MASINLOC, Zambales – At least two mining outposts here were demolished last week on the order of the municipal council, but the firm’s owner called the move political harassment.
Officials and personnel of Compania Minera Tubajon Inc. (formerly Coto Mining Corp.) said the demolition was carried out by the municipal engineering personnel and policemen without a court order.
CMTI security personnel said the demolition team and armed policemen, some of who were not in uniform, disarmed them as they destroyed the structures on Friday.
Arsenia Lim, CMTI chair, said her candidacy for mayor against Desiree Edora, wife of incumbent Mayor Jessu Edora, was the reason behind the harassment.
“They think that they can intimidate me by this show of force, even using illegal means to do so. But I will not back down. I will file charges against every last one of them instead,” she said.
She also questioned the approval of the demolition, as shown in the council’s February 17 resolution, which came even before the resolution was passed.
Lawyer Yodel Deloso, who represents CMTI, said the municipal government could not use a resolution to order the demolition. “That is usurpation of judicial functions by Masinloc’s legislative body,” he said.
In a telephone interview, Mayor Edora confirmed that no court order covered the demolition. “But a court order is not really needed because they are a nuisance there. They can be removed without involving the court in this,” he said.
He said the security personnel manning the outposts were preventing government agencies from entering that area.
“On your way to Coto mines, there are at least 100 families. How can we give them basic services if these people won’t let us in?” he said.
He dismissed Lim’s accusation that the move was politically motivated.
“It just so happened that there will be election soon. But we’re doing this to reach those people there so we can offer them basic services,” he said. By Robert Gonzaga, Cesar Villa - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk