climate advocates laud DENR closure of mining operations, call for
continuous action against destructive large-scale mining industry
February 3, 2017
QUEZON CITY –
Environment and climate advocates, as well as members of grassroot
communities, lauded the Department of Environment and Natural
Resource's (DENR) closure of 23 mining operations situated in
functional watersheds and suspension of 5 mining firms, as of Tuesday,
January 31, 2017.
"This action by the
government has finally brought into the forefront the long history of
suffering inflicted by the country's large-scale mining industry on
our environment and our mining-affected communities," said Concerned
Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) Chairman Dr. Benito Molino.
Molino referred to DENR
Secretary Gina Lopez's findings on the grave environmental degradation
and disruption of community lives that have been occurring in the
mining capital regions of the country.
"The campaign that calls for
holding accountable destructive mining firms and for the halt of these
recently closed mining operations has been left unheeded for years
until now," said Molino.
"It takes bold and concrete
actions to put an immediate stop to the environmental degradation and
community life destruction that have long been the mark of large-scale
mining industries in this country. The DENR amply stepped up to this
challenge with its closure of a number of mining operations,"
Atty. Aaron Pedrosa hoped that this paves the way for more empowered
communities in their fight to reclaim their home and their proper way
of life from destructions caused by the large-scale mining industry.
In lauding the DENR closure
of a number of mining operations, Pedrosa expressed the need for
continuous action, both by the state and its citizens, against
possible retaliatory measures to be undertaken by huge mining
"Stronger safeguards need to
be installed in our institutions to truly break away from the current
state of affairs of our environment where only a handful from the
mining industry dominate in extracting and benefitting from the
country's natural resources," stated Pedrosa.
In concurring with the
observance of Secretary Lopez during the DENR mining audits, Center
for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) National Convenor Gerry
Arances noted that farmers and fishers from mining-affected
communities are often stripped of their health and their livelihood
due to the disruptive presence of mining operations in affected areas.
According to Arances,
compunded with statements from Molino, in Sta. Cruz, Zambales alone,
the visible environmental impacts of mining operations by BenguetCorp
Nickel Mines Incorporated, Eramen Minerals Incorporated, LNL
Archipelago Minerals Incorporated, and Zambales Diversified Metals
Corporation, included air pollution, biodiversity loss, floods, food
insecurity, loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, soil
contamination and erosion, waste overflow, deforestation and loss of
vegetation cover, and surface water pollution.
"It is high time that we
realize and act on the fact that we put so much burden on our
environment and our fellow Filipinos in mining-affected areas for the
sake of accommodating a large-scale mining industry that empties and
irreversibly damages our resources without having ever contributed to
our economic growth as a country," said Arances.
Arances noted how the
country's current legal framework on mining allows the entry and the
long-term and large-scale destruction by mining corporations of
communities and ecosystems in exchange for few and insignificant
portions of the revenue gained by these corporations.
profit-driven mining industries have long gotten away with encroaching
upon and fully exhausting natural resources that are meant for the use
and proliferation of our present and future communities," concurred
"In order to instigate a
full stop to the destruction caused by mining operations, we have to
shift our way of appropriating our natural resources and make it fully
attuned to the needs of our own communities rather than that of
corporations," said Molino.
Pedrosa cited The Philippine
Mining Act of 1995, the current law governing mining activities, as
one of the major impediments to a truly pro-people and pro-environment
national utilization of land resources.
"A law that allows mining
corporations to own 100% of mineral ores and land covered in claimed
mining areas has no place in our genuine pursuit of reclaiming our
natural resources for our people," said Pedrosa.
CCOS, Sanlakas, and CEED
have long supported the passage of bills like the Alternative Minerals
Management Bill (AMMB), a bill that champions the adoption of a
sustainable, rational, needs-based minerals management, geared towards
effective utilization of mineral resources for the goal of attaining
an ecologically-sound national and modernized agriculture.
"The closure by the DENR of
major mining operations is a step forward to relinquishing the hold of
corporations over this country's natural resources," said Pedrosa.
"To make this move more
meaningful, however, we have to continue creating more avenues, formal
or otherwise, for our communities to assert their rights over the
utilization and management of their resources and the environment in
which they live," concluded Molino.