[Press Release] Romblonanons pass Environment and Natural Resources Code -ATM

Romblonanons pass Environment and Natural Resources Code
Mining identified as crucial environmental concern

atm-logoOn Monday, February 11, the Provincial Council of Romblon passed its Environment and Natural Resources Code that intends to legislate measures to protect and conserve its environment and natural resources, specifically on destructive industries such as mining and logging.

Gov. Eduardo Firmalo said: “Finally, the Environment Code is passed! We are firm with our decision that Romblon is a special province, with beautiful resources that we should not forgo because of its promised development. As caretakers of our province, we agree that to protect the environment and natural resources is one of our important roles.”

Romblon provincial board member Felix Ylagan, the principal author of the environment code, said that it is timely to approved the ordinance to correct the errors made against the environment.

“The people have spoken very clearly, let there be liberality, it has been said time and again to ‘apply the law not by the letters that killeth but by the spirit that giveth life’; the legislation has far reaching benefits which will protect us now and those of our children’s children,” Ylagan said.

Among the most controversial sections include Sec. 64 on Mining where it stated:

Mining shall not be allowed within one (1) kilometer radius from a declared watershed or watershed areas as identified by the municipality concerned; Mining shall not be allowed above watershed areas regardless of its distance from the declared watershed areas; Mining shall not be allowed in tourism and agricultural areas as identified by the municipality concerned; in areas identified by Presidential Executive Order No. 79, series of 2012; and in Section 19 of Republic Act 7942 as provided shall be applicable within the purview of Section 64 of this Code.

Reacting to the recent passage of the ordinance, Sibuyan Islands Sentinels League for Environment (Sibuyan ISLE) said that the legislation challenges local government units to integrate climate change action and disaster risk reduction management plans in their development programs.

Sibuyan ISLE director Rodne Galicha said: “The path to sustainable development has been laid down and the decision-makers must implement programs which will not worsen the effects of the climate crisis—conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the environment are top priorities as well.”

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) welcomed this development and encouraged more local governments to legislate regulations to mining despite reported intimidation by some national government agencies to give favor to mining operations.

“We are pleased to find out that the provincial policy has been passed already, mainly because we believe that the local policy makers should take a stand and ensure that their environment is safe from critical industries. We congratulate the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Romblon,and the people for the strong political will!” Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM) led by Msgr. Ernie Fetalino of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer of the Philippine Independent Church said: “Indeed the strong will of the people reigned after many years—it is the moral obligation of the Provincial Council to decide on the fate of the people towards a genuine environmental stewardship.”

REFAM further said that the approval of the environment code is a significant gift to Romblomanons on the second year commemoration of the province’s biggest anti-mining rally on February 14.

The Romblon Environment Code is passed three years after the South Cotabato Environment Code was passed. This is one of the reasons why the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cannot issue SMI-Xstrata’s Environmental Compliance Certificate for the Tampakan mining project.

Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM)/Sibuyan Isle, Alliance of Students Against Mining (ASAM) and REFAM together with other lay leaders awaited the adoption of the said Environmental Code.

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

For more information:
Felix Ylagan, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, 0928-5031215
Pearl Harder, REFAM Secretariat, 0917-5927932
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, nc@alyansatigilmina.net, 0927-7617602
Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, policy@alyansatigilmina.net, 0915-3313361

February 13, 2013

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