Lepanto Accused of Blocking Medical Mission
Militarization heightens as Dole
A medical mission was
prevented by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) from
delivering health services to the more than 1,000 striking workers and
their families. This, however, proves to be the least of the union’s
concern as military and police presence is increased in the area. They
anticipate a dispersal anytime now, reminiscent of the strike in 2003
which resulted in two casualties.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY —
The giant gold producer Lepanto
Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) last June 7 blocked the medical team
that was supposed to provide health services to the 1,687 striking workers
and their families.
The Community Health
Education Services and Training in the Corrdillera Region (Chestcore), a
Baguio-based non-government organization, sent a medical mission after it
learned that LCMCo ordered last June 2 the closure of its hospital. The
company reportedly ordered all its medical personnel to take a vacation
leave at the height of the strike and advised patients to stay home.
Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) condemned the deployment of more military
and police forces in the area as the DoLE issued a return-to-work order
for the striking workers. The forces beefed up company security headed by
former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Col. Wilhelm Doromal,
Northern Dispatch sources in the area revealed.
“This is not a war
situation, the workers are unarmed, and yet Lepanto is denying medicines
and personnel from getting through its gates,” said Dr. Ana Marie R.
Leung, executive director of Chestcore. The latter is involved in
community health advocacy.
Leung added that the
move is a violation of the rights of the workers and their families to
health services as she asserts that medical practitioners should be
allowed to render services in such a situation.
“In fact, even in a
war situation,” Leung said, “medical personnel are respected and allowed
passage to deliver health services.”
A member of the team
narrates that the security forces claimed that the order not to allow any
services for its workers came from LCMCo officials. The team tried to
coordinate with the municipal officials to get a permit to service
striking workers but to no avail.
The team visited the
hospital and did not find any personnel around. They learned that on June
3, LCMCo management allegedly ordered personnel of their hospital not to
admit patients because workers are on strike. Hospital personnel
reportedly included two nurses but there were no personnel on the next
day, they added.
enabled the medical team to conduct check-up and distributed medicines.
The team first diagnosed hundreds of workers and families at the picket
lines in Nayak, Buaki and Tubo.
The team found a
prevalence of diarrhea, hypertension and respiratory infections among
strikers, women and children. Chestcore added that another team of medical
practitioners is in the area for the health services of the workers and
LEU President Ninian
Langagan claimed that the company cut the water supply of most workers’
houses on June 6 and restored it only on June 10. He added that the
electricity in the workers’ houses were allegedly also cut off at 6 a.m.
and restored it at 6 p.m. Regular electricity was provided starting June
Leung said that
cutting water supply aggravates the health situation of workers and their
families. “This is another violation of human rights as water is a basic
need,” Leung said. “Many diseases are directly linked to lack of a safe
Lawyer Weldy Manlong,
administrative services manager, denied that the LCMCo cut off the water
supply. The pipes from the Mill Site were cut by unidentified persons
while those at Gate 5 were the makings of the union, said Manlong.
But the union
believed that this is the company’s way of forcing them to go back to
work. Since the management realized that what they did are violations of
workers’ rights, they restored all these services, the union officials
Lepanto has an
undetermined number of security forces who are allegedly former and
discharged members of the AFP, claimed a Northern Dispatch source
from Mankayan. The security force is headed by former AFP official Wilhelm
Doromal, a member of the Rebolusyunaryong Alyansang Makabayan (RAM).
issued an order on June 8 to gate security guards not to allow LEU
vehicles from entering and leaving Gate 3. This was denounced by LEU as
their vehicles are used to transport food to the workers and their
the strike areas
The striking workers
observed that even before they launched the strike on June 2, the 54th
IB headed by Lt. Ben Anongos has been deployed in the areas of the
striking workers. Anongos is a member of the paramilitary Cordilera
People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) which is now integrated into the AFP.
Maslian revealed that
the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) in the Cordillera
Administrative Regon (CAR) and members of the PNP headed by Gaab arrived
at the strike area before 12 noon last June 10. Maslian however said that
no untoward incident happened between the police and the workers.
Nordis / Posted by Bulatlat
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