Tag Archives: World Environment Day

[Press Release] Rights and environmental defenders challenge PNoy, Congress and Senate to be green -#ItsNeverHardToBeGREEN

Rights and environmental defenders challenge PNoy, Congress and Senate to be green

In celebration of the World Environment Day 2015, human rights and environmental defenders launch a campaign that tells the public and the government that “It’s Never Hard to be Green.”

Photo by ATM

Photo by ATM

Photo by TFDP

Photo by TFDP

Green defenders led by SOS Yamang Bayan Network (SOS YB), Campaign for Land Use Policy Now (CLUP Now!), Forest Resources Bill Network (FRB) and Youth for Rights (Y4R) are behind the campaign in push for the enactment of three green or environmental bills pending in the 16th Congress.

“The campaign seeks to enlist the support of the youth. It proposes an innovative approach through the appropriation of “COSPLAY” into CAUSEPLAY to highlight the seriousness of the issue packaged in a popular form.” Explained Y4R spokesperson Danica Duno.

According to the group, the campaign will inform and inspire the public about the international standards set by the United Nation Environment Program, that safe, balanced and healthy environment is essential to the realization of human rights not only of the present but of the future generation.


Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr, one of the main sponsors of the three bills—Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), Forest Resources Bill (FRB) and the National Land Use Act (NLUA)—emphasized the importance of the three bills in addressing the environmental concerns in the country. He said: “The three bills is a call for fundamental change – in mindset, in behavior, in our whole lifestyle—and it is timely that we remind ourselves our roles as mere stewards of the earth on World Environment Day.”

Meanwhile, the groups also see the campaign as a final push to pass the triad bills as the 2016 elections is approaching.

“By October, the filing of candidacies will be concluded and the informal campaign period will begin.  Practically, we have six months to renew the push for the three green bills. We have to work harder on the campaign, or the passage of these bills will again be delayed, and be overtaken by the national and local campaigns of the electoral candidates,” said Kimberly Alvarez of KAISAHAN, the secretariat of the CLUP Now!

One of PNoy’s priority bills, the NLUA is yet to be passed. The attempt to put in place a national land use policy began since the 9th Congress.

Akbayan Rep. Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez, also a champion of the green bills concluded: “The three green bills are inextricably intertwined. All seek to protect and regulate the use of our natural resources against the onslaught of corporate greed and the drive for gargantuan profits.”

Aiming to place once again national attention to the three pending green bills the campaign is to culminate on the annual GREEN MARCH to be held days before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of PNoy on July 27.

For more information, contact Egay Cabalitan, egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com, 0915.757.2526 and Gillian Cruz, gillianmariecruz@gmail.com, 0915.783.0489

SOS Yamang Bayan Network (SOS-YB)
Campaign for Land Use Policy Now (CLUP Now!)
Forest Resources Bill Network (FRB)
Youth for Rights (Y4R)

Press Release
5 June 2015

[Statement] GANUN NA LANG BA YUN? by Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao


Privilege Speech on World Environment Day 2012
Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao
Principal Author, House Bill 3763 (Minerals Management Bill)

Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao. File photo source Akbayanyouth.org

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you in the matter of my personal and collective privilege regarding the state of the Philippine Environment and the celebration of World Environment Day tomorrow, June 5, 2011.

The long and tedious impeachment process that has captured the focus and energy of the whole country is finally over. Now it is time for us legislators to continue with and fast-track our legislative work to address the issues which endanger the lives of our people and decrease the sustainability and livelihood of our communities. Among these problems is the gradual but certain degradation of our environment.

Mr. Speaker, Today, we will celebrate tomorrow the World Environment Day under the theme “Green Economy: Does this include you?” Today’s nationally coordinated actions present and dramatize the current plight of mining-affected communities and of the Philippines in general, under the current mining regime.

First, the environmental impacts of mining include the destruction of key biodiversity areas in the Philippines. Mining can never be sustainable. Destruction of resources and biodiversity loss is inevitable. According to the 4th Philippine National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2009, 23 flagship mining projects are located in biodiversity areas and overlap with key biodiversity areas namely Palawan, Mindoro, Romblon, Sierra Madre, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur and Norte, and other various parts of Mindanao. Further, contrary to claims that ‘there is life in mining’, there can never be life when you destroy life itself. The presence of fully functioning ecosystems allows human beings to live on this planet. Today, on World Environment Day, we ask: “Pagkasira ng kalikasan dahil sa mina, ganun na lang ba yun?

