MANILA, Philippines — Communist rebels said they conducted a “punitive action” against a “destructive” mining operation in Mati City, Davao Oriental over the weekend, destroying heavy equipment and vehicles and seizing weapons and ammunition.
And on Monday, a soldier was killed and two others wounded in a clash with the New People’s Army in Infanta, Quezon while a female guerrilla died in another encounter in Occidental Mindoro.
Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesman of the New People’s Merardo Arce Command said fighters of the ComVal-Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Command attacked Mil-Oro Mining Corp. in Sitio Salingkomot, Barangay Macambol early Saturday morning, gutting five backhoes, four graders and several vehicles, and seized two carbines, six shotguns, military radios, ammunition and several gadgets.
Sanchez said the firm owned by Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp., which operates an open pit, is among those whose environmental compliance certificate was revoked last year by Gina Lopez, who was recently rejected as Environment secretary by the Commission on Appointments.
The rebel spokesman said the firm has been operating since 2015 within 5,000 hectares that straddle the protected areas of Pujada Bay and the Mt. Hamiguitan range, “declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 2014.”
He blamed Davao Oriental Representative Corazon Malanyaon for allowing this when she was then provincial governor, adding that Mil-Oro’s incursion had displaced lumad and peasant families, and adversely affected the livelihood of small fisherfolk.
Meanwhile, Major General Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the Quezon encounter took place in Sitio Little Baguio, Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta when troops of the 1st Infantry Battalion battled an unknown number of rebels.
The Occidental Mindoro clash in Barangay Barahan, Sta. Cruz town between a section of the 76th Infantry Battalion and 30 guerrillas led to the death of the rebel known only as Ka Bikke, he added.