“Sakit gyud.  Dugay na kaming naningkamot aron molambo, among kusog pamuo ang gigamit, ang uban kinabuhi ang gihalad, apan ang EO 79 usa ka pagyatak kanamo”  (It’s painful.  We labored hard for a long time, others offered their lives.  The EO 79 really violates our rights).” — Juanita Villosino, small-scale miner

By ALEX D. LOPEZ
Davao Today

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines — Small-scale miners denounced President Aquino’s issuance of Executive Order 79 calling it “a mechanism to restrain local government units (LGUs) and to control the operations of small-scale miners.”

About 350 small-scale miners gathered here last Saturday for a two-day summit of the Federation of Small-Scale Miners in Compostela Valley (FSSM-CV).  They later held a caravan from Tagum City to Nabunturan town and staged a rally pressing for their demand of prioritizing small-scale miners and the scrapping of EO 79.

“Ang pag-issue sa EO 79 para lang na sa pagpalambo sa mga dagkung pagmina sa nasud,” (The issuance of EO 79 is intended to develop large-scale mining in the country), said Jimmy Saypan, a small-scale miner for more than 20 years from Barangay Ngan in Compostela town.

FSSM-CV members expressed their sentiments against EO 79 through a petition addressed to President Aquino to scrap the order and urged the LGUs to stand firm and defend their respective ordinances against large-scale mining.

President Aquino signed on July 6 EO 79 which critics said was an all-out move by Malacañang to pin LGUs who had previously passed resolutions and ordinances banning large-scale and destructive mining in their jurisdictions.

A woman miner for more than 10 years in Compostela town, Juanita Villosino lamented that EO 79 will definitely limit the operations of small-scale miners and expand operations of big capitalists engaged in large-scale mining.

“Sakit gyud.  Dugay na kaming naningkamot aron molambo, among kusog pamuo ang gigamit, ang uban kinabuhi ang gihalad, apan ang EO 79 usa ka pagyatak kanamo” (It’s painful.  We labored hard for a long time, others offered their lives. The EO 79 really violates our rights), added Villosino.

“Mas gipa-mangtas pa sa EO 79 ang mangtas na daan nga mining law sa Pilipinas” (EO 79 added more teeth to the cruel mining law existing in the country) said Pedro Arnado, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chair in Southern Mindanao who delivered a solidarity message to the small-scale miners during the summit.

Arnado said the gathering is timely so that small miners would be able to assess their present situation, unify and ventilate the vital issues and concerns that affect the mining industry.

One of the important issues raised during the summit was the status of the small-scale miners in every area.  “They are still considered as illegal despite the registration they made in the village level and the submission of all the papers required by the LGU,”Arnado added.

Meanwhile, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Edilberto Arreza said they are not happy with the EO provision on moratorium  in the approval of pending APSA (Application for Mineral Production Sharing Agreement) until a new legislation that will increase excise tax is passed by Congress.

To this, environmental group Panalipdan’s spokesperson Juland Suazo said, “The MGB carries the same lines with that of Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.  It is expected from a government agency to pursue and approve the plunder of our mineral resources.”

Like KMP’s Arnado, Suazo said statements from MGB-XI’s officials indicate that EO 79 “strengthens RA 7942 (Mining Act of 1995),” adding, “only that the plunder of our mineral resources is postponed due to the mining moratorium.”

Panalipdan said that with the moratorium and a proposed law on higher mining tax, the Aquino government “wants a big slice on mining revenues to pay for our onerous and illegitimate debts as dictated by international financial institutions.”  (With reports from Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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