By Reynard Magtoto
The Chadli Molintas Command (CMC) and Jennifer Carino Command (JCC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) blasted the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) facilities in Mankayan, Benguet.
In a joint statement sent to the media, the NPA commands said the attacks in the late evening of June 7 and early dawn of June 8 were part of their continuing campaign to punish destructive and large scale mines like Lepanto as well as government troops for acting as the company’s security guards.
The CMC operates in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions while the JCC operates in Benguet Province.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Mankayan earlier said that the gates of the LCMC Tailings Dam were attacked by armed men at 10:36 p.m., followed by a 10:46 p.m. attack on a chemical and mineral laboratory in Colalo village.
PNP discovered at 4 a.m. that the armed men detonated explosives to destroy a police outpost, a backhoe and a copper processing machine. They said two explosive devices attached to two dump trucks failed to set off.
Lepanto security personnel and soldiers claimed they drove back the rebels after the attackers succeeded in blasting a lime mixing plant and a bulldozer.
Workers who witnessed the attack there said 7 armed men and a woman raided the facility.
Residents heard gunfire ring out followed by blasts near the mine site after midnight, Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian for his part said and was also informed of the firefight in Colalo.
According to the NPA, Lepanto land grabbed tens of hectares of rice fields in 1990 between Cabiten and Colalo villages where it built its Tailings Dam 5A despite widespread protest.
In April 25, 2013 the NPA also torched Lepanto’s drilling machine in Colalo village. At the time, Lepanto was planning to build its Tailings Dam 5B.
The NPA said they attacked soldiers under the 81st IB of the Philippine Army stationed near Tailings Dam 5A. They claimed the government troops were being used to violently quell people’s opposition against the raising of the tailing dam’s embankment.
NPA also destroyed the carbon-in-pulp (CIP) cyanide processing plant owned by Colalo Barangay Captain Ambino Padawi. They also burned a backhoe and other equipment in the plant.
The NPA also blasted the Community Police Action Center (Compac) beside the CIP.
They accused Padawi of taking away the ancestral land of a clan and built the CIP on it despite the protests by other residents.
The operations of LCMC was suspended after deliberation of the mine audit last year. It is among the four firms issued suspension including OceanaGold Phils. Incorporated, Citinickel Mines And Development Corporation, and Ore Asia Mining and Development Corporation while 21 other firms were ordered closed by former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
Lumad groups in Barangay Suyuc in Mankayan sought the closure of a century old mining firm LCMC in their locality. They accused, based on their petition, LCMC of underground dynamite blasting operations that damaged residential and agricultural lots in sitios Pacda and Mayangyang.
They also pointed out that Lepanto has continued to operate the Pacda tunnel despite the expiration of its license to mine the area on March 15, 2015 under a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).(with report from Kodao Productions)