Masbateños against militarizing communities, destructive mining

By Reynard Magtoto

MASBATE CITY – In the mineral-rich province in Bicol region where controversial Filminera mining company is located, 5,057 protesters staged Thursday their condemnation of the killings in Duterte administration and the long existing destructive mining militarizing communities.

Over decades of mining exploration in the country of different foreign owned mining companies, there is a lesser percentage of the benefits given back to the communities especially in Masbate province that only violates the rights of the people according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) here.

“When President Rodrigo Duterte seated with his promise “Tunay na Pagbabago”, the true nature of his regime – reactionary, fascist, anti-people and pro-imperialist regime- which has no difference in the previous administration surfaced. The imperialists and the oligarchs are using Duterte in implementing policies that will torture more the Filipino citizens,” said Ben Cajegas, BAYAN-Masbate spokesperson, in a press statement.

During the September 21 #Martial Law protest condemning Duterte’s plan to implement Martial Law nationwide, Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Mapanirang Pagmimina at Kumbersyong Agraryo (UMALPAS KA) here expressed dismay to the Duterte Administration on rejecting the confirmation of former secretary Gina Lopez and strengthening the support to state forces to protect its investments with foreign capitalists instead.

It was reported on April 12 that the 2nd Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army floated a bogus encounter in So. Bantolinao, Brgy. Amutag, Aroroy, Masbate to get rid residents in the area for eco-tourism projects and casino.

According to UMALPAS KA, government officials are using the PNP and AFP to get rid the people in affected communities in Aroroy that will give way to gambling financier Stanley Ho and it’s business partner Bongbong Marcos for eco-tourism projects.

“Aside from destructive mining company, Filminera, in Aroroy town, there is a plan to convert the agricultural lands in Bantolinao and Napayawan island in these municipality for eco-tourism projects and casino that will result to the loss of farmers’ and fishers’ livelihood and houses,” UMALPAS KA Vice-President Alex Dela Cruz said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Bicol is aware of alleged illegal detention, and depriving small scale miners of livelihood and human rights violations committed by personnel of Filminera.

It was reported that Alfredo Cabatingan, 65, was detained for 21 days without charges by the private guards of the mining company. Bulldozer of the company scrapped all of his banana plantation to cover the mining pits dug by panners in Bgy. Capsay.

Karapatan-Masbate condemns the killing of minor student in Cawayan town. Photo By Jessabel Tabios/BaretangBikolnon

Dismissing appeals against Filminera

Last March 2017, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition of the environmental group, Ang Aroroy Ay Alagaan Inc., together with four private citizens demanding a writ of Kalikasan and environmental protection order against Filminera after failing to prove that the mining company was practicing irresponsible and destructive mining.

Due to the clamor and grievances of the people, concerned groups complained in their local officials hoping for a positive response and action about the matter.

“I was once ordered in the municipal hall, in front of our Mayor, Vice-Mayor and DILG secretary Roy Geronimo to form an association in Capsay, Aroroy and ordered to work what we need to work. But after how many weeks, we were hold by the Filminera”, said Dela Cruz.

Mayor Enrico Capinig told the complainants that if ever Filmenera has a complain it must be first addressed to the office of municipality.

Dela Cruz was summoned again by the Aroroy Mayor and said “Pre, atras na lang pasensya na, talagang ang lugar na yan ay sa filmenera”.

“They did not even obey what mayor said when he told the company to put some placards as a proof of the mining permit. Filmenera representative did not even introduce himself during the conversation,” Dela Cruz added.

Dela Cruz was also told by Capinig that if he will be going to contrast and disagree with the Filmenera, he might be sue with abuse of authority.

Amid warnings given to mining companies for destructive mining and rehabilitation, environmental groups and progressive groups are still unsatisfied wanting to repeal Mining Act of 1995, an act instituting a new system of mineral resources exploration, develop utilization and conservation.

Protesters in Masbate exceed their target mobilization of 5,000 during 45th commemoration of Martial Law. Photo By Jessabel Tabios/BaretangBikolnon

EJKs under Duterte administration

BAYAN-Masbate also expressed that farmers here fear the series of military operations in their communities that only resulted to brutal killings of civilians especially the younger ones.

Their province recorded recent killing of a 15-year-old student on September 16 in Cawayan town. Vincent Jaylord was the third minor here killed by soldiers of 2nd IBPA. While an encounter between AFP and NPA in Bgy. Panan-awan in Cawayan town last April 20 ended the life of two elementary students, Reden, 9, and Crislyn, 11, who were caught in a crossfire.

Karapatan-Masbate already recorded seven victims of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s militarization in communities.

According to Cajegas, progressive groups here are with Masbateños to call on all Filipino citizens to unite, work together and fight the growing fascist and militarist attacks of the ‘US-Duterte’ regime. (With reports from Angel De Mesa and Jessabel Tabios/BaretangBikolnon.com)

READ STORY: Bicol activists set Sept 21 protest vs. martial law, ‘US-Duterte’ regime

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