DAVAO CITY—Human rights group Karapatan expressed alarm over the recent deployment of military troops in Diwalwal to secure the bidding of the gold-rich area as this apparently poses threats to the local residents who have been vocal in their strong opposition against the total sell-out of the mining site.
Fresh troops from the 71st Infantry Battalion (IB) landed in Hijo beach on May 23. The region now has a total of 18 army battalions. Military claimed that troops deployed were only meant to curb the insurgency in the area and were not for the mining in Diwalwal.
Human rights group Karapatan quickly dismissed these claims saying that the recent military troop deployment in Davao region was meant to speed up the entry of multinational companies in Diwalwal.
Karapatan says the local residents are bent on defending their homes. The human rights group says they fear the deployment of more troops will escalate the human rights violations against the civilian communities who are defending Mt. Diwalwal.
Leaders and members of Nagkadiwa, a local peasant and Lumad organization in Diwalwal, led a series of protest actions to register their strong opposition against the planned bidding for large-scale mining companies to operate in a 729-hectare mine site. Leaders from progressive groups including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations and environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao also trooped to Mt. Diwalwal in support of the march rally, candle-lighting and vigil spearheaded by the local peasant group since Sunday, June 6.
“The vigil last Sunday is a manifestation that the local communities are committed to pursuing their struggle to defend Mt. Diwalwal against the encroachment of large-scale mining. The take-over of large-scale mining firms will not only exploit the people’s gold-rich mineral resource but will also dislocate thousands of residents in the area,” said Kelly Delgado, Karapatan regional secretary-general.
“This recent deployment has only proven time and again that military operations are being used by the government in connivance with multinational companies to protect the interests of big businesses and large corporations. Sadly, at the expense of the people’s rights, the government favors big businesses and has been using the military to sow fear and terror among communities,” he added.
The human rights group is calling on the local government of Compostela Valley to protect the local residents being threatened in Mt. Diwalwal and support their call to pull-out of military troops in the area and stop the sell-out of the gold-rush area.
“With this recent issue affecting Mt. Diwalwal, the economic rights of the local residents will be violated once the area is sold to multinational companies. The only option left for the people is to defend their rights, to defend their land and to defend their life,” Delgado said.
Kelly Delgado, Secretary General
Mobile number – 0920-350-0069