ATM Statement on Green SONA Press Conference

August 23, 2018

 

No change in environmental protection under Sec. DENR Roy Cimatu

 

We are deeply disappointed with the performance of DENR as the Duterte administration enters its 3rd year.  Despite the rhetoric of Pres. Duterte, particularly in his latest SONA last July 23, 2018, DENR has failed to effectively regulate the mining industry and deliver the promise of “change”.

 

Mining operations have continued, despite the cancellation and suspension orders issued by former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez, against 26 operating mines. Our alliance is deeply concerned that these mines will soon get clearances for full operations, once the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) and DENR reverses the cancellation and suspension orders. 

 

Destructive and illegal tree-cutting practices continue to ravage mining-affected communities in Aroroy, Masbate and in Brooke’s Pt., Palawan.

 

Communities in Sta. Cruz, Zambales and in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur lost their livelihoods and sustained damages on property after habagat and Typhoon Basyang hit their areas. Floods, landslides and erosions were caused by large-scale mining operations.

 

The same story was recently repeated in Marikina and Rizal province, where large-scale quarrying operations have denuded the Marikina Watershed Protected Landscape, affecting more than 20,000 families.

 

Costs of displacements due to mining are too huge.  And we hold DENR accountable for being remiss in its mandate to protect our remaining forests and watershed.

 

Credit should be given where it is due.  The closure and rehabilitation of Boracay was implemented and on course to be completed.  However, the economic impacts to displaced workers in the island need to be resolved.  More importantly the displacement of indigenous Atis must be addressed.

 

We reject the proposal of Sec. Cimatu to lift the ban on open-pit mining.  We remind him that Pres. Duterte himself has publicly stated numerous times in the past nine months that he will not lift the ban and in fact, will issue an Executive Order that puts a ban on open-pit mining. If he is a good soldier, Sec. Cimatu, must follow this directive.

 

Our alliance also reject new policy of DENR in lifting the moratorium on the acceptance, processing and issuance of exploration permits for mining projects.

 

We are also deeply concerned that the national government is implementing EO 30 or the policy on fast-tracking Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS). EO 30 will facilitate more coal power plants that is dirty and expensive energy. The same policy is reflected in RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business law. 

 

These policies will set aside social and environmental safeguards that are designed to ensure the balanced utilization and protection of natural resources, as well as the effective and meaningful participation of local governments, indigenous communities and peoples organizations.

 

We remind Sec. Cimatu that “responsible mining” is a myth.  There is no legal framework for such, and therefore there are no parameters to measure or monitor its implementation.  The “best practices” principle of mining companies is inadequate.  And if we can’t hold either the mining company or the DENR accountable for mining disasters and non-compliance, then it can never be a “responsible” practice.

 

Finally, we register our concern that the proposed ChaCha and Federalism will erode the social justice and environmental justice provisions in the 1987 Constitution. 

 

In ending, we reiterate our demands to the Duterte administration:

 

  1. Pres. Duterte must issue immediately his Executive Order to ban open-pit mining

  2. DENR must implement and not reverse the cancellation/suspension orders against the 26 mining projects.

  3. Congress must enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), and Pres. Duterte should certify the bill as urgent.

  4. DENR should make public the results of the MICC review of 26 closed/suspended mines

  5. Rehabilitation and compensation of victims of disasters brought by deforestation and destructive mining practices must be implemented

 

#

 

For more details, please contact:

 

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator:  (0917) 549.82.18 / nc@alyansatigilmina.net

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