Villagers to barricade Philex Mining’s entry

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, February 15, 2010—Common, peaceful folks of the sleepy village of Anislagan in the municipality of Placer in Surigao department Norte will once again form a barricade tomorrow (Tuesday) to prevent the entry of the country’s largest mining company to their village.

"What we are fighting here is not only for our rich agricultural and watershed village but also for the sake of our children and our children’s' children,” said barangay councilor Merlyn Gamus, a mother of two.
Gamus is a member of the Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF), a multi-sectoral that successfully prevented the entry of Anglo American Plc and Manila Mining Corporation (MMC) in 2001.
This time, ABAKATAF, which count as members all the residents of Anislagan, will once again form a human barricade to prevent the entry of Philex Mining / Silangan Mindanao Mining Company (Philex/SMMC) to their village.
Philex Mining started its actual mining operation in the adjacent village of Timamana, Tubod, Surigao del Norte in the first quarter of 2009.
Philex’s exploration activities in Tubod, also known as the "Bayugo Project," started as early as 1999.
Strong opposition from the Tubod people prospered for awhile. Opposition, however, soon wavered when the mining company started their community relations projects like livelihood, drainage improvement and sports activities.
In the adjacent village of Anislagan, villagers, led ABAKATAF, have sustained their opposition to mining for almost ten years now.
Ten years ago, ABAKATAF members literally blocked with their bodies the mining workers of the second largest mining company in the world, Anglo American, from conducting exploration activity in their barangay.
Anislagan is an area very rich in natural resources. It has been identified by the government as priority area in mining because of its rich mineral resources. It has first–class nickel and gold minerals. Lakes, rivers and springs also surround it.
The Anislagan environment does not only provide attractive scenic spots to communities and tourists alike, but primarily it gives sufficient food and livelihood for the communities in order to survive for the coming years.
Anislagan provides potable water to the entire town of Placer. It also provides irrigation to rice fields in the village and to adjacent villages.
Philex is trying to win the hearts and minds of the village folks by establishing a Livelihood Training Center is a one hectare land it had bought.
"We don't need a livelihood training center inside our village from a mining company. What for? We have an existing self–sustaining and community livelihood here. The mining company already affected our irrigation, our rivers, and even to our water supply from their Bayugo Project and now they are proposing a livelihood center,” Gamus said.
During the December 11, 2009 session of the Barangay Council, village chairman Manuel Tejada informed Philex assistant manager for environment Eufronio A Ortiz Jr. about the barangay’s standing resolutions “against mining and any other activities related thereto” because of its being a critical watershed area.
Despite this information, Philex still tried to enter the barangay last January 9, 2010 presumably to inaugurate the Livelihood Training Center.
But its attempt was foiled when the residents, including women, children and the elderly, blocked its entry by establishing the roadblock.
Not accepting defeat, Philex will once again try to gain entry tomorrow (Tuesday) despite the locale's strong opposition.
And the villagers are not alone in their fight. The Municipal Council of Placer recently issued a resolution supporting the local measures of Anislagan prohibiting any mining project within the barangay.
"The Barangay Council already passed a resolution as early as 2002 not to allow any mining activities in our village. They should respect it,” said Gamus. (Bong D. Fabe)