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DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told mining companies that plan to operate here that they may secure permits to do so but will still have to contend with the communist New People’s Army.
Duterte’s warning came on the heels of the signing by President Benigno Aquino III of Executive Order No. 79, which is meant to increase government’s share from mining revenues as well as ensure that mining firms abide with environmental and other laws.
The EO also orders the Department of Interior and Local Government to ensure that local legislation on mining does not run counter to national policy.
Duterte and his daughter, Sara, who is mayor of the city, are staunchly against the entry of large-scale mining into Davao because of what they see as the industry’s destructive nature.
The vice mayor said mining companies interested in getting into Davao will find it very difficult to get the approval of the city council and other local agencies.
“You better get a permit … If anybody goes into mining business without a permit, without the necessary clearance from the government, we just request the Philippine Army (to go after you), to say the least,” he said.
But, he added, even if mining firms secure the needed permits to operate here, this was “not counting the strong objection of the NPA, who hostage mining employees. Of course, I will not stop them (NPA). I cannot ask the NPA to like mining. That is their business. If they want to do something about that, that is their business.”
Just recently, Jorge Madlos or Ka Oris, spokesman of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, called on NPA units in the southern Philippines to “be more daring in their defense of people’s interest against the greed and rapacity of local ruling classes and their imperialist master.”
Late last year, hundreds of NPA fighters raided three large mining firms in Surigao del Norte, destroying up to a billion pesos’ worth of equipment and facilities.
The latest anti-mining operation by the NPA was only last Friday, when they raided the VPO Mining Co. in Rosario town, Agusan del Sur, seizing weapons and taking three executives -- including the owner’s son -- hostage.
The three were released the next day.
However, the NDF in Northeastern Mindanao denied reports they took demanded money in exchange for the hostage’s freedom.
“We would like to make it clear that there is absolutely no truth to the claim that the three top officials of the company were held in exchange for a sum of money,” the regional NDF spokesperson, Ka Mariya Malaya, said in a statement. “The release of the said officials would have been done earlier if not for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)’s offensive operation.”
She said they managed to release the three to local officials she did not name only after the military agreed to suspend operations.