Groups launch campaign against pro-mining candidates, urge public to vote pro-environment, pro-people leaders
Environment and human rights groups urged the public to vote for pro-environment, pro-people, anti-mining candidates earlier today. The public is told not to vote for pro-mining candidates or candidates with investments in mining or backed by miners.
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator exposed pro-mining candidates in his presenation: “Presidential candidates Binay, Poe, Duterte and Roxas are all tainted by funds from mining companies. With Binay being new President, we can only imagine the aggressive promotion of the Philippines as a mining capital. Same goes with Roxas who has several investment in mining companies and who with Poe enjoy mining company’s transport facilities. Duterte on the other hand, backed by the Alsons group, has earlier said in the Wallace Business Forum that he will welcome mining as long as implemented with “Australian standard of responsible mining”. VPresidentiables Cayetano, Trillanes and Escudero are also backed by people with interests in mining. With all the links, how can we expect them to champion the environment and peoples’ rights and not cater to corporate greed?”
Garganera added: “Large-scale mining is one of the country’s major concerns today and electing officials with pro-mining positions will only worsen the situation.”
Other speakers in the press conference include Judy Pasimio of Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK), Dr Benito Molino of Concerned Citizens of Zambales (CCOS), Rose Trajano of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), and Norie Garcia of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. and Green Thumb Coalition.
Negative impacts of mining and the Zambales struggle
They highlighted the negative impacts of mining to the environment and affected communities, and that mining is not merely a problem of policy but a human rights concern. The Philippine Mining Act passed in March 1995 has since been the basis for large-scale mining operations in the country.
Dr Molino said: “We are in the peak of our struggle in Zambales because of four mining companies who refuse to stop when their operations were already suspended twice and with the provincial resolution declaring a moratorium on mining. People’s safety and health are at stake here. We have faced many disasters in the past 9 years since mining started, our mountains and agricultural lands have been degraded, our rivers and seas are dying.
“The truth is government now caters to the needs of mining over the rights and welfare of the people and the protection of the environment. We know for a fact that Ebdane and our LGUs are pro-mining, and that the rich families like the Consunjis and Romualdezes are behind Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation and the Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. respectively, the mining companies with the most destruction, yet given temporary lifting of suspension.” Molino added.
Just a week ago, several human rights defenders, who set up a barricade (in Candelaria, Zambales) to stop the passage of hauling trucks, were detained by police officers for illegal assembly and obstruction of traffic.
“PNoy practically allowed these violations to perpetuate under his Administration by adopting the same policies that Gloria Arroyo implemented including the use of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), Special CAFGU Armed Auxillary (SCCA) and other paramilitary groups. The deployment of mining militias in mining areas and ancestral domains to protect mining investments has led to the harassment and killing of human rights defenders, including indigenous women, children and men. Philippines has been ranked as the 2nd worst country for human rights defenders in the world for 2015 by the Frontline Defenders. To date, real justice has been evasive.” Judy Pasimio added.
Human Rights Agenda for Elections and Beyond
The groups believe that to ensure the welfare of the people and to address environmental problems, future leaders must adopt a human rights and environment agenda.
PAHRA is promoting a Human Rights Agenda which outlines 10-points for Rights-Based governance; fulfilment of international human rights obligations; ending impunity; ensuring peace and security; promotion of economic, social and cultural rights; environmental protection; national actions towards climate justice; respecting and protecting the land and resource rights of indigenous peoples; and protection of human rights defenders.
ATM, Sanlakas, and PMCJ are also part of the Green Thumb Coalition.
“The Green Thumb Coalition challenges the local and national political candidates to put forward their position and platforms on the environment. The coalition demands that they give their clear policy position on mining.” Added Garcia. Green Thumb Coalition has over 40 national and local organization memberships nationwide.
Atty Aaron Pedrosa concluded: “Future leaders must put an end to the injustices felt by marginalized Filipinos and human rights defenders. We challenge the candidates to commit to responding to the needs of the people, to create genuine reform and guarantee development for all. Likewise we challenge the electorate to vote for pro-environment, pro-people and anti-mining candidates.”
ATM leads the Anti-Mining Solidarity Week annually every March in condemnation of the enactment of the Mining Act of 1995. Highlight of this week of actions are two school fora, mobilizations on March 10-11 in Manila and in some mining-affected areas.
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 Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0917) 549.82.18 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Doc Ben Molino, CCOS Chairperson (0916) 372.71.84 <email@example.com>
Judy Pasimio, LILAK Coordinator (0917) 526.83.41 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Atty Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas Secretary-General (0927) 592.48.30 <email@example.com>
Norie Garcia, Partnership and Advocacy Director of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc (ALKFI)<Nsgarcia@abs-cbnfoundation.com>
Rose Trajano, PAHRA Secretary-General (0906) 553.17.92 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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