BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The New People’s Army in the Cordillera region owned responsibility for attacks on Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company and on an ore processing plant in Mankayan town, Benguet late Wednesday night.
A joint statement from the Chadli Molintas Command, the regional unit of the NPA, and the Jennifer Jennifer ‘Maria’ Cariño Command, which operates in Benguet, said the attack was “part of the continuing campaign of the revolutionary movement against the plunder and destruction of big mining companies” and the military, police and militias it accused of serving as the firms’ “security force.”
CMC spokesman Martin Montana and JCC spokesperson Sey-ang Ramos said guerrillas blased earth moving equipment and a lime plant at Lepanto’s Tailings Dam 5A between Barangays Colalo and Cabiten.
They said the equipment was being used for quarrying and to build up the embankment of the tailings dam despite opposition from residents of Colalo who worry it could trigger another landslide similar to that in 1999 when the mountain shoulder where the village elementary school once stood eroded, destroying villagers’ homes.
Aside from the attack on Lepanto, the rebels also confirmed blasting and torching heavy equipment at aa carbon-in-pulp ore processing plant in Sitio Ampontoc, Barangay Colalo, which they said was built on land grabbed by the village chief from a local clan. They added that residents have protested the operation of the plant, which uses cyanide, fearing contamination of their water sources.
The guerrillas also bombed a community police action center beside the processing plant.
The operation took place from 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to midnight of Thursday.
Earlier, police said Army troops responded to the attack on the Lepanto tailings dam and engaged the rebels. A construction worker was reportedly wounded by a stray bullet.