[Press Release] Envi groups launch week-long solidarity action against COMP international mining conference 2014 -ATM

Envi groups launch week-long solidarity action against COMP international mining conference 2014

Photo by ATM

Photo by ATM

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and various Civil Society Organizations held a press conference on September 12, Friday to formally announce to the public the start of the groups’ nationwide campaign against irresponsible and destructive mining in the country.

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The press conference with the theme ‘25 taon pa ng pagmimina, mas malalang disgrasya’ is a counter-attack of the concerned organizations to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines’ (COMP) theme for this year’s international mining conference which is ‘Mining: the next 25 years.’

According to ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera, the week-long solidarity action that will be participated by environmental and political groups from all over the Philippines is a “renewal of call against environmental destruction and abuse and violation of human rights brought by mining.”

During the conference, Garganera lambasted the current mining policies of the country by saying that the EO79 and the mining fiscal reform bill “ do not prioritize the people but the opportunistic intentions of transnational corporations”, which according to him is “not worth it, given the industry’s irreparable damage to the environment.”

Fr. Oli Castor of Philippine Meserior Partnership Inc. (PMPI), one of the speakers in the conference, complemented the arguments presented by Garganera as he discussed the economic, cultural and social effects of mining in the country.

“Though it has been claimed by the government that the mining industry has brought substantial growth in our economy, the numbers seem not to agree.” said Fr. Castor.

Fr. Castor was referring to the data produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) stating that mining industry has only contributed one (1) to two (2) percent in the country’s growth development product (GDP).

“Apart from the almost unfelt contribution of mining in our economy, let us not forget the farmers and fishermen who lost their livelihoods, the communities and indigenous peoples who have been displaced and the disasters the extractive industry has brought Padcal, Palawan and Marinduque among others.” pointed Fr. Castor.

Aside from criticizing the alleged inefficiency of the Mining Act of 1995 and its recent version EO 79, the groups also slated the mining industry’s contribution in elevating the country’s risk and vulnerability brought by climate change.

“The worsening climate crisis is unequivocal and the destructive nature of the mining industry is not helping our country’s vulnerable situation.” said Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

Furthermore, Arances asserted that “Now more than ever, we should call for a drastic policy change to stop the disregard of the true costs and impacts of mining to communities and the environment.”

Aiming For Long Term Solutions

Despite the criticisms that were expounded during the press conference, the groups cleared out that it is a “long-term solution to a long withstanding problem” that they demand from the government and nothing more.

Dr. Cielo Magno of Bantay Kita, the non-government organization representing the country in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), claimed that “transparency is the first step” for the long-term solution.

“EITI aims to increase the accessibility of information regarding mining operation in the country. Having access to this information will allow us to further assess the impact of mining to our country. Our continued vigilance coupled with access to pertinent information will ensure that no form of economic and social injustice could be committed.” said Magno.

“Through transparency on how we manage our natural resources, we increase the accountability of mining companies to the communities and the government” she added.

However, the groups reiterated that transparency in the extractive industry’s revenue is just the start and the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) is the topmost priority.

“What we need are long-term and efficient form of actions to stop the uninhibited plunder of our country’s natural resources. No less than a radical shift in our minerals management law will do this,” said Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, who is one of the champions and principal author of the AMMB.

Gutierrez then urged Congress to swiftly and immediately pass the AMMB, saying it is the “best alternative” to the existing mining policy.

“EO 79, in particular, has inefficiencies that do not effectively respond to the prevalent negative impacts and externalities spawned by the mining industry,” he said.
“It’s high time for Congress to pass an alternative minerals law that puts premium in the ecological value of our country’s mineral resources, and shift the land use priority towards environmental protection, food security and sustainable development,” added the lawmaker.

“Through AMMB, we aim to ensure that the exploration, development and utilization of the mineral resources are truly responsive to the aspirations and welfare of our people now and in the future,” Gutierrez concluded.

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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.

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer (0927) 623.50.66 media.comms@alyansatigilmina.net

Press Release
September 12, 2014

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