CDO solon to Madlos: ‘Give my green bills a chance’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Feb) – The pronouncements of National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao (NDFP) spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos that the simultaneous attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) against Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) and Dole-Philippines in Bukidnon last Tuesday were just the “start” of a series of military offensives against mining and logging firms operating in the island have put this city’s congressman on edge, as he feared that the communist rebels would launch similar attacks here.

Earlier, Madlos has issued a warning that “if government (including the city government) cannot control these companies from destroying the environment and plundering the island’s natural resources, thenthe NPA will.”

In a phone interview Thursday, 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez assured the NPA that he has done his part in advocating for the
environment and ecology by authoring and pushing “green bills” in the House of Representatives.

“We cannot prevent them (NDFP) from punishing the companies that have been raping and plundering our environment as we all have witnessed recently. But I ask them to reconsider, if they plan to launch similar raids in our upland communities here,” he said.

Last Tuesday, at about 6 p.m., NPA guerrillas simultaneously assaulted and razed facilities and heavy equipment of DMPI and Dole in Bukidnon  One of DMPI’s security guards was killed and three others were wounded as a result of the coordinated attacks.

Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Command, said the simultaneous and coordinated military operation was a “forthright statement that the revolutionary movement is determined in meting out punitive actions against the giant agribusiness companies for exploiting and oppressing the workers, peasants and lumads, seriously ravaging the environment.”

“After a series of killer typhoons wrought havoc to hapless victims, the culpability of the environmentally-destructive operations of
logging, agribusiness and mining companies is repeatedly exposed. Now is the time to serve justice to the victims of these man-made
calamities,” Juanito stated in an emailed statement, Thursday.

In the same emailed statement, Juanito claimed that the “sudden surge of flood water in Cagayan River by tropical storm Sendong, which swept thousands of lives and billions worth of property, clearly shows the extent of current environmental destruction in the region. The once lush watershed forests of Kitanglad and Kalatungan Ranges, where the headwaters of the tributaries of Cagayan River originate, are gradually being denuded until now.”

“In its foothills are waves upon waves of pineapple and banana plantations owned by the imperialist Dole and Del Monte companies.
During heavy downpours, tons of soil contaminated with toxic chemicals is washed out (into) Cagayan River,” the statement continues.

Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, commander of the 4th Civil-Military Operations Battalion, said the rebels burned the fertilizer warehouse
and logistics office of DMPI in Vista Villa, Sumilao, an administration office of Dole-Philippines in La Fortuna, Impasug-ong  town and razed a Canter truck, a grader, two motorcycles and one boom sprayer truck inside a motor pool garage in front of Caltex Gas
Station in Manolo Fortich.

Bukidnon Governor Alex Calingasan, in a text message sent Tuesday evening, reported that responding police officers were blocked and disarmed by NPA guerrillas in Atugan Bridge in Impasug-ong town.

Rodriguez appealed to the leadership of NDF-North Central Mindanao Command to give his bills – which have been approved in the Lower House – a chance to be passed into law.

“The bills I have authored or co-sponsored that promote the protection of our environment have all been approved in the Lower House and are now pending at the Senate. Plenary (approval) na man lang ang kulang,” he said.

Rodriguez is referring to House Bills 1063 (Imposing a logging ban in the city), HB 1064 (Imposing a mining ban in the city), HB 1396
(Declaring Cagayan de Oro Watershed as a protected area), HB 45 (sustainable forest management) and HB 2109 (banning plastic bags).

The other environment-friendly bills he has either authored or co-sponsored that are still pending in the Lower House’s Committee on
Environment and Ecology are HB 1665, which seeks to establish rivers as ecology zones; HB 1062, which will institute the Oil Spill
Liability Fund; and HB 896, mandating the use of recyclable materials for packaging of consumer products.

Madlos, in a text message hours after the daring series of attacks of  its combatants in Camp Phillips, Bukidnon early Tuesday evening,
confirmed that the attacks were meant to be punitive action against the expansion of operations of Del Monte and Dole and to “send a
strong message to put a stop to land-use conversion and retribution for the victims of tropical storm Sendong.”

It can be recalled that NDFP issued a similar threat to this city’s officials to “either do something about the on-going gold mining
operations in the upland barangays of the city, along the rivers of  Cagayan and Iponan, or we will.”

Madlos first made his declaration of war against logging and mining  companies, who “have already denuded our forests and mountains, and now they are out to totally wreak havoc on what has remained of our environment with their indiscriminate (logging and) mining operations,” in the island during his opening speech at NDFP’s  founding anniversary in 2010, held somewhere in the hinterlands of Surigao del Sur.

Although the series of attacks in DMPI’s Camp Phillips did not cause as much damage, it bore an eerie resemblance to NDFP-Northeastern Mindanao Regional Command’s simultaneous raids on three adjacent large-scale mining firms in Claver town, Surigao del Norte on October 3, 2011.

NPA fighters raided the Nickel Asia Corporation, Taganito High-Pressure Acid Leaching Mining Company (THPAL-Sumitomo) and
Platinum Metals Group, simultaneously. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)