DAVAO TODAY – Survivors of typhoon Pablo (International name: Bopha) is putting up for another fight, this time, with the entry of a large mining company in Compostela Valley.

Around 300 farmers and residents of Compostela Valley conducted a protest action since Sunday (March 8) against the entry of a mining company.

The farmers protested the government’s granting of exploration permit to Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation. The protest action is set to culminate on Wednesday when the typhoon survivors would meet with the province’s governor during the Sangguniang Bayan session.

According to the website of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 11, the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation has two approved Exploration Permits both issued on April 11, 2011 – EP No. 01-11-XI and EP No 02-011-XI.

“The EP 1 area is situated in the Barangays of Ngan, Panalsalan, Pagsabangan, and Mangayon, all in Municipality of Compostela, and Barangay Naboc, Municipality of Monkayo, all in the Province of Compostela Valley, and Barangay Aliwagwag, Municipality of Cateel, Province of Davao Oriental with a combined total area of approximately 9,997.53 hectares,” said MGB XI.

“The EP 2 is situated in the areas of Barangay Ngan, Municipality of Compostela, and Barangay San Miguel, Municipality of New Bataan, both in the Province of Compostela Valley, and Barangay Aliwagwag, Municipality of Cateel, Province of Davao Oriental with a total area of approximately 2,416.91 hectare.”

Jimmy Saypan, secretary general of Compostela Farmers Association, said the more than 12,000 hectares covered by the company’s exploration permits “affect thousands of residents in the area.”

“Ang kabalaka namo sa pagsulod sa Agusan Petroleum, liboan ka mga residente ang mawad-an og pamuyo og panginabuhian (We fear that with the entry of the Agusan Petroleum, thousands of us will lose our homes and livelihood),” Saypan told Davao Today in a phone interview.

Saypan said the entry of the company was even accompanied with the deployment of military troops from 66th Infantry Battalion.

“Ginasugdan na gyud nila karon ang pagpangabuso ug pagpanghulga, labi na personal sa akoa ug sa mga lider-mag-uuma (Military threats and abuses have started against farmer leaders including myself),” Saypan said.

“Hasi kaayo ang pamuyo sa mga mag-uuma (We live under threat),” he said citing that he has been receiving threats from the military since 2006 because he is identified as a leader of the community.

Rubber farmer woes

During typhoon Pablo, Ruben Mission, 62 years old, lost their home and all their farm animals. Mission said they appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development to give them assistance but until now, help did not come.

They started to tend their 3-hectare rubber farm . His children, who already have families of their own, also work in the said farm.

Mission said their 3-hectare farmland is part of the lands which will be included in the mining exploration of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation.

Mission told Davao Today in an interview that they are calling for the government to cancel the exploration permit of the Agusan Petroleum.

“Ug ipapahawa ang 66th IB nga nagprotekta sa kompanya (We also call for the pull out of the 66th IB who protects the company),” Mission said.

Saypan said they asked the government to provide typhoon survivors with services, “but what [President Benigno Aquino, III] sent us is Agusan Petroleum corporation and the army from 66th IB that threaten us.”

Saypan said they already talked with Compostela town mayor Lema Bolo at the office of the mayor on Monday.

Mayor Bolo promised to take a look at their complaints, Saypan said. On March 16, Bolo will initiate a public consultation to know whether the residents are in favor of the entry of the mining firm.

However, Saypan said they demanded for the pull out of the military troops from the community before conducting the said public consultation. “Kung dili, dili pud pwedeng mahimo ang dialogue (If not, there will be no dialogue),” Saypan said. (davaotoday.com)

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