People of the Cordillera, resist the plunder of mining companies!

Read in: Iloco

Even in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, greed of the imperialists knows no bounds. With the recent lifting of the Duterte regime in the moratorium on mining through an executive order last April 14, there is no doubt that large mining companies would come rushing to plunder the mountains of the Cordillera and the whole country. Approval of more than 150 different mining applications will be rapidly pushed in different parts of the Cordillera. This would invade 1.2 million hectares of lands, forests and rivers or almost 66% of the Cordillera.

The issued executive order was seen by Duterte and his lackeys as the solution to the economic crisis, so all resources of the Philippines are being opened up to foreign capitalists. Dictates of imperialism behind this executive order is clearly seen. In 2018, former US President Donald Trump has been pushing ancestral lands for profit. “Make use your ancestral domain. Do not let it remain idle. So let me be the one to find investors”, were the words of Trump to Duterte in one of their talks in February 2018. Even China is aggressive in the pursuit of minerals for its different production needs.

With the reactionary government’s regard of the Cordillera as a source of natural resources, the region is further opened up for far worse plunder of local and foreign companies. In the program of the Regional Development Council-Cordillera for 2017-2022, mining is the primary part of the program. According to the data of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Cordillera in 2016, production of gold is valued at P8.5 billion. Copper is valued at P3.7 billion. These are the minerals being salivated upon by companies such as the Cordillera Exploration Company, Inc. (CEXCI), Nickel Asia Corporation, Freeport-McMoran, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC), Philex Mining Corporation (PMC) and many more companies who have applications in the Cordillera. Many of these overlapping applications are found in Abra, Apayao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. In the CEXCI application alone, the scope of its application covered 67,962 hectares in the provinces of Kalinga, Abra, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet up to the municipalities of neighboring provinces of Ilocos Sur. The municipality of Conner, Apayao which is included in this application has been specified as one of the 24 national priority mining areas.

Mining operation is not the solution to the economic crisis. According to actual data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau released in February 2015, contribution of mining to the Philippine economy is only a mere 0.7% or P77.8 billion in 2013. Jobs created by mining and quarrying only reached 0.7% or the equivalent of 250,000 workers in the whole country. In the span of 26 years since the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was implemented, national minority peoples in the Philippines are the ones who are mainly bearing the brunt of the suffering. With the sure thrust of mining companies in the mountains of the Cordillera, far worse poverty, oppression and exploitation would sure be experienced by our people. In many decades operation of the Big 3 – Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC), Philex and Benguet Corporation in Benguet has not brought development. Our people suffered from the ravaged and sinking land, sinking houses and poisoned lands because of the widespread operation of mining in the province. Communities along the banks of the Abra River in Ilocos and Abra also suffered from the effects of the dumping of LCMC’s toxic wastes in the said river. Workers and communities within the mine sites also suffer from severe exploitation. In LCMC, most of the workers are casual, paid very low wages, placed in dangerous working conditions and many were retrenched.

These plans of imperialism is clearly seen as a reason why Duterte is hell-bent in destroying the mass movement in the Cordillera. Under the guise of the Anti-Terrorism Law, the regime wants to shock and silence our people’s opposition against their destructive and plunderous projects. They assume that through the filing of false charges, planting evidences, harassment and extra-judicial killings of mass leaders, our people’s fight would be silenced. But on the contrary, our people who cannot take the regime’s puppetry, fascism, greed and inutility are further spurred on to fight.

We should further strengthen and raise our resistance against large-scale mining. We should not let these companies further destroy our lands and livelihood. We should affirm our people’s unity against mining, such as the stand of our people in Tubo, Abra against Newcrest Mining Company in 1998, in Balbalan, Kalinga and Conner, Apayao during the period of 2004-2006 against CEXCI, the resistance of our people in Tabuk and Pinukpuk against Wolfland Mining Company, our people’s barricade on Gambang, Bakun, Benguet against Royalco Mining Company in 2011, the opposition of the Guinaang tribe against the exploration of Makilala Mining Corporation, the struggle of the people of Lacub, Abra against Golden Lake Mining Company in 2011, the year-long barricade of the people of Mankayan, Benguet against the expansion of operation of Lepanto in 2013, the opposition of the people of Quirino, Ilocos Sur against the exploration of Freeport McMoran-Phelps Dodge in 2014 and the unified stand of the people of Mountain Province and Abra formed in 2019, which both opposed the application of CEXCI. We should not let these companies further ravage our lands and livelihood. We should not allow our people to be displaced from our ancestral lands. We should demand the pull-out of these mining companies because of the damages we have suffered because of their destructive and greedy operations. We should launch various forms of struggles for our next generations. We should all launch FETAD! We should all arise and oppose the entry of these companies. And primary among these, as our experiences have shown, it is urgent that we should strengthen the armed struggle to show them that our people of the Cordillera will not let our rights be trampled upon. Only through the victory of the armed revolution and the establishment of socialism shall the right use of our resources for national industrialization and development be implemented. All sons and daughters of the Cordillera, advance the armed struggle, join the New People’s Army!

People of the Cordillera, resist the plunder of mining companies!