GTC: PEOPLE POWER PARA SA KALIKASAN
It’s not Gina versus mining; it’s the People versus environmental destruction
Communities from different parts of the country gathered to express support regarding the positive developments occurring under the Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR) in a press conference organized by the Green Thumb Coalition (GTC).
“As issues regarding the environment, rights and development are thrust into the national spotlight with the policies undertaken by the DENR, it is important to highlight that these are not merely out of the initiative and goodwill of Sec. Gina Lopez,” said SANLAKAS Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa. “Developments in several issues must not be seen as a skirmish between Sec. Lopez and the mining industry, but what she is doing reflects what affected communities have long struggled for and what previous administrations have long ignored,” he continued.
While mining companies were quick to slam Sec. Lopez after the suspension of 23 mining operations and the cancellation of 75 MPSAs, mining-affected communities were quick to laud the initiative of the Department in responding to their long-standing demands. “Communities of Sta. Cruz welcomed the suspension orders issued by the DENR as a response to our calls for a fair audit of mining operations employing destructive practices in our community,” said Dr. Benito Molino, representative of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS).
Molino recalled that for years, massive loss of livelihood from the part of fishing and farming communities in their town have suffered from the destruction of our environment, not to mention the diseases resulting from the health impacts of destructive mining done by Benguet Nickel Mines, Inc (BNMI), Eramen Minerals, Inc (EMI), LnL Arhipelagic Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC/DMCI). “It is ridiculous how mining companies are now portraying themselves as the victims, asking for due process after getting away with impunity in destroying our farms, fishponds and rivers,” said Molino.
Communities and organizations involved in other environmental issues also expressed support for the positive developments also unfolding under Lopez’s DENR. “The DENR under Sec. Gina’s leadership started to regain the trust of civil society organizations as it has resolved to work with the agency to restore Sierra Madre’s forest cover and protect biodiversity from further destruction due to deforestation, mining, construction of roads and dams,” said Fr. Pete Montallana of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc. (SSMNAI).
The press conference also honoured the sacrifices of environmental defenders who gave up their lives in order to forward various advocacies for environmental justice and human rights. Mika Ortega, daughter of slain environmental activist Gerry Ortega, views these positive developments as recognition of the contributions of fallen environmental advocates.
“My father believed in Gina Lopez,” said Ortega. “He was the one to introduce the issue of mining in Palawan to her before he was murdered. It was Gina's crusade that brought this issue to national relevance, finally breaking the silence about the abuses and suffering in the countryside.”
Speaking for the Green Thumb Coalition, Atty. Pedrosa noted that affected communities and civil society will not be silenced in resisting destructive environmental practices and policies. “As we have seen 30 years ago in EDSA People Power, there is no limit to what the people can achieve when united towards the cause of upholding our rights and our collective dignity. With the countless lives lost in resisting environmental destruction and reforming environmental policy across the country, it is clear that the status quo can no longer continue and the positive changes must not abruptly stop.”
Dr. Benito Molino - 09983410900
Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, SANLAKAS – 09275924830
JOIN OUR FEB 28 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR OUR RIGHTS, OUR LIFE AND OUR ENVIRONMENT
Lead Organization: SANLAKAS
Participating Organizations: BMP, PLM, AMA, MMVA, PLM, PMCJ, PMPI, ALMA-QC, ORYANG, Y4CJ, SANLAKAS YOUTH, TFD, SPARK, KAISA UP, GITIB, OROL, Y4CJ DAVAO, Y4CJ OZAMIS, Y4CJ EASTERN SAMAR, Y4CJ CEBU, Y4CJ LEYTE, KPP, SANLAKAS QC, SANLAKAS SURIGAO DEL SUR, SANLAKAS – IPIL, SANLAKAS – ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, SANLAKAS -SULTAN KUDARAT, PMCJ – EASTERN VISAYAS, PMCJ - WESTERN MINDANAO, MAKABAYAN - PILIPINAS, DEMOKRATIKONG MAGBUBUKID SANDIGAN NG KANAYUNAN SA PAG-UNLAD, Y4CJ - SULTAN KUDARAT, KABAKAS, UGNAYAN MAGBUBUKID, TASK FORCE SAGIP, FUSAKA