QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya – Embattled indigenous peoples in this remote town are now up in arms against an Australian mining company for its insistence to pursue its mining and drilling operation in barangay Runruno here amidst the presence of unresolved issues and concerns before the provincial government, concerned government agencies and quasi-judicial bodies.
Sources, who requested anonymity for security reasons and for fear of reprisal from the company, disclosed that personnel of the FCF Minerals Development Corporation started to conduct the exploration and drilling operations in the contested areas despite their complaint lodged with the provincial government which must first be resolved aside from other similar complaints that had been filed with concerned government agencies and quasi-judicial bodies, such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The alarmed IPs claimed that the complaints range from illegal intrusion on private properties with the use of excessive force, the company’s defiance and denial of the existence of a status quo order and the significant damages that such exploration and drilling operations had inflicted to the town’s environment and agriculture sector which is the major source of livelihood of the people.
According to the affected IPs, the company allegedly disregarded the rule of law when it insisted to pursue the highly questionable exploration and drilling operations last June 20 to present which means that foreign-controlled mining company wants to take matters into their own hands even if it means violating the rights of the indigenous peoples and local community.
The IPs argued that the certificate of non-overlap being used by the company to justify the continuous exploration and drilling operations is actually not final but it is conditional because it is clear that in case that in the future, there will be IPs that will be discovered to be in the area by the investigating teams, then it is considered that the place is an ancestral domain where the free and prior informed consent of the affected domain holders will be required before the company can proceed with its activities in the area.
Now that it has already been proven that there are really IPs that had been inhabiting Runruno since time in memorial, the IPs asserted that the company should stop pursuing its exploration and drilling operations and go back to the drawing board to secure their consent through the required process prior to conducting their environmentally critical projects in the area.
The IPs stipulated that it is unfortunate that the company is trying to resort to intimidation and harassment just to sow fear in the area for its personnel to be able to pursue their questionable exploration and drilling operations that are continuously being opposed by the people.
The IPs challenged the provincial government, the concerned government agencies and the quasi-judicial bodies where their complaints had been lodged to immediately act on the issues and concerns that they had raised against the company/s illegal exploration and drilling operations to ensure the reign of the rule of law and to avoid the occurrence of toward incidents that might compromise their safety in the said area.