Photo courtesy of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

“Win or lose,” Australian-Canadian mining corporation Oceanagold has reportedly threatened to disperse an ongoing people’s barricade against its illegal mining operations today, as the Nueva Vizcaya regional trial court’s decision on the firm injunction petition is expected to come out today.

“People’s organizations have received information that Oceanagold plans to send in all its employees to disperse the people’s barricade being held against their operations. We condemn this clear threat of obstruction of justice against local government officials and citizens who are enforcing the stoppage of Oceanagold’s illegal operations on just, moral, and legal grounds,” said Father Vic Tiam, board chairman of Alyansa ng Novo Vizcayano para sa Kaliksan (ANVIK).

Oceanagold filed a petition for a temporary restraining order and a continuing injunction against the provincial government’s marching orders to the provincial environment and natural resources office, provincial police, and the municipal and barangay governments hosting the mine to restrain the operations copper and gold mine.

This was because Oceanagold’s Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) expired last June 20, thereby losing its contractual rights to operate. While the company asserts it can still operate while its FTAA renewal application is in process through a Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) legal opinion letter, their application has been reportedly returned by the Office of the President to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for having deficiencies.

The plea for a TRO was earlier denied by the court.

“Oceanagold clearly overrode a lot of fundamental processes that would have ensured its renewal will not lead to the furtherance of their long-standing water pollution, forest degradation, and violation of indigenous people’s rights. DENR and MGB should stop turning a blind eye towards the various complaints, investigations, and resolutions detailing why Oceanagold’s FTAA must be cancelled with finality,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

Kalikasan PNE called on public authorities to launch a full-fledged investigation into Oceanagold’s illegal operations and alleged threats and intimidation directed at barangay officials together with community members “who are exercising their legitimate citizens’ arrest powers” to restrain mining operations. 

“Oceanagold’s browbeating tactics must be investigated and held to account. It is the latest damning evidence that must be considered in the mine’s FTAA renewal process. The Duterte government must take action on this as part of its promise to close down irresponsible mining practices,” ended Dulce.#

*Aiko Alejo*
*Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment09156067883