There is still a silver lining for the Indigenous Peoples of Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The fight for their ancestral lands remain despite the continuous mining operations owned by Oceana Gold Philippines Inc.
Photo taken by Arjay Barrios
In 2008, barricades done by the community represented their ties with their ancestral land-- ties which could not be cut by monstrous machines owned by Oceana Gold Philippines Inc.. Back-to-back protests led by the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA), an organization formed to protect their environment, clearly show the importance of their land. Such resistance serves as their testament for the future of their children and for the next generation, for the lands which are rightfully theirs.
When Oceana started to demolish Sitio Dinauyan and Sitio Bakbakan, the community formed a human barricade to prevent the company’s entry into their ancestral land. As the situation heated-up, Lorenzo Pulido, a DESAMA member and also a barangay kagawad during that time, planked in front of a bulldozer to stop the demolition process.
Photo of Uncle Pulido during the interview
This was a truly moving moment, that even an Australian officer of the mining company was in tears after seeing the solidarity and steadfast dedication of the DESAMA members. These events were sorrowfully narrated by the members of the community. The struggle of these indigenous peoples is undoubtedly real. Mr. Pulido didn’t think that he might get killed on his sudden act. In an interview, when asked about his thoughts during the event, “Simple lang, ayaw ko kasing makita ang magsasakang kawawa ng dahil sa minahan, obligasyon ko ang tulungan sila, inihalal nila ako”, (I just don’t want the farmers to be at the losing end because of the mining operations. It is my obligation to help them, they elected me.), he said.
Photo taken from Rappler
Their biggest fear came when the mining company started their commercial production in 2013. The volume of water supply was greatly reduced, thus productivity of their agricultural activities were also affected - rice, root crops, vegetables and citrus fruits. As Mr. Pulido and the other DESAMA members narrated the effect of the mining activities in their farms, sadness and sorrow can be seen on their faces. They added that various human rights violations were experienced by the community such as threat, forceful eviction on their home, burning of houses and others. The families and the entire community have been divided, turned against each other by false promises. But as stated by Mr. Pulido, “this challenge against Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated is still far from over. As long as there is land to be tilled and farmed the fight continues, for the future generation.”
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