Destructive mining operations in Bikol never abated!
Duterte is decisively quick when it comes to the biddings of his masters. While long-awaited promises of benefits and ayuda for sectors affected by the pandemic and successive typhoons and calamities are yet to be fulfilled, the tyrant has approved the lifting of the ban on large open pit mining operations faster than a blink of an eye. Instead of upholding nature preservation and protection of livelihood, as well as learning from the repeated destruction that natural calamities always leave the Philippines with, Duterte had the audacity to permit mining operations whilst the country is still reeling from the effect of Typhoon Odette. Duterte seemed to have already forgotten the more than P11 billion damaged properties the said typhoon left behind in Visayas and Mindanao.
In his desperation to stay in power, Duterte is more than ready to offer the rich lands of the country, including that of Bikol, to big foreign and local businesses. In the region, this directive signals the escalation of devastation caused by destructive mining operations and other neoliberal policies. Big foreign capitalists will surely swarm the region wasting and destroying Bikolano communities and livelihood along the way.
In fact even before the release of said order, under the Duterte administration, large-scale mining operations in the region never abated. Thousands of additional hectares were allowed to be plundered, including the expansion of Filminera Resources Corporation in Masbate and the approval of large mining companies in Camarines Norte.
To circle around public outcry, areas in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur (Brgy. Pinamihagan), Aroroy, Masbate and towns of Paracale and Labo (Brgy. Malaya), Camarines Norte were opened for so-called minahang bayan which essentially still serves the large-scale mining operations. Infrastructure projects in the region also intend to make the transport and export of extracted raw materials easier. The horde of big mining operations caused the destruction of farms, fisheries and forests in the region.
Intensive militarization and military attacks also accompany these mining operations. It is not surprising that most areas with mining prospects have been concentrated with sustained military operations where hundreds of communities were abused and lands were divested.
NDF-Bikol enjoins the Bikolano masses to mount heightened mass campaigns and protests against all neoliberal policies in the region. It is auspicious for them to further reinforce their unities and courage in struggle as their lives, land, livelihood, rights and future depend on it. They are encouraged to strengthen their support to the armed revolution waged by the New People’s Army against the expansion of anti-people mining operations, energy projects, infrastructure and ecotourism that rob people of their lands and dislocate peasant and national minority communities in the region.