South Cotabato Governor vetoes resolution seeking to remove ban on open-pit mining

June 3, 2022

South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. on June 3 vetoed a provincial council resolution seeking to amend the province’s environmental code. 

Tamayo said the proposed amendment is “prejudicial” and “inimical” to the public welfare and overall interest of the province. 

The governor said he “could not find any compelling reason why the SP would amend a decade-old ordinance that ably and effectively protects the people.” 

He said the local environmental code has been shielding South Cotabato “from the ill effects of the wanton destruction of our God-given resources by the multi-national corporations, which will only leave the province after (extracting) our wealth.”

On May 16, the Provincial Council of South Cotabato approved a resolution that seeks to remove the 12-year-old ban on open-pit mining. 

The lifting of the ban would remove the only obstacle to long-delayed Tampakan copper and gold mining projects.

The copper-gold minefield in Tampakan town is the largest undeveloped copper-gold resource in the South-East Asia Western-Pacific region.

Pro-environment groups welcomed the “rightful decision” of Governor Tamayo to reject the ordinance and for “heeding the cry of the vulnerable communities.” 

Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines said the decision of the local chief executive “gives temporary relief” to the people, who will suffer the impacts of destructive extraction activities.

“But it is not only about the will of the people, it is a personal and collective moral choice. Any decision that favors the environment and the people is just and moral,” he said.

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina lauded the people of South Cotabato, led by farmers and the Diocese of Marble “for holding their ground and resisting the move of some of its government officials to overturn the progressive environmental laws in South Cotabato.”    

“This is a victory of the people of South Cotabato and is the correct move of Gov. Tamayo in protecting the right of his constituents to a safe ecology and promoting the comfort and welfare of a majority of the affected communities,” he said. 

Garganera said his organization will continue its vigilance because “there is still a chance that the (Council) may override this veto.” 

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