its targeted start of gold and copper production in February 2009.

A private contractor, the report said, was in the middle of building the run-of-mine storage pad and digging for the processing plant and permanent camp sites, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2008.

But the company concealed the conflicts it has encountered in Didipio, village leaders said, mainly in the acquisition of access rights over private lands and in the clearing of the area and demolition of houses.

“OceanaGold must show honesty towards its investors, by admitting that issues continue to hound the project. In order to prove that it is a responsible company, it should meet these issues head-on and not set them aside,” Peter Duyapat, president of the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association (Desama), a people’s organization, said in the dialect.

This writer tried to contact Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold’s vice president for communications and external affairs, but he did not take calls to his mobile phone or respond to text messages on Tuesday.

Since last month, tribal residents, composed mainly of Ifugao natives, have been manning two barricades in the sub-village of Dinauyan, in an attempt to block the entry of the firm’s heavy equipment that are attempting to clear the area for its mine tailings dam.

Pleas for the company to first look at the problems before it proceeds with other activities have not been heeded, Duyapat said in a phone interview.

He cited how OceanaGold “ignored” the request of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for the company to suspend its operations until complaints raised by villagers were resolved, including supposed non-payment of compensation to landowners, as well as various human rights violations.

In response, company lawyers denied the allegations, and maintained that the OceanaGold’s operations are all within the legal bounds of the rights granted to it by the Philippine government as a mining contractor.

Didipio residents expressed outrage over how the national government, too, has supposedly been tolerating the show of lack of concern by OceanaGold for tribal communities here that are being affected by the construction of its large-scale mining project.

Duyapat said the government’s recent conduct has shown that it has abandoned its supposed function to regulate the mining activities of foreign firms that are found to be violating Philippine laws.

Last week, OceanaGold and environment officials dismissed a cease-and-desist order issued April 9 by Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, due to the supposed lack of a permit for OceanaGold’s quarry activities in the area.

Local officials said the company should also pay quarry taxes under the provincial government’s revenue code.

In an April 22 letter, Secretary Lito Atienza came to OceanaGold’s defense, saying earth-moving activities in Didipio are already covered by the financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) granted to the firm by the Philippine government.

Atienza expressed concern that Cuaresma’s cease-and-desist order “has resulted in the disruption or undue delay of OceanaGold’s operations”.

“The FTAA is a valid and existing contract between the…Philippines and OceanaGold, and any act by government and its subdivisions tending to interfere with the parties’ rights and obligations is certainly not conducive to the stability of contractual relations,” he said.

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16 thoughts on “Apathy

  1. You can say whatever you want, “virgie”. But all that is just empty talk unless you sue me for my “violations”.

    You have the guts to demand the truth. But why, oh why, do you constantly hide under an assumed identity? 😀

  2. “Virgie”, listen to yourself:
    “if the heat is too much get out of the kitchen”
    “i will miss you when you are gone”

    Clearly, you so desperately want me gone. That’s not nice for a person in his/her twilight years.

    I’m a pain in the b*tt for some people..and I’m lovin’ it. 😀

  3. ha ha melvin dear boy you dont upset me i have thick skin just tell all of the truth, and porgi one you are so cute when you are angry

  4. there are many things that make me proud to say i’m a vizcayano. and why not? Nueva Vizcaya is the citrus bowl of the Philippines! it is also one of the largest producer of mango, ginger and karabasa to mention few! and people don’t talk about these without mentioning “Kasibu”, the great great Kasibu. Who says Kasibu will not develop without large scale mining? who says Kasibu will only have roads and school and blablabla through large scale mining? only fools believe in that. Kasibu stood for years and years without large scale mining and Kasibu and Nueva Vizcaya as a whole will without it!

  5. oh i remember MVMPC, the Malabing Valley Multipurpose Coop, one of my favorites. it has received numerous awards from the national gov’t because of it’s commendable performance! it’s just a pity ‘coz a big time termite, the mining company, is digging its way and, bullying along, to suck out the water resource that feeds the valley.

