The spokesperson of an environmentalist group in Southern Mindanao said that the setting up of the Investment Defense Force (IDF) and the mining liberalization policy of the Arroyo regime ‘further strengthen the previous military support granted by the Arroyo regime to large-scale and foreign mining corporations.’
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
A broad alliance of environmental groups and people’s organizations said that military operations in two provinces in Mindanao are being conducted ‘to wipe out all types of people’s resistance to mining.’
Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) lambasted the ongoing military operations in the hinterlands of Compostela Valley, particularly in the municipality of New Bataan and in other parts of Davao Oriental.
Francis Morales, Panalipdan-SMR spokesperson said, “Militarization is very common in areas where community resistance is strong which resulted to displacement, intimidation and human rights abuses…”
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), there are 37 mining applications in New Bataan, an area with deposits of gold, silver and copper.
Mining corporations that have applied for mining explorations in New Bataan are Eastern Horizon Mining Corporation with total area of 5,682.448 hectares; Batoto Resources Corporation with 5,101.8616 hectares; New Compostela Valley Exploration Corporation with 2,685.872 hectares; First Northern Ventures, Inc. with 4,212.338 hectares; and PhilCo Mining Corporation with 2,587.146 hectares.
Morales said that the setting up of the Investment Defense Force (IDF) and the mining liberalization policy of the Arroyo regime ‘further strengthen the previous military support granted by the Arroyo regime to large-scale and foreign mining corporations.’
The IDF was announced by Department of National Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro during the recent 8th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition 2008.
The IDF, said Teodoro in his message, aims to address the operational and security concerns in various mining areas, power and other infrastructure facilities to protect people, properties, investments and National Government projects.
Teodoro also assured mining companies that the military will assist them in providing security in their areas of operations.
Morales said, “Part of the said policy is to increase the recruitment of CAFGUs (Cititzens Armed Force Geographical Unit) and to establish Barangay Defense System (BDS) that will augment the security for ongoing and proposed mining sites and other anti-people and anti-environment projects.”
Panalipdan-SMR also condemned Maj. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division for labeling the New Bataan as ‘influenced municipality’ and ‘operations center’ of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Morales said, “Such statement is an overt justification of militarizing and terrorizing the people of New Bataan, including the local government unit officials, to facilitate and protect the explorations and operations of mining corporations.”
The group also raised alarm that the mining explorations and operations will affect the integrity of various ecosystems in the area such as Mt. Kampalili-Tagub Range Complex, a known Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), and Andap and Caragan watershed areas that supply ample amount of the water for residential and agricultural uses in the province.
The group called for a stop to what it calls ‘mining-instigated military operations’ in New Bataan and other areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. (Bulatlat.com)