Karapatan condemns violent dispersal of residents in Vizcaya mining site

Rights group Karapatan assailed the violent dispersal of the “barikada ng mamamayan” (people’s barricade) in Barangay Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya yesterday, April 6, 2020. The residents, with the support of environmental advocates, initiated the barricade to prevent the entry of the oil tanks of mining company OceanaGold Corporation, with the expiry of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of the said company last June 20, 2019. 

On Monday, April 6, around 100 men in full combat military gear from the Philippine National Police (PNP) assembled at the gates of the mining company’s operation site for the entry of fuel tanks. Few moments after the police assembled, they violently dispersed at least 29 residents in the barricade to make way for the oil tanks’ entry. The dispersal led to the illegal arrest of Rolando Pulido, chairman of the Didipio Earth Savers Movement (DESAMA).

In enforcing the said actions, the PNP cited a January 21, 2020 letter from the Office of the President signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea granting authority for the mining company to bring fuel for dewatering services in the mining site.

“We strongly condemn this collusion between the government and the foreign mining corporation OceanaGold to maintain its mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya, despite opposition from residents and the local government. It is lamentable that the police has taken time to conduct the violent dispersal of the people’s barricade, amid the expected impacts of the COVID19 pandemic to communities, including those in provinces sich as Nueva Vizcaya,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.

According to Karapatan, “if the government can be sympathetic with its allies and a big mining company with an expired permit, why can’t it be merciful when it comes to the plight of Filipinos, especially those living in peripheries? Why is this regime fond of coddling moneyed politicians, landlords and corporations?” 

“It is clear that OceanaGold and the government took advantage of the lockdown in Luzon to instigate its highly questionable, if not illegal, acts,” she said.

“We call for the immediate release of Pulido, as well as the condemnation of this incident in Nueva Vizcaya province,” she ended.