Antimining struggles spreading in Cagayan Valley
Antimining struggles are spreading like wildfire in entire landholdings, coastal and upland areas in Cagayan Valley. From the town of Gonzaga, where the mass struggles began in 2007, they have spread to the towns of Buguey, Sta. Teresita, Dugo, Lallo, Sta. Ana, Camalaniugan, Aparri and other nearby municipalities.
National Democratic Front-Cagayan Valley (NDF-CV) spokesperson Salvador del Pueblo said more than 13,843 hectares of land and coastal areas are being seized and destroyed by foreign corporations in the extraction of magnetite, manganese and other minerals. The most prominent among these companies is Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Corporation in Barangay Batangan, Gonzaga which conducts magnetite sand mining.
The expansion of mining operations has resulted in the eviction of poor peasants and fisherfolk and the destruction of their land and natural resources from which they derive their livelihood. Half of the land area of Barangay Bisagu in West Aparri has sunk. The shorelines in the villages of Lallo and Camalaniugan have been eroded due to the loss of magnetite which protects rivers and coastal areas from erosion.
The people are angered no end at the tons of mineral ore that is being exported directly to Taiwan and other countries, leaving potholes in the soil and ruined rivers and shores. This clearly constitutes plunder of the people's natural wealth at the cost of the destruction of the country's resources and the people's lives and livelihoods.
But the foreign capitalists and their cohorts among the local bureaucrats could not care less, Gonzaga mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. said the people have nothing to complain about since the mining activties are all covered by government permits. Pentecostes' group is the main advocate of imperialist corporations and the exploiting classes of Gonzaga. They are also protected by the Enrile dynasty (Rep. Jackie Enrile and his father Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile) which has long been lording it over Cagayan province and which has the blessings of Benigno Aquino III's regime.
Pentecostes has stepped up the militarization of Gonzaga in order to perpetuate the mining projects. Pentecostes himself mauled a peasant leader to stop the farmers from launching their protest action last April 30. To defend the "legality" of the mining operaions, troops from the Special Operations Team-Bayanihan-17th IB of the Philippine Army and the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) of the Philippine National Police have been deployed to six of Gonzaga's 25 barangays. This is on top of three military camps in the area. More than 30,000 people are being victimized because of their opposition to the sinister scheme of imperialists, big comprador capitalists and landlords.
Akbayan and other co-conspirators in plunder. Counterrev-olutionary groups that pose as propeople and antimining are co-conspirators of the ruling classes. Among them are Akbayan, Alyansa Tigil Mina and PADER. These organizations have been poisoning the people's minds, peddling the erroneous idea that mining could be stopped by supplicating the government which benefits from such exploitation.
The NDF-CV spokesperson said that these groups pretend to oppose illegal mining in order to cover up the glaring fact that the biggest culprit in grabbing the lands of the peasants and destroying the environment is no other than the government. These groups are merely riding on the issue of mining and the destruction of the Cagayan River to extract funds from international funding agancies and other groups that pretend to be environmental advocates. Their goal is to derail the masses from the path of militant struggle.
The NDF-CV clarified that the solution to the problems faced by the Gonzageños and the entire people of Cagayan Valley does not lie in supplication, dialogues or leaving things to fate. It is but right for the toiling masses to give their all in joining in and contributing to the advance of people's war. As Red political power develops, the implementation of the laws of the people's democratic government is further ensured, among them the defense of the people's lives, land and livelihood against plunder and seizure by foreigners and their local minions.