MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The New People’s Army (NPA) admitted on Tuesday it was behind the attacks on several mining facilities of Nickel Asia Corporation in Surigao del Norte on Monday, saying “it is only right to punish this company.”
In a statement, National Democratic Front of the Philippines - North Eastern Mindanao Region Spokesperson Maria Malaya said the attack was in retaliation against the Manuel B. Zamora-led Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC), which the group alleged has “ravaged the area for nearly 30 years.”
Malaya added the attack was “in the implementation of the policy of the revolutionary movement related to the protection of the environment and natural resources and the defense of the rights of the Lumad people, peasants, and workers.”
The Maoist group also accused the mining firm of repressing workers' rights and evading millions of taxes.
“Instead of remitting P400 million in taxes to the [local government], through sheer bribery, the company is now only paying the local government P40 million. It is only right to punish this company,” Malaya said.
Suspension of operations, extortion
Around 200 to 300 rebels on Monday attacked Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) in Claver town, resulting in the destruction of several facilities.
Taganito is a unit of Nickel Asia Corp., which is partly owned by Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd.
Another group of rebels attacked the nearby Platinum Metals Group Corp. also in Claver. Three hours later, another mine site operated by another Taganito company, Taganito HPAL Corporation, was also attacked by rebels.
The attack forced Nickel Asia to suspend its operations indefinitely.
The military said one of the reasons for the attack was the company’s refusal to pay “revolutionary taxes” to the rebels.
"These acts were a form of punishment because mine owners did not give in to the extortion demands," said Major Eugene Osias, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo estimated the damage to properties between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.
Robredo added some 4,000 to 5,000 employees have been affected by the attack.
He said the government’s primary concern now is to secure the area for the immediate resumption of the mining firm’s operation. – with Reuters; ANC