Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya—As the country celebrates the environment month, advocates of “responsible mining” battle their anti-mining adversary in various social media platforms.
An online petition currently hosted at www.change.org calls for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to renew the permit of OceanaGold’s Didipio Mine in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. Another petition at www.bataris.org seeks the non-renewal of the permit of Didipio mine.
In a forum hosted by the group Alyansa Tigil Mine in Quezon City on Tuesday, Gov. Carlos M. Padilla declared his stand against the extension of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement now in the hands of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. which will end on June 20.
An FTAA is a permit issued to a multinational company to explore and extract minerals in the Philippines, provided that the company will share technology and financial resources.
OceanaGold’s FTAA No. 1 was issued 25 years ago, and now covers a total of 12,000 hectares, which includes the currently operating mine in a 725-hectare area.
“I will exercise the full powers of my office to strictly implement the Environment Code of Nueva Vizcaya. There will be no sacred cows where the rights and welfare of the people are concerned,” Padilla declared.
Meanwhile, in Barangay Didipio, people whose livelihood depend on the operation of the mine voiced out their opinion that they gained favorably from the mines.
In his Facebook post, former Barangay Councilor Jolan Pugong used photographs that showed how Didipio progressed over the years since the mine started operation.
New school buildings, cemented roads, a hospital, and a community water system that is about to be finished was posted by Pugong.
“With all these improvements, how can [they] say that we are suffering today,” Pugong asked.
The petition calling for the extension of OceanaGold’s FTAA argued that Didipio mine brought development, and that “responsible mining” principles were followed.
The opposing petition argued that mining has destroyed the environment and that the huge open pit that will be left after mines will close is a “wound that never heals.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya passed a resolution last Monday rejecting the renewal of OceanaGold’s FTAA.