NPA Rebels Own Up Attack On Swiss Mining Firm In Southern PhilippinesJanuary 3, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 03, 2008) – Communist rebels claimed responsibility for the attack on a mining firm in the southern Philippines.
Rebels raided the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in the town of Tampakan in South Cotabato early Tuesday, torching buildings and equipment and attacking a military post nearby.
Authorities said no one was injured or killed in the raid, which the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels claimed was a punishment for the giant Swiss mining firm accused of land grabbing, plunder and environmental destruction.
The rebels said the raid was in response to a longstanding demand of the people to put a stop to the firm’s operations in the area.
Gregorio Rosal, spokesman for the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said rebel forces also seized a pistol, a shotgun, a two-way radio communication set from SMI guards during the raid.
He said rebels also fired deterrent shots at a nearby detachment of the Philippine Army in order to prevent soldiers from coming to the defense of the mining firm they are serving and in order to allow the unhampered withdrawal of the NPA rebels.
“The raid is an important milestone in the effort to put a stop to the firm’s destructive and plunderous (sic) mining operation, defend the ancestral domain of the B’laan tribe; protect the environmental balance of the Liguasan Marsh and the water supply of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos City areas; and resist the Arroyo regime’s campaign to auction off the country’s natural resources to big foreign capitalists,” Rosal said.
NPA forces have previously raided other mining firms in Mindanao which refused to pay illegal taxation. The attack sent a chilling warning to the government that the NPA can carry out offensive despite a massive military operation to crush the growing insurgency problems in Mindanao island.
Indigenous tribes were protesting the operation of the SMI, saying, the mining activities allegedly encroached into ancestral lands and caused pollution in rivers and streams in Tampakan, which is considered a watershed area.
Rosal said the locals are opposing plans by SMI to start open pit mining operations by 2010 in the hinterland villages of Bong Mal, Tablu, Danlag and Pulo Bato.
He said open pit mining operations are considered as among the most ecologically destructive method of mining as this wipe out entire forests and watershed areas.
SMI is partly owned by Xstrata, one of the world’s largest mining companies based in Switzerland.
Tampakan is said to be one of the world’s “best new large-scale copper gold mines,” with an estimated 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.
Rosal said the raid against the SMI was part of offensive operations against big foreign mining firms that plunder the country’s natural resources. He accused Manila of protecting mining firms, which have destroyed ancestral lands and polluted the environment and displaced indigenous people.
“The Arroyo regime lets big foreign mining companies siphon out billions of dollars worth of Philippine natural resources to the further detriment of the people’s livelihood and the environment.”
“As the people intensify their struggle to assert national patrimony against the rapacity of foreign monopoly capitalists, the New People’s Army will carry out more and more punitive actions in response to the people’s demands to stop the unbridled rapacious and destructive operations of big foreign mining companies,” Rosal said.
In March last year, NPA rebels also raided a private coal mining firm, the MG Mining Company, in Raja Kabunsuan village in Surigao del Sur’s Lingig town.
The NPA carted weapons taken from security guards at the mining headquarters after MG executives refused to pay illegal taxation imposed by the insurgents.
The NPA had been collecting so-called “revolutionary taxes” to support its armed struggle to overthrow the democratic government for a separate Maoist homeland in the Philippines.
The latest attack came days after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the NPA has achieved significant military victories in 2007 and warned of more and bigger offensive this year. (Mindanao Examiner)