Groups call on PBBM to preserve environment, not destroy through mining
ATM Press Release | March 6, 2023
During the press conference launching its Anti-Mining Solidarity Week, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) called on President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to stop mining companies from destroying the country’s rich ecosystems and disrupting the peace in mining-affected communities. Instead, it demanded that the government preserve the country’s natural resources for future generations.
“Likas Yaman Ipamana, Huwag Ipamina! This is the rallying call among anti-mining communities. We call on the PBBM administration to listen to the demand of the people, especially those holding barricades in Sibuyan, Romblon, Brooke’s Point, Palawan, and Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.
Garganera expressed concern that the government would favor mining companies, particularly those with ties to politicians such as the Gatchailans and the Romudaldezes, instead of respecting local autonomy and the will of communities.
“Our natural resources should be protected and preserved and not subjected to exploitation and corruption,” said Garganera, hitting on the Marcoses for its historical record of theft as well as graft and corruption. He also pointed out that the Marcoses were beneficial owners of Marcopper Mines in Marinduque, which was responsible for the biggest mining disaster in the country.
Rodne Galicha, Executive-Director of Living Laudato Si and one of the leaders of the protests in Sibuyan, Romblon said: “We hope that the national government will not act like the police in Sibuyan, who took the side of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation and facilitated the transport of nickel ores instead of protecting the residents
Elizabeth Ibanez, Coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM), reiterated their demand for the cancellation of the Mineral Product Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Altai Philippine Mining Corporation. “To allow mining in Sibuyan, which is known to be the Galapagos of Asia, is unacceptable. Large-scale mining will drastically and negatively impact the rich biodiversity of our region as well as affect the livelihood of our people.”
Brooke’s Point Vice-Mayor Jean Feliciano similarly demanded that the DENR cancel the MPSA of Ipilan Nickel Corporation. “We are already experiencing the harsh effects of mining as our communities were damaged by flash floods, which we suspect are due to mining. We do not want mining in the region, and the government must respect our decision to determine for ourselves our development programs.”
Meanwhile, Atty. Rolly Francis Peoro from Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) explained that in recent renewals of contested mining agreements, the DENR erroneously stated that the consent of the local government units are not necessary, consequently clipping the constitutionally mandated autonomy of the LGUs and diminishing the right to a balanced and healthful ecology of the residents directly affected by the mining operations.
“This is a blatant disregard of the autonomy of our local government and its duty to protect our environment,” he said.
He reiterated the constitutional principle of local autonomy, which endows local government units with the power over mining projects within their respective jurisdictions.
“Further, the state is required to conduct consultations and to seek prior approval with the LGUs for environmentally critical projects. Specifically, the Local Government Code requires the national government to conduct consultations with different stakeholders before the implementation of an environmentally-critical project. This consultation and prior approval requirement for environmentally critical projects are embodied in clear terms under our laws,” he said. “Thus, both empowering and holding LGUs accountable to their constituents on their duty to protect our environment.”
The panelists also called for the Mining Act of the Philippines to be repealed and replaced by the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).
Maya Quirino of SoS-Yamang Bayan said: “The government’s appreciation of mining’s contribution to economic recovery and DENR’s own call for a review of mining policies – these can find expression in the AMMB, a comprehensive law that shall transform the mining industry and boost the economy while caring for people and the planet.”
“The AMMB also increases the revenue share of local governments and local communities, to aid in their development priorities. Critically, the AMMB locates the role of mining in national industrialization, enabling value addition to the sector, presently primarily occupied in the export of raw minerals ores,” she added.
Quirino also pointed out that the AMMB is anchored in the climate discourse, which situates mining within the country’s aspiration for a low-carbon development pathway, as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. The AMMB is one of the pioneering legislative proposals across the globe that respond to the clear and present danger of the climate crisis.