Mount strong and wide resistance against neoliberal open pit and large-scale mining in Davao Oriental
Amid the series of natural and man-made disasters that swamped Davao Oriental since late last year, it is contemptuous that the local ruling class continues trying to deodorize the ill-effects of the on-going open pit and large-scale mining to the environment and the overall welfare of the masses in the province.
Farmers and Lumad in Mati City and Banaybanay town, even academics and religious personalities in the province, have pointed the finger of blame to the operations of Arc Nickle Resources, Austral-Asia Link Mining Corporation and Hallmark Mining Corp., especially over the discoloration and heavy siltation of the Mapagba river in January. The latter two are both owned by Asiaticus Mining Corp. (AMCOR), which has carried out open pit mining operations for several years in the area. The three mining companies’ operations are lodged in the more than 17,000 hectares within and around the vicinity of Mt. Hamiguitan and adjacent to Pujada Bay coastal area by a few kilometers.
Under the dictates of neoliberal policies, decades of mining and the attendant logging operations in the towns of Davao Oriental have denuded the forests, poisoned the rivers, and dislocated farming communities and livelihoods of peasants and Lumad. The masses know all too well how cataclysmal the impact that these operations have wreaked to the environment. The effects were harshly felt, especially during heavy rains and typhoons. Earlier this year, the masses were harrowed by episodes of typhoons, heavy floods, landslides, and an alarming incidences of diarrhea outbreak, all compounded by the reactionary regime’s failed disaster response and neglect.
Therefore, allowing and even justifying the mining operations in Mati City and Banaybanay is patently foolish bordering on irresponsible, as they clearly pose a double-barreled threat to the environment and the welfare of peasant and Lumad masses. Apologists for open-pit mining, which unfortunately include the local government and agencies in the province, continue to eschew and even deny the direct peril that come with the extractive practice. The assurances of “responsible mining practices” ring hallow since long-time mining operators have never faced heavy punitive actions for pumping out toxins and chemical waste onto our rivers and seas.
In stark contrast, only the revolutionary movement, especially the New People’s Army, has consistently taken action against these destructive companies. On May 7, 2017 for instance, Red fighters carried out punitive action against Mil-Oro Mining Corp., then owned by Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp., in Sitio Salingcomot, Brgy. Macambol in Mati City. Less than a year later, the NPA also raided the armed guards of RAM Aggregates, Inc., a nickel mining company in Brgy. Puntalinao, Banaybanay town on January 4, 2018.
The previous Duterte regime and the new and illegitimate Marcos II regime are essentially indistinguishable in their kowtowing to neoliberal policies, especially when it comes to large-scale mining operations. For six years, Duterte had pushed the people into a more vulnerable and precarious state when he lifted of the ban on open-pit mining and offered more areas for new mining agreements. The Marcos II regime is poised to follow suit, espousing neoliberal non-sense as “clean” and “sustainable” mining yet is still adamant in selling wholesale our mineral resources to imperialist interests instead of harnessing these to pursue national industrialization.
The present socio-economic crisis, aggravated by successive disasters brought about by climate change, is bound to worsen, unless a strong and wide united front dismantles the regime’s neoliberal policies, especially in the mining industry, that allow the continued destruction of our environment and people’s lives and livelihood.