Oppose destructive foreign mining and all neoliberal projects in Bikol
Just this February, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake ravaged the province of Masbate. Many residents lost their homes, had their properties destroyed and their livelihoods interrupted. This was not the first incident of tragedy and widespread devastation in the region caused by large-scale foreign mining and other neoliberal projects that lay waste to the environment. But instead of terminating such operations of big mining companies in Bikol and the rest of the country, the anti-poor US-Marcos regime advocates for the all-out expansion of these neoliberal projects.
In Masbate, at the forefront of these destructive foreign companies is the Filminera Mining Corporation. Aside from the widespread poisoning of water areas and the denudation of mountain ranges which bring long-term damage to the livelihood and safety of residents, the company’s tailings dam have also spilt over numerous times in the past directly causing the deaths of a number of Masbatenyos and the repeated occurrence of the lethal red tide. Currently, the reactionary government pushes for the company’s accelerated expansion – from its previous operations in Aroroy towards the mountainous parts of the towns of Mobo, Milagros and Uson.
Meanwhile in Camarines Norte, since 2019, even before Duterte lifted the moratorium banning foreign mining, large-scale mining operations under the Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corp. has already started to loom over the province. At the same time, individual and small scale mining of residents were forcibly stopped. Bogus community mining ‘corporations’ were formed to submit the residents to a wage system that decreased the amount they can take home.
The above-mentioned operations are just a few in a staggering volume of neoliberal projects battering Kabikulan down presently. In exchange of big kickbacks and corruption, the reactionary state and its local counterparts happily sell the region for foreign companies and big businesses to divide amongst themselves. Meanwhile, while a few ravages and exploits Bikol’s natural resources, the quagmire of poverty that drowns the ordinary Bikolano deepens. Their communities are destroyed nonstop, their lands, homes and livelihoods are divested from them.
Even worse, these foreign mining operations and neoliberal projects always come with intensified militarization that violates human and socioeconomic rights of the people. In Masbate, Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) teams have been occupying Aroroy since 2018. This 2023, the town of Mobo was once again put under military occupation to give way to Filminera’s expansion in the said area. Meanwhile, in Labo, Camarines Norte, combined forces of 9th IBPA, Special Action Force and Provincial Police Mobile Force serve as guardposts of foreign mining operations.
NDF-Bikol calls for the all-out opposition of Bikolano masses against destructive mining ang all neoliberal projects in the region. They must fervently defend the environment and natural resources from which their sources of living, as well as the next generation’s, come from. A sustained and solid mass struggle is needed to fully stop and banish destructive companies such as Filminera Mining Corp. and Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corp.