Dinagat village chiefs warn of bloodshed if mining enters their place

SAN JOSE, Dinagat Island (MindaNews/03 February) — Blood will flow if mining companies set foot on our place, the village chiefs of Gibusong Island of Loreto town in Dinagat province warned.

The village chiefs aired the warning Tuesday during the 4th anniversary of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office where they claimed victory in defending the island against the entry of a large-scale mining company.

They recalled how people last year brandished bolos, spear guns and even stones to prevent the entry of Oriental Vision Mining Corporation of Cebu-based businessman Fernando Borja.

The company has an existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreement issued by Mines and Geosciences Bureau to mine Gibusong, which has an area of 1,150 hectares and three barangays namely, Liberty, Helen and Magsaysay.

Borja also runs Adnama Mining Resources Inc. that is operating in Claver town in Surigao del Norte.

“We don’t want the mining company to operate because we don’t want pollution that would destroy our natural resources,” said Nathaniel Dalago, the barangay chair of Liberty.

“Dili kami gusto mahisama sa mga dapit sa Dinagat ug Surigao nga nadaot na ang kadagatan ug kasubaan ug apektado ang panginabuhian sa katawhan,” (We don’t want to be like the places in Dinagat and Surigao where the rivers and seas have been damaged and the livelihood of the people is affected).

Magsaysay barangay chair Ronnie Cabas recalled they have petitioned against the planned operation of the company.

“We made a signature campaign and forwarded it to government line agencies and to our representative Arlene ‘Kaka’” Bag-ao, who helped us in facilitating our petition,” Cabas said.

They intensified the campaign using the social media and formed a group called “Gibusong Island: No to mining”.

In its website: Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp. said it engages in developing and operating three nickel, chromite and other mineral mining projects in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, and Isabela provinces covering a total area of about 5,900 ha.

Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp. is a 100% Filipino-owned multi mineral mining venture chaired by Salvador B. Zamora II and Fernando S. Borja as president and chief executive officer.

In 2008, the company acquired mining properties and operating rights with major deposits of nickel and chromite in Dinagat Province, and copper, gold, zinc, sulphur, pyrite, phosphate and coal properties in Sarangani and Surigao Provinces.

Established in 2008, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., acquired Sangay, Palhi and the Hibuson Nickel Project in Dinagat Island. The Sangay Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years with a partial confirmed mineable ore reserve of 5,064,216 metric tons with an average grade of 1.20% Ni 26.43% Fe and a partial probable ore reserve volume of 38,360,000 metric tons.

The Palhi Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years with a partial confirmed mineable ore reserve of 3,301,620 metric tons with an average grade of 1.40% Ni and more than 30.00% Fe.

The Dinapique Nickel Project in Dinagat Island had been programmed to produce more than five million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores for the next five years.

MindaNews tried to contact Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp but no to avail.

MGB-Caraga Regional Director Roger de Dios said the claimed holder of the MPSA in Gibusong Island has neither been revoked nor canceled.

“There was a recommendation from the monitoring team but it’s not being acted,” de Dios said.

Dinagat province has 10 mining companies extracting nickel ore and shipping it out to China.

On Thursday, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez announced that seven companies were ordered closed in Dinagat Islands, which has been a mineral reservation area since 1939.

The are the AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration, Kromico Inc., Libjo Mining Corporation, Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., SinoSteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corporation, and Wellex Mining Corporation.

Lopez stressed that despite the presence of 10 mining companies in Dinagat Islands, the province has remained poor.

The secretary also blamed the government for not developing the ecotourism potentials of the province despite its beautiful spots.

Four of six mining companies operating in Surigao del Norte are up for closure – ADNAMA Mining Resources Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Platinum Group Metals Corp, and Hinatuan Mining Corp.

The three mining companies in Surigao del Sur in the list are CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

“Daghan na professional sa among lugar, nakapaiskwela kami sa among mga anak bisan walay mining ug nabuhi kami sa pila ka mga henerasyon nga walay mining sa amo lugar,” a villager said.

Agapito T. Patubo, officer-in-charge of PENRO-Dinagat said the preservation and conservation aspects were the main highlights of their anniversary celebration.

Patubo admitted that the island’s environment has been severely damaged due to human activities.

“Logging and mining are prevalent these days,” he said.

During the celebration Gibusong’s three villages received the Bamboo and Mangrove Development Project from DENR aside from getting the National Greening Program along with seven other barangays.

Lopez went to Loreto and Gibusong last week.

Villagers here said Lopez expressed outrage at local government officials in Dinagat Island who reportedly accepted bribes from mining companies.

Nene Elago, a resident of Dinagat who witnessed Lopez’s visit last Friday said the secretary used President Duterte’s favorite cuss words in lambasting the officials.

“Mga put*** I** kayo tumatangap kayo ng bribes sa mga mining companies,” Elago quoted Lopez as having said.

Rep. Bag-ao said Lopez’s statement did not surprise her.

Bag-ao said it’s about time to raise the dignity of her constituents who have remained poor until today.

“Kanindot sa Dinagat pero ang mga tao pobre. Ang kwarta taman ra gyod sa 20 pesos (Dinagat is so beautiful but the people are poor. The only money that can be seen here is 20 pesos),” she said.

Lopez was horrified by what she saw in Dinagat Island. “Oh my God. Grabe. It’s absolutely crazy,” she blurted out upon seeing the massive siltation caused by mining.

The secretary did an aerial survey of mining operations in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur on Thursday and in Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Islands on Friday.

“Parang (It’s like a) nightmare. Sabi ko (I said)…aaahhh,” said Lopez as she showed MindaNews the videos and photos she took using her mobile phone. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)