[Events] Hundreds gather to protest mining all over the country -ATM

Hundreds gather to protest mining all over the country
Local groups stage candle lighting and prayers against mining projects

atm-logoQuezon City—Hundreds of protesters from mining-affected communities throughout the country gathered over the weekend to condemn the negative impacts of large-scale mining and the decision of national agencies allowing for the aggressive promotion of mining in the Philippines.

Community members and support groups held the gatherings in Cagayan Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Leyte, Agusan del Norte, and Surigao del Sur, and organized separate site actions to say “No to mining!”

Commemoration of Mining Act’s 13 years of oppression

The intensified local actions challenged the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, or RA 7942. The law is being blamed for its negative impacts on people and the environment, and for causing social unrest. Many organizations view the Mining Act, enacted on March 4, 1995, as a policy submission to the demands of international financial institutions such as the World Bank, to liberalize the mining industry of the country.

Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator said: “This law has resulted to the destruction of the environment — our food and water sources, [and has] led to social disorder and tribal wars. Worse, it cost the lives of many environmentalists and anti-mining advocates.”

“Black sand mining here in Cagayan remains to be illegal and destructive. We are concerned that our coastal areas are being eroded and this poses threats to our lives and our livelihood”, said Evelyn Lacambra, President of CLAIM (Concerned Lal-okenos Against Illegal Mining), based in the town of Lalo, in Cagayan Province.

Meanwhile, Fidel Opay, Secretary General of SALAKNIB from Nueva Vizcaya, stated that “the mining operations here in Nueva Vizcaya are not accepted by the community. The resistance against mining are present in villages from Didipio and Malabing Valley in the town of Kasibu and barricades have been set-up in Paquet and Pao villages in the same town.” He added that these operations conflict with their agricultural livelihood.

“We demand from the local government and the DENR to stop these operations,” he concluded. SALAKNIB is a multi-sectorial organization throughout Nueva Vizcaya, campaigning against mining and proposed large-scale dam projects in the province.

The Cagayan activity was held in a parish church in Aparri, with more than 30 participants coming from the towns of Lal-o, Buguey, and Aparri. The gathering in Neuva Vizcaya was held in front of the provincial capitol with more than 20 farmers from Kasibu and Dupax del Norte municipalities. Both were held last Sunday, March 10.

Last Saturday, Mar. 9, 2013, more than 200 participants gathered in a solidarity action in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Led by “Save Palawan” Movement, Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI), and the Justice for Doc Gerry Movement, the ecumenical prayer gathering was led by no less than Bishop Pedro Arigo. It also included youth groups, local media, and supporters of senatorial candidate Teddy Casino.

Today, March 11, about 100 people from the towns of Cantilan and Carascal from Surigao del Sur, gathered in Butuan City, to protest against the DENR-MGB for failing to implement a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) against Marcventures Mining Corporation, a nickel-mining company. The protesters were joined by at least 15 indigenous peoples (from the Mamanwa tribe) from Agusan del Norte for the protest.

Scrap RA 7942; enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)

As an alternative to the current mining law, AlyansaTigil Mina, part of SoS-Yamang Bayan Network, is pushing for the passage of a Minerals Management bill that will not only look into the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources, but will also return the power to mining-affected communities to decide if they want to allow miners to explore their land.

Erwin Quinones, coordinator of the SoS-YB network said, “The Mining Act of 1995 fails to respond to issues of social acceptability, environmental concerns, and the reality of climate change and disasters. That is why SoS-YB is pushing for the enactment of a new mining law, embodied by the proposed Philippines Mineral Resources Act (PMRA), or the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).” SoS-YB is a multi-sectorial group composed of more than a hundred local and national organizations supporting the AMMB.

ATM also challenged the Aquino administration to distinguish itself from the previous regime. Garganera said, “PNoy must support the passage of AMMB or PMRA. That is the only genuine way to be true to his social contract and to resolve the conflicts brought by large-scale mining.”

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:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, nc@alyansatigilmina.net, 09277617602
Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Ad

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