Threat of destructive mining in Batangas
The Bluebird Merchant Ventures LTD (BMV), a British Virgin Islands-based company, is rushing processes and permits to begin the Batangas Gold Project in Lobo, Batangas. With its partner company Alpha-diggers Inc, it plans to extract 440,000 ounces or 12.43 tons of gold from 1,164 hectares covered by the mines.
In June, the company was granted a permit to conduct necessary studies and preparations for “underground mining operations.” This extends a previous permit for exploration that was awarded to Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL) which used to mine in the town of Lobo. The project covers the barangays of Nagtoctoc, Nagtaluntong, Mabilog na Bondoc and Sawang.
In addition to the aforementioned mine, BMV has another mine in Barangay Balibago covering 1,011 hectares. The two projects are under a 25-year Mineral Sharing Production Agreement (MPSA). The two mines will cut across Lobo’s largest mountains such as Mt. Naguilin, Mt. Masalakot-Nalayag Monolith, Mt. Lobo-Bangkalan and Nagpatong Peak.
Residents of Lobo and neighboring towns have long opposed the mining project because of the environmental damage it causes. In 2015, MRL admitted plans on using cyanide, a toxic chemical, for mining. It is feared that the chemical will overflow from the mine into the Lobo river and out into the ocean. This will endanger the Verde Island Passage, the so-called center of centers of marine biodiversity or ocean resources worldwide. Apart from this, it can be absorbed into the soil and contaminate ground water.
Other destructive projects
Aside from foreign mining in Lobo, various mines and energy, ecotourism and other environmentally destructive infrastructure projects are being carried out in Batangas. There are five MPSAs, two mineral processing permits, eight MPSA applications, and 35 exploration applications in the province.
In Taysan town, the CRH-Aboitiz-owned Republic Center and Building Material, Inc continues to carry out quarry operation which destroys mountains, farms and rivers.
A geothermal project threatens 12 barangays in San Juan while a San Miguel Corporation “development project” looms over some barangays in Rosario. In towns surrounding the Batangas Bay, industrial plants including liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals which produce severe air and ocean pollutants are still being constructed.
In western Batangas, thousands of hectares of farmlands are being converted into vast solar plants by large comprador bourgeoisie such as the Legardas and Roxases. Thousands of acres were also “developed” as resorts for the affluent such as Sandari-Batulao Wellness Village, Batulao Artscapes, Punta Fuego, Hamilo Coast and more.
The expansion of the Batangas International Port also continues, threatening to evict hundreds of thousands of poor people living in more than 30 barangays around Batangas City. This aims to make use of the port for exporting gold, silver and bronze minerals.
59th IB: Agents of plunder
To ensure the full momentum of these projects, the 59th IB carries out relentless focused military operations in Batangas towns. Currently, these combat operations mainly cover the cluster of barangays in the mountains of Lobo, Taysan and San Juan for the Batangas Gold Project.
According to Ang Bayan records, the 59th IB committed at least 60 violations of human rights since Marcos Jr assumed power. This unit’s heinous crimes include the murder of 9-year-old Kylene Casao on July 18, 2022 in Taysan town and mentally ill farmer Maximino Digno on July 26, 2022 in Calaca town. This unit also spearheads in using the Anti-Terrorism Law to file charges against and harass human rights activists.
The fascist Butcher Lt. Col. Ernesto Teneza Jr heads the 59th IB headquartered in Barangay Tulos, Rosario, Batangas.