[Press Release] Communities, Groups, Resist Ploy to Green-light Mining in Manicani -ATM/PMPI

Communities, Groups, Resist Ploy to Green-light Mining in Manicani

Photo by ATM

Photo by ATM

“Save Manicani Island! No to ore load permit! No to corporate-led rehabilitation!” this is the battle cry of various Civil Society Organizations (CSO) as they executed mass actions in Quezon City, Taguig City and Tacloban City on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

The action was done to oppose the release of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s (MGB) authorization for Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC), formerly known as Nickel Asia Corporation to haul and load ore stockpiles from Manicani, Guian, Eastern Samar.

Members of Save Manicani Movement (SaMaMo), a local peoples organization (PO) in Eastern Samar joined the protest in Manila, as a simultaneous rally in MGB Region 8 office was held in Tacloban.

” This move is adding insult to injury”, said Marcial “Manong Gaeng” Gomooc, President of SAMAMO.

” We are still reeling from the destruction caused by Yolanda to our lives and home and here comes the government taunting us with yet another disaster”, Manong Gaeng added.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Legal Rights Commission (LRC) and SANLAKAS spearheaded two (2) actions in Luzon, as one group marched from DENR to MGB and another picketed in front of Nickel Asia Corporation’s office in Taguig City.

“We condemn the action taken by DENR-MGB authorizing HMC to haul and load ore stockpiles in Manicani because we all know that HMC ‘s intention has always been run by capitalistic greed and not by concern for the environment.” said Fr. Oli Castor of PMPI.

“It seems like MGB is creating a trend here that empowers mining companies to do their business-as-usual thing under the guise of concern for the environment.

“First they lifted the suspension of Marcventures Mining Development Corporation in Surigao del Sur, second Philex was steered clear and now HMC? It’s horrifying to think about what tricks they are going to pull next just to cater to the cold-blooded capitalistic intentions of the mining industry.” added Fr. Castor.

In a dialogue done by the respective CSOs and PO with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the agencies discussed the reason for the release of the order, which was the hazard posed by ore stockpiles siltation in the bodies of water around the area.

DENR and MGB also stated that they acted upon the endorsement of the Office of Presidential Assistance for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) requesting for HMC to haul and load ore stockpiles as part of the agencies’ rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

According to OPARR’s endorsement letter, the disposal of stockpiles is a mitigating measure against any possible adverse environmental effect that may worsen calamities.

Gerry Arrances National Coordinator of PMCJ, a group which also engages in monitoring rehabilitation policies also commented that “ this is clearly siding with the mining company in the guise of rehabilitation detrimental to the very victims of Yolanda that OPARR should assist and protect.

“If only the government puts people at the center of any rehab programs and activities this situation will be avoided.”

However, events suddenly took a turn, when a test conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Manicani’s bodies of water turned out negative from the hazard posed by siltation. This sparked the questioning of the validity of the endorsement and authorization by SaMaMo and its partner organizations in the national level.

“We are standing by and supporting the position of SAMAMO that issuing the ore load permit is an injustice and should not be tolerated by the government, and we hold MGB accountable to that. ” Said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.

“We are challenging DENR-MGB to put the welfare of the people and the environment first by honoring EMB’s result and declaring the authorization void. We demand the stoppage of processing of HMC’s ore load permit, we demand the cancellation of HMC’s permit and we demand for DENR-MGB to do what is just and right.” asserted Garganera.

On September 1, 2014, the involved organizations and OPARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson conducted a dialogue and discussed the condition in Manicani and the agency’s involvement in the situation.

Representatives of different organizations engaging in the Manicani situation presented the EMB result and questioned OPARR’s endorsement to DENR-MGB given the negative result of siltation in the area.

As a result of the dialogue, OPARR committed to do a validation of the EMB result and a meeting with DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to discuss the situation and asses the next steps.

September 2, 2014, SaMaMo received a call from OPARR stating that the agency will act based on the final decision DENR-MGB will release regarding the matter.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General of SANLAKAS, a network of people organizations of which SAMAMO is a member, slammed the government for condemning the Manicani communities to further harm.

“The National Government is hardly felt in Manicani like any other island provinces in the country. People have been left to fend for themselves. Wala na ngang ginagawa ang gobyerno doon, wawasakin pa ang mga komunidad. They plan to move out nickel ore valued in billions of pesos at a time when public social services are absent. There is a word for that -plunder” Pedrosa concluded.

###

Other information:

HMC, former Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) was suspended by MGB in 2001 for causing aquatic and soil erosion. It has since then sought permit to haul and load 150,000 metric tons of ore stockpile stuck in Buena Vista.

Early July this year, MGB-DENR released the authorization of hauling and loading based on the endorsement of the Office of Presidential Assistance for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR). The suspension however remains to be in effect.

For more information please contact:

Primo Morillo, PMPI, Advocacy Staff, (0922) 850. 18. 74 <primo.pmpi@gmail.com>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>

News Release
September 4, 2014

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