Davao mayor sides with Diwalwal miners

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Monday, June 14, 2010

SMALL-SCALE miners of Diwalwal found an ally in the person of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who declared that the gold-rich mountain in Monkayo, Compostela Valley is better left for the local miners than for multinational mining corporations to exploit.

In his television program "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa" Sunday, Duterte said existing mining sites such as Diwalwal should be left alone for the local miners to exploit.

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"It should be the Filipino first. Para nako ang kinabuhi sa Diwalwal dili dapat hilabtan (For me the lives of those in Diwalwal should not be messed with)," Duterte said.

The city mayor, however, quickly clarified that he will no longer be dipping his fingers into the problem in Diwalwal. In the past years, Duterte was appointed as crisis manager by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when trouble broke out in the gold-rich mountain due to conflict between local mining groups.

The conflict prompted the National Government to take control of the mining operation in Diwalwal and designated the Philippine Mining Development Corporation as the office-in-charge of the Diwalwal operation.

Recently, local miners raised howl though after learning that the PMDC is planning to bid out the "below 600-meter level" of the 729-hectare Diwalwal mining area. Small-scale miners presently operate on the "above 600-meter level."

Mt. Diwata barangay captain Franco Tito also expressed disappointment over the joint operating agreement (JOA) entered into by the Natural Resources Development Corporation (NRDC) with the JB Management Mining Corporation (JBMMC) for the 452.29 hectares out of the 729-hectare Diwalwal area.

Tito said the JOA was forged and made effective starting March 15, 2010 and will last for 25 years. The signatories to the agreement were NRDC president Melchor Monsod and JBMMC president Joselito Brillantes.

Tito said the JOA is morally questionable considering that the there are two Brillanteses who are public officials of the province of Compostela Valley -- Monkayo Mayor Manuel Brillantes Jr. and Provincial Board Member Joselito Brillantes. (Ben O. Tesiorna)

Davao mayor sides diwalwal miners

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