Residents of Manicani Island in Easter Samar gather together to write to President Rodrigo Duterte, hoping to catch the government’s attention about the jobs situation in the islands, or the lack of it.
If most Filipino laborers will take advantage of the yearly celebration of Labor Day to talk about increased compensations, labor rights, or better employment conditions, the men in Manicani are making noise to remind the government that there are no jobs at all in the island.
“Life is rough for us because there are no opportunities for a regular income here in Manicani and the pandemic has made the situation even worse, we hear that mining was finally allowed again in the island and we want to tell the president that we look forward to it and if he can make it happen right away,” says Herminigeldo B. Badilla, Jr., a barangay leader in Manicani.
Badilla used to have a good job before he came back to the island to be with his family so he knows the difference between having a regular income and having nothing at all.
On March 4, after 15 years of legal and social processing to secure pertinent permits, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has finally given the go signal to Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corportion (NAC), to resume its mining operations in Manicani.
“We’ve waited for so long, mining operations in adjacent islands have been operating for years and we have been waiting for the same jobs to come here in Manicani and we are ready for it because we deserve it,” Badilla said.
Manicani Island is a community of about 620 households. The fathers/husbands, all 40 of them who gathered to talk about the need for jobs, also talked about responsible mining. They have attended countless consultations with HMC for many years. They know how to ask the right questions pertaining to corporate responsibility, safety, security, economic freedom, and protecting the environment.
“The residents are made aware of their rights and of the mining company’s responsibilities, it’s the transparency that these ‘heads of families’ appreciate the most from all that HMC is doing here but they urgently need job too because their children are suffering,” Allan Bandoy, Jr., HMC’s Community Development Officer, said
Bandoy says HMC has a dynamic relationship with the communities in the island and he says that’s what makes his job easier and rewarding because the residents are willing and ready to talk and open to discussions.