Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the Oct. 3 attack launched by the communist-led New People’s Army on three mining firms in Surigao del Norte highlights the negative effects of large-scale mining on people and the environment.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines, which leads the NPA, said the attacks were carried out for “the protection of the environment and natural resources and the defense of the rights of the Lumad people, peasants, and workers.
“The negative effects of large-scale mining have been criticized by a broad array of environmentalists, nationalists, as well as advocates of national minorities, peasants and workers. The NPA attack verifies their criticisms of large-scale mining,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
“For our part, we can attest to the extremely low wages, contractual status, repression of trade-union rights, and poor working conditions in many mining companies. One of our member-unions in Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company in Benguet province, is in a non-stop struggle with the mining company’s management,” he added.
“LCMC has a record of massive retrenchment, contractualization, violence against strikers. Just last month, the Lepanto Employees’ Union declared a deadlock in negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement after the management offered zero wage increase in the agreement’s first year,” he said.
Counterpoint to Aquino
KMU said the Oct. 3 NPA attack offers a counterpoint to the Aquino government’s active campaign to expand foreign ownership in the country by amending the 1987 Constitution.
“In Metro Manila, the Aquino government is trying to attract more foreign investors, including mining companies, to the country via the Cha-cha. In a province distant from Metro Manila, the NPA is calling attention to the actual ill-effects of mining on people and the environment,” Soluta said.
“As workers, as people who are dreaming of a developed Philippines, we should pause to study the contrast in development paths that are on offer,” he added.
“Should we continue attracting foreign investors that damage the environment, plunder our country’s resources, displace national minorities from their lands, and exploit farmers and workers? Many people, not just the NPA, are saying ‘NO’.” Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General