[Press Release] Mining-affected communities in Zambales badly hit by Habagat, receive recovery assistance -ATM

Mining-affected communities in Zambales badly hit by Habagat, receive recovery assistance
IP leader, groups highlight link of mining to environmental degradation and natural disaster

Cabangan, Zambales –Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and other civil society groups extended disaster recovery assistance to more than 300 Aeta families in mining affected communities in Cabangan, Zambales after being severely hit by the monsoon rains last month.

Last August 31, ATM with Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipino (KASAPI), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), HARIBON, Youth for Rights and PREDA Foundation started the relief operation and distributed blankets, mosquito net, mattresses and some other items to the affected families.

Based on the group’s assessment, the monsoon rain had destroyed the training center of the Indigenous community, nursery facilities and several houses while about five farms had been affected by landslides. The river that is also a gateway to the community overflowed and was impassable for more than a week.

ATM also received report from the community that no relief aid was provided to them immediately after the heavy rains.

Meanwhile, the community had noted that they had became more prone to landslide and other threat of climate change since mining and illegal logging had become rampant in their mountains.

“Hindi bago sa amin ang bagyo o ang malakas na pag-ulan, pero dahil sa pagkasira ng aming kagubatan dahil sa pagmimina at illegal logging, nagiging mas malala ang epekto ng masungit na panahon,” said Ka Badong Dimain, Tribal Chieftain of Maporac Aeta Organization. (Typhoons are not new to us, but because of the degradation of our mountain because of mining and illegal logging, the impact of bad weather is getting worst).

Ka Badong also noted that not only the farmers are affected by the landslide but also the fishermen who had hard times for their catch since mud and rocks form the mountain also muddles with their river.

“This community had been fighting to end mining and other threats to their ancestral domain because they knew already that things like this can happen,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM. “but the government had remained silent on their call.”

“This case is just one reason why we are calling for a moratorium on mining in the whole country. Unless we have assessed our communities’ susceptibility to natural disasters and have installed measures to address the impact of climate change and have trained our people on how to deal with the situation, then we can move forward,” Garganera added.

ATM and its partner organization also distributed food items to the community and will provide housing repair assistance to the affected families in the coming days.

During the relief operation, Aeta children in the community also received psychosocial intervention with a puppet show from PREDA Foundation, a local NGO operating in Olongapo City while IP women were orientated on Women’s rights.

Christian Aid in the Philippines mobilized resources for the relief and early recovery activities in the area.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, nc@alyansatigilmina.net, 09277617602
Danny Arias, ATM Sites of Struggle Officer, sos2@alyansatigilmina.net, 09185223147
Edel S. Garingan, Media and Communications Officer, communications@alyansatigilmina.net, 09228918972

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