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Rebels attack Cagayan black sand mines

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 12:54 AM February 16, 2014

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LAL-LO, Cagayan—The New People’s Army (NPA) has taken responsibility for the Jan. 13 burning of vessels, heavy equipment and machinery belonging to a Chinese company that is conducting black sand mining operations along the Cagayan River.

In its Feb. 7 issue of Ang Bayan, the communist movement’s official publication, the NPA said the attack was meant to punish mining firm San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. for activities that have “been detrimental to the people and the environment.”

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San You and other black sand mining companies operating in Cagayan province have committed a “long and filthy list of crimes” that, the statement said, has been “etched in the people’s collective memory.”

“[They] have been slowly killing entire [farming and fishing] communities because of the destruction wrought by the mining activities on the uplands, farms and fishing grounds from which the masses derive their livelihood,” it said.

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Police said about 50 armed men swooped down on the compound occupied by San You in Catayauan village, along the banks of the Cagayan River here.

They burned two barges, a backhoe, a payloader, a bulldozer, two dump trucks and the conveyors and separators used in the processing of black sand from the riverbed.

The NPA said its Henry Abraham Command carried out the attack as a form of revenge against foreign companies, which, it said, “have been stealing the province’s natural wealth.”

“They (foreign companies) have raked in gigantic profits from their plunder but have been paying their workers measly wages. Tons of ore are shipped directly to Taiwan, China and other countries for foreign profit, leaving in their wake pitted grounds and ruined rivers and riverbanks,” the NPA said.

Records from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed that Mario Ancheta, acting MGB director for Cagayan Valley, approved a total of 24 mineral processing permits for sand and gravel and black sand extraction in the towns of Lal-lo, Peñablanca, Aparri, Abulug, Buguey, Gonzaga and Santa Ana, all in Cagayan.

The NPA also accused Cagayan officials, including mayors in towns where black sand is extracted, of “turning a blind eye” on these activities.

The Inquirer tried to seek former Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio and MGB’s Ancheta for comment but they did not respond to text messages sent to their mobile phones.

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Lal-lo Mayor Florante Pascual declined to issue a response, saying he has yet to read the group’s statement.

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Cagayan, New People's Army, NPA
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