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National minorities join 2023 Global Climate Strike

Sandugo: ‘Time to replace Mining Act of 1995 with People’s Mining Bill’

Mining Act of 1995

Press Release
March 3, 2023

QUEZON CITY – Today marks 28 years since Republic Act 7942, or the Mining Act of 1995, was passed. In a demonstration held at the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Sandugo - Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination joined various sectors in calling for the repeal of the said law.

“Sa loob din ng 28 taon na ito, hindi umalwan ang buhay ng mga katutubo sa lugar na kung saan may mga minahan,” said Eufemia Cullamat, Sandugo spokesperson. “Sa halip, kami ay nagkawatak-watak dahil sinisira at winawasak ng mga minahan ang mga lupang ninuno.” [In the past 28 years, the lives of indigenous communities in mining areas have not improved. Rather, we have been torn apart as mining continuously ravages our ancestral lands.]

Sandugo cites the key role of the DENR in greenlighting environmental degradation through the Mining Act of 1995, claiming the department has placed profit over the people’s welfare. “Ito pa ang nagbebenta ng aming mga lupang ninuno, nagbibigay ng Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) kahit walang malinaw na FPIC [free, prior, and informed consent] o pahintulot ng mga katutubong komunidad!” [The DENR itself is selling out our ancestral lands, issuing ECCs without securing FPIC, or the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous communities.]

Cullamat further lamented the impact of large-scale, corporate mining on indigenous communities’ agricultural practices and food security. “Kung dati ay nakakapagtanim kami ng palay dalawang beses sa isang taon, ngayon ay hindi na dahil hindi na balanse ang tag ulan at tag init na syang bumubuhay sa mga pananim.” [Before, we would harvest grain twice a year; this is no longer possible because the climate that nourishes our crops has been altered.]

The demonstration is part of the Global Climate Strike, a globally-coordinated mass action spanning nearly a hundred countries which demands urgent action on the worsening climate crisis. The mining sector represents an estimated 4 to 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Up to half of copper, gold, iron ore, and zinc mining is located in areas with high water stress, greatly altering the lifeways of communities. In the Cordillera for example, a long history of mining has seen villages lose irrigation for rice production, as well as massive landslides and ground collapse. Since mining requires large amounts of water for its operations, mining companies in the area have privatized water sources, making life more difficult for indigenous and peasant communities.

Sandugo supports the passage of House Bill (HB) 259, or the People’s Mining Bill, which moved forward last month with the approval of the House Committee on Natural Resources. The bill seeks to make important shifts in the mining industry, among these the encouragement of foreign companies to reinvest rather than repatriate profits to their home countries, and the overall reorientation of the mining industry towards the development of domestic industries. The movement welcomes the bill’s ban on prime agricultural lands and watershed areas, sacred indigenous sites, small island ecosystems, and areas specified for food production and fishing. Sandugo also laud’s the bill’s intent to ban firms and conduits with a poor track record.

“Ang mga nasirang kabundukan, buhay at kabuhayan ay hindi na maibabalik pa,” says Cullamat. “Nararapat lamang palayasin at pagbayarin ang mga mandarambong at lumapastangan sa kalikasan. Kailangan natin itong tuloy tuloy na ipaglaban sa pamamagitan ng ating mahigpit na pagkakaisa at pagtutulungan.” [The destruction that has already ravaged our mountains, lives, and livelihoods is irreversible. It is only right to banish and punish the greedy entities that have pillaged our environment. We need to be relentless in our fight, by supporting each other and standing in solidarity.]