Waging war for gold

Kalikasan PNE press statement

29 September 2017

Battalions of military troops and aerial bombing runs have recently been
directed at anti-mining communities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya
and Batangas.

In the town of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, a fact-finding mission led by the
Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Inang Kalikasan (ANNVIK)
last September 16, 2017 documented the forced evacuation of at least 133
families across three villages due to more than a week of military
combat operations by the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army
(84th IBPA).

The barangays of Kakiduguen, Dine, and Biyoy were the sites of fierce
people’s barricades against the mining exploration activities of
Australian company Royalco and the expansion attempts of Australian
mining transnational corporation OceanaGold.

Meanwhile, elements of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and the 730th Combat
Group of the Philippine Air Force recently spearheaded strafing and
aerial bombing operations across Mt. Banoi, considered the fifth most
biologically diverse mountain in the country.

Communities around Mt. Banoi in Batangas City and Lobo Town were known
to have opposed encroaching large-scale mining projects by Canadian
companies MRL Gold and Egerton Gold, both affiliated with Australian
miner Red Mountain Mining.

Initial reports indicated that at least 400 families in communities in
Mt. Banoi were displaced by military operations. There were also
unconfirmed reports of at least two civilians killed in the army’s
combat operations. As of writing, Karapatan ST’s attempt to conduct a
fact-finding mission in Mt. Banoi is being derailed by the Regional
Public Safety Battalion of the Philippine National Police.

We are now seeing the full implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s
pitiless declaration to “flatten the hills” in an all-out war against
the communist rebels of the New People’s Army—and civilian communities
are being deliberately targeted.

The AFP clearly does not distinguish between defenseless peasants and
armed insurgents. Local leaders of KIRED, one of the people’s
organizations who mounted anti-mining barricades in Kasibu, were branded
as NPA supporters by the 84th IBPA troops militarizing their communities.

Days after the 84th IBPA’s combat operations, soldiers conducted a
seminar to the villagers of Barangay Dine. Non-government organizations
in the area, most of which are environmental groups, were accused as NPA
fronts.

These are the latest systematic attacks against the rights of
environmental defenders in the Philippines. Under the Duterte regime, a
total of 23 environmental defenders have already been killed. Fifty
seven percent (57%) of these cases involved anti-mining activists and
community members, while 65% involved military, paramilitary, or police
forces.

The plight of anti-mining communities in Nueva Vizcaya and Batangas
leaves no doubt that the Duterte regime’s counter insurgency program is
a war waged for gold and other precious natural resources. His armed
forces are nothing but mercenaries in service of extractive and
destructive companies.

Duterte’s multiple wars are aimed at beating indigenous people, peasant
farmers, and other poor communities into suppression to give way for
land monopolies and big business plunderers. Any and all pockets of
resistance are considered hotbeds of insurgency and are thus legitimate
targets of militarization.

We environmental advocates join the rest of the Filipino public in
condemning and opposing the worsening climate of impunity under Duterte.
We demand for the pull-out of state armed forces from the communities
defending the last bastions of biodiversity and natural wealth from
corporations and other land grabbers.

Only in addressing the socio-economic injustice roots of armed conflict
can a genuine and lasting peace be achieved in our resource-rich lands.
Earnest peace talks with the communist rebels aiming to resolve
long-standing injustices of landlessness, poverty, and economic
displacement should be the solution, not heightened militarization.

It is in this spirit that we demand for the removal of big mines and
other destructive projects away from these communities. Corporations and
other big business interests who have military and paramilitary
mercenaries and have extensive track records of rights violations,
should never be allowed to operate on Philippine soil ever again.#

Reference:

LEON DULCE
Campaign Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
secretariat@kalikasan.net | 0917 562 6824

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Groups: Anti-mining villages in Vizcaya, Batangas under threat

By Artemio Dumlao (philstar.com)

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2017/09/29/1743885/groups-anti-mining-villages-vizcaya-batangas-under-threat29 September 2017

Civil society group Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Inang
Kalikasan (ANNVIK), which led a fact-finding mission in Kasibu, Nueva
Vizcaya only last September 16, documented the forced evacuation of at
least 133 families across three villages due to more than a week of
combat operations by the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Residents of barangays Kakiduguen, Dine and Biyoy put up barricades
against mining exploration activities of Australian firm Royalco and the
expansion attempts of Australian mining transnational corporation
OceanaGold.

While soldiers from the 202nd Infantry Brigade and the 730th Combat
Group of the Philippine Air Force have reportedly strafed and bombed
areas of Mt. Banoi, considered the fifth most biologically diverse
mountain in the country.

Communities around Mt. Banoi in Batangas City and Lobo town have opposed
large-scale mining projects by Canadian companies MRL Gold and Egerton
Gold, both affiliated with Australian miner Red Mountain Mining.

Reports reaching the environment group Kalikasan People’s Network for
the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) indicated that at least 400 families in
communities in Mt. Banoi were reportedly displaced by military
operations. There were also unconfirmed reports of at least two
civilians killed in the army’s combat operations.

Human rights group Karapatan in Southern Tagalog attempted to conduct a
fact-finding mission in Mt. Banoi, but participants were reportedly not
allowed into the area by police.

“We are now seeing the full implementation of President Rodrigo
Duterte’s pitiless declaration to ‘flatten the hills’ in an all-out war
against the communist rebels of the New People’s Army—and civilian
communities are being deliberately targeted,” said Leon Dulce, national
coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.

Dulce said leaders of KIRED, one of the community organizations opposed
to mining in Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya, were branded NPA supporters.

Kalikasan PNE said these incidents in Nueva Vizcaya and Batangas, are
the latest in what it called as “systematic attacks against the rights
of environmental defenders in the Philippines.” They said 23
environmental defenders have already been killed under the Duterte
administration.

In May, the congressional Commission on Appointments rejected the
appointment of environmental advocate Gina Lopez as Environment
secretary. Lopez had been critical of mining in the Philippines and had
ordered a nationwide audit of mines that led to orders for mines deemed
to have been violating environmental protection guidelines to suspend
operations.

Mining firms opposed Lopez’s appointment, saying the audit and
suspension orders were arbitrary.