Seen from the distance, this 1,166 hectares island is almost flat if not of its slight slope. Its four barangays- Buenavista, Hamorawon,San Joseand Banaag have an estimated two thousand combined inhabitants. From Guiuan, its town center, it can be reached by motorized banca in an hour when the sea is flat. This visit was timed with Habagat, and we sailed it for nearly two hours. This according to the islanders will last until October. From the Pier of Guiuan, with bare eyes you can easily spot the mined part for its distinct brown color, contrasting the remaining green vegetation and the blue pacific where it lies. Second to Homonhon in size, this island is just one of the many islands of this town. Like Homonhon, it is also host to Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) a nickel mining company.
The Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) had once again flexed its muscles from a long period of dormancy when HMC hauled its last stock of nickel ore last June. Led by its ever vigilant leader, Nando Badilla, SAMAMO with more than 200 members from the four barangays barricaded the docking port of HMC on the ground that the company’s permit to operate had already expired or had been cancelled.
With no apparent benefits from this mining operation, the organization claimed its stakes from the soils robbed from them. It takes the regional commander of the PNP with its truncheoned men in collaboration with the town Mayor to haul three Barges of the stocked ores. Overwhelmed by the shown force of the police and the manipulations of the charismatic mayor, the resistance of the community was subdued. But upon deeper talks with its leaders, the resistance according to them was calmed by the 2-10 thousand pesos bribed money from the operators. This, coupled by the promise of the mayor that it was the last activity of the miners and that she will pass a local law permanently canceling its permit. But leaders don’t see these true for the company still maintain security guards and an employee at the site. As of this visit, the local legislature still had not made the promised law/ordinance.
The organization is adamant to heed the call of the local PAMBI for accreditation for this might lead to another deception. When asked for an opinion, I told them to decide for that, but I see it as a possible venue for our advocacy. If done properly they can find solidarity within the member organizations of that body and a possible influence in framing its local laws and policies. With that, they will seek a legal advice from ELAC, a law NGO based inTaclobanCitywhom they had partnered for years together with TFD. All these were done under the guidance and support of the Parish thru its equally vigilant priests, Fr. Alex Galo and Fr. Leroy and from the SAC of Borongan thru its Director Ian Mosquiza.
From ATM File