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Philippine Gov’t reminded to respect local ordinances on mining
Manila – Government must in fact recognize local ordinances that uphold biodiversity conservation and promote human rights especially of the Indigenous Peoples, instead of threatening them with the primacy of national policies, said Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) reacting on the much-delayed Executive Order on Mining.
“It is already frustrating that instead of receiving support for trying to protect the remaining forest, water and coastal resources in the country, local government units with this kind of ordinances are being challenged in court battle by big mining companies – and now, by the government?” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
ATM feared that the said provision in the proposed EO can be used by the government to manipulate mining situations and assert projects despite strong opposition from the local leaders and the communities.
“We are talking significant ordinances here that speak good issues such as sustainable use of resources, protection of the environment in relation to climate-change mitigation and adaptation and more importantly disaster-risk reduction - why would you challenge that?” Garganera added.
The EO on mining drew ires from local leaders and civil society groups after Environment Secretary Ramon Paje announced that in the proposed policy national legislation will be asserted over local anti-mining ordinances.
“So, who really is the boss now?” asked Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee.
Gariguez also mentioned that the President needs to be reminded of his pronouncement that the Filipino people are his boss. “As part of the Filipino community we support ordinances that defend our ecology, food, livelihood and human rights. He should adhere to the valid call of his boss”
“The local government code is a manifestation of the democracy in the country, and an indicator of that is the power vested to local leaders in making decisions on their jurisdiction. To have an executive order that overpowers such provision and seems unequivocal is attracting a martial-law in spirit,” Gariguez added.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.
Farmers, fisherfolks file petition for Envi Protection Order against mining in MacArthur Leyte
MacArthur, Leyte—Farmers and fisher folks in Leyte went to court and filed an application for Temporary Environmental Protection Order (EPO) to stop the mining operation of Nicua Corporation in prime agricultural lands of Villa Imelda and adjacent barangays in MacArthur Leyte.
The plaintiffs led by Jesus Cabias, president of Unahin Lagi Natin ang Diyos – Bito Lake Fisherfolks Association (UNLAD-BLFA) and supported by Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), assert their right to a healthy and safe environment against the destructive effects of mining in their farmlands and lake.
“Water is life and must be saved as all costs. Allowing mining to continue here will affect not only our primary source of water and livelihood but also the future generations,” said Cabias.
Two weeks ago, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that contamination from oil and grease from the mining operations is one of the causes of the massive fish kill in Lake Bito.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) added, “Together with the Archdiocese of Palo and Alyansa Tigil Mina, we visited this area and found that the impacts of mining there are terrible and devastating. We call on the national offices to act on this, at the same time we hope that the Regional Trial Court can immediately hear our petition and issue a temporary environmental protection order to stop Nicua mining corporation from operating in the area.”
Cabias added, “Our problem is that the mining operation is encroaching in prime agricultural lands—we are talking about irrigated lands that were not even legally converted for otherPurposes. Their activities threaten our food security, right to clean water, and livelihood.”
The 30-page petition has been filed this morning at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 in Abuyog, Leyte but is yet to be given a case number by the RTC Judge next week.
Meanwhile, ELAC Lawyer Atty. Ronnan Reposar is firm that an EPO should really be issued against the mining company and should be implemented immediately. He said, “There are clear violations here, not only that the mining operation in MacArthur violated the constitutional rights of the people to environment, health, life and property, the same has likewise violated other laws protecting our natural resources — the mining company is situated and directly affecting prime and irrigated agricultural lands and the water resources. This is a clear threat to LIFE of both the present and future generation”
Environmental Protection Order or Temporary Environmental Protection Order (EPO/TEPO) are injunction orders under the new Environmental Rules of Court that directs or enjoins “any person or government agency to perform or desist from performing an act in order to protect, preserve or rehabilitate the environment.” This gives immediate relief on environmental issues.
“We do not understand why this company was even allowed to mine here—they are converting prime agricultural lands into mine sites that will render the lands useless afterwards,” stated Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
For more information: http://www.alyansatigilmina.net