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ATM Solidarity Message for SALAKYAG

Palo, Leyte

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is a coalition of organizations and groups that collectively challenge the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. We demand the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill or AMMB.

In behalf of the mining-affected communities in Leyte and Eastern Samar, we are here to support SALAKYAG and its calls.

Decades of mining in the Philippines proved that inadequate enforcement environmental laws and policies gravely damage ecology and life. This has resulted to denuded forests, contaminated water and food sources, and increased vulnerabilities of communities to disasters.

Destructive and irresponsible mining has destroyed the livelihood of people, displaced indigenous peoples, and gave health risks to communities. Reports have shown that where mining was present, were increased violations and abuse of human rights are also present.

Last November, 2013, the strongest typhoon ever recorded – SuperTyphoon Yolanda (ST Haiyan) – hit the Philippines and destroyed cities and properties, causing massive deaths of up to 10,000 people. More than 20,000 people went missing, and at least 5,877 fatalities were from the Eastern Visayas region alon. The exact numbers remain unclear. However, it is clear that extreme weather events such as Typhoon Yolanda will become the “new normal” with climate change.

When Yolanda pummeled into Visayas, it made its first landfall in Guiuan, Samar. This left a massive trail of destruction in the islands of Manicani and nearby Homonhon. Four years after this nightmare, the Hinatuan Mining Company, the owner and operator of the mine in Manicani, applied for a renewal of their contract. In this new contract, 1,164.2 hectares out of the 1,165 hectares total land area of the island will be covered by mining. More importantly, we should not forget that Manicani Island is part of the Guiuan Protected Landscape and Seascape.

Is this not a clear violation of the law and of human rights? The people of Manicani took the fight further to DENR Central in Quezon City. After more than one month of staging a protest camp, a dialogue with DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu took place. Cimatu assured the residents that the application for renewal of the mining operations will not be approved because of the protected area status. Nonetheless, despite the expiration of the original contract and the promises of Cimatu, the threat of mining operations persist in the area.

Pope Francis reminded us of very important points when he issued Laudato Si. Pope Francis reminded us that generally, after completing their mining activities and withdrawing, miners leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable.

We remember these words of Pope Francis when he visited Tacloban City in commemoration of the Yolanda tragedy, last January 2017.

President Duterte in his 2017 SONA also expressed his disgust in mining as it is practiced now. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is plunder! It is high time for government to enact AMMB. Large scale mining is not worth the destruction of our home, our people, our environment.

We stand strong in the fight against destructive mining!

We stand in solidarity with SALKYAG!


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