CHR asks PNP to probe alleged dispersal of people’s barricade in Vizcaya mining site
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate allegations of police personnel violently dispersing a barricade placed by indigenous people (IPs) living near a mining site in Nueva Vizcaya.
CHR said that the alleged violent dispersal is “deplorable” since the police force should have placed its focus on enforcing the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) all over Luzon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission supposedly received a report on Monday about over a hundred police officers escorting three diesel tankers of OceanaGold Philippines Inc (OGPI), forcibly entering the premises of Barangay Didipio in Kasibu town. The incident supposedly left several female IPs injured.
“It is deplorable that such operations were carried out while there is an ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is being implemented,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Tuesday.
“While people are trying to flatten the curve by complying with the enhanced community quarantine, such action by OGPI and the police increases the danger of losing the lives of the involved communities,” she added.
Gold mining at the site in Dipidio was suspended last October 2019, as Oceana’s bid for a new contract after 25 years of operation was shut down because of environmental concerns. A group has asked the company to return the land used by the company to indigenous people originally residing in the area.
CHR meanwhile reminded the national government that development cannot always be made at the expense of the rights of people especially the marginalized.
“We strongly remind the government that in pursuit of national development, it should never resort to oppressive policies that jeopardize the human rights of the marginalized, vulnerable, and disadvantaged sectors such as our indigenous peoples,” De Guia said.
“Similarly, we underscore and reiterate that in this time of health crisis, the government must address the basic and medical needs of these communities—not persecute nor attack them,” she added. “The whole nation is already suffering from various losses due to the disease. Let us not waste more lives as we succumb to the greedy corporate interest of the few.”
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