The Leonardo Pacsi Command of the NPA-MP strongly condemns the widespread military operations in the western towns of Mountain Province and supports the opposition of the people against plunderous and anti-development renewable energy projects under the guise of being “environmentally friendly” and “pro-people”.
From January 30 up to the second week of February, we have witnessed massive deployment of elements of the 54thIB in several barrios and mountains of Sagada, Besao, Tadian, Bauko and Bontoc. Inside the barrios, they encamped in public places such as the barangay clinic of Suyo, Sagada and even forcibly took over and stayed at people’s houses in Balili, Bontoc. They parked their military vehicles and trespassed on the school grounds of the elementary school in Kin-iway, Besao. They also occupied the workplaces of gardeners in Lake Danum at the boundary of Sagada and Besao and set up encampments all over the said agricultural area. The people of Sagada and Besao including those in other places in MP have complained that the mere presence of these soldiers in such public places and production areas are instilling fear and disturbing the peace and order and agricultural production of farmers and gardeners. As broadcast live over Radyo Sagada last February 6, 2013, the military arrogantly and in a sneering tone announced that 300 of their troops occupied Lake Danum, which prompted local executives and personalities to ask them to vacate the area because of the complaints of gardeners and the people of Sagada and Besao. The military, in token response, simply shifted to nearby areas only to return after a few days. Their maneuvers to enter and occupy positions inside the barrios were done under the cover of darkness to dissimulate troop movements. This further terrorized the people who were shocked to wake up to swarming troops and military vehicles in their barrio.
These wanton actions of the military are gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDFP). The said agreement prohibits armed troops from occupying public places and using these as barracks, depot and other military purposes. The same is stated by the UNICEF to protect children who are the victims when the military use schools and other public places. The military’s overbearing behavior shows that they do not obey laws, these be the international law on the conduct of war and the protection of children, the ordinances of the local government (LGU) or the traditional customs and regulations of indigenous peoples.
At present, Sagada and Besao are targets of two Renewable Energy (RE) projects owned by big corporations led by local bred executives. First is the Sagada-Besao wind farm, a wind mill project of PhilCarbon, Inc which will cover 624 hectares at the boundary of Sagada-Besao and will generate 15 MW of electricity through a series of 15 giant windmills. Engr. Rufino Bomas-ang of Besao is the chairman of the board of Phil Carbon, Inc. Second is the Layugan Mini-hydro project of the Bimaka Renewable Energy Development Corporation, Inc (BREDCO) in partnership with the Dutch firm, Royal HaskoningDHV, which will cover Barangays Tamboan, Laylaya and Catengngan of Besao . They plan to build a series of four mini-dams along the Layugan River also with an output of 15 megawatt (MW) electricity. Among the executives of BREDCO are Atty. Eston Pooten of Sagada and Engr Rufino Bomas-ang.
To circumvent the strong opposition of affected indigenous communities against projects that will destroy their land, life and resources such as large dams and large scale mining firms, foreign and local capitalists alike in connivance with the national government are repackaging RE projects in the form of mini-hydros, geothermal and wind-powered projects. These capitalists hardsell their projects and aim to deceive the people into accepting such projects by using tags such as “environment friendly”. Another part of their ploy is to use “kailians” to make these projects acceptable. This is the case of Engr. Rufino Bomas-ang, a former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy, who is an executive both in BREDCO and PhilCarbon and former Sagada Mayor Tom Killip who is also a former Presidential Assistant for Cordillera Affairs and who now represents PhilCarbon in the on-going Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process in Sagada and Besao.
In the process, the people eventually lose control over their resources and still suffer damages to the environment and their livelihood due to the pillage, while the companies romp away super profits through imperialist schemes such as carbon trading and the feed-in-tariff (FIT). These mechanisms serve as cover-up for the responsibility of big capitalist countries whose industries have wreaked havoc on the environment which is now causing unprecedented calamities, ravaging the lives and livelihood of billions of people throughout the world. Through the proposed windmill project, PhilCarbon can earn as much as P6.9 million a year tax free through carbon trading and P1.1 billion a year through the FIT compared to the measly P5,133 a year share of each host community.
At the February 7 mass meeting at Langsayan ridge hosted by the NCIP and Tom Killip, the people from the different barangays of Besao clearly registered their strong opposition to the PhilCarbon windmill project. In the said meeting, the NCIP as expected clearly displayed its subservience to capitalist interest by forcing the people into accepting the PhilCarbon project.
It is not surprising that the ongoing military operations in West MP has coincided with the ongoing FPIC process on the windmill project of PhilCarbon in Sagada and Besao. A day before the meeting held at Langsayan, the 54th IB positioned its troops in the said area. This condemnable act clearly aims to intimidate and cow the people into submission. No doubt, true to its mandate and under the Aquino regime’s anti-people Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP-PNP and its paramilitary units continue to serve as “Investment Defense Forces” for foreign and local capitalists who plunder the natural resources of indigenous peoples and other Filipinos through projects such as mining, logging, wide agricultural plantations and now through these energy projects.
The people of the Cordillera have a glorious tradition of fighting against local and foreign plunderers and protecting their natural resources for the common good and the future of the next generations. In this regard, we have to continuously strengthen our ranks, remain vigilant and militant. We have to steadfastly fight the threats, intimidations and violence of the fascist military of the Aquino regime and continue defending and safeguarding our lands and natural resources that our ancestors and our people fought for with sweat and blood. The NPA supports this fight just as it has supported the anti-Chico dam struggle of the people and the anti-logging fight against Cellophil Resources Corporation in the 1980s.
Expose and oppose the widespread deception and violence of the Aquino regime, foreign and local capitalists and the AFP in implementing energy and other projects that plunder the ancestral lands and natural resources of the people!
Courageously fight Oplan Bayanihan and militarization!
Fight for genuine development through national industrialization and genuine land reform!