MILITARY operations in Mindanao have escalated and have become more extensive with the aim to thwart the ever growing and widespread people’s protest against destructive mining operations and plantations owned by imperialists, the big comprador bourgeois and big landlords. After having ravaged the environment by way of wanton logging, imperialists and the local ruling clique insidiously intend to inflict even greater devastation to the environment; and, to deprive, oppress and exploit further the Lumads, Moro, peasants and workers in order to satiate their greed for superprofit.
In Far Southern Mindanao, the opposition of the B’laan and Moro peoples, the religious, peasants and irrigators’ cooperatives, the local government, and the people in general against Xstrata-SMI — the largest gold mining operation in Southeast Asia, covering 90,000 hectares in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Saranggani, corpulent with a capitalization of US$5.9 billion — has gained strength and broadened. Suffering from blatant and relentless violations by the Xstrata-SMI against their ancestral domain, the B’laan Lumads have been pushed to wage a “Red Pangayaw” (Tribal War) against Xstrata-SMI, as well as against the security guards, Army, Cafgu and PNP protecting the company. On June 20, their ambush resulted in the demise of Chief Security Ret. Police Supt. Villamindo Hectin and of PO2 Rey Tonzo, and the wounding of SPO1 Wenefredo Sengonnigue and PO1 Glen Beltran. In the second ambush that took place the same day in Makak, Brgy. Kiblawan, North Cotabato, one official of the 1002nd Brigade and 2 Cafgus were wounded.
These were followed by an ambush on June 26 launched by the B’laan in Kimlawis, Kiblawan, where PO Yolly Jean Singkolan was killed in the course of combat. In 1995, the Western Mining Company, the first to bring large-scale mining to Tampakan, was compelled to abandon their operations when the B’laan Lumads waged a “Revolutionary Pangayaw” against the company. In January of 2008, the NPA dismantled the administration office of the Xstrata-SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato, and in the following year, the NPA raided the Tampakan PNP protecting the company.
In the Southern Mindanao Region, where numerous imperialist mining companies operate such as the Russell Mines and Minerals, Apex Mining Corp. and Philco, the people’s protest against large-scale mining is also strong and wide. In the past, small-scale miners’ associations launched, in several occasions, protest actions against an imperialist mining company which, together with its local partners, aimed to grab from the small-scale miners the very source of gold in Diwalwal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley. There were also several instances in the region where the NPA sanctioned highly destructive mining operations as well as militarily targeted units of the AFP, Cafgu, PNP and other security forces actively protecting large-scale mining companies.
In North Central Mindanao, the opposition of Lumad peoples, especially the Manobos and the Matigsalogs, together with the peasants, church, LGU and other sectors against the mining operations of Indophil in Quezon and in San Fernando, Bukidnon is fast gaining ground; that is precisely why the 8th IB continues with its intensified military operations in the said area. Currently, in the interest of mining companies, the 8th IB has forcibly placed under hamlet more than 100 peasant and Lumad families in Sitio Sikayab, Brgy. Bunacao, San Fernando, Bukidnon. There is also strong people’s protest against the expansion of the Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations, in whose areas the military, every now and then, conducts combat operations in order to secure these companies’ interests. On the other hand, within two weeks alone, the NPA in the region has launched five tactical offensives against operating troops of the AFP, Cafgu and PNP. One of these was the ambush conducted by the NPA on June 17 against operating 8th IB troops in Sikayab, Bunacao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, where 9 army personnel were killed-in-action (KIA) and 2 others wounded; the NPA sustained no casualty.
In Western Mindanao, there is widespread opposition among the Subanen and Moro peoples, peasants and workers, church and the middle forces against military operations conducted by the Tabak Division of the Army aimed at crushing people’s dissent against the everising number of mining sites and operations of the Toronto Venture Inc. (TVI) in the entire region. If one recalls, more than 400 families were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands because of TVI and the ruthless military operations that ensued to protect it in Buug, Zamboanga del Sur. In order to defend the people’s human rights and general wellbeing, the NPA launched tactical offensives against TVI as well as against units of the AFP-PNP-Cafgu protecting it, such as the ambush on February 2012 that hit elements of the army intelligence group operating on the behest of TVI. The imposition of the local government to allow TVI mining operations on Subanen ancestral lands is one of the bases the NPA raided on April 9 the PNP station in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur.
In Caraga, where the number of mining companies is most concentrated, a stronger and more fareaching opposition led by the Lumads, church and local government groups and a broad range of people’s aggrupation against large-scale mining’s destructive effects, as well as against the ever-expanding Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations, is at present gaining unprecedented groundswell. Because of this, the military operations of various troop units from the 4th ID PA continue almost unabated, which has already resulted in massive evacuations and in the perpetration of brutal human rights violations against the people. On the other hand, the NPA has already simultaneously sanctioned three giant mining companies in Claver, Surigao del Norte on Oct. 3, 2011. In the last two weeks alone, the NPA was able to launch 10 military actions against enemy troops protecting these mining companies and plantations. One of these was the NPA attack on June 27 in Puog, Tandag City, against 29th IB troops, where 2Lt. Martinez was killed, and 2Lt. Gomez and Cpl. Cabahis were wounded. The NPA was able to seize one M16 rifle.
And recently on July 6, the NPA in NEMR successfully sanctioned the VPO Mines, Inc. for maintaining a disproportionately large number of armed goons (with more than 60 high-powered rifles and other weapons) while wantonly operating in Brgy. Bayugan III, Rosario, Agusan del Sur. The NPA was able to confiscate 30 firearms from the company, which include the following: 13 HPRs (7 M16s, 2 M4 Carbine arm-a-lite rifles, 1 M203, 2 M14, 1 AK-47), 9 shotguns, 6 .45 Cal pistols, 2 .9mm-KG, and several ammunition.
In view of these events, the NDFP in Mindanao calls upon the Lumad and Moro peoples, peasants and workers, religious and other sectors to further strengthen their unity and their courage to oppose the interests of imperialist mines and plantations, which are exceedingly damaging to Mindanao, to its people and to the environment. We call upon the units of the NPA in Mindanao to be ever more daring in their defense of people’s interests against the greed and rapacity of the local ruling classes and their imperialist master.
Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos