By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Angered and disgusted with the recent intrusion of Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. (CEXCI) in their hometown, residents of Tawang village, Balbalan sought help from the office of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Kalinga to stop the mining activities of CEXCI in the village.
The residents brought with them a report of their inspection in the mine site and a petition to stop CEXCI’s mine operation. They told CPA-Kalinga and the Northern Dispatch that they want the mine firm out of their land because its operation is already polluting their water sources and killing their environment.
The Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon iti Tawang (TMTA), a group of 62 men and women from the mine affected communities of villages Aciga, Bassao, Mabnawag, and Tawang Proper who trooped to the mine site and made an actual inspection in the ongoing exploration activities of the said mine firm “in the watershed of Kanagsian Brook” prepared a brief inspection report.
The TMTA report showed that there were already 14 holes drilled aside from the holes in the first site. Five bunkhouses were already built. Moreover, a tailings pond was constructed and is flowing to Tawang brook which residents blamed for the death of two horses that drunk from the brook. One carabao, the report said, is also dying. Also in the site were various sizes of drilling pipes.
The report added that on the group’s way to the site, they met men carrying drilling pipes. The group talked to the men and found out that these men would replace the drilling pipes to bigger and longer ones that can drill up to the sea level. Imelda Lote of the TMTA asked the men who they are and their connection to the mining company. The men claimed that they are from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and they are there to monitor the operations. Lote then asked the DENR why are they not stopping the activities of CEXCI despite the protests. The employees of DENR answered that it is only an exploration.
Lote further asked th DENR where they are planning to relocate the residents. The latter, however, answered in what the protesters said as disrespectful by saying, “to planet Venus.”
On the other hand, one lady from the mine affected protesters asked for the identification card of the person they were talking to and found out that they are from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Baguio City.
The residents who went to the office of CPA Kalinga are strongly calling for the immediate stoppage of mining activities in their barangay to stop the destruction of their ancestral land especially that the mine firm is already drilling within their watershed area.
TMTA believes that CEXCI is not just conducting exploration activities. Instead, it is already conducting actual mining activities. Further, TIMTA said that the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) for the exploration was secured fraudulently.
On December 10, 2012 in the initial inspection made by TMTA in the mine site, the group already appealed to the concerned officials to stop the exploration.
Meanwhile, in August last year, CEXCI constructed laboratory buildings without building permit, environmental clearance and FPIC in the jurisdiction of Nambaran, Tabuk City. This project was welcomed by protest actions of the community for the fear that the laboratory would pollute the Alyog creek and for not recognizing the rights of the community for FPIC since the residents affected with the project are indigenous peoples belonging to the Tulgao tribe. Northern Dispatch