SIBUYAN ISLAND, Romblon: An environment group in Romblon scored Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep.-elect Lito Atienza’s anti-life background on environmental protection. Backed by a strong Catholic charismatic renewal group El Shaddai, Buhay party-list got three seats for the next congress as it gained victory garnering 1,265,992 votes equivalent to 4.74 percent of the total votes cast.
The Buhay website spells out the party-list’s core principles based on the Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag: for God, people, environment and country.
In being maka-kalikasan or pro-environment, Buhay believes that the Creator gave us abundant and overflowing natural resources which must be developed and used justly for the benefit of all Filipinos and the next generation—not only for the chosen few. Buhay further sees that the Philippines was formed by God to be emulated by the world through the promotion of good and effective governance, the group Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan Isle) explained.
Sibuyan Isle director Rodne Galicha said in a statement that, the background of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza as future lawmaker goes against the very principles of Buhay.
“On December 23, 2009, before Atienza resigned as DENR secretary to run in Manila as mayor, he signed five mineral production sharing agreement [MPSA] permits and three exploration permits. What was questionable? All these are midnight deals. How come? December 24th was non-working holiday, 25th a regular holiday, 26th is a Saturday and 27th is Sunday. He resigned December 28th, Monday,” Galicha said.
Atienza stayed as head of DENR from 2007 until 2009 under the baton of former President Gloria Arroyo. The president at that period was promoting the mining industry through Executive Order 270-A and the Mining Act of 1995 despite lack of social acceptability and environmental threats in communities.
“In 2007, he vowed to help us in Sibuyan as we personally delivered our petitions and opposition letters against nickel mining. After an anti-mining activist was shot to death, even the thee mayors of our island that year signed a memorandum of agreement that destructive mining shall not be allowed and the barangay councils revoked former recommendatory resolutions. But lo and behold, in 2009 he signed through a midnight deal an MPSA for 1,581 hectares of land to mine nickel, iron, cobalt, chromite and other associated mineral deposits,” Galicha added.
Sibuyan Isle demanded that Atienza must be held accountable by Buhay itself, in the first place. By approving mining in Sibuyan, the source of almost 95 percent clean energy is threatened—Cantingas River. It is also the source of irrigation of San Fernando town’s rice granary on top of being the summer tourism capital of Sibuyan and apparently, of Romblon province as a whole.