Two mining firms in Comval torched by NPAs

By
April 15 2014

The New People’s Army said they burned heavy equipment in two of the biggest foreign mining investments in Mindanao last week, including one co-owned by the fourth richest Filipino tycoon.

The NPA Comval Davao Gulf Subregional command said that two NPA command fronts launched separate “offensives” on April 7 and 10 against the American-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited, operating in Pantukan, Compostela Valley and the Malaysian-owned Apex Mining Corporation operating in Masara village in Maco, Compostela Valley.

Apex Mining disclosed to the stock exchange confirming the NPAs attacked three working areas, but assured that operations are back to normal.

The company reportedly said damages made will “temporary affect” operations but will fast-track adjustments.

The NPA claimed the companies violated revolutionary policies on the environment and other issues.

“The companies grossly and repeatedly violated regulations of the People’s Democratic Government with regards to environmental protection, workers’ welfare and people’s livelihood,” the statement signed by Ka Daniel Ibarra said.

The statement said they destroyed around 15 equipment at Maco including trucks, mixers, loaders and pick-up vehicles.  In Pantukan, they said portable drills were destroyed.

Ibarra enumerated six violations committed by Apex Mining including its expansion of underground and open-pit mining despite the NPA’s warnings; expansion to reserved forest areas in the guerrilla base, failure to indemnify casualties after two landslides wiped out a community in Barangay Mainit; low wages and retrenchment of mining workers.

The statement said Apex also failed to help in the rehabilitation of streams and bridges in Maco as part of a reparation deal with 91 families they talked after Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

Davao Today reported last year some Maco residents under Indug Kautawan staged a protest and negotiated with Apex for P 26-million worth of reparation for infrastructure and livelihood.

In its statement, Apex Mining said they will continue cooperating with local government units and the community to address the welfare of its workers and the indigenous Mansaka community.

“With the cooperation of the national government agencies, local government units and the community, AMCI will continue to address the welfare of its employees and their families, as well as provide services and assistance to its host communities, and implement programs in partnership with the Mansaka Tribe and the local government,” their statement said.

The NPA also claimed the company had an “active role in funding and backing” the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Battalion operating in the area.

The 9th IB was pulled out from Southern Luzon and deployed to Maco in March. Human rights group Karapatan claimed the battalion was responsible for the death of a small-scale miner Wilmar Bargas and for camping in communities based on complaints by the family’s victim.

Meanwhile, Ibarra said St. Augustine also operated in areas outside of their mining tenements, and set up military outposts in violation of the NPA policies.

“With regards to St. Augustine mining in Pantukan town, it wantonly violated revolutionary policies when they operated outside of their tenements, and due to setting up of military outposts, conducting regular seizure and check-up of things brought in and out by small-scale miners, controlling of movement of civilians, and aggressive psychological warfare against tribal leaders through dole-out projects,” Ibarra said.

Apex Mining has been extracting gold and silver in Maco town for four decades before the multinational Crew Gold Corporation and Mapula Creek Gold took over in 2005, with a mining agreement covering 2,237 hectares.

The Monte Oro Resources and Energy by business tycoon Enrique Razon, holds a five percent stake in Apex and recently infused P 256.9 million to the company last year.

St. Augustine Mines is expected to earn $ 2 billion in its gold and copper prospect in Barangay Kingking of Pantukan, with an mining agreement covering 1,656 hectares.

Reports said that the vice mayor of Maco Voltaire Rimando expressed concern that the NPA attack may lead to the closure of Apex and displaced its local workers.

But Ibarra belied Rimando’s statement.

“His concern for Apex workers is sham and inconsistent with his previous hands-off stance for victims of human rights abuses, militarization and environmental disaster. In truth, he is anxious that any sanction against the Apex would adversely result to a potential loss of his one percent dole-out and kickback that is channeled through opportunist tribal leaders of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,” Ibarra said.

“Even if Apex ceases its mining operations and withdraw from the area, the poor miners and their families would be in a better condition to freely maximize the natural resources on their own, without exploitation and oppression,” he added.

The National Democratic Front has opposed open-pit mining for its destructive impact on the environment and violation to national patrimony in terms of control of mineral resources.

The NDF- Mindanao spokesperson Ka Oris said in his statement on the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines that “punitive actions (were launched) against large-scale mining and plantations owned by the big bourgeois comprador and imperialists who continue to exploit millions of peasants and agri-workers, grab their lands, and plunder and ravage the environment.” (davaotoday.com)

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