During the mission, the local residents reported that they are constantly harassed by military troops, their paramilitia and local assets.
Soldiers belonging to the Army’s 12th Infantry Batallion reportedly told the people not to support groups outside their community. They added that before the mission came, they were warned not to cooperate because they will only be used for their money-making and propaganda against the government.”
Greg Ratin, Secretary General of the DEFEND PATRIMONY who led the investigative mission said that they were harassed by military intelligence operatives and their assets posing as “vendors selling VCD players and stereo radios.”
Alternative people’s mineral policy
Trixie Concepcion, a geologist from Defend Patrimony national office, clarified that they are not against mining, but stand for a mineral policy that is part of a national industrialization plan.
“We cannot just allow a king of mining policy that allows mining companies especially multinational companies to search, open, rake our minerals, destroy environment and communities, and leave the country with their super profits,” she said.
She said that the government’s mineral policy should be selective, responsive to the needs of national industrialization, protective of natural resources and the people.
“Such policy must be comprehensively and carefully planned by the government and all the stake holders,” she added.
“What we have now is a destructive policy, favoring only foreign interests,” she stressed.
Cha-cha to worsen plunder in the Philippines
The team also chided government statements that Cha-Cha will protect the country’s national economy and patrimony from plunder.
“Cha-cha will not improve the mining policy in the country, but will only worsen it. The advocates of cha-cha want to completely remove the remaining constitutional obstacles to the sell-out of our resources to foreign interests,” said Peter Benayres, a forester and former researcher of DENR-Environmental Research Bureau.
Benayres said: “We must muster a stronger and broader forces, and wage sustained advocacy not only to frustrate the cha-cha scheme of the government, but also protect our resources from all forms of exploitation and plunder.” (Bulatlat.com)