February 1, 2017
Around 1,000 green activists marched towards the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City to demand for the cancellation of large-scale mining projects particularly those that failed the mining audit.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), stated that, “Since the mining audit is done and the destruction of lives and environment is undeniably evident, the DENR must fulfill its promise to these people.”
“The government must bring the mining audit to its logical conclusion, which is to close down mining projects that violated our environmental laws or those that failed to comply with their mining contracts.” Garganera reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement on mines that do not comply with environmental standards.
The protest action was joined by representatives from the provinces of Zambales, Nueva Vizcaya, Masbate, and Surigao, supported by Alyansa Tigil Mina, an alliance of mining-affected communities that opposes the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.
The group conducted a short program in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and took turns narrating the suffering of their communities due to mining operations.
Last January 26 and 27, Sec. Gina Lopez visited Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Dinagat Islands for an aerial survey of large scale mining projects and held a dialogue with citizens.
“Sec. Lopez was horrified by what she saw. Siltation has tremendously affected our sea. The result of continuous mining, sadly, is irreversible.” said Emma Hotchkiss, Chairperson of Baywatch Foundation.
She also added that, “DENR must guard the benching and rehabilitation of suspended mining companies.”
In Dinagat Islands, local communities appealed to the DENR secretary during the dialogue to put an end on the mining operations that destroy their islands.
Dr. Benito Molino, chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), one of the anti-mining groups in the province, pointed out that “responsible mining is a myth”.
“Families of farmers are suffering. They cannot till their land anymore because the soil is already silted with nickel laterite. Our environment is destroyed, is this being responsible? No, “responsible mining” is just a myth–a euphemized term for their profit-centered business,” said Dr. Molino.
Mining operations in Zambales has been suspended since July 2016.
Governor Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya, who has championed the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) even in his time in the Congress, appealed for the citizens’ support on passing of the AMMB in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
The AMMB aims to repeal the current Mining Act of 1995 or R.A. 7942 which opened the Philippines to mining investors.
“Passing of an alternative mining bill will propose a new framework in managing our mineral resources and in resolving the many loopholes of the mining law.” Gov. Padilla added.
After the program, an enlarged replica of a suspension order was brought out with the names of the mining companies that failed the audit conducted last August 2016.
Also, placards with messages to suspend erring mining companies were also tied in the gates of DENR with green ribbons.
Correspondingly, local anti-mining advocates of Tampakan, Masbate, and Romblon went out of street bannering the same call to express their support for the suspension of mining firms that did not comply with law.
ATM also eyes the cancellation of mining agreements between the aforementioned firms and the government, specifically the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs), Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAAs).
According to Garganera, “Sec. Gina Lopez should also put her pronouncement against destructive open-pit mining in paper so a new policy can be implemented immediately.”
“The recommendation for suspension of these mining firms is useless, unless their contracts are canceled. Once mine closures are effected, we might consider that change has come for the betterment of our environment and our people,” He concluded.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their civil society support groups which oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, repeal of the 1995 Mining Act, and passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
For photos and videos of the lightning rally, go to https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-SCEYNN-_aeNkhjNVA5YzA5Ync (Credit: Alyansa Tigil Mina)
Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, 09175498218 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Karl Isaac Santos, Media and Communications Officer, 09173011934 – email@example.com