Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya—Villagers here have blocked the entry of two delivery tankers of fuel into the OceanaGold mines here, citing a “doubtful” ground validation report conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region 2 last Feb. 14.
Barangay Captain Ereneo Bobola led the angry villagers in preventing the tankers from entering the mine site, the Manila Standard
learned from local folks.
OceanaGold has suspended operations at the gold-copper mine and is set to lay off about 800 workers by the end of February, company officials said earlier this month.
According to the locals who spoke to the Manila Standard
on condition of anonymity, the ground validation report conducted by the regional task force of MGB Region 2, led by Engineer Geoffrey Prado with composite team members Robert Carreon, Demetrio Corsino, Romeo Watchorina and Elmer Bacutan, was “highly suspicious “ because it was all done in one day.
“They didn’t let one of us join the ground validation despite being aware of our strong stand against the continuous operation of OceanaGold here in our barangay because they could not explain to us or present the people of Kasibu any rehabilitation plan to the huge crater-like open pit they had dug here in Didipio. That is why there is a very minimal social acceptance to the renewal of Oceana’s FTAA [Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement]. That is the reason why we are on the barricades.”
Police Lt. Col. Joseph dela Cruz, Public information Officer of Nueva Vizcaya Police Provincial Office, told media during a press conference that both oil tankers were safely sent back to Manila, with its fuel cargo of 630,000 liters intact.
However, on Jan. 21, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea penned a directive to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu granting authority to the mining company to bring in enough fuel “for the continued operation of the dewatering activities of the Didipio Mines.”
In answering OceanaGold’s letter dated Dec. 11, 2019, Medialdea noted that Cimatu’s office was the only one authorized to direct the MGB to closely monitor the implementation of the said authority.
The letter also specified that the interim measure “shall not be construed as an action on OceanaGold’s application for renewal of its FTAA” and shall be without prejudice “to the appropriate resolution of the incidents and issues raised by the OGPI in its other letters to the Office of the President.”
In a text message to Manila Standard
, Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla said Cimatu should give the directive for the delivery and entry of fuel to OceanaGold, and not the MGB.”
“Besides, it is not yet clear as to the real volume of necessity; 630,000 liters of fuel is what they were trying to bring in. It is too much, their request is just for specific need, not part of the operation to mine,” the government added.
OceanaGold had filed a temporary restraining order with prayers for preliminary injunction against the barricades but was junked by Regional Trial Court Branch 30 Judge Paul Attolba Jr. The mining firm has elevated the petition to the Court of Appeals, where the case is still pending.