Revoke OceanaGold’s Permit
Environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE for its part lauded the CHR’s resolution, and said that the government should heed the Commission’s recommendation for the withdrawal of the FTAA with the company.
“Companies like OceanaGold that violate human rights and destroy the environment have no reason to stay and should not be allowed to operate in our country. President Aquino should immediately rescind the OGC’s mineral agreement if he is truly concerned about the environment and if his ‘responsible mining’ advocacy is pro-people and not pro-corporate,” said Clemente G. Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“The local indigenous people’s organizations, environmental groups, the local churches, municipal government, the provincial government, and even the lower house of Congress have the same findings and position as the CHR. We want OceanaGold to be kicked out of Nueva Vizcaya, it should pack up and go immediately. Only the corrupt and pro-mining administration of Gloria Arroyo allowed OceanaGold to stay in the past.”
Bautista explained that during the 14th Congress, the Committee on National Cultural Communities investigated mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya in 2008 and discovered that Oceana Gold committed several violations. The committee reported that the firm did not properly follow the required Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, it violated the rights of the indigenous communities, and failed to report its FTAA to Congress which is required by law. The House committee also recommended the reprocessing of the mining agreement of OceanaGold.
An Ifugao driver points to the bullet holes on his jeepney after he was shot at by a security officer working for Australian company Oceana Gold Resources. This incident, which occurred in 2009, is just one of the many rights violations allegedly committed by the company. (File photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / bulatlat.com)
In the meantime, Defend Patrimony, a multisectoral alliance opposing foreign mining, said that the Aquino administration should prove that it is the opposite of the previous Arroyo administration, which, at the expense of indigenous peoples and the environment, had allowed foreign mining companies to plunder our mineral resources and degrade our ecosystem.
Pia Malayao, an indigenous leader from Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and spokesperson of Defend Patrimony, said the Aquino government should stop and reverse its policy of mining liberalization. “As long this policy continues, the operation of foreign mining companies would continue to result to human rights violations and displacement of indigenous people’s communities,” she said. explained.
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK) in the meantime said that the national government should hold the government agencies involved in the violations in Dipidio accountable.
“The illegal acts and violations committed by OceanaGold, with the aid of other institutions should be immediately addressed for justice to prevail and prevent similar human rights violations in other communities also confronted with mining issues,” it said in a statement.
There was no immediate reaction from the company to the CHR’s findings. Reports last month quoted OceanaGold officials as saying that the company would resume operations this month. “Preparations are now under way to reboot operations on the first half of 2011,” OceanaGold chairman Jose Leviste told The Manila Standard in December.
The paper also quoted Environment Secretary Jesus Paje as saying that OceanaGold “might start commercial production of its Didipio copper-gold mine project by 2013.” “It’s a good thing that OceanaGold may start operating by 2013. The company already has funding for the project,” Paje said, according to the Manila Standard.
Company officials have said the Didipio project has probable reserves of 29.7 million metric tons (MT) of ore with an average of 1.48 grams of gold per MT and 0.57% copper.