[From the web] Groups call for green justice seek courts to immediately stop destructive mining projects -Green Thumb Coalition

Groups call for green justice
seek courts to immediately stop destructive mining projects

Photo by Green Thumb Coalition

Photo by Green Thumb Coalition

Manila – Mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Palawan and Eastern Samar were denounced by environmental groups today, for violating environmental laws and human rights of communities.

For World Environment Day (June 5), Sanlakas, Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz Zambales (CCOS), Didipio Earth-Savers Multi-purpose Association (DESAMA), Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO), Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI) and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), called on the Duterte Administration for green justice for all the violations caused by mining operations in the different provinces.

Affected communities explained a petition filed in the Supreme Court questioning the fiscal regime provided by the Mining Act of 1995 specifically Sections 80-81 that allows for inequitable sharing of wealth from our mineral resources contrary to the 1987 Constitution.

One of the subjects of the Supreme Court Petition is OceanaGold Philippines, Inc.’s (OGPI) Didipio Mine in Nueva Vizcaya. The communities assert that the mining concession which is 100% foreign owned does not allow us to maximize the full potential of our mineral resources. Rufino Licyayo, chairperson of DESAMA added: “OGPI’s contract other than allowing them to mine, gives them water, easement and timber rights and right to use explosives, while only needing to pay a mere 2% excise tax. The 2% is even worthless because OGPI was given six years tax holidays, with two years possible extension, meaning the company is free of tax obligations 6-8 years out of the 17 years of the mine life. We are literally giving away our mineral wealth.”

Meanwhile in Zambales, Atty. Aaron Pedrosa from SANLAKAS exposed several cases filed at the Ombudsman, a petition for Mandamus and another Writ of Kalikasan.  In June 2014, a Case of Mandamus and Temporary Restraining Order against DENR Sec. Ramon Paje, MGB Director Leo Jasareno ang MGB Region III Acting Director Danilo Uykieng filed in the Court of Appeals, demanding the offices to resume the suspension orders against LnL Archipelago Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI) and BenguetCorp Nickels Mines Inc. (BNMI).  Local people’s organization Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz Zambales (CCOS) claim that the suspension orders were lifted despite the failure of the mining companies to comply with their obligations.

Pedrosa asserted that the continued illegal operations of these four mining companies in Zambales are a slap in the face of communities who apart from risking life and limb have lost their livelihoods. Seven people died in during the Typhoon Lando last October 2015, due to flashfloods and overflowing rivers brought by the extractive activities.  “And barely a week after the May 9, 2016 elections, BNMI and DMCI immediately resumed and intensified their operations when the suspension orders against them were lifted by MGB Region III,” Pedrosa stated.

For Palawan, Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda from the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) narrated the case filed in the Ombudsman in 2012 against decisions and actions by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) which they believe is biased for the mining industry. “PCSD which was supposed to secure Palawan from being destroyed yet they issued clearances for mining operations within natural old growth and residual forests.” Anda said.

She added: “Now despite Executive Order 79, a new mining project will be opened this year to be operated by Ipilan Nickel Corp. Unfortunately, Chinese demand for nickel is more important that protecting and conserving our environment and natural resources. Despite the issuance of EO79 which we hoped would have secured Palawan as a no-go zone, mining is still allowed in the “Last Frontier”.

Final decisions on the different petitions and cases are still pending.

In Manicani island, Eastern Samar, mining-affected communities question how Hinatuan Mining Corporation was allowed to gather nickel ore stockpile in the past weeks despite the suspension of its operations since 2002. The mining operations were suspended by DENR due to environmental concerns yet mining companies are still issued ore transport permit to ship nickel ores for processing elsewhere. Tension grips the island as HMC pursues loading from its mineral stockpile while residents led by SAMAMO continue to hold a barricade against the hauling.

In all the cases presented, environment and human rights advocates question the actions and inactions of government agencies that allow mining to continue on despite strong opposition and evidence of environmental and human rights violations.

ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera called on proclaimed President Duterte: “The most immediate that we can demand is a moratorium on all mining operations in the country while the Duterte Administration review and address the loopholes in the current mining policy. We also expect a review and evaluation of all mining projects, and that erring mining firms will be suspended and sanctioned.”

The group is pushing for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill. The AMMB presents a sustainable, rational, needs-based minerals management policy geared towards effective utilization of mineral resources for an ecologically-sound national industrialization and modernization of agriculture.

GTC is a 10-million strong coalition challenging presidential, vice presidential and other political candidates to put socio-environmental issues in their electoral platforms. The coalition will monitor the action agenda for the first 100 days of the elected officials and follow up on their commitments for the environment and Filipino communities.

Green Thumb Coalition members:

ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI), Aksyon Klima, Alternative Law Groups (ALG), AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), AMEN, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP-JPIC), Ban Toxics, Bantay Kalikasan Foundation (BK), Bantay Kita, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Bulig Visayas, CBCP-NASSA, Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), Climate Reality, Dakila, Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (ECOJIM),  Ecowaste Coalition, FOCUS, Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Global Anti Incinerator Alliance (GAIA), Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), Green Convergence, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Haribon, Oceana, PADER, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Philippine Rural Recontruction Movement (PRRM), Prelate of Infanta Community, Pugad Lawin Pilipinas Inc. (PLPI), Purple Action for Women’s Rights (Lilak), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), SANLAKAS, Save Sierra Madre, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Youth for Rights (Y4R) and 350.org


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