“Aquino shows no regard for the essential issue in the indigenous people’s struggle for the very life of their communities, their children, their way of life, their future,” Luis Jalandoni of the NDFP said, citing a petition filed by the Tribal Coalition of Mindanao et al before the Supreme Court on May 30 against the same mining companies, which were attacked by the NPA.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines lashed out at President Benigno S. Aquino III for acting “as if he is merely a caretaker of foreign corporations and local big compradors.”
On October 3, NPA guerrillas stormed three mining companies in Claver, Surigao del Norte, where they burned heavy equipment.
Aquino condemned the attacks and immediately ordered security officials to review operational procedures.
“No one should doubt our commitment to the safety of investors and our fellow citizens, who deserve to be able to pursue their livelihood without threats of extortion and violence to disturb them,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda also said the military and the police have implemented immediate actions to ensure the safety of mining companies in the country.
In reaction, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chairman, said Aquino “thinks only in the narrow terms of favoring foreign investments, even if extremely exploitative.” “He is concerned only with providing military security for them.”
Jalandoni said Aquino completely misses the following points:
1. the extraction of nonrenewable resources such as mineral ores for export at dirt cheap prices kills Philippine prospects for industrialization,
2. the indigenous people are subjected to dispossession of land, mass dislocation and ruination of their lives and culture; and
3. the unbridled mining poisons the environment and damages agriculture and other forms of livelihood.
“Aquino is unmindful of the fact that the rivers and creeks as well as the coastal waters of Claver in Surigao del Norte are being polluted heavily,” Jalandoni said.
Contrary to reports, the assault was not triggered by non-payment of revolutionary taxes but a form of punitive action.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat.com, the NDFP Northeastern Mindanao Region said the mining companies were punished for “wanton indiscriminate mining operations in the mountains of Surigao del Norte that has inflicted irreparable damage to the environment and natural resources, and for the blatant violation of the rights of the Lumad people, exploitation and repression of workers and the displacement of peasant livelihood.”
“Aquino shows no regard for the essential issue in the indigenous people’s struggle for the very life of their communities, their children, their way of life, their future,” Jalandoni said, citing a petition filed by the Tribal Coalition of Mindanao et al before the Supreme Court on May 30 against the same mining companies. The petition for a writ of Kalikasan called for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order against Taganita Mining Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., Shenzhou Mining Group Corp. and Marcventures Mining Development Corp. The first two mining corporations stated above were attacked by the NPA on October 3. The third corporation that was attacked is a sister company of Taganita Mining Corp.
The respondents are charged with “destroying and polluting the ancestral domain” of the petitioners “by failing to provide proper siltation dams for their nickel mines, thereby irreversibly damaging marine resources, mangroves, corals and created serious health risks to the prejudice of the lives, health and properties of the tribes and inhabitants of the Provinces of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.”
The petition stated that the University of the Philippines Natural Sciences Research Institute (UP-NSRI) tested the water and soil samples taken from the mentioned river and water systems and found nickel levels as high as 190 mg/L while the maximum acceptable level of nickel in drinking water should only be 0.02 mg/L according to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).
“The policy of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is to ban mining corporations that destroy the livelihood, the environment and aspiration for industrial development and violate the rights and welfare of the indigenous people and the entire Filipino nation. It is emphatically the firm policy of the revolutionary movement to protect the indigenous people and their ancestral domain and to prevent further damage to the environment,” Jalandoni said.
“Instead of being worried about the threat level or trying to lure investors, the Aquino government must heed the just demands and deep aspirations of the indigenous people and other sectors of Philippine society,” Jalandoni said.
Lacierda and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said the attack had made it difficult for the government to pursue negotiations. Deles noted that peace talks are more difficult when there is no accompanying cease-fire on the ground.
In an earlier interview with Bulatlat.com, Jalandoni said a civil war is going on and the revolutionary forces will not adhere to a long-term ceasefire without concrete benefits to the Filipino people.