ARMM calls for stop to destructive mining

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Regional Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue an order stopping all destructive mining activities in the five provinces under the ARMM, especially in Tawi-Tawi, where nickel mining has severely affected the environment.

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Assemblyman Hanibal Tulawie, the chairman of the Committee on Environment and Ecology, said a resolution was passed on Wednesday asking the DENR in the ARMM to immediately issue a “cease-and-desist” order on all mining companies operating in the region.

Tulawie said he had received numerous complaints from the public and environmentalists who are opposed to destructive mining methods.

“In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call and the growing complaints of residents, landowners including indigenous people and different nongovernmental organizations against the destruction of forest lands in the area, the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has asked Regional Secretary Kahal Q. Kedtag, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] to issue a cease-and-desist order to all mining firms and operators within the territorial jurisdiction of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” the resolution read.

“These operators (mining firms) are not environment-friendly and do not practice their corporate social responsibility to the affected areas but they are contributing destruction and degradation of our forest lands within the areas of ARMM and in gross violations of Republic Act 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) and Republic Act 9054 (strengthening and expanding the ARMM Organic Act), as these complainants that include residents, landowners including indigenous people in the affected areas are not properly compensated,” it said.

Photos of nickel mining operations posted on Facebook showed huge trucks and barges hauling off red soil, which is allegedly being shipped to China where it is processed.

Tulawie’s committee is expected to conduct public hearings, including inspections, in areas affected by mining activities and present its recommendations to the plenary.

He said reports indicate that Tumbagahan Island in Tawi-Tawi is totally devastated because of mining explorations and the ongoing nickel mining activities in Languyan municipality and Panglima Sugala in the ARMM.

Copies of the resolution were given to DENR Secretary Regina Lopez and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Lopez has ordered an audit of all mining firms in the country.

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