Bayombong—Hundreds of citizens of Nueva Vizcaya province gathered at the Provincial Capitol on Thursday to protest and call on President Rodrigo Duterte to deny an Australian-Canadian large-scale miner’s petition for a renewed license to operate.
The protesters were reacting to news that the application for renewal of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement license of the OceanaGold mining firm has already been endorsed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Office of the President.
Led by Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla, the anti-mining protesters presented Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu with a list of “lapses, human rights abuses, non-compliances to memoranda of agreements, and others like violations,” the group said in a statement.
Padilla met with Cimatu Wednesday night with Bishop Elmer Mangalinao of the Archdiocese of Bayombong, Liga ng mga Barangay Federation Chair Vic Gines and other anti-mining advocates.
OceanaGold’s supposed violations, the group said, are in open-pit mining, Provincial Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Provincial Physical Framework and Development Plan that prioritizes Nueva Vizcaya as the watershed haven that supports the irrigation for neighboring provinces like Quirino, Isabela, Cagayan and Nueva Ecija.
The governor even lamented that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region 2 were the ones giving support to OceanaGold, who could not be contacted for a statement at press time.
“These MGB officers are the ones acting as lawyers for the Oceana instead of checking the wrongs that mining company is doing, they are the ones themselves lobbying for them,” Padilla said.
“For example, they (MGB) advice Oceana to pour lime to their foul-smelling tailings pond so that the odorous smell won’t prevail. That lime would become acid and would itself evaporate then it would contaminate our bodies of water during rainy season when that tailing pond overflows resulting to sulfuric rivers in Vizcaya.”
Barangay Captain Ireneo Bobola of the host barangay Didipio of Kasibu said: “Oceana’s gross violation in our MOA in Didipio is the non-functioning hospitals as was stated in our MOA that the mining company will provide a hospital for us.
“Yes, they did but it’s not functional. We are asking President Duterte to stop Oceana’s operation by not renewing their FTAA. Even our drinking water from underground had been gone,” Bobola added.
Mangalinao said: “I will conduct Sunday’s mass in Didipio from now on to help convince all the people there.