[Statement] LOCKDOWN VIOLENCE: Mining company disperses people’s barricade in Didipio, injure indigenous women and arrest leader -LILAK

Quezon City – While the entire Luzon has been put under enhanced community lockdown due to COVID-19, a hundred police personnel violently dispersed a people’s barricade in Didipio.

Three diesel tankers from OceanaGold Philippines Inc (OGPI) forcibly and illegally entered the premises of Brgy. Didipio in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The tankers were escorted by more than a hundred police personnel from Quirino that violently dispersed the people’s barricade. According to testimonies on the ground, they were pushed to the side by police shields, tackled to the ground and handcuffed by the police.

Several members of DESAMA, SAPAKKMI, and AMKKAS were reportedly injured by the dispersal. Bileg Dagiti Babbae composed of Tuwali women led the barricade and were injured by the encounter. The women sat on the ground to stop the tankers but were forcibly carried by the police and handcuffed. A young Tuwali woman’s shoulder was injured when police stepped on it. Tuwali leader Myrna Duyan found her foot bleeding after it was struck by a police shield.

In a live Facebook video posted by Julie Simongo, the Tuwali women were heard screaming from blocking the entry of the tankers and police.

DESAMA Chairman Rolando Pulido received the most injuries. Pulled from under the tanker, Pulido has stripped off his clothes and handcuffed. His body was beaten by sticks, and his mouth was found bleeding. Pulido was then brought to a police precinct in Kasibu. According to members of DESAMA, he will be charged with abuse of order and will only be allowed to post bail the following day.

“Parang baboy ang ginawa nila sa chairman namin,” cried the Tuwali women [They treated him like a pig]. Almost naked, Chair Pulido was forcibly carried with 4 policemen holding his arms and legs.

The violent dispersal not only left physical injuries but also trauma to the women and the community. When a young Tuwali woman was asked about her wounds she said, “Ang sugat sa katawan magagamot pero ang ginawa nila ay hindi basta-basta mawawala sa aming isipan” [The wounds on our body will heal but what that they did to us will remain in our memory for a long time].

“Ito ay malinaw na paglabag sa batas,” said Duyan [This is a clear violation of the law]. “Expired na ang FTAA ng OceanaGold kaya hindi na sila dapat pa nagmimina sa aming lugar” [Their FTAA has expired and so they should no longer be operating in our lands]. OGPI’s Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) expired on June 20, 2019. Groups such as Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) have called for non-renewal of the mining company’s FTAA based on the violations of their human and environmental rights.

Duyan also said that the forced entry and dispersal were violations of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. Barangay Didipio was on lockdown, as the entire Luzon island. The people’s barricade that was put up several months ago to prevent re-entry of OGPI served as COVID-19 checkpoint where members of Bileg Dagiti Babbae were volunteering their assistance. According to Duyan, OGPI dismissed COVID-19 lockdown protocols on top of the law that they have already violated.

Human rights groups such as LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) were enraged by the actions of OGPI and the Quirino PNP. “We are in the middle of a health crisis. With the lockdown, the people of Didipio are worried about food security and the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19. OceanaGold, with its greed, took advantage of this lockdown to violently force its way through. They know that it would be difficult for the community to seek support outside their communities. How cruel is that?” says Judy Pasimio of LILAK. “But even more cruel is this Duterte government, which lends its police force, at this time of crisis, to serve the interest of the corporate, and deliberately inflict harm on its people, especially at the time that they are most vulnerable.”

ATM also condemned the violent dispersal of the PNP. In a statement released on their website, the group said, “The use of violence by the police today is a reflection of the blind and draconian measures that this government is willing to use to pursue the greedy interests of the mining industry.”

For more information contact:
judy afan pasimio – 09175268341 | judy104@lilak.net
Shar Balagtas – 09771966122 | sharbalagtas.lilak@gmail.com

April 6, 2020


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