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CHR INVESTIGATES ALLEGED HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN A MINING AREA
Volume 23 Number 1
Thursday, 12 January 2012 10:43

by Jonal Javier

 

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila De Lima headed an ocular visit as part of CHR’s investigation of human rights violations in Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Viscaya last November 5 and 6, 2009.
Chairperson De Lima, along with CHR Commissioner Manuel Mamauag, arrived in Solano, Nueva Viscaya in the morning of November 5. The two were met by the CHR Region 2 staff headed by its Regional Director Atty. Jimmy Baliga and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Executive Director Mr. Emmanuel Amistad and Human Rights Defender Program Coordinator Mr. Jonal Javier  in the Governor’s Hotel in the said municipality.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila De Lima headed an ocular visit as part of CHR’s investigation of human rights violations in Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Viscaya last November 5 and 6, 2009.
Chairperson De Lima, along with CHR Commissioner Manuel Mamauag, arrived in Solano, Nueva Viscaya in the morning of November 5. The two were met by the CHR Region 2 staff headed by its Regional Director Atty. Jimmy Baliga and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Executive Director Mr. Emmanuel Amistad and Human Rights Defender Program Coordinator Mr. Jonal Javier  in the Governor’s Hotel in the said municipality.

 

At 9 o’clock in the morning, the group of Kasibu Mayor Romeo Tayaban and Didipio Brgy. Chairperson Marilou Nablul came to meet and serve as guide to the CHR team. Aside from the CHR, the delegation that proceeded to Brgy. Didipio included various NGOs operating in the area, as well as the media.
The group arrived in the area at around two in the afternoon. According to Chairperson De Lima, she was made to stop at a checkpoint that was installed by the management of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and had to wait for the go signal from the office of the said company to let her group pass. She narrated that even if she and Mayor Tayaban presented themselves to the guard manning the check point, the said guard still insisted that he had to wait for the go signal.
After taking a very brief lunch, the CHR group proceeded to the area where the alleged illegal demolition, arson and direct assault happened. The Chair checked on the remnants of the burned house of Mr. Elmer Lawagan, a resident of Didipio.
After the ocular inspection, Chairperson De Lima had a dialogue with the indigenous peoples (IPs) residents of Didipio who were holding their picket in front of the gate of OGPI while the CHR team was conducting the ocular inspection. She and Comm. Mamauag dialogued with the residents and IP leaders who presented their situation to the CHR. The chairperson promised to do a thorough investigation of the cases the next day.
The formal investigation in the Provincial Capitol of Nueva Viscaya was conducted the following day. The representatives from OGPI, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were present. The cases that were reported to the commission were verified during the investigation.
The representative from OGPI denied the allegations such as arson and direct assault to Mr. Lawagan. They also insisted that there is nothing illegal in the demolitions since they owned the land where the houses are erected. Also, they reiterated that they had an order from the MGB for the demolition. When they asked about the fences and checkpoints around Didipio, OGPI’s lawyer explained that it is part of their company’s security measures.
The MGB stated their power under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 to decide on the merit of case of land dispute within the mining areas, when they were asked by the CHR why and on what legal capacity they can give such decision.
The PNP was also asked about their participation in the violent dispersal of the barricade in Didipio. PNP Regional Director Pedro Dangilan denied that they used excessive force during the demolition.
Meanwhile, during the investigation, a hundred of IPs from Didipio picketed outside the Provincial Capitol building. They called for the cancellation of the mining permit in their community. The IPs performed their indigenous war dance as a sign of their protest.
At 9 o’clock in the morning, the group of Kasibu Mayor Romeo Tayaban and Didipio Brgy. Chairperson Marilou Nablul came to meet and serve as guide to the CHR team. Aside from the CHR, the delegation that proceeded to Brgy. Didipio included various NGOs operating in the area, as well as the media.
The group arrived in the area at around two in the afternoon. According to Chairperson De Lima, she was made to stop at a checkpoint that was installed by the management of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and had to wait for the go signal from the office of the said company to let her group pass. She narrated that even if she and Mayor Tayaban presented themselves to the guard manning the check point, the said guard still insisted that he had to wait for the go signal.
After taking a very brief lunch, the CHR group proceeded to the area where the alleged illegal demolition, arson and direct assault happened. The Chair checked on the remnants of the burned house of Mr. Elmer Lawagan, a resident of Didipio.
After the ocular inspection, Chairperson De Lima had a dialogue with the indigenous peoples (IPs) residents of Didipio who were holding their picket in front of the gate of OGPI while the CHR team was conducting the ocular inspection. She and Comm. Mamauag dialogued with the residents and IP leaders who presented their situation to the CHR. The chairperson promised to do a thorough investigation of the cases the next day.
The formal investigation in the Provincial Capitol of Nueva Viscaya was conducted the following day. The representatives from OGPI, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were present. The cases that were reported to the commission were verified during the investigation.
The representative from OGPI denied the allegations such as arson and direct assault to Mr. Lawagan. They also insisted that there is nothing illegal in the demolitions since they owned the land where the houses are erected. Also, they reiterated that they had an order from the MGB for the demolition. When they asked about the fences and checkpoints around Didipio, OGPI’s lawyer explained that it is part of their company’s security measures.
The MGB stated their power under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 to decide on the merit of case of land dispute within the mining areas, when they were asked by the CHR why and on what legal capacity they can give such decision.
The PNP was also asked about their participation in the violent dispersal of the barricade in Didipio. PNP Regional Director Pedro Dangilan denied that they used excessive force during the demolition.
Meanwhile, during the investigation, a hundred of IPs from Didipio picketed outside the Provincial Capitol building. They called for the cancellation of the mining permit in their community. The IPs performed their indigenous war dance as a sign of their protest.

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