Second, mining destroys agricultural lands and water sources. Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, mining activities have direct impact on irrigation and watershed areas—water rights are completely given to mining companies, threatening the quality and ample supply of water needed by communities. Meanwhile, the effects of mining and mine tailings contaminate municipal waters and coastal areas. In one particular case in McArthur, Leyte, these mine tailings brough about fish kill. Our question now is, “Fish kill sa Lake Bito, ganun na lang ba yun?”

Third, mining instigates human rights violations and killing of anti-mining advocates. My fellow legislators, Mr. Speaker, we should note that the escalation of social conflicts and human rights violations are direct effects of mining to communities. More than 10 anti-mining advocates have been killed in the last couple of years and justice for them remains elusive. We ask: “Pag-paslang at pananakot ng mga mining companies sa mga ordinaryong tao, ganun na lang ba yun?”

Fourth, mining tramples upon Ancestral lands and their right to self-determination. Despite the safeguards provided by the Indigenous People Rights Act, the requirement on free, prior and informed consent is being routinely violated by mining companies. Ancestral lands are swarmed with numerous and overlapping mining applications, causing the displacement of IP communities. Ganun na lang ba yun?

Fifth, abandoned mine sites pose risks to human and natural habitats. Despite the passage of the Climate Change Act and Disaster Risk Reduction Act, and the concrete lessons on the impacts of climate change that we ourselves experienced, the government still thinks mining should be pursued. Mr. Speaker, we believe that no mining should be allowed in hazard-susceptible areas. Meanwhile, more than 8,000 abandoned and idle mine sites are not assessed; they are left unattended and are not decommissioned properly. Ganun na lang ba yun?

We ask ourselves a very basic question on the rape of our environment and natural resources, “GANUN NA LANG BA YUN?”

We, as legislators call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the lead agency responsible for the protection, conservation and management of the country’s environment and natural resources, to stop supporting the liberalization and aggressive promotion of the mining industry. Given the state of environment now, we call for a paradigm shift—from the aggressive promotion of mining in the Philippines to the rational exploration, development and utilization of our mineral resources.

We, as legislators, should look at the real negative impacts of mining to the communities and the environment and say to ourselves: “Meron tayong magagawa!” Let us support the passage of the new minerals management bill—also known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012.

As we commemorate the World Environment Day today, we are also looking for environmental heroes and grassroots leaders who are involved in efforts at the local level, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we are proud to have Fr. Edwin “Edu” Gariguez—who was recently proclaimed as an Environmental Hero in ceremonial rites held last April 16, 2012 at the San Francisco Opera House in the United States of America for his endeavour to protect the Mangyan indigenous communities of Mindoro from impending environmental havoc brought by extractive mining activities in the area—in this august chamber.

Mr. Speaker, I have filed House Resolution No. 2474 commending Fr. Edwin “Edu” Gariguez for being awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize Award. The recognition of his achievements and leadership only affirms that we legislators, like every Filipino citizen, can also be environmental heroes in our own little way and that, truly, “Meron tayong magagawa para sa ating kalikasan! Pass the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012!”

Maraming salamat po.

Source: http://www.akbayan.org.ph/news/12-press-releases-press-releases/200-ganun-na-lang-ba-yun

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[Press Release] On World Environment Day, Green Groups and HR defenders ask: Ganun na lang ba ‘yun? -SOS-Yamang Bayan

On World Environment Day, Green Groups and HR defenders ask: Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?
DENR urged to support the passage of Philippine Minerals Resources Act of 2012

Manila – On this year’s World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) posed the question, “Green Economy: Does it include you”? But for more than two hundred green protesters and human rights defenders, the more important thing to ask is “Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” – pertaining to environmental degradation and other atrocities of mining left unaddressed.

