Cagayan mayor and 17th IB harass peasants to sign mining endorsement*
CPP Information Bureau
January 24, 2011
Gonzaga mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr has forced barangay officials of Barangay Calayan, Cagayan to sign an endorsement to the provincial government for the continued operations of imperialist magnetite mining in the said town.
Pentecostes, a known ally of the Enrile political dynasty, was accompanied by a platoon of 17th Infantry Battalion soldiers on January 8 when he met with barangay officials. Instead of holding a barangay consultation first, the officials were told to sign the mining endorsement penned by Pentecostes. Those who at first refused were tagged as "NPA supporters" and risked continuous harassment by the military.
This threat was further echoed at a barangay meeting, held by the mayor, on January 12. Again, 17th IB soldiers were present.
Imperialist mining in northeastern Cagayan is being pursued by local officials loyal to the Enrile dynasty in spite of widespread people's dissent. The 17th IB and Philippine National Police has served as main security forces of these officials, conducting military operations and harassing peasant leaders. Since 2006, protest actions of the people have been continuous and barricades have been set up to prevent mining operations of Taiwanese company Unimaster Conglomeration Incorporated (UCI).
UCI mining for magnetite has resulted in the destruction of farm lands, irrigation facilities and the Wangag River, once touted as the country's cleanest river. A campaign against imperialist mining has spread from Gonzaga to nearby towns of Sta. Ana, Buguey, Lallo, Camalaniugan and Aparri, all of which are mining areas.
On December 2, UCI operations finally halted when the New People's Army destroyed the company's equipment as punishment for the UCI's devastation of the people's livelihood and Gonzaga's natural resources.
The endorsement being pushed now by Mayor Pentecostes is for mining operations of one Huan xia Corporation, which is UCI's replacement.