[Press Release] Mining digs holes on P-Noy’s ‘tuwid na daan’ -ATM

Mining digs holes on P-Noy’s ‘tuwid na daan’
Groups laud president’s call for environmental protection and fair revenue sharing before mining

President Aquino might have already realized that mining industry is a big challenge on his roadmap for good governance, said Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) reacting on P-Noy’s pronouncement in SONA that mining will not be allowed if it will result to environmental degradation.

“It’s a good indication that the president is recognizing that the current policy on mining has not guaranteed good returns in terms of revenue and economic benefits for the country and the local communities,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM.

ATM with its partner organizations also mentioned that P-Noy’s proposed reforms in the mining industry are already outlined in the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) that is now being heard in the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives and is supported by communities, civil society groups and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

On agricultural lands
In his SONA the president also enumerated his accomplishments in increasing the country’s agricultural productivity and exclaimed goals for exporting rice next year. However, the groups reminded the president that mining is posing threats to this aspiration.

“He should not forget the magnetite mining in MacArthur, Leyte that had caused two consecutive fish kills in Lake Bito this year and had ransacked vast agricultural land in the province,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee.

Gariguez challenged the president to be true to his principle of going against the entities oppressing communities, “He should instruct environment secretary Ramon Paje to act quickly and with resolve on the issue against NICUA mining in Leyte that had deprived fisherfolk around Lake Bito of their livelihoods ”

On human rights violation
ATM reminded the president to also not forgive and forget the human rights violations of several mining firms in the country.

“He should bear in his mind that in January 2011, the Commission on Human Rights had recommended to him the revocation of the mining contract for Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) in Nueva Vizcaya for committing grave violations against human rights of the communities opposing the mining project,” Garganera added.

ATM also lamented that while the president enumerated his accomplishments and targets in eradicating shortages in chairs and classrooms for Filipino students, many children and youth in Mindanao face threat of displacement because of the proposed Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato, and nearby provinces, especially in CARAGA region, known as the mining capital of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Pnoy tallied the improvements in the Armed Forces and the National Police, as civil society groups are also concerned with the increasing trends in extra-judicial killings in the country.

The group also lamented the apparent lack of recognition of indigenous peoples. Making up at least twelve million Filipinos, the IPs represent more than 10% of the population, are the most vulnerable and considered as the poorest among the poor. They are aslo the most threatened sector by mining. And yet, the whole 1-1/2 hours of the SONA failed to mention them, and their daily struggles against mining to protect their ancestral domains.

Ganun na lang ba’ yun?
“We can not just also forgive and forget mining firms that caused unbearable burden to the communities and the country as a whole. Even EO 79 will not solve the problem. Ganun na lang ba ‘yun? Of course not, if we want positive changes in our minerals management, then AMMB has to be passed immediately,” Garganera concluded.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. 30)

For more information:

Fr Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA Executive Secretary, 09198005595
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator – 09277617602
Farah Sevilla – policy@alyansatigilmina.net; 0915-3313361
Edel S. Garingan – communications@alyansatigilmina.net; 0922-8918972

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