Environment advocates ask gov’t to stop mining operations in N. Vizcaya

Published July 11, 2020, 1:31 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Local environmental activists on Saturday appealed to the Philippine government to reject the pending renewal of mining firm Oceanagold Corporation’s financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) that will allow the company to continue its mining operations in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya.

Kalikasan made the appeal after the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition of Australian-Canadian-owned Oceanagold to reverse the Nueva Vizcaya Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision stopping its mining operations.

Kalikasan national coordinator Leon Dulce (KALIKASAN PNE TWITTER/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

 “This latest legal victory upholds the stand of the people of Nueva Vizcaya to reject the illegal, destructive, and plunderous mining operations of Oceanagold,” Kalikasan national coordinator Leon Dulce said.

“Oceanagold must be compelled to return the ancestral lands it is occupying to the indigenous Tuwali people. All outstanding charges filed against the barricaders now proven once again to have just cause in opposing the mine must be likewise rejected,” Dulce added.

The Nueva Vizcaya RTC dismissed the mining company’s petition on July 27, 2019 for a temporary restraining order, injunction, and other legal restraints against the executive order of the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya enforcing the suspension of the gold and copper mining project considering that its FTAA contract already expired last June 20, 2019.

An FTAA is an agreement entered into by the Philippine government and mining firm for the large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc, and other minerals except for cement raw materials, marble, granite, sand and gravel, and construction aggregates. 

“It is crucial and urgent to immediately close the mine and expedite the rehabilitation of the mine site to mitigate the multiple risks it poses on the COVID-19 pandemic situation faced by the host communities in Vizcaya,” Dulce explained.

He also asked the Philippine National Police to respect the due mandate of barangay officials and citizens in enforcing the full restraint of Oceanagold’s operations especially now as upheld by the Court of Appeals.