CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/14 Jan) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines has said that environmentally destructive operations of big business and multi-national corporations make them valid military targets of the New People’s Army in view of the recent spate of disasters.
“Banning, disabling and dismantling these large, environmentally-destructive operations are still the best ways we could avert the disastrous impact on people’s lives and livelihood of calamities such as this. They are legitimate military targets of NPA attacks,” Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, spokesperson of the NDF in Mindanao, said in a statement emailed to media organizations.
He added that stopping these operations through military action by the NPA may be a form of disaster prevention. “Prevention is still better than curing the aftermath damages of these calamities,” Madlos said.
Meanwhile, a progressive environmental organization Kalikasan Network for the Philippine Environment (KPNE) has called on the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDF to bring into the forthcoming resumption of peace negotiations the issues of environment and mining.
The Philippine government has long been supportive of mining liberalization whose main feature is enticing foreign capital and companies into the local mining industry. On the other hand, the NDFP has been very vocal in opposing the government mining policies and has called its forces to stop foreign mining operation in the country.
Diverting from the military allegation that “revolutionary taxation” on mining firms is a threat to economic development after seven foreign mining firms reportedly threatened to stop their operations in Caraga region, Madlos dared the military to name these firms, adding that the mining companies’ exit is good for everyone.
“We challenge the military to come up with their list of seven mining companies who wish to pull out of Caraga because they cannot live up to the policies of the revolutionary government. We welcome this news, so that we can minimize the damage caused to our environment,” said the NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson.
The KPNE said in a statement that the peace talks should not be limited to the issue of taxation and mining alone but how both parties can push for genuine environmental protection, wise utilization of our natural resources, and the right of people to a healthful ecology.
“From an environmental point of view, the declaration of foreign transnational mining companies to pull out is a good thing and is welcomed by local communities and environmental, church, and people’s organizations which have long resisted the environmental destruction and plunder of natural resources by foreign mining firms,” KPNE said in a statement
“We hope that the resumption of peace talks will reach or lead to an agreement on how the interests and rights of the Filipino people will be upheld and how lasting peace can be achieved in the country, at the same time resolve and address the root causes of environmental destruction and ecological degradation in the country,” KPNE added
Torrential rains brought by a weather system known as “tail-end of the cold front” aggravated by climate change has dumped above normal rainfall in the eastern seaboard of the country.
In Mindanao, areas badly affected are Davao, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and almost the entire region of Caraga, which resulted to the death of 18 people. Caraga region accounted for having the highest number of displaced people and damaged livelihood and infrastructures.
Nationwide, more than 40 people have died and over half a million people are currently affected. Damage could be in the billions of pesos.
Degraded environment brought by extractive industries like mining and logging has greatly increased the disaster risk vulnerability of poor communities which to start with have very little capacity to absorb damage brought by disasters like floods and landslides. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)