MOST economists and economic managers of nations like the Philippines correctly hold that mining is an essential part of their countries’ development. That’s because mining yields financial returns more quickly than other areas of industry and natural-resource exploitation.
But there is a lot of truth to the claim that in our country the profits in the billions annually yielded by mining ventures largely go to foreigners and rich Filipinos who control the mines and very little of the bonanza goes to the state, the local governments and hardly anything goes to the ordinary people of the mining towns and villages.
Yesterday morning, something unpleasant and mildly violent happened involving the mining industry, the government agencies regulating it and members of communities distressed by wrong things the latter have been complaining about for years.
We think the authorities should be aware that one day, if they continue to condone the illegal activities of unprincipled industrialists who injure the people, real violence could break out.
This is the statement and report of the militant Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) about the incident.
Distressed communities lock down
DENR as send-off to PNoy and Cabinet
‘Six years of inaction and injustice’ decried by mining-affected communities
A hundred members of communities displeased with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources stormed the gates of the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Visayas Avenue, locking the office down until a moratorium on large-scale mining across the country is released.
The mobilization consisted of distressed mining-affected communities supporting communities from Metro Manila and environmental advocates, protesting the “six years of inaction and injustice” against the environment and the people under the Aquino administration.
“President Aquino and his administration, from his first year in office up until his last remaining days, have continued to side with large corporations at the cost of the health, livelihood and security of communities affected by disasters, extractive industries and dirty energy and development projects,” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, secretary-general of Sanlakas.
“The most recent confrontation on Manicani Island between communities and a docking ship from the Hinatuan Mining Corp. is a testament of the failure of the DENR to secure mining-affected communities from the sustained operations of suspended mining companies,” said Pedrosa, who also heads Bulig Visayas, a broad solidarity network of affected communities demanding an equitable, just, sustainable and people-oriented rehabilitation and development in disaster-affected communities in the Visayas.
“Last May 15, at about seven o’clock in the evening, a large ship from the Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC) attempted to dock on the island and seize the mined nickel resources from the area. The residents of Manicani were quick to assemble and block the HMC representatives, who were even escorted by the PNP-R8,” according to Pascualito Ilagan, of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) Visayas Chapter.
Ilagan reiterated that the HMC was ordered to cease all mining operations as part of its suspension, following its disregard of the environmental protection mechanisms set by the DENR itself. “However, under the guise of ‘rehabilitation,’ the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 8 has issued an Ore Transport Permit, enabling the company to grab mined nickel from the island. This was greatly opposed by the communities in the area,” Ilagan added.
The community organization Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) has since called upon the public, media organizations and newly-elected officials, particularly the presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte to stand with them and protect the interests of the residents of Manicani Island.
“We demand the DENR to cancel the permit it has issued and fully stop HMC’s mining operations, including its attempts to hoard the mined resources from the island. HMC must also provide compensation for the destruction it has brought to Manicani,” said SAMAMO Public Relations Officer Becky Destajol.
“We also call upon the newly-elected local and national officials to side with the people of Manicani who have suffered enough destruction and displacement because of the failed rehabilitation program in our area and the presence of large-scale mining activities,” Destajol added.
“The demands of the residents of Manicani echo the demands of many other mining affected communities and indigenous peoples who have time and again assembled in front of the DENR,” said Atty. Pedrosa.
“From those terrorized continuing mining operations in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, all the way to Guian, Samar and to other areas in the country plagued by the environmental destruction, loss of livelihood, deterioration of health and harassment brought about by mining companies, mining-affected communities and environmental advocates demand a full moratorium on large-scale mining activities in the country,” Pedrosa continued.
Pedrosa challenged President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to rectify the mistakes of the Aquino administration and bring about the change mining-affected communities are expecting.
“Environmental advocates and disaster-vulnerable communities will not stop demanding their rights and security even after Aquino leaves office. We urge the presumptive President to side with us in this battle for our environment and the future.” Pedrosa concluded.