Local Bureaucrats Enforces Pseudo-Martial Law in Lacub to Suppress Large-Scale Mining Opposition

Danreb Bringgas
Procopio Tauro Front, NPA-North Abra
26 June 2012

The Procopio Tauro Front-NPA North Abra condemns the undemocratic process by which the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) was held in the municipality of Lacub, province of Abra last March 2012 and the harassment, deceit, and dirty tactics used by the large-scale mining (LSM) company, its LGU cohorts, and the AFP to push the people to vote in favor of the exploration of the Golden Lake-Miguel M. Pena mining company. Mining exploration is already mining operation which will strongly affect the livelihood, ancestral land and the resources of the people of Lacub. This demands a true democratic process in which the people will unite on its stand on the exploration without the control or pressure of local government officials or armed groups. 

The people of Lacub for the past years had been vehement in its position against destructive large-scale mining. Under the past administrations, inspite of the LSM companies’ efforts to persuade the people such as Magdaleno M. Pena mining company, a Korean company and Rio Dorado to name a few, these applications did not push through because of the people’s opposition. They even barricaded in Poblacion, Lacub to stop the Korean company from conducting a survey in Mt. Bumurayok. Only last 2011 that the tactics used by the LSM company and its LGU cohorts rose to a higher level of terrorism and deception.

Last November 2011, the NCIP held the pre-field investigation in Barangay Bacag, Sitio Libsong and Brgy. Poblacion. In these meetings, Mayor Estella Bersamina and Vice-mayor Leo Barona of Lacub openly declared their position in favor of large-scale mining and even encouraged the people to do the same. The 41st IB Charlie Coy of the AFP were also present in the vicinity of the meetings where armies stand beside the NCIP speakers with their hands on the trigger. In sitio Guinguinabang, Brgy. Balaoang, the AFP positioned in the mountain beside the barrio. They do these inspite of NCIP chairman Russell Braggas’ request of the pull out of the army detachment in Lacub since October 2011. Aside from the AFP, private armed groups (PAGs) of the mayor and vice-mayor were also present in the meeting carrying .45 and a certain goon named Jing Bose carrying an AK rifle.  What do these armed groups and the AFP purpose in displaying guns in an NCIP meeting if not to pacify the people’s opposition in the exploration?

Last January 2012, the Consultative Community Assembly (CCA) was held in Brgy. Poblacion, Lacub in which the mining company explained their objectives and programs. But contrary to what they said earlier last October 2011 in a meeting in Bangued, the company suddenly changed and withheld some of the information regarding the program to persuade the people to approve of the exploration. An example of which are the trenches to be made to dig samples which they narrowed down to 1 foot by 1 foot (1 ft X 1 ft.) wide instead of five meter by five meter (5m X 5m) wide and they also withheld the information that their first target of exploration is in Lipit, in sitio Talampac.

Local goverment officials also never conducted full efforts to ensure the attendance of the people in these meetings and even in the consultative assembly. In the barrios, the people knew of the meeting and the voting day the day itself. In Poblacion, instead of announcing the meeting beforehand, the LGU only posted small teasers in limited areas informing them of the consultative assembly. As a result, many residents never got the chance to attend these meetings and were also absent in the voting day.

Moreover, local government officials and their PAGs harrased those who are opposing LSM. They also threatened government employees to campaign and stand in favor of LSM. In fear of losing their jobs, the employees do so against their will. There is also a case in which three regular employees actively opposing LSM were transfered in Bangued by the LGU to pacify them in their opposition to the exploration. Some local government officials, barangay councils and the people who are member of the Coalition, the political party of the mayor and vice-mayor were also forced to assumed the same position as theirs.

The mining companies and its LGU cohorts also gave P500 each to ensure that people will vote in favor of LSM. And lastly, the consultative assembly is through open voting in which pros fall in one line and write their names and so as the antis. These prevented many from voting because of fear of losing their jobs and harassments while others boycotted the election because of their despair of the whole process. In Brgy. Bacag, fellow members of the Coalition party wrote the names af absent voters in the YES votes without their consent even though these people are against LSM.

As expected, the YES votes won in Lacub with a disparity of more than 200 votes. The NO vote was only won in Brgy. Pacoc and Sitio Talampac. In Poblacion, 253 voted YES while only an elder woman voted NO out of more than 700 voters of Brgy. Poblacion  which only shows how fear and terror spread among the people. Undoubtedly, the YES vote is not the true voice/will of the people of Lacub. It is the voice of the people that were victims of the deception, harassment, terrorism and fraud of the connivance of the mining company, its LGU cohorts and the AFP.

The CPP-NPA is always firm in its stand against all destructive and anti-people projects such as LSM, dams and illegal logging. Based from the collective experience of many communities in which LSM was in operation or was operated, only the mining companies, the imperialist and its ruling class profits while the majority of the people never improved their lives and also suffered the consequences of LSM. No amount of money, livelihood, projects, roads will pay for the price of the destruction, the LSM will bring to the land, life and resources of the people.

The AFP on the other hand, proved once again its role as the security forces of the mining companies in protecting the interest of the capitalist and suppressing people’s resitance under the USAR2 regime’s Oplan Bayanihan. While the local bureucrats, in advancing its own personal interest conspire with mining companies even in the destructuion of their ancestral land and the violation of the democratic rights of the people they promised to serve.

The Procopio Tauro Front, even after the setback of the Tineg-8 incident, is always resolute to defend the people. True in our commitment to punish the liars and the terrorist, the PTF conducted two harassment operations in succession in Bantugo and Inuman last April 2012. We will not hesitate and we are always ready to launch tactical offensives and special operations to those who will commit crimes against the people.

The PTF also salutes the people of Lacub who are firm in its stand to defend their land, life and resources in the midst of threats, harassment and other dirty tactics by the AFP, LSM and its LGU cohorts. We are also calling all the people of Lacub, regardless of their political party, to join hands with each other and fight the common enemy which is the large scale-mining company. We must surpass the divide cause by bourgeois politics and stand as one to win in our fight for our democraric rights. We must fight to protect our land for the future of the next generation and unite to be prepared for the battles still ahead of us. We are also challenging the local government officials to abandon their self-interest, respect the rights of their constituents and truly serve them by being one with them in protecting their livelihood and ancestral land.

The NPA will never abandon the people and will fight with them to the very end not only against LSM, but for the attainment of building a new society thet truly serves and uphold the rights of the people.