Vizcayans Barricade Against OceanaGold Mine

by Kalikasan PNE


1 July 2019

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya—Residents and village officials have setup
barricades today along the access roads leading to the Didipio
large-scale gold and copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya province, backed by a
restraining order earlier issued by the provincial government.

Owned by Australian-Canadian transnational corporation Oceanagold, the
12,864-hectare mining project has been defying the restraining order
issued after its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA)
recently expired, saying it has secured endorsements for FTAA renewal
from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the
Office of the President.

“We want Oceanagold to stop operations regardless of whether its FTAA
gets renewed or not. We Novo Vizcayanons have had enough of destructive
mining in our lands,” said village councilor Celia Bahag, an indigenous
Ifugao woman who leads the environment and agriculture committee of
Barangay Didipio, the host community of the mine.

Her sentiments were echoed by Julie Simongo, a fellow Ifugao and current
chairwoman of the Didipio-based people’s organization Samahang Pang
Karapatan ng Katutubong Manggagawa at Magsasaka Inc. (SAPAKKMMI).

“Even if President Rodrigo Duterte decides to sign Oceanagold’s FTAA
renewal, they cannot stop the sovereign will of the people of Nueva
Vizcaya to stop this mine from further destroying the environment and
the rights of future generations,” said Simongo.

National environmental activist alliance Kalikasan People’s Network for
the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hailed the action, saying Oceanagold has
figured in various “environmental and humanitarian crimes” over the
course of its mine development and commercial operations that warrant
the stoppage of its operations and the cancellation of its FTAA.

“Various studies and investigations on Oceanagold’s impacts have
revealed how 80% of Didipio’s residents now have problems accessing
clean water and how rivers are polluted up to eight times above safety
levels for riverine biodiversity. There are also various problems
affecting forests, land use, chemicals management, and labor,
indigenous, and other human rights,” said Leon Dulce, national
coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“We cannot accept how government regulators have been willfully blind to
these violations and demand that they close down Ocenagold’s mine
immediately,” Dulce furthered.

The network said it would mobilize its provincial and national
multi-sectoral member organizations to support the people’s barricade
until Duterte, who has been outspoken against mining throughout his
presidency, cancels the FTAA of Oceanagold.

The final authority to decide upon the fate of Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal
application lies in Duterte’s office.

“The Vizcaya people’s barricade to restrain Oceanagold’s operations is a
morally and politically just action that is also a legitimate exercise
of local government enforcement and citizen’s arrest powers. Duterte
must heed the people’s cry for justice and swiftly cancel Oceanagold’s
FTAA with finality,” Dulce ended.#

Sign the petition against Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal: