Mob attacks, burns Camarines Norte mining office | Inquirer News

Mob attacks, burns Camarines Norte mining office

/ 10:44 PM December 15, 2011

NAGA CITY—The staff house of a mining company operating in a village in Labo, Camarines Norte, was torched on Tuesday by a mob that authorities said could be either residents of the area angered by mining or communist rebels out on a mission to disrupt the company’s operations.

At least 60 people wielding bolos and throwing stones attacked the staff house of Mt. Labo Exploration Development Corp. at about 4 a.m., setting it on fire and taking off with a generator set and other pieces of equipment, said Chief Insp. Godofredo Tul-o, Labo chief of police.

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The staff house was in Barangay Dumagmang where the company was exploring for copper and gold.

“The group started to shout and asked us to leave,” said Tul-o, quoting company chief security officer Oscar Auxillo. The mob, Tul-o said, shouted that the mining site “belonged to them.”

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After the security team and staffers had left, the mob set the staff house on fire. By 9 a.m., the entire structure had been razed to the ground, said Tul-o.

No one was hurt in the attack.

Tul-o said police were still determining if the area’s residents were indeed involved and what the motive was for the attack.

Police, however, are looking at the opposition of residents against the mining operations in the area as a possible motive for the attack.

Another motive could be rivalry between Mt. Labo and another mining firm, but Tul-o can’t elaborate on that.

Tul-o said police were also not counting out the possibility that members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, were behind the attack.

Communist guerrillas had vowed to press ahead with attacks on mining firms but the military said the main driving force for guerrilla attacks on mining was to collect so-called revolutionary taxes.

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One of the boldest guerilla attack yet on mining was the raid by the NPA on a mining site in Surigao del Sur where the guerrillas burned sets of heavy equipment and took off with firearms seized from the mining site’s security force.

Several lawmakers had proposed that mining companies be allowed to maintain small armies to thwart rebel attacks but this was quickly opposed by militant groups who said allowing mining firms to build their own armies would lead to more human rights abuses.

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TAGS: Camarines Norte, Environmental Issues, Mining
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