Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September 1, 2007

What will prevent Oxiana Mining?

There is wide protestation with the Oxiana mining exploration in Nueva Vizcaya, even from the local government and clergy. The residents went as far as to barricade the road to prevent the Australian mining firm’s equipment from entering their community.

In a true democracy, popular dissent would immediately cease the mining operations. However, as a testament to our sham democracy, the indigenous peoples along with other residents were forced to mêlée with the CAFGU and other armed elements in league with Oxiana when they the mining firm tried to forcibly shove their equipment into the village.

Like most cases of development aggression, the local militia lends a hand to smoothen entry of foreign capital into our country by smothering protests. Often, the indigenous peoples, whose ancestral lands are laden with minerals, become collateral damage of mining ventures. The government that hankers for foreign investment sells our patrimony and bargains indigenous people’s rights to the highest bidder.

The connivance of the Armed Forces with the Oxiana mining firm to assail a justified resistance of the people is detestable. Is it the people or the capital that our armed forces serve? When we hear the many stories of development aggression, there is no longer any doubt to the answer.

The illusion of development that will ensue after Oxiana mining operates no longer deceives the indigenous peoples and environment groups. In contrast, the mining project may contaminate groundwater and water table feeding the citrus farms, citrus production being the main livelihood in Kasibu and nearby communities. The growing citrus industry is more promising than the destructive and non-renewable mining enterprise. It has become quite apparent that the government could no longer pin their personal profit agendas on the name of national development.

Lito Atienza’s pronouncement that Oxiana should halt operations is overdue, having waited for violence to spark before arbitrating. However, having had a hand in approving the mining permit, we could expect no more than a face-saving move from the DENR Chief. What is more alarming for us is that the strong opposition from all sides, plus the negative environmental upshot of the mining project, is not deemed enough reason to cancel the exploration and operation permit.

We wonder now how long this charade of suspension will last, and fear for the security of protesting residents. We doubt that the military and their agents would not employ violent dispersals or worse, as it has done so recently.

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