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March 4, 2009
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On March 3, 2009, Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) leaders, representatives of MACQUITACDG, APIT TAKO-Mankayan, Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (TBML) and Cordillera Peoples Alliance picketed the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company's main office in Makati City to air their grievances and demands towards the company on its unjust labor practices and against the expansion of its operations.

According to LEU representative Junibong Saldo, "The reduction of workdays to 10-15 days has adversely affected the miners' economic conditions. This is even aggravated by LCMC's non-remittance of the workers' SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-ibig payments, and back wages. These are just some of Lepanto's violations of workers' rights that we continue to fight for."

As Lepanto has closed its doors upon the arrival of the picketers and with only members of the Makati Police Force to face the picketers, the delegation that travelled all the way from Mankayan, Benguet with the hope of conducting a dialogue with LCMC officials were angered by LCMC's total disregard of their presence.

Lilian Falyao, representative of TBML, urged the officers of the company to come out and hear what they have come to tell them. According to her, "Lepanto's violations of workers' rights are also a burden to the workers' wives and families. This has put us into an even worse economic situation. We are starving yet I can see from this building alone that Lepanto is very rich."

Representatives of MACQUITACDG and CPA added that the Lepanto operations have already caused severe damages to the environment and the people's livelihood. According to Johny Sawadan of CPA, "Lepanto's expansion of operations will further exploit the indigenous peoples in Benguet and nearby provinces. We will not allow this to happen."

Organized by the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), a national alliance of indigenous peoples' organizations, the picket was joined by several national indigenous peoples and environmentalist organizations based in Metro Manila.
According to Joan Jaime, representative of KAMP, "The picket was held on this day to commemorate the day the Mining Act of 1995 was passed into law on March 3, 1995. The activity also signifies our continuing call to scrap the Mining Act which allowed for the total sell out of the people's patrimony to foreign transnational companies."#


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