PRESS RELEASE: LAUNCHING OF MHW
Green groups denounce plan to lift ban on open-pit mines; Highlights culpability of pro-mining leaders and their mining legacies In the launching of Alyansa Tigil Mina’s Mining Hell Week today, environmental human rights defenders strongly denounced a reported draft DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) lifting the ban on open-pit mining as they declared continued resistance against mining policies that cater to large mining corporations at the expense of communities.
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator said “allowing open-pit mining is another act of betrayal by the Duterte administration on top of Executive Order 130, the new mining policy.”
”Duterte has absolutely reversed the gains towards rational mining and the protection of the country‟s natural resources,” he said. “By declaring mining as an essential industry, issuing EO 130 and now lifting the ban on open-pit mining, Duterte gives a go-signal for large corporations to plunder our natural resources and ruin communities and the environment.‟
Last April 13, 2021, Duterte issued EO 130, which effectively reversed several protective guidelines from EO 79 or the mining policy of the Aquino administration. EO 130: i) lifts the moratorium on mining applications; ii) reduces the role of local government units in accepting or rejecting mining projects, and iii) reverses the administrative orders to suspend or cancel mining contracts that violated environmental laws. With the draft DENR DAO, open-pit mining will now be blatantly allowed.
Meanwhile, Melody Asia of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI), talked about the poor performance of mining in the country. She said that “the government should not rely on mining for the country‟s economic recovery since the industry does not even significantly contribute to the country‟s GDP.” She pointed out that data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) reveals that mining’s contribution to annual GDP is less than 1%. She added that “mining neither significantly contributes to the provision of jobs as annual employment is only 190,000.”
“A few months before the end of Duterte‟s presidency, Dutertismo reveals again that its iron fist is for the benefit of big business and to the detriment of marginalized communities and nature,” she said. “This insensible decision by this administration makes the government‟s priorities clearer - in favor of mining industries which we know has contributed greatly to the loss of biodiversity and decrease in natural and human resilience against impacts of climate changes. All these consequences will only have the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged sector of the Filipino people bear the brunt of this questionable economic development.”
ATM vowed to never forget decades of destructive mining from the time of Marcos up to Duterte as they named “leaders” who were responsible for institutionalizing large-scale mining. Atty. Ryan Roset of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) stressed that “Ferdinand Marcos‟ Presidential Decree No. 463 was a precursor to the massive exploitation of mineral resources.”
He pointed out that the Marcoses were co-owners of Marcopper Mining Corporation, which was responsible for the mining disaster in Marinduque. “These are the disastrous legacies of the Marcoses that we will never forget. They should not be allowed to take the helm of leadership and again wreck the country‟s natural resources and the economy,” said Roset.
Beth Manggol of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) stressed the impact of the unprecedented 1996 Marcopper mining tailings spill. “The Marcopper disaster caused the Boac River to be unusable, severely affecting the lives and livelihood of the people of Marinduque. Crops and vegetable gardens were destroyed, and freshwater and marine life were killed. Up to this day, there are still dangers facing the communities as full rehabilitation has yet to take place,” she said. Judy Pasimio of In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (IDefend) said people are paying a steep price due to large-scale mining. “While the government encourages firms to profit from mining, it tolerates infractions and injustices against communities. It even imposes measures that put communities at the losing end. Flawed Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) are acquired; mining sites are militarized, and environmental standards are ignored.” “We remember the policies that paved the way for these injustices, including the investment defense forces. We will never forget the human rights violations from one administration to the next, and will hold accountable these „leaders‟, especially in the coming elections,” she said.. Garganera pointed to the culpability of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who authored the Mining Act of 1995 that paved the way for foreign large-scale mining companies to enter the country. As President, GMA further issued EO 270-A, which promoted mining and protected investments by extractives. “We also do not forget the big role GMA played in ushering in indiscriminate mining in the country. Through her policies and aggressive promotion of large-sc
ale mining, many communities are now at risk of environmental destruction, ” he said. Garganera stated that the alliance rejects the Mining Legacies of the previous administrations. “In the run-up to the May 2022 elections, we will continue to raise our voice against mining and the leaders who promote the agenda of the extractives industry. Instead, we will push for the election of candidates who have a clear pro-people and pro-environment agenda and who will put communities and the environment above the profiteering mining sector,” he concluded. On Mining Hell Week from October 25 to 29, ATM will hold a series of activities tackling the current issues surrounding mining. Public forums, learning sessions and community mobilizations have been scheduled under the theme: #NeverForget EO 130 AT MGA DEKADANG MAPANIRANG PAGMIMINA; MAKATAO AT MAKAKALIKASANG PAMAMAHALA NG MINERALES NG BANSA, IPAGLABAN!