[Press Release] Stop mining, communities urge Duterte admin – ATM

Stop mining, communities urge Duterte admin
Groups hold anti-mining actions nationwide

Photo by ATM

Photo by ATM

MANILA, 30 June 2016 – Mining-affected communities across the Philippines held protests and other actions to pursue reforms in mining ahead of the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte and the swearing-in of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

Members and partners of the national coalition Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), conducted nationally-coordinated actions from June 27 to 29, 2016, under a single call: “Pagbabago ngayon na! Itigil ang pagmimina!” (Real change now! Stop mining!)

“We welcome the change promised by President Duterte and will be vigilant throughout his tenure. We will engage his administration in following through on his pronouncements, including the urgent review of mining contracts, the cancellation of illegal and destructive mining projects, and the push for a new mining law,” said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

“Mining-affected communities also have high hopes on the appointment of DENR secretary Gina Lopez. Most of the townsfolk have worked with her in their struggles to resist the entry or expansion of mining projects in their area. They believe that as the incoming DENR secretary, she will listen and act on the many complaints and petitions against destructive mining in their areas,” he added.

The groups are pushing for the new administration, in particular, to declare a moratorium on all mining operations while the mining reform which President Duterte also called for is underway. They also called for the cancellation of the Mining Act of 1995, the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), and the implementation of Executive Order 79 in pursuit of mining reforms.

Northern Luzon: Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales

In Cagayan, a mass in St. Anne Parish, Buguey was dedicated to anti-mining advocates and DENR Sec. Lopez.

In Nueva Vizcaya, officers of the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA) displayed their request for immediate change and to stop mining in their province. On June 18, Gov. Padilla stated that his administration would continue to fight OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) and expose the corrupt officials in local governments, the Department and Environment and Natural Resources, and Mines and Geosciences Bureau, for allowing them despite many concerns with the mining operations.

Rufino Licyayo, chairperson of DESAMA added, “We will not allow OGPI to get away with destroying our lands for their own benefit. Miners and state benefits from mining is incomparable even because while the government contract only requires then to pay a mere 2% excise tax, OGPI was given six years tax holidays, with two years possible extension. We are literally giving away our minerals! We cannot allow this to continue. We demand an end to this!”

Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS) held a picket in their town hall and called on Lopez to put a stop to the five mining companies operating in their areas and demand them to compensate all the affected citizens. They also called for a rehabilitation of their environment, as ordered by the Supreme Court through the Writ of Kalikasan it issued last June 21.

“We are calling on to you, Secretary Gina Lopez, to protect the country’s endangered natural resources, especially from destructive mining operations,” said Benito Molino, CCOS chairperson.

Southern Luzon: Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate, Palawan

Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo filed a letter of complaint against the application for exploration permit off the coast of Tablas Island last Monday (June 27).  The complaint of more than 81,000 citizens strongly opposed the intentions of the Asian Palladium Mineral Resources, Inc., (APMRI) to extract palladium and other minerals offshore in seven municipalities in the province.

“The Province of Romblon, as a whole, would like to inform your good office that we strongly object to the application of Asian Palladium Mineral Resources, Inc., to conduct any mining activity in the water areas of the island. No to metallic mining both on land and under the water has long been the united stand of the people of Romblon,” Gov. Firmalo told Sec. Lopez in a letter.

The Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns held a forum in the municipality of Sta. Cruz to tackle their on-going cases against Marcopper Mining Corporation and affirm their support for Sec. Lopez.

The Masbate-based group Ang Aroroy Ay Alagaan (AAAI) held a prayer and candlelight vigil in the municipalities of Aroroy and Port Barrera. According to the group, they chose the place because both are heavily affected by large-scale mining caused by Filminera Resources.

The candles lit in the vigil were produced by the Marian Women Producers Cooperative in Barangay Lanang, Aroroy, a coop that was established with the support of Lopez—whose workers are victims of land grabbing by Filminera. Also in Masbate, teachers and students from Nursery Elementary School expressed their desire to protect and preserve their environment for their future generation.

In Palawan, Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW), a local network supporting indigenous people in the province, held a picket and released a statement of support for Sec. Lopez.

“Sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Kalihim Lopez, kami ay naniniwala na makakamtan ng bayan ng Brooke’s Point ang pagiging isang ecological capital ng Southern Palawan at ganap nang maipapatupad ang moratorium ng pagmimina sa Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (We believe that Brooke’s Point will be an ecological capital of southern Palawan once DENR Sec. Gina Lopez would be in office.  Because we think that she would support the moratorium on mining in Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape),” Victoriano Colili, chairperson of ALDAW, stated.

Eastern Visayas: Tacloban, Guiuan, MacArthur

ATM along with Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sanlakas, Freedom from Debt Coalition, and other local organizations, in a press conference in Tacloban City last June 27 demanded the new President to be true to his words that “change is coming.” To mining-affected communities it means that the government should revoke all mining permits in Manicani and Homonhon Islands, and in MacArthur, Leyte.

Besides expressing their support for the new DENR secretary, they asked Lopez to issue a department order to stop the mining in the small islands and implement the 2002 Suspension Order against the operations of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) in Manicani. The group also reiterated their call for a People’s Alternative Rehabilitation Platform to be implemented in Yolanda-affected areas.

Follow-up actions were led in Manicani and Guian yesterday (June 29). Anti-mining community members joined a peaceful rally and fluvial parade from the HMC docking area in Manicani to the mainland and marched to Guiuan Plaza.

Mindanao

“The Social Action Ministry-Diocese of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay is all out in its support for Sec. Gina Lopez after helping the farmers and indigenous people in the Zamboanga Peninsula become more resilient to climate change. More power,” stated the ministry. Along with the common call to start the change and to stop mining, they also requested to prioritize people’s welfare and the sustainability of food in their province.

A silent action in Awang, Cotabato City was led by the group Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan (Kilos Ka) to show their support to President Duterte and Sec. Lopez and appeal to them to stop and investigate the mining operations in Maguindanao province.

Concerned Carcanmadcarlan Environmental Advocates (CECA), a local ATM partner in Surigao del Sur, also appealed for the new administration to promote sustainable agriculture, pass the AMMB and terminate the operations of large-scale mining, particularly the Marcventure Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC), in their province.

“Marcventure contaminated the free-flowing water which is critical for agriculture. It has also violated the Environmental Protection Order issued in the province,” said Imelda Luza, ATM’s support staff in CARAGA region.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

Photos of the various actions can be accessed at [https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-SCEYNN-_aeV1liSGFOTE9rRVk&usp=sharing]. Please credit all photos to Alyansa Tigil Mina.

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 09175498218 – nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Karl Santos, ATM Media and Communications Officer 09173011934 – media.comms@alyansatigilmina.net

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