Anti-mining advocates and bikers led a bike tour from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Office to the Supreme Court in Manila to highlight the negative social and environmental impacts of mining and call to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942).
This is in relation to the Supreme Court Oral Arguments on a petition questioning the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of RA 7942 and DENR Adm. Order 2007-12 that establishes the supposed income derived from Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina and one of the convenors of Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Campaign said: “We would like to emphasize the need to revisit the current mining regime, present how mining activities have impacted host communities, and let the public judge if the failed promises of development are worth the social and environmental injustices caused by this destructive industry.”
Tao Muna-Hindi Mina! Campaign puts large-scale mining as a major issue that the government should respond to. It reiterates the cry of mining-affected communities for the government to prioritize people and environment over mining.
Incoming Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez also urged the Supreme Court to rule against the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995 and vowed to file the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), a bill being pushed by SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.
The AMMB would serve to offset the negative impacts of mining on the environment, strengthen stakeholder participation in mining contracts and ensure that local communities and the government have a greater share of mining profits.
“The Supreme Court should listen to the millions of voices that are opposed to the current system of mining in the country. The current mining law has only favored the large mining companies at the expense of indigenous peoples, local governments and communities, and the environment,” Gutierrez said.
SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Coordinator Erwin Quiñones further explained: “The petitions for prohibition and mandamus were filed in March 2008 to defend the lives, dignity, livelihood, land, and environment and rights of mining-affected communities and Indigenous Peoples. We believe that we should not allow this policy to legalize the attack against our land and people. Despite our call to the Supreme Court to immediately resolve the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of the Mining Law, we also question the constitutionality of the law as a whole.”
The groups are united in their call to repeal the current mining law and enactment of a pro-people, pro-environment alternative minerals management bill that will be filed as the Congress opens on July 1.
“We’re hopeful that we can pass an alternative mining bill in the incoming 16th Congress and correct the years of disastrous mining policies that came as a result of the current. Mining Act,” Gutierrez concluded.
Twenty-five bikers were sent off from DENR in Visayas Ave to Supreme Court in Padre Faura Manila where they were met by a hundred rallyists.
(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.)