OLD AND WISE. Even senior citizen-members of Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF) endured the 45-minute ride aboard a truck to show their solidarity in the community's struggle against three mining giants wanting to encroach their otherwise agriculturally productive lands. Photo by Cong B. Corrales, campaigns paralegal, LRC-KsK Cagayan de Oro Regional Office

Unwavering spirit

ANISLAGAN, PLACER, SURIGAO DEL NORTE—Their resolve is unwavering as when they filed an environmental case in June 22. Three hearings since, they vowed to mobilize its members to monitor each hearing by trooping outside Surigao Hall of Justice in throngs. Tomorrow will be the fourth hearing of their case.

In an interview, Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF) Chair Ronnie P. Ormega said they pooled all their resources for these mobilizations—and they have pooled enough to hire at least two elf trucks to take members to Surigao City every hearing date.

The multi-sectoral environmental watchdog organization opposed to mining activities, ABAKATAF has been on the forefront in anti-mining struggle for almost 10 years.

Para ugma, aduna na kita’y nasabot nga duha ka elf para masakyan sa atong mga membro. Magdala kita og mga lingkuranan aron magbantay sa unsay mahitabo didto sa Bulwagan sa Hustisya (We already hired two elf trucks for tomorrow’s hearing to commute our members. We will also be carrying chairs with us so we can monitor our case right at the doorsteps of the Hall of Justice.),” said Ormega.

In June 22, ABAKATAF filed an environmental case against Manila Mining Corp. (MMC), Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources (KCGR), Silangan Mindanao Mining Company (SMMC) and the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and some of its top officials in Caraga Region. It was the first environmental case filed under the new Supreme Court-promulgated “Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases” in Mindanao and also the first to be granted with a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO).

Maya L. Ormega, a mother of three and a community paralegal team member said they were alarmed when, in an ocular inspection, one of the town’s natural water sources virtually dried up.

Pagkahuman adtong last hearing nangadto mi sa bukal sa Sungkoy og nabalaka kami kay hinay na kaayo ang tubod ini (Right after the last hearing, our team went to check on the spring at Sungkoy in Anislagan and we are concerned when we saw the once free flowing turned to trickles),” she said.

Grassroots lawyer Grace S. Villanueva of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth, Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE, Phils) said the community’s resoluteness is infectious.

Nakakahawa ang kanilang determinasyon at nakakahanga ang kanilang lakas ng loob. Nakakadagdag inspirasyon sa akin para ipagtuloy ang pagdepensa sa karapatan ng mga tao (Their determination is very infectious and their fighting spirit is admirable. These add inspiration to me to prod on in defending their rights)— people who are dependent to their critical watershed and thousand more communities in the Philippines of the same situation,” said Villanueva.