Envi Defenders Call Out Miners for Their “Hypocrisy and Doublespeak”
ATM Press Statement | September 18, 2023
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) criticized the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) for its “hypocrisy and doublespeak” as the alliance launched in a press conference today its Mining Hell Week carrying the theme, “Upholding Green, Resisting Greed”.
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, said this year’s MHW theme is a critique and counterpoint to the theme of the COMP’s international conference, dubbed “Seeing Green: Shaping a Sustainable Minerals Development Industry”.
“Using intentionally-vague language such as ‘sustainable’ or ‘responsible’ mining, mining corporations would have us believe that they care for the environment and communities even when their acts speak otherwise,” he said. “In a number of sites of struggles, mining companies have been found to be operating illegally, violating regulatory laws and disregarding people’s resistance to large-scale mining.”
Bishop Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines, also called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reject the government’s drive to revitalize the mining industry and instead ensure the protection of the environment and the interests of mining-affected communities.
“Given the administration’s aggressive push for mining, as evidenced by the unjust priority bill on a new mining fiscal regime that secures the profit and lightens the tax burden of mining companies, we need a DENR that would stand strong against the manipulations and violations of mining companies, and ultimately defend the welfare of the affected communities” he said.
Meanwhile, environmentalist and advocate of Indigenous People’s Rights Teddy Baguilat highlighted that “mining is a huge human rights issue in the Philippines and has broken the cohesion of IP communities and sanctity of their ancestral domains”.
“In the latest Global Witness report, of the 281 defenders killed in the Philippines, one third spoke against mining. And then all over the world, a third of those killed are indigenous peoples,” he said. “Marcos cannot aggressively promote mining without safeguarding the rights of host communities”.
Rodne Galicha, Executive Director of Living Laudato Si and a staunch anti-mining advocate in Sibuyan, pointed to Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) as a “large-scale violator”, saying that the “Cease and Desist Order of the DENR issued last February found the company to be in violation of numerous laws and regulations, such as cutting of trees without permit and construction of causeway without Environmental Compliance Certificate”.
Vic Colili, Councilor of Brooke’s Point Palawan, echoed Galicha’s statement, stressing that “the same is true for Palawan”. He explained that “Ipilan Nickel Corporation has been issued a Cease and Desist Order by the NCIP because it was not able to secure a Certification Precondition and the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous groups. In effect, it was operating in violation of the laws”.
Not only was a CDO issued against the mining companies in both regions, a Writ of Kalikasan was also issued by the Supreme Court against the concerned mining companies – APMC and INC - and the DENR and MGB. These legal decisions are regarded by the environmental defenders as “a triumph and a testament to their unwavering resistance”.
Atty. Grizela “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda, Executive Director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) further elaborated on the mining issue in Palawan.
“Mining in Palawan is a very significant threat. The present-day controversy is the continued operation of large-scale commercial mining interests in an important protected area such as Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and in natural forests of the province which should be declared as core zones under the special law for Palawan. Indigenous peoples have been displaced from their sacred grounds, fishers and farmers have suffered from loss of livelihood and about 35 community and civil society members are facing harassment suits from a mining company and its personnel,” she said.
“The Supreme Court’s issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan based on a complaint of indigenous peoples who have raised these issues somehow provides an opportunity for affected communities in Palawan to initiate similar environmental actions in the future,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, Romeo Miranda, head of Partido Lakas ng Masa-Naic and member of KaLaSag, (Cavite Alliance Against Seabed Quarrying), claimed the recent suspension of Manila Bay reclamation projects is also a “victory for anti-mining advocates”. But, he further called on the Marcos administration to “put a stop to seabed quarrying activities and pursue a cost-benefit analysis and comprehensive integrative assessment of how such activities will affect ecosystems and communities”.
Fr. Tony Labiao Jr., Executive Director of Caritas Philippines said they are “deeply concerned about the environmental and social impacts of mining, especially during this Season of Creation.”
“We have seen the devastation that mining can cause, and we cannot allow it to continue,” he said, “We urge all people of goodwill to join us in this campaign to stop destructive mining and build a more just and sustainable future for our country. Let us all work together to ensure that justice and peace flow for all of creation."
In a symbolic assertion of its firm resistance against destructive mining and the profit-driven mining industry, the panelists tore up an enlarged replica of a 1,000-peso bill containing an image of an open-pit-mine and the logos of the COMP and DENR.