Mining road projects to hasten wholesale destruction of environment in Caraga

The Communist Party of the Philippines today slammed 4th ID commander MGen. Andres C. Centino for touting that mining road projects being rushed in the Caraga region “will hasten the defeat of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA).” The officer was referring to the construction of three access roads namely the Cabadbaran-Puting Bato-Lanuza Road, Butuan-Pianing-Tandag Road, and Bayugan City-San Miguel Road in Caraga.

“Centino is touting counterinsurgency objectives as a veil to conceal the ultimate intention of these mining road projects which is none other than intensifying the plunderous operations of corporations which are responsible for the plunder of Caraga’s rich mineral reserves, wanton destruction of the environment and widespread human rights violations,” said CPP Chief Information Officer Marco L. Valbuena.

“These multi-billion peso road projects will hasten not the defeat of the revolutionary movement but the wholesale destruction of ancestral lands and remaining forest frontiers where mining multinationals seek to operate unimpeded and with impunity,” Valbuena added. “On the contrary, these projects accompanied by militarization of the areas will only push more and more people to wage all forms of opposition, including armed resistance.”

The mining road networks will cut across the Andap Valley Complex (Surigao del Sur) and the Diwata mountain range (Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur). These mountainous areas are rich in coal, gold, copper and nickel which have long been plundered and siphoned off to other countries by multinational corporations. The mining road projects will facilitate the transport of minerals even from the interior areas and thus hasten the destruction of the Caraga mountainous region. The construction of these road projects, in themselves, will require the clearing of forest areas and the displacement of Lumad communities.

Among the companies to benefit from these mining road projects is the Marcventures Mining Development Corporation which has been permitted by the regime to mine nickel and aluminum in more than 4,799 hectares of forest in Diwata. Its plunderous operation covers the central watershed which serves as the major source of water for irrigation and drinking across the region. Its permit to operate has been suspended twice for environmental violations. Although headed by capitalist Perez E. Yulo, the company is dominated by Canadian multinational RYM Business Management Corporation as its biggest stockholder.

“The roads will also facilitate the smooth deployment and movement of military forces which serve as security guards of multinationals,” added Valbuena. “These will surely be used against the masses in the area who have long suffered state repression and terrorism to suppress their resistance against the operations of these companies,” added Valbuena.

Recently from July to August this year, communities around the area of operations of Marcventures have been under siege. The 402nd IBde under the 4th ID along with the Philippine National Police Caraga launched its brutal focused military operation in the mountain range, particularly in communities around Mt. Hilong-hilong, to terrorize anti-mining residents.

At least fifteen bombs were dropped near rural villages in the towns of Puting Bato and Cabadbaran City within four days in August. At least 1,000 troops were also deployed to attack, occupy and place under hamlet at least 15 barangays in the guise of Retooled Community Support Program operations. There are at least 50 mining companies in and around Mt. Hilong-Hilong. The said mountain provides habitat to various species of flora and fauna including the endangered Philippine Eagle.

Similar attacks were mounted in the Andap Valley Complex last July 15 wherein two bombs were dropped near two Lumad communities in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur using two FA-50 fighter jets. Having experienced military and paramilitary extrajudicial killings and widespread abuses of human rights, fear-stricken residents evacuated their communities last month to seek demand the immediate withdrawal of fascist troops in their communities.

Sustained military operations are also being conducted in the triboundary of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Agusan Norte where other mining companies operate including Japanese multinational Sumitomo, Greenstone (Manny Pangilinan), Nickel Asia and Taganito Mining Corporation (Manny Zamora) and San Roque Metals Inc. (Eric Gutierrez).

Mining road projects to hasten wholesale destruction of environment in Caraga