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DENR has betrayed the environment and Duterte has failed the people

ATM Press Statement for SONAgKAISA

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) joins the SONAgKAISA in denouncing the failure of this administration in responding to the pandemic and betraying the Filipino people with its undemocratic policy thrusts in the past few weeks.

We are greatly offended that DENR has effectively reversed the suspension and closure orders issued by former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez. Sec. Roy Cimatu has recommended the lifting of the suspension orders to at least nine (9) mining projects. During the COVID19 quarantine, mining companies were allowed to transport and haul their ores, despite the lockdown guidelines.

In the past six months alone, starting January 2020, the national government has supported the resurgence of mining projects, contrary to the previous announcements of Pres. Duterte. Fuel tankers were allowed to enter the Didipio mines in Nueva Vizcaya, despite the expired mining contract of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI). The Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the Tampakan Mining Project was reinstated, despite the numerous violations. Mining companies were allowed to re-enter or continue their operations during this pandemic in Zambales, Palawan, Masbate, Leyte, Samar Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte, despite the vigorous resistance of local communities

Red-tagging and legal harassments of anti-mining leaders were recorded in Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Masbate, Leyte and South Cotabato. This becomes an alarming development in the context of the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

We reject the proposal of DENR that mining and river-dredging become part of the economic stimulus program of the government, as part of the recovery from COVID19.

While the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) was re-filed at Congress, it has not progressively moved the legislative mill. It is unlikely that it will be passed by 2022. A proposed law to rationalize fiscal incentives and taxation for mining was passed at the House of Representatives, and will be hopefully discussed and enacted by the Senate. We are skeptical that progressive taxtion of the mining industry will happen, given the huge influence of corporate interests in the Senate, knowing that some of our elected leaders are beneficial owners of mining companies. Some senators have also received campaign financing from the industry.

It is clear that the DENR and the whole national government have failed to learn the lessons from this pandemic. Extractive activities like mining have led to deforestation and permanent land use changes. This in turn has fueled global warming and climate change. With the changing climate and loss of habitat, animals and insects have changed also, both behaviorally and biologically. These changes have increased the probability of new diseases and pandemics like COVID19.

We will continue these vicious cycle, because our national leaders have failed to see the big picture and decided it more was more important to provide military solutions, shut-down a leading media network that was critical and fast-track the amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The Filipino people and the environment have been betrayed.

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