From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 20): Philippine rebels own up attack on dam project
Communist rebels have owned up the attack on a construction firm working on
government dam project in the southern Philippines.
Ka Isabel Fermiza, a
spokesperson for the New People’s Army Mount Apo Sub-Regional Command, said the
project is threatening to damage a major source of drinking water in North
Cotabato’s Arakan town and other parts of Davao City and affected thousands of
peasants in the process.
Fermiza said the project is linked to a planned
stock farm pasture land program in Mount Sinaka watershed area and part of the
4,100 hectares of University of the Philippines-Mindanao Reservation in the
village of Datu Ladayon in Arakan town.
“Without even bothering to secure
a token environmental compliance certificate from the reactionary regime's own
environment agency, project proponents have went on to pursue the dam
construction, at the expense of Mount Sinaka, an important watershed area that
is also home to wildlife, rich forests and endangered species,” Fermiza
She also accused Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante de Lima of
bribing farmers to give up their lands and transform it into stock farms, and
even village officials.
“Worse, Assistant Secretary Dante de Lima of the
Department of Agriculture also spearheaded in bribing peasants to give up their
lands and transform it into stock farms for hundreds of cattle; one cattle head
would need one hectare of land. The land grabbing in the name of a cattle
project would dislocate thousands of vegetable farmers in the area,” Fermiza
She said the rebels torched at least 5 heavy equipment used in
“The NPA not only targeted De Lima's project due to its huge
environmental impact and the dislocation of peasants, but also because it
committed gross abuses of workers' rights. Daily wage for lowly dam construction
workers is at P200 a day with 10% deduction to be pocketed by village officials,
while for stock farm workers, P150 daily for 10 hours of work,” Fermiza
Fermiza warned that rebels will continue its operation against
“The NPA is sending the message that it will not
tolerate destructive projects that are grossly disadvantageous to the people.
The NPA punishes capitalists and reactionary agents responsible for plundering
the forests, introducing projects that will further exacerbate the disastrous
impact of climate change, and dislocate lowly peasants and abuse workers,” she
said, adding Mount Sinaka is one of the remaining forest frontiers in the
boundary of Davao and North Cotabato provinces.
There was no immediate
statement from the Department of Agriculture about Fermiza's allegations.
The NPA has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a
separate Maoist state in the country.