THE Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said it welcomes President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that he has no intention of heeding the Mining Industry Coordinating Council’s (MICC) recommendation to lift the ban on open pit mining.
In a statement, PMPI’s National Coordinating Council said that while the Chamber of Mines continues to harp on open pit mining as an internationally accepted method of mineral ore extraction, it continues to disregard the fact that the Philippines is archipelagic compared to the contiguous continents where such method is being practiced.
“Open pit mining in very small islands in the country will not only destroy the terrestrial make-up of these islands but negatively impact the aquatic resources of the country as well,” Yolly Esguerra, PMPI national coordinator, said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an Administrative Order during the term of former secretary Regina Lopez which banned the open pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores in the country.
PMPI also called on DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to comply with the President’s directive and implement the ban on open pit mining.
“The issuance of an administrative order that effectively bans mining in Manicani Island in Guiuan town in Samar concretizes such statement from the President,” Esguerra said.
She said that Manicani Island, a very small but mineral-rich island off the coast of Guiuan town, is classified both a protected area and a small island ecosystem which is also included in the no-go zone areas under Executive Order 79.
Proclamation 1081 also established Guiuan town, known to have the best fishing belt in the country, as a marine reserve and tourism zone. This was prior to its integration into the National Integrated Protected Areas System.
Thus, Esguerra said, PMPI also welcomes the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s (MGB) recent statement that it is unlikely that Hinatuan Mining Corporation’s mining permit for its Manicani project will be renewed.
She said it is the MGB’s mandate to implement such laws and has every right to reject mining permit applications based on the above laws and that the DENR must also recognize the existence of a local ordinance that bans large-scale mining in Eastern Samar.
“PMPI remains hopeful for its partner community in Manicani, that these pronouncements against the lifting of the ban on open pit mining by the President and the MGB will finally end a chapter of their long struggle against open pit mining,” Esguerra said.
PMPI is an advocacy and social development network of peoples’ organizations and non-government organizations, church/faith-based groups and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church based in Aachen, Germany.
LEANDER C. DOMINGO