Ex-Sipalay mine workers hoping for PRRD’s help Counting on Sipalay PNP chief’s ‘fair treatment’

Leaders and members of some 1,200 workers retrenched by Maricalum Mining Corp. (MMC) some 22 years ago are confident that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will intervene to finally enable them to get what are due to them from the mining firm.

SIPALAY MINES. NAMAWU 103 union president Melecio Libo-on Jr. (left) told Negros mediamen Wednesday they are confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will look into their 22-year ordeal in claiming for what is due to them, being former workers of defunct Maricalum Mining Corp. They are also hoping that Sipalay PNP police chief, Chief Insp. Romeo Vargas will treat them fairly like GHI and other groups when they call for assistance.*(Arman Toga photos)

At the same time, National Mines and allied Workers Union Local 103 (NAMAWU 103) president Melecio Libo-on Jr. told Bacolod newsmen before hundreds of union members at MMCs post number two Wednesday, in San Jose, Sipalay, they hope the chief of police of Sipalay will stand by his assurance to mediamen to be impartial in dealing with the mine site situation.

Libo-on said they are confident that under the Duterte administration, their two-decade struggle will finally bear fruit.

“Many of us already died waiting for our dues. The next of kin have replaced them and working with us to get what we should have received many years ago,” he said.

Libo-on said after 22 years it was made clear by the courts that they have the right to recover their dues from the closed down mining firm.

He said he and their members, all former MMC workers, continue to hold vigil at the post to prevent the exit of scrap and other properties which they said belong to them.

“Young and old, men and women are always taking turns to guard this post. We fear that if we will not stay here, and when the order for us to garnish the properties of MMC is finally served, most if not all the scraps, equipment and structures at the mine site which we can sell will no longer be there,” he said.


Libo-on also said, G Holdings which is also claiming ownership of the MMC is employing security guards at the center of the mining site.

“We are always helpless every time there are trucks loaded with scraps exit the area through a different road leading direct to the Sipalay airport. When we call the local police they do not come especially at night time. Gun shots are also heard at times here (San Jose, Sipalay) but the police is slow to respond even at daytime,” he added.

Media interviews with other officials and members revealed that a certain general from Cebu has been allegedly aiding GHI guards in transporting the scraps from the mining site.

They also alleged that some groups of former workers are in cohorts with the GHI guards in cutting and transporting scraps.

Asked if they have asked the assistance of Sipalay City government, they said Mayor Nonoy Montilla and the city have been supporting them but distance from the legal tussles.

“We are asking the help of the media in Negros and other officials including those far away from Sipalay. We have sent our appeal to President Duterte but media and other government officials can help us urge the President to look at our 22-year-old struggle. Now that we have the upper hand in terms of legal decisions, we are prevented to get hold of what is ours by the very same people in government who are supposed to impose the court’s decision,” Libo-on also said.

“We do not need to create a drama to tell the world what we have gone through in 22 years to get attention. We just want to get what are due to us,” he said. *(Arman P. Toga)

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