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Ifugao indigenous community vs. mining company Didipio, nueva viscaya, philippines

Statement of Solidarity:

'In solidarity with the people of Didipo, Nueva Viscaya in asserting their right to a balanced and healthful ecology, ATM, Kalikasan PNE, LRC-KsK/FoE Philippines, and Mining Wtch Canada, as well as other national and international groups, condemn the violent dispersal of members of an indigenous community lawfully barricading the large-scale mining operations in Canadian-Australian OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI), in Didipio.'

On 6 April 2020, a regional police team escorted three diesel tankers and tried to enter the OceanGold mining site, authorized by a letter from executive secretary Salvador Medialdea. The diesel was said to be used to drain water seeping into the mining tunnels of OceanaGold´s suspended operations.

Some 29 members of an Ifugao indigenous community, longed opposed to the mining activities in the area, barred the entry of the tanker, as it violated the suspension order against OceanaGold. The operation of the company was suspended following the expiration of its permit on 20 June 2019.

After nine months of peacefully blockading the mine, this day the large police force ensued a violent dispersal, which included the beating and arrest of community leader Rolando Pulido.
This happened when the country is trying to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections. the blockaders were following the guidelines provided to avoid the spread of covid-19. oceanagold´s interests shifted precious government manpower and resources away from the effort, to support its business interests.
Extractive activities like mining are symptomatic of an economic order that commodifies nature for profit to the detriment of people who rely on a healthy environment for their food security and livelihood. In addition, environmentally destructive activities are known to play a role in the spread of infectious deseases.

The community´s barricade supports a local government order suspending OceanaGold´s operation. The company´s operations have depleted ground water and contaminated nearby rivers of Nueva Viscaya and displaced a number of families.

Timeline of events leading to the violent dispersal:

June 20, 2019 - OceanaGold’s permit to mine expires. No activity may be conducted by the company. President Duterte, the only person who can authorize a permit, has not granted a renewal of the mine’s permit. Acting on the permit expiry, Nueva Vizcaya governor Carlos Padilla came out with an advisory enjoining the company to suspend its operations.

June 25, 2019 - Governor Padilla files an Executive Order ordering the provincial police, the provincial environment office, and the municipal and barangay (village) governments to enforce the suspension of mining operations.

July 1, 2019 - up to the present With overwhelming support from government institutions (from the barangay, provincial, and congressional levels) and people’s organizations and solidarity groups, the local government and the community mount a people’s barricade (that continues to this day) to enforce the executive order.

July 2019 - OceanaGold files petitions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the local government, both of which were turned down by the Regional Trial Court of Nueva Vizcaya. These court decisions reinforce the legality of the executive order of the provincial government to suspend Oceana’s operations.

January 21, 2020 - Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea sends a letter to DENR secretary Roy Cimatu granting authority to the mining company to bring fuel into the mine site, supposedly for dewatering activities of the mine’s project. This letter is cited by the PNP in its dispersal operation.

April 6, 2020 Provincial and municipal police escort three fuel tankers and try to disperse the people’s barricade against OceanaGold’s mining site.

'My heart bleeds for our brave men and women of Didipio who had to suffer and be arrested for expressing their resistance against mining, a great menace to Mother Earth. I salute them for their bravery and being steadfast for the protection of the environment to ensure the survival of all living things and of our planet. Instead of providing protection to OceanaGold whose FTAA has expired, the nationla government should tell OGPI TO PACK UP AND GO HOME' - Gov. Carlos Padilla, province of Nueva Viscaya.

Credits:

1. Communication InterAction; Selfie; April 27, 2015; (CC BY-NC 2.0). 2. United Nations Photo; Only One Earth - the Environment; May 31, 2017; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 3. OceanaGold´s official logo. 4. Shellie; OceanaGold´s Macraes Mine, Macraes Flat, Otago; March 20, 2017; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 5. Eric Carlson; November 24, 2007; (CC BY-NC 2.0). 6. ctsnow; Philippines; April 14; 2006; (CC BY 2.0). 7. Chris; Philippines; May 12, 2012: (CC BY-SA 2.0).