United Organization of Didipio Residents (UODR) leads the struggle in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya against plunder of natural resources. Their advocacy also transcends outside their province as they prevent the destruction of watershed haven of Northern Luzon and echo the call for the rightful utilization of natural resources all over the country.
UODR is composed of concerned Brgy. Didipio residents and officials, and individuals from different local organizations all in opposition to the Australian-Canadian mining company OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI). It was founded on July 1, 2019, just eleven days after the expiration of the 25-year Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) (mining permit) of OGPI.
Operations by the OGPI have been consistently met with disapproval from residents and national and international organizations alike due pollution, unfulfilled agreements, and irreparable damages. Previous environmental investigative mission and fact-finding missions revealed multiple violations linked to the mining company. These include severely high copper levels rendering two river channels biologically dead with water unfit for recreational use, and also deceptive collection of the residents’ signatures for consent.
Upon the expiration of the FTAA of OGPI, the UODR took on the initiative to rightfully enforce the long-overdue halting of the company’s operations and call for the non-renewal of its permit. They set up the people’s barricade to prevent the entry of the mine’s supplies and necessities to continue operating. They also made checkpoints to ensure that no copper concentrate gets out of the company. All of these were manned 24/7, causing the company to fail on its attempts to fully operate.
The UODR unifies with several other sectors including the local government units up to the provincial level, religious sectors, and private and civil society organizations. They also filed petition letters, held dialogues and staged protests reaching the Malacañan Palace. Their efforts to expose the situation in their community have reached the national television, and also prompted a United Nations inquiry.
Amidst the health crisis in April 6, some 100 members of the Philippine National Police in full riot gear dispersed the peacefully-manned barricade to force the entry of OceanaGold fuel tankers. They also arrested Rolando Pulido, chairman of a local organization. The dispersal was seen as overkill and with ill-intent.
The UODR continues to courageously stand their ground in guarding the entrance and exit of the community to stop the company from operating for more than a year now. They also call for the non-renewal of the permit, and for the company to fulfill its task to rehabilitate the mined area. They persist to show what the masses, when united, can decisively do to oppose the business-as-usual framework of environmental exploitation.