Disappointed at how mining is run in the country, farmers, indigenous peoples, church-groups and civil society organizations led by SOS-Yamang Bayan Network combined forces and blasted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with bawls and placards on the ill effects of mining to the environment, water, livelihood and lives of communities and indigenous peoples in the country.

Policy Change

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) Executive Secretary and 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee Fr. Edu Gariguez said that the campaign echoes the call of thousands of Filipinos affected by mining. “The message is simple — immediate change has to take place in the system and most importantly in the policies governing the mining industry.”

Gariguez emphasized that the Catholic Church, together with religious communities in the whole country, continue to call for the protection of the integrity of creation, and the promotion ofsustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.Mining now is a grave threat to the path of sustainable development.

Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said that the protest highlighted the call to scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 that aggressively promotes large-scale mining even as it failed to protect the country’s national patrimony.

“If DENR is true to its mandate of protecting the environment then it should support the passage of a new minerals management bill—also known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012. The DENR should in fact ask the same question to the industry or the Chamber of Mines — ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” Garganera added.

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) executive director Atty. Grace Villanueva elaborated that “We need a paradigm shift in managing our mineral resources – a paradigm that puts people above private interests or private profits. The Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) seeks to rationalize the use of minerals. When passed, the AMMB will be more responsive to the needs of the country and its people, as well as of generations to come. People and communities will be priority, and not merely the interest of giant corporations and first world economies.” LRC is also the lead convenor of SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.

Human Rights Violations and Abuses
The group also bewails the escalation of social conflicts and human rights violations and abuses associated with mining that include extrajudicial killings of anti-mining activists in the country.

Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, executive director of Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) said “We demand justice and decisive actions on the part of government to put a stop to human rights violations perpetrated by state agents, especially the military, in mining-affected communities. Militarization, filing of trumped-up charges against anti-mining advocates, harassment & violent demolitions are common occurrences in these areas.

“The government has not done any effective action against extra-judicial killings of environmental activist. Francisco Canayong of Salcedo, Leyte is the latest victim to which the government has not taken any effective action. Responsible mining as it is being promoted by government is only directed to ensure sustainability of mining operations but lacks the perspective of protecting the people,” added Atty. Mario Maderazo of Philippine Miserior Partnership Inc. – Anti-Mining Campaign.

Biodiversity loss

Contrary to claims that ‘there is life in mining’, Haribon Foundation Inc. a member of SOS-Yamang Bayan network, insisted that there can be no life when an act destroys life itself.

Anabelle Plantilla, Chief Operating Officer of Haribon Foundation affirmed that mining has threatened and destroyed some of the very sources of life in this planet. “The fragile ecosystems where we get so much from in terms of ecological services, including water, fresh air, protection from natural hazards, and capture and storage of greenhouse gases – if these things are gone, we too are gone. Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?”

Economics of mining

Meanwhile, the group also questioned the low share of mining in the development of the country.

“Over a decade, since the year 2000, mining industry and quarrying combined, accounted only for less than one percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. They are not contributing fully to the Philippine economy, even their rants on being a good ticket for this country to get out from poverty is a still a big question. We are not earning enough from mining, ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” said Cielo Magno coordinator of Bantay Kita, a mining revenue watchdog.

Mining and Climate Change
Meanwhile, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), co-organizer of the action, asserted that the sources of destruction of our natural ecosystem such as mining and other extractive activities must be thoroughly regulated and aimed at producing only what is needed to sustain life and ensure people’s rights and well-being, rather than for profit generation. The negative impacts on environment and the adaptive capacities of communities must be minimized, and environmental rehabilitation and restorative programs must be implemented.

“Mining involves several activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions as well as diminish the earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (GHGs) — thus contributing to the increase of what is already an excessive GHG concentration in the atmosphere. Excessive GHG concentration is the cause of global warming.” said Lidy Nacpil, convenor of PMCJ.

“Mining not only contributes to climate change, it exacerbates the impacts. For instance, water is a vital resource that is already heavily impacted by climate change. Mining as a water-intensive industry leads to further reduction of water supply and access by communities for both domestic and agricultural needs. It also fuels climate disasters, like what happened in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.” she further added.

The group brought a backhoe miniature to demonstrate how mining operations wreak havoc to the environment and destroy biodiversity. The protesters also held a mass die-in to show that there are lives being killed by mining.

