NEWS ANALYSIS: Multi-billion investments in the mouth of Lolong, MINING’S WORST FEARS

By: Natz Corbeta

Only armed with a wooden stick and a petite low-powered hand-guns, security guards shielding the multi-billion peso mining facilities of TMC, Taganito H-PAL Nickel Corporation and PGMC in Claver town this province, could be an unequaled force and entirely helpless compared to the AK-47 assault rifles and other high-powered armaments carried by a less than a thousand New People’s Army Guerrillas who raided the three mining firms in Claver and setting equipment’s into blaze.

The recent unprecedented attack by the NPA on the mineral-rich Red Mountain Mine in Claver on Monday of October 3, 2011, is being considered a “Clear and Present Danger” and looming threat to the deemed economic boom brought out by the industry of mining in Surigao del Norte, a security expert told the Karaga News Central.

Questions are arising why industry’s big players are merely satisfied with unmatched weaponry, paralleled with the supernatural military strength, the enemy might bring-in like the one showed by the guerilla group led by Jeorge Madlos “AKA” Ka Oris and 4 other NPA commanders leading the Claver siege.

The poor intelligence network not just by the mining company concerned but also with the military and police where likewise considered the biggest security breach, why these lawless elements had that luxury of time doing such extra-ordinary violence which being tagged as the biggest in history, that had shaken the country’s mining sector including those interrelated investments.

In the mouth of a crocodile

Some analysts described the security situation of these mining firms operating in Surigao as a ‘multi-billion peso investments in the mouth of Lolong’, the celebrated crocodile captured in Agusan Marsh, where anytime in a moment, these investment outlays could be crippled and back into zero in just a blink of an eye.

Even the police force of Claver with only 12 personnel, equipped with only 8 low powered fire-arms were completely unmatched and vulnerable to any imminent security threat or attack for that matter by enemies. Government military troops who responded the incident were also outnumbered as compared to the NPA strength which established seven major blocking forces in the different strategic areas.

“How could the military and police during that time control the situation where in fact, the enemy is putting hundreds of fully armed men in every blocking area situated in the most strategic places”, an eye witness who requested for anonymity told this writer.

A reliable source said further that the October 3 attack was a well-planned guerrilla operation and a convergence of different NPA fronts in Mindanao. The synchronized movements of the rebel troops the day of the attack in Claver could not just be done by merely hundreds in numbers but more than a thousand or less perhaps.

Longer-term security needs

The unprecedented NPA attack to the three mining firms in Surigao del Norte is an unmistakable message to President Benigno Aquino III to take a more serious longer-term security and intelligence networking to protect the large scale investments in the country particularly in the mining industry.
The recent attack greatly affects the nation’s economy particularly the trade relation between major players in the mining sector.

However, Palace statement downplayed the incident as “an isolated case” and assured the business community and the public that government “is on top of the situation”.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. in a statement said government was taking the attack seriously and was monitoring the critical condition in Claver.

“The situation in the area has been contained and we are now exerting efforts to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, “said Ochoa.

Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo who visited the site moment after the incident together with the crisis management team told the local press that he will consider sending additional security troops to immediately restore back the normalcy of the area and maintain the peace situation.

Both the military and police commanders concerned who were held responsible under the ‘command responsibility role’ were already been sacked from their posts following the so called uniformed men protocol. But a critic noted, “It’s an obviously stupid protocol” considering those men on top were just following somebody’s orders that no military offensive will be executed until such time, the 4 captive mining executives will be released by rebels.

But observers said how long and consistent the government would take focus on the security and intelligence aspects on the mining operations along the Pacific Rim area in Mindanao that is being described as “sitting in a volcano” where in any moment explodes and goes back to zero.

Environmental Concern or External Factor?

Despite the assurance issued by top officials of the Nickel Asia Co. Holdings that recently brought into light as the major umbrella of these mining firms that has joint-venture with the multi-billion dollar Sumitomo Corp of Japan operating in Claver, however, investigation panel were continuously looking into various angles in establishing the real cause and bottom-line of the recent NPA raid in Claver.

The rebel groups claimed they are just punishing these companies for environmental degradation that destructs the natural resources including the alleged unfair labor practices and failure in paying the so called revolutionary tax.

But an analyst pointed out a wider and bigger picture in bringing about facts that would correlate with the justifications aired by the guerrilla group.

By merely looking on the weaponry used by the NPA’s like the AK-47 assault rifles that only foreign governments and terror networks like the Al Qaeda are using, he pinned down something strange but peculiar possibilities that external factors might have involved or what is so called “Corporate War” between rival mining giants in the globe that were possibly behind the scene. (repost: Karaga News Central)

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