MANILA, Philippines -- Mining companies have been advised by the government to beef up their security after communist guerrillas sabotaged a major copper project of global mining outfit Xstrata on New Year?s Day, according to a mining group.
New People?s Army (NPA) rebels set fire to the Xstrata base camp at its Tampakan exploration project in North Cotabato and vowed to launch a similar action against other foreign-run mines in the future.
?While isolated amid the vastly improving security situation nationwide, the raid evidently wants to derail the government?s revitalization program for the Philippine minerals industry,? the Minerals Development Council said in a statement yesterday.
The council said ?companies will be advised to periodically touch base with the national police and military forces to strengthen security coordination and implementation.?
The council, made up of key senior advisers of President Macapagal-Arroyo and senior executives of the country?s mining chamber, helps the government craft policy to develop the country?s long-underfunded minerals sector.
?The biggest losers will be the communities and workers whom the communist group claims to protect,? the council said in light of the Jan. 1 attack.
?The raid is a serious affront to the will of communities supportive of the exploration project in their desire to improve their quality of life.?
Environment Secretary Lito Atienza has since called for more security for the Xstrata project as well as other mining sites across the country.
He urged the military to provide security for the most vulnerable projects.
The NPA?s mother organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a 39-year Maoist rebellion, has claimed responsibility for the Xstrata attack and vowed it would ?resist the Arroyo regime?s campaign to auction off the country?s natural resources to big foreign capitalists.?
In related news, communist guerrillas clashed with security forces and attacked a telecommunications tower in separate incidents, leaving at least two rebels dead, the military said yesterday.
A military patrol fought with NPA rebels near a town east of Manila yesterday, leaving two rebels dead and a third critically wounded, military spokespersons said.
Also yesterday, soldiers clashed with suspected NPA guerillas in Compostela Valley province, police and military officials said.
Troops from the Army?s 28th Infantry Battalion came across 14 heavily-armed guerillas believed to be members of the NPA?s Front 3 under a Ka Norman in Sitio Liwanag, Barangay Banlag, Compostela Valley police chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa said. With a report from Frinston Lim, Inquirer Mindanao