By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility for the torching of a drilling machine of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) at Colalo village of Mankayan, Benguet on April 25, 2013.
In a statement sent to media, the Jennifer “Maria” Cariño Command of the NPA-Benguet said the action is a punishment to the mining company, and in support and solidarity with the people of Mankayan and with people of other places against the destructive mining operations of LCMC and other giant mining companies in the country.
The drilling operations in Colalo are part of the planned construction of Tailings Dam 5B of LCMC for its expansion of mining operations in Mankayan and the nearby municipality of Tadian, Mt. Province.
The NPA stated that the setting up of the tailings dam 5B means the grabbing anew of many hectares of land of the people of Barangays Colalo and Bedbed by LCMC. In the 1990s, the statement mentioned the displacement of Colalo residents as LCMC built its Tailings Dam 5A.
“The LCMC’s mining operations will mean the grabbing and destruction of hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands, forests and other parts of the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples of Mankayan and Tadian,” the statement read.
The LCMC is owned by Yap, Disini, Tecson and other big mining businesses in the country. It is also the biggest mining company and with longest mining operation in the country. At present, LCMC in partnership with the world’s largest mining company Gold Fields.
“For more than 70 years of operations, LCMC has inflicted damage on the lives of the people of Mankayan and other neighboring areas in Benguet, Mt. Province, towns along the Abra River, and parts of Ilocos Sur …” the NPA said.
The operations of LCMC brought massive destruction to the environment, lands and livelihood of indigenous peoples of Mankayan and other neighboring places. The rivers inside Mankayan, the Abra River flowing to the many towns of Ilocos Sur and Abra are contaminated by poisonous chemicals released by LCMC operations. It also cited the sinking of schools and houses in Colalo and Poblacion villages of Mankayan.
The statement stressed that there is no truth that LCMC provided employment for the workers.
“For many years, and until today, it is the practice of LCMC to terminate workers nearing their retirement to avoid its obligation of paying up to worker’s benefits like pension,” the NPA said.
The NPA also said that many workers who were victims of accidents in the mines were not properly compensated or allowed their legitimate benefits. The NPA stated the continuous massive retrenchments of workers to make way for replacements with contractual employees.
The NPA also criticized government for collaborating with giant mining companies instead of looking after its citizens. It cited the issuance of many laws to give freedom to mining companies to plunder the land like the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the latest order of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III of centralizing the power to the national government to approve new mining applications.
The NPA also denounced the deployment of military troops to the areas with mining applications and where there is strong opposition from the people.
The NPA stated that foreign mining investment is not the solution for developing the nation instead foreign investment will only crush the country’s economy. Northern Dispatch