Press Statement: Pandemics are linked to mining and climate change

September 25, 2020

Quezon City - In this 25th anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act and in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, we face bitter lessons on the links between mining, deforestation, climate change and pandemics.  Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is holding a Mining Hell Week from Sept. 24-Oct 2, 2020, to highlight these links and demand responsive actions from the DENR and the mining industry.  We stand with the many mining-affected communities and local governments that demand accountability from the DENR and from President Duterte to stop destructive large-scale mining operations in the Philippines.

 

To illustrate clearly the links between mining, climate change and pandemics, we issued our briefing paper today “Mining and COVID19”.  This paper explains how pandemics arise because of deforestation and permanent land-use change brought by mining.  This in turn fuels climate change and eventually contributes to zoonosis and potentially drives pandemics.

 

Our alliance rejects the recommendation of DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to open more mines as part of the economic stimulus and recovery program of the government as a response to COVID19.  History and statistics inform us that the economic benefits of mining are miniscule in terms of employment, tax revenues or contribution to Philippine GDP. 

 

We also reject the plan of DENR-MGB to re-open nine mining operations that were ordered suspended or closed by former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez.  Before re-opening any mining project, DENR must disclose and release any report that justifies such actions.

 

Equally disturbing is the priority of our national leaders that seem to be more concerned in “opening up the economy” at the expense of public health considerations.  We re-echo the call of various stakeholders, we must listen to public health experts and the medical frontliners in crafting and implementing policies to address COVID19, and not put premium on economic or business interests.

 

It is important to remind Pres. Duterte and his cabinet, there is no business in a dead planet, and if we proceed in the dangerous track of opening up more mines and destroy more forests and watersheds, we risk repeating the bitter lessons brought by COVID19. 

 

We also remind Prs. Duterte to immediately issue an executive order to ban open-pit mining, a campaign promise that he made and repeated several times in his public statements.  This single act of regulating destructive mining will probably reduce significantly our risks related to climate change and pandemics. #

 

*Quotes and additional notes below:

 

 

Judy Pasimio, National Coordinator, LILAK:

 

“At this time that we are experiencing pandemic, and all the hardships that go along with this, we are trying to build a new better normal. To do so, we need to learn lessons from the past. And if we listen to the voice of our communities, mining has not brought any good to our environment and natural resources, and to the lives of those who directly depend on them. Mining did not contribute to our economy before, so why push it now? Mining had brought food insecurity, landlessness and violence. For a better tomorrow, in the time of pandemic, support local initiatives of food production; harness community participation in our national recovery. For better tomorrow, we should break the chain of mining, violence and impunity.”

 

Rose Trajano, Convenor of IDefend:

 

"Ano ba ang katunayan ng human rights sa mining? Hindi pwedeng kumikita lang sa pagmimina. Nakikita ba ang natin ang iba pang epekto ng pagmimina sa mga komunidad? Sigurado ba na may supply ng tubig? Segurado ba na may pagtataniman pa tayo? Segurado ba tayo na ang kinikita ay nararamdaman natin; o iba ang kumikita ng malaki at kapiraso lang ang ating nararamdaman? Dapat seguraduhin natin na ang rights-based approach sa pagmimina dahil naaapektuhan ang ating communities at natural resources.

 

Sa report ng Global Witness, nakakalungkot… 50% ng napatay sa buong mundo ay galing sa Colombia at Pilipinas. Saan ka nakakakita na ang nagbabantay sa ating kalikasan ay napapatay? Doon pumapasok ang ating civil at political rights."

 

Erwin Puhawan, Luzon Coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice:

 

Lahat ng bagay ay magkaka-ugnay. Ang mga malalaking kumpanya na katulad ng minahan na sumisira sa kalikasan tulad ng coal mines, itong kanilang minimina ay mga coal ay siya namang ginagatong sa ating mga planta. Malaking porseynto sa Pilipinas ay gumagamit ng coal bilang pang gatong sa Coal Fire Power Plant. At ang coal fire power plant na ito ay may malaking epekto sa komunidad, nagdudulot ng polusyon, nagkakasakit ang mga tao, higit sa lahat ito ay nagpapalala sa pag init ng mundo.

 

Lucille Sabdao from Samahan ng mga Magsasaka Ayaw sa Pagmimina (SMAP) from Brooke’s Point, Palawan:

 

“Ang agrikultura po dito sa Brooke’s Point ay halos nasa 98% kaya ayaw namin sa pagmimina. Kami po talaga ay naiiyak sa ginagawa nilang pag-abuso sa kalikasan. Kahit ako ay isang indibidwal lamang, patuloy ang aking pagtutol sa mapanirang mina.”

 

 

Rene Pamplona, Advocacy Officer of Convergence of Initiatives for Enviromental Justice (CIEJ) from Tampakan, South Cotabato:

 

“May administrative order para sa moratorium ng open pit mining, pero bakit may inaaprubhan na ECC for open pit mines? Ang kinakatakot namin ay baka gawin pambayad ng utang ang minerales sa Tampakan. Dito daw may pinakamalaking deposit ng copper at gold sa Asia. Pero mas malaki ang kapinsalaan. Marami na din ang human rights violations at killings kahit hindi pa nagsisimula ang operasyon ng mina.

Ang patuloy na pagbukas ng pagminina ay patuloy na pagyurak ng karapatang pantao ng mga apektadong sector. Sa lahat ng human rights abuses at complaints, hanggang ngayon ay walang malinaw na sagot ang gobyerno.”

 

Maya Quirino, Coordiator, SoS-Yamang Bayan (SoS-YB)

 

Ilan sa pwedeng pagbabago sa ekonomiya na tinatawag natin sa injust economy unang una ay pag scale-up ng mga economies based on cooperativism. Marami tayong farmers cooperative at agriculutural cooperatives dapat yun ang suportahan ng gobyerno. Pangalawa, dapat suportahan din ang local markets, nauso ngayon yun yung direct na bilhin ang pagbili sa farmers. Pangatlo, dapat nakakabit sa environmental  justice, kung babaguhin natin ang trato sa ekonomiya ay dapat binabago din natin ang trato sa kalikasan at dito papasok ang environmental legislation na kailangan natin isulong at isa dito ang Alternative Minerals Management Bill

 

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