Diwalwal farmers, Lumads protest vigil vs. Diwalwal takeover
Diwalwal, Compostela Valley Province --- Lumads and members of NAGKADIWA (Nagkahiusang Katawhan sa Diwalwal), a local peoples’ organization, held an overnight protest rally at the office of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC) in light of the looming takeover of large scale mining bidders/corporations of Mt. Diwata gold rush area.
The protest is expected to be the first in a series to pressure the incoming administration of Pres-apparent Noynoy Aquino to heed the clamor of Diwalwal folks and small-scale miners to stop the sale of Diwalwal.The bidding of the 729-hectare Mt. Diwata mining site was reportedly reset from June 7 to July 30, a move which Nagkadiwa and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan believe will not appease the fears of the eventual buy-out of Diwalwal. The buy-out will result to the massive dislocation of the more than 45,000 residents whose family members are mine workers employed by local small-scale to medium-scale mining corporations.
Local residents are alarmed that full-blown large-scale mining operations in Diwalwal will completely siphon off the rich gold mineral resource of the province.
“Ang pag-abuso sa mga pribadong kumpanya sa bahandi dinha sa Diwalwal dugay ng nag-dala og kagubot ug trahedya sa mga lumulupyo sa Diwalwal. Ang pagdumala sa PMDC ilalom sa direktang pamunoan ni Pres. Arroyo wala nakahatag og pagpahapsay sa industriya sa pagmina sa Diwalwal. Samtang pwede unta nga himuong dakong potensyal kini aron mahatagan sa gobyerno og ensaktong serbisyo ang katawhan, ila hinuong gipasagdan ang Diwalwal aron aduna sila'y rason sa pagbaligya niini sa mga higanteng korporasyon nga gipondohan ug kakuntsabo sa mga langyaw,” said Rey Elijorde, spokesperson of NAGKADIWA.
NAGKADIWA mobilized more than 400 Diwalwal residents for the protest action. Multisectoral groups based in Davao and other areas in Compostela Valley also gave their support.
Philex and anti-mining woes
The group also pointed out the nuances behind the claim of PMDC that only Filipino-owned corporations are allowed to bid for the 729 parcel, saying that among the bidders, Philex would most likely win the bid.
“Philex as the country’s largest mining company is definitely controlled as well by foreign corporations and countries. Philex does the dirty work of drilling and open pit mining only for the minerals to be sold – off to private corporations who gain from the high prices of metal in the international market,” said Francis Morales, acting secretary general of PANALIPDAN Southern Mindanao.
PANALIPDAN, an environmental rights organization, adds that large scale mining operations in the country is tainted by distrust and wide opposition by the local communities and civil society groups due to the environmental hazards it poses.
Gruesome environmental tragedies resulting from large scale mining operations abound --- Marcoppers’ mine spill in Marinduque (1982) Manila Mining’s cyanide pollution in Suirgao del Norte (1987), Benguet Corp.’s water pollution in King-king Comval (1989), Lepanto’s pollution of the Abra River (since 1950’s); Atlas Consolidated Mining’s discharge of acidic water into the Sapangdaku River (1999); Masara landslide (2008).
Records show that Philex has its own share of water pollution cases in separate cases in 1990, 1995, and 1992 with its copper mining operations in Benguet.
“What makes mining the most destructive form of economic activity is that by nature it is extractive. Worst, the deregulated local mining industry and the lack of protectionist measures employed by the government gives free reign for mining corporations to extract our wealth without limit, without control, even at the cost our environment and people's lives" said Morales.
Last year, Governor Uy has declared Diwalwal as a geographical hazardous area and ordered the relocation of the mine workers’ families. However, local groups and environmental groups question why despite the hazards involved, the governor gave clearance for mining activities to continue.
Is there a better option?
Elijorde said since last year, their group together with other environmental and PANALIPDAN Southern Mindanao and PASAKA have been campaigning for the reversal of the sell-out of Diwalwal. In an appeal forwarded to the Supreme Court Environmental Justice forum held in Davao City last year, PANALIPDAN appealed for the stop of the foreign and large-scale takeover of Diwalwal.
Instead, PANALIPDAN – SMR said the better option is to nationalize Mt. Diwalwal.
“By nationalization we mean the state should take over the control of the industry, regulate and plan its usage. In particular, we should reverse the policy of exporting our minerals. These minerals should instead be used for the needs of the people and not for the benefit of the huge capitalist nations such as the US, China, Canada and Australia with their corporations that have anchored their economic profits and industrial mineral needs on our own resources,” said Morales.#
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