DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Environmental advocates staged a protest action in Koronadal City, South Cotabato during the Earth Day commemoration on Monday, April 23.
Around 300 protesters led by Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad sa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao (KALUHHAMIN), Karapatan Socsksargen and SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA marched the streets to denounce the kickoff operation of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project of Sagittarius Mines, Incorporated.
SMI is set to operate in a 50,000-hectare land in the quadri-boundary areas of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani.
Environmental advocates also raised their opposition to the 400 Megawatt Coal Power Plant of Sarangani Energy Corportion (SEC) in Maasim Sarangani Province and the 400 Megawatt project of San Miguel Energy Corporation in Malita, Davao Occidental.
Arlene Alonzo of SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA said that these projects are tantamount to environmental plunder and are contrary to the interest of the people.
“In South Cotabato, while there is an existing Environmental Code which prohibits open-pit mining operation, the local government unit is endorsing coal mining in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu,” said Alonzo.
The protesters also remembered the martyrs in the environmental defense, such as environmental advocate Boy Billanes who was killed on March 9, 2009, Juvy Capion and her two sons were who were massacred last October 18 2012, and the recent massacre of eight Tboli-Manobo tribe which led to the death of Datu Victor Danyan in December 3 last year.
In a statement, Karapatan Socsksargen spokesperson Ali Macalinsal said that environmental plunder in the region is associated with human rights violations.
Macalinsal cited the massive evacuation of indigenous people in areas targetted for operation by big mining and logging companies.
“Eight Tboli-Manobo were dead and hundreds of their relatives evacuated because of an attack perpetrated by the 27th and 33rd Infantry Battalion in their community. These cases of violence are occurring because of their strong opposition against the logging and coffee plantation of David M. Consunji, said Macalinsal. (davaotoday.com)