  6. This is interesting:

    A frequent visitor, who introduces him/herself in this forum as “Geraldine, Quirino constituent”, and who has been profusely defending the mining project, has an IP address of 121.54.104.130.

    Another commenter, who goes by the name of “estudyante from belet”, and who has been so piqued by the stoppage of OceanaGold’s operations, also has an IP address of 121.54.104.130.

    Still another commenter, who registered himself/herself as “J.M of San Marcos”, and was also very critical of my stories, also has an IP address of 121.54.104.130.

    Then another one, who gave the name “Didipio resident”, also is critical of my stories. He/she also has an IP address of 121.54.104.130.

    Hmmm..it’s quite funny how my critics post their comments on one and the same computer. Or could these be the work of just one person?

    Darn..just when I thought I had a lot of readers.. 😦

  7. Quote: [Last week, OceanaGold and environment officials dismissed a cease-and-desist order issued April 9 by Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, due to the supposed lack of a permit for OceanaGold’s quarry activities in the area.]

    >>Gov. Cuaresma should have filed a case against oceana. That is more lawful and judicious rather than throwing profane words to oceana people. I know for some tama lang ang pagiging bastos ni Gov. dun at ng mga tao niya.

    Quote: [there are many things that make me proud to say i’m a vizcayano. and why not? Nueva Vizcaya is the citrus bowl of the Philippines! it is also one of the largest producer of mango, ginger and karabasa to mention few! and people don’t talk about these without mentioning “Kasibu”, the great great Kasibu. Who says Kasibu will not develop without large scale mining? who says Kasibu will only have roads and school and blablabla through large scale mining? only fools believe in that. Kasibu stood for years and years without large scale mining and Kasibu and Nueva Vizcaya as a whole will without it!]

    >>Karen dear we are talking of Barangay Didipio alone. Ang layo na nang sinasabi mo Ineng. Hindi naman aabot ang mining po sa center ng kasibu, pagkalayo-layo mo na po. Do you know how many kilometers from the municipality to that project site? Punta ka muna dun via Kasibu, I suggest, before you make such comments, okey?

  8. >> “Karen dear we are talking of Barangay Didipio alone. Ang layo na nang (sic) sinasabi mo Ineng. Hindi naman aabot ang mining po sa center ng kasibu, pagkalayo-layo mo na po. Do you know how many kilometers from the municipality to that project site? Punta ka muna dun via Kasibu, I suggest, before you make such comments, okey?”

    Geraldine, Quirino constituent/estudyante from belet/J.M. of San Marcos/Didipio resident.. 😀

    Sikansa ti naulaw, kakang..

    With due respect, I think you are the one confused with your geography, or worse, uninformed (syn. ignorant) about the OceanaGold mining project.

    The OceanaGold FTAA covers more than 37,000 hectares of Kasibu and Quirino. It is now trying to enter barangay Papaya for exploration, but is facing resistance just the same.

    https://gascon.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/outta-here/

    Papaya is watershed of three rivers that provide irrigation to the citrus plantations of Malabing Valley.

    Besides, the people of Didipio, taking cue from the Malabing model, are trying to jumpstart the citrus industry there, too. Until OceanaGold’s bulldozers came scraping their lands.

    Many of them, however, still have their orchards intact. This is the reason for their strong conviction to oppose the OceanaGold project at all costs. This is the alternative that Didipio people want over mining, which pro-mining campaigners refuse to see.

  9. i can be a perfect tour guide to didipio.

    the FTAA (of oceana/camc whatever) covers an estimated 60% of the total land area of kasibu municipality. they fall mostly on the mamparang mountains. kongkong valley and poblacion are covered, too.

    the mamparang mountains feed didipio rivers and creeks. didipio river (converged) is a tributary to diduyon river which forms big part of addalam river and flows down to cagayan river.

    activities in didipio affects not only its neighboring barangays but even the farmers and other folks down all the way to cagayan river.

    Geraldine (quirino constituent) do you know how many kilometers from australia or new zealand to didipio? why come here to destroy and bully?

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