Green groups demand halt to destructive mining 

June 5, 2023

Pro-environment groups marked the observance of World Environment Day with a call for an immediate cessation of destructive mining operations in the Philippines.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM, expressed concern about the potential consequences of the government’s drive to revitalize the mining industry under President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

“[It] imperils our natural resources and local communities,” he said. 

Garganera said the extractive industry inflicts irreversible environmental damage. “In many Sites of Struggles (SoS), mining destroys the biodiversity, water sources, and ecosystems of the region as well as the livelihoods of the people,” he said. 

He said that even protected areas like Mount Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan Island, Romblon, and Mount Mantalingahan in Brooke’s Point, Palawan have fallen victim to the adverse effects of mining operations.

Elizabeth Ibañez, Coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, pointed out the significant “great damage to the environment” allegedly caused by Altai Philippines Mining Company in Sibuyan, including unauthorized tree cutting.

Victor Colili, Councilor of Brooke’s Point, Palawan, drew attention to the Ipilan Nickel Corporation, which he claimed continues to “operate without a Mayor’s permit,” “violating laws,” and “disregarding local autonomy.”

Rene Pamplona, ATM Chairperson from South Cotabato said, “Tampakan mining will destroy the watershed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Davao del Sur. This will also affect the thousands of hectares for food production and the potable water supply. Loss of livelihood and threat to life will be the long-term impact of the Tampakan mines.”

Judy Pasimio, Coordinator of Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK), stressed the close link between the escalating environmental crisis and food insecurity. 

“This is why rural and indigenous communities stand up against destructive mining. And this is why they are targets of threats and harassments, even killings by those in power,” she said.

Garganera called for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act, which he said enables unchecked large-scale mining, in favor of a more rational and balanced mining law that benefits the country and its people.

Mai Taqueban, Executive-Director of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), urged Congress to pass an Alternative Minerals Management Bill. “This proposed law would allow for the management of our minerals for national industrialization, prohibit mining in areas that are sources of food and water, and place better safeguards on mining-affected communities,” she said.

The groups renewed their commitment to resisting destructive mining practices and vowed to continue advocating for the repeal of the current mining law and the enactment of an alternative minerals bill.

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