Saturday, February 19, 2011

Maoist rebels threaten logging, mining firms in the Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 19, 2011) – Philippine communist rebels have threatened to launch attacks on logging firms they accused of operating near protected watersheds and virgin forests in the mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

New People’s Army rebels also accused these firms of engaging in destructive logging in Diwata Mountain Range in southern Mindanao; Kalatungan-Kitanglad Mountain Range in northern Mindanao; and mountain forests in the provinces of Compostela Valley, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat and Zamboanga del Norte.

The rebels urged President Benigno Aquino III to immediately act on the destruction of forests and environment in those areas. Aquino has recently ordered a total ban on all logging activities in natural forests in the southern Philippines after flash floods killed and injured dozens of people in Mindanao.

“In the interest of protecting the country’s remaining virgin forests, the ban must see to it that the licenses of large logging companies operating in and around water sheds and natural forests must immediately be revoked or cancelled. The operations of these said companies must immediately be ordered to cease and pull out from the area. The reactionary government must, on the other hand, provide viable alternative livelihood for all the workers in the field who have been hired by these companies,” said Jorge Madlos, a rebel spokesman.

Madlos said large logging companies in Mindanao continue to operate within near and around water sheds and natural forest. He said one such company operating inside natural forest areas in Mindanao is the Surigao Development Corporation (SUDECOR).

“Their destructive operations cover the watershed areas and virgin forest in the boundaries of the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur. It is one of the remaining biggest and most destructive logging companies in the Caraga region. It employs the destructive bulldozer-dragging method in its operations,” he said.

Caraga refers to the administrative region on the northeastern portion of Mindanao which is composed of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur and the cities of Butuan, Surigao, Bislig.

Many virgin forests and mountains in the region are now denuded because of the unabated illegal loggings.

“If the government is sincere in saving the environment, Mr. Aquino must immediately cancel the logging permit of the SUDECOR, and order its unconditional pull-out from Caraga,” Madlos said.

He said rebel forces are committed to stop destructive logging, mining and large scale plantations in Mindanao. “We will continue to launch military punitive actions against these said companies to prevent them from establishing their business, disband, or punish those that do not abide with our revolutionary policies,” Madlos said.

“In particular, we will continue to launch military actions against SUDECOR, DOLEPHIL and other such companies that refuse to recognize and respect revolutionary policies, particularly on environmental protection.”

“We again call, as we have been calling for so many years now, on the workers and dependents of the SUDECOR logging company to shift to other sources of living so that we can once and for all stop the destruction of our remaining virgin forests in Caraga region,” Madlos said.

DOLEPHIL refers to the Dole which is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and fresh cut flowers with a growing line of quality packaged foods. Its product lines in the Philippines range from canned pineapple solids, canned mixed fruits, canned beverages, packaged fruit snacks to tomato sauce.

The New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, currently negotiating peace with Manila fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the largely Catholic country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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