Protests also in many other areas

Four other sites in the country also mounted their call against mining. In Cebu, protesters camped in front of DENR regional office to press their stand to conserve the environment. Demonstrators in Iligan had a forum with the officials of various government agencies and discussed the issues brought about by mining and other environmental destructive activities.

In Palawan, advocates pronounced their call in local radio programs, while in Dipolog City and Municipality of Ipil in Zamboanga, local parishes raised their concerns with mass prayer.

The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples’ alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, Congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

For more information, contact the SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Secretariat:
Gerry Arances – gerry.arances@lrcksk.org; 0922-8307758
Farah Sevilla – policy@alyansatigilmina.net; 0915-3313361
Edel S. Garingan – communications@alyansatigilmina.net; 0922-8918972

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network – Press Release
June 5, 2012

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[From the web] Bishop calls for end to mining – www.cathnewsphil.com


A CATHOLIC bishop urged President Benigno Aquino to order a moratorium on mining operations as the country marked World Environment Day over the weekend.

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said other options can be examined to address illegal mining in the country.

Church groups and environmental activists also launched a bike tour yesterday to urge the government to pass a bill pending in Congress that will curb illegal mining.

“We are one in calling on President Aquino to order a mining moratorium and address the problem of illegal mining,” Bishop Pabillo said.

It seems that the government has failed to address the issue and “the only way to stop it is to stop it,” he added.

The prelate said mining operations are being encouraged by the government with the issuance of permits.

In Malolos diocese, Monsignor Manny Villaroman, head of the Commission on Family and Life, called on Catholics to be “good stewards of the environment” saying it is a “gift from God.”

The priest hailed the passage yesterday of a local government ordinance — the 2011 Environmental Code of Bulacan, calling it a “good blueprint for conserving the environment.”

“Conserving the environment is for our own good as humans, especially for future generations,” Monsignor Villaroman said.

Father Dario Cabral, chairman of the diocese’s Commission on Mass Communications, said the passing of the environmental code by Bulacan authorities is “long overdue.”

“It should have been done a long time ago. But it’s good. We can now demand a structured program for the environment,” the priest said.

[Press Release] Community leaders, Alyansa Tigil Mina joins environment and human rights group launching of SOS-Yamang Bayan Network yesterday

Quezon City—Alyansa Tigil Mina together with community leaders and other organizations met with media people yesterday to formally launch the Save Our Sovereignty—Yamang Minerales Nagsisilbi sa Bayan Network (SOS-Yamang Bayan Network) at Max’s Restaurant in Quezon City Memorial Circle after a bike tour.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina said yesterday, “We launched the network today, in the spirit of World Environment Day last Sunday. We find that it is important for us to inform the people here, even those who are not directly affected by mining activities to be concerned about its impacts to our environment, and more importantly the people.”

Virgie Malaluan, representative of Calatagan (Batangas) Farmers added, “Our call is simple: Lupang sakahan, wag minahin (Do no mine agricultural lands.)” as they do know that mining ill impact their vitamin-rich soils. She further added, “Pagkain sana ang prayoridad at hindi ang semento (The government should prioritize food security rather than sacks of cement for construction of buildings, etc.)”

Meanwhile, Maporac Aeta chieftain from Zambales said, “We do not want large scale mining and destruction of our forests from where we get our means of livelihood. Take us out from the forest and we will die, leave us there and we will take care of it and ensure that everyone will benefit from it, its resources and the clean waters that come from the mountains.”

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network calls for a reform in the existing flawed mining policy. Currently, the network is lobbying in Congress for House Bills 206 and 3763, both pushing for a new minerals management law that “regulates the rational exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources, and to ensure the equitable sharing of benefits for the state, indigenous peoples and local communities.”

Garganera concluded, “Together with many other affected sectors, we push for a mining policy that will ensure the rights of the people, protection of our environment, and our economic benefits. We cannot allow foreign mining firms to continue their practice here, at our expense.”

The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of mining-affected communities, national peoples alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, Congressional representatives, known leaders and personalities advocating for the repealing of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61 <policy@alyansatigilmina.net>