Diwalwal folks urge Comval SP to probe JB Mining’s JOA

Nabunturan, Compostela Valley (Panalipdan/10 August) —   After a series of deferment, the Provincial Board of Compostela Valley will finally tackle in its August 11 session the controversial Joint Operations Agreement (JOA) awarded to JB Mining. The same body has moved for the cancellation of the scheduled bidding of the 729-hectare portion of the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area last July 21 in a bid to uphold the voice of the small scale miners.

Through the JOA,  the Natural Resources Devt. Corp. (NRDC-DENR) granted JB Mining the right to mine a 429-hectare portion of the 729-hectare parcel within the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area.  Expose of such agreement has caused outrage among the small scale miners and other concerned residents in Diwalwal.

Rey Elejorde, chairperson of the Nagkahiusang Katawhan sa Diwalwal  (NAGKADIWA) said in the vernacular, “We urge the council to move for the cancellation of the JOA for it undermines the small scale miners’ (SSM) rights. The JOA clearly favors only the capitalist, large-scale corporation such as  JB Mining.”

He added, “The secrecy of the deal between the NRDC and JBMMC is highly questionable and poses doubts on the ‘honesty’ of such transaction. The JOA which was forged on February 17, 2010, just 2 months before the May 2010 elections, would lead one to think how this was instrumental for the political maneuvering of the Arroyo administration and its allies.”

NAGKADIWA said the disregard for the SSM’s rights of the JBMMC and its bypassing of the barangay is enough basis for the council to cancel the JOA and order the stoppage of JBMMC’s ongoing mining operations.

Meanwhile, the DEFEND MT.DIWATA, an alliance of environmental organizations and advocates united on defending Mt.Diwata from the takeover of large-scale mining in Diwalwal, has expressed during the session its support for the people of Diwalwal in their fight against the entry of large-scale mining corporations.

Secretary General Francis Morales of PANALIPDAN  in a letter addressed to the COMVAL council said:  “We from PANALIPDAN – SMR support the demands of the small scale mining industry and other concerned sectors in Diwalwal for we believe that indeed, no true development can be achieved if the people’s rights and lives are encroached upon to benefit the already powerful few.”

PANALIPDAN adds that the 729 –hectare Diwalwal Minahang Bayan was declared by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Compostela Valley since March 30, 1999 as the People’s Small-Scale Mining Area (PSSMA) which was approved by then Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Antonio Cerilles on September 20, 1999.

With this, Morales also urged the council to “review and investigate the JOA and in the time being, order the stop of operations of JBMMC within the 729-parcel which is considered as  Diwalwal Mineral Reservation Area in order to create an atmosphere of trust and fairness in dealing with the JOA issue.”