ANTI-MINING GROUP URGES LOPEZ TO CLEAN DENR RANKS
MANILA, 23 August 2016 — Leaders from mining hotspots in Luzon led a 300-strong crowd in rallying in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) national office in Quezon City to call for Secretary Gina Lopez to investigate corruption allegations among her officials.
Among the previous and current DENR officials the protesters identified as being liable for previously filed cases and complaints were former secretary Ramon Paje, former Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Director and now Senior Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, Environmental Management Bureau director Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, former Eastern Visayas MGB Regional Director and now Assistant Secretary Nonita Cagiuoa, and former Central Luzon MGB regional director and now MGB assistant director Atty. Danilo Uykieng.
“The mining audit has resulted in the cancellation and suspension of ten mining projects, including in Zambales, Palawan, Bulacan and Surigao del Norte. This is a commendable development under the leadership of Sec. Lopez, the only DENR chief who has been sincere so far in fulfilling the agency’s mandate,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said in a statement.
“However, we also call for serious reforms within the DENR, and for its leadership to investigate and hold accountable liable officials found to have abused their authorities or violated their mandates or engaged in corruption. The sycophants and ‘doble-cara’ have no place in the campaign for reforms in the DENR,” Garganera added.
Majority of the protesters came from mining-affected communities in Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Bulacan, Masbate, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. They threw pictures of alleged corrupt officials in a crafted trashcan as their symbolic call to reform and revamp the department.
Alyansa Tigil Mina filed a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against Paje, Jasareno and 20 other officials of the previous DENR administration last year for violating the Anti-Graft Law and the Local Government Code.
Judy Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) said: “Lives of indigenous women, men and children have been taken violently in the defense of their lands against mining operations. There have been actions and inactions by DENR officials which paved the way for the mining companies to encroach upon ancestral domains and caused devastation among communities. DENR officials have to be made accountable. Accountability is an imperative for any meaningful and substantive reforms.”
Lopez has spoken of the need to rid the DENR of corrupt officials since she accepted her post.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their civil society support groups that oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.
For photos of the press conference, go to https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-SCEYNN-_aeV25iUzc4bmljZTQ (Credit: Alyansa Tigil Mina)
Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, 09175498218 – email@example.com
Karl Isaac Santos, Media and Communications Officer, 09173011934 – firstname.lastname@example.org