DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Saying the scrapping of mine deals would be beneficial to the people and the environment, progressive organizations expressed their support to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez as the 75 mining deals posed a threat to the watersheds across the country.
“We express our support for Sec. Gina Lopez for this brave initiative to go against the interests of big mining businesses to preserve our watersheds,” Emmi De Jesus, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative, said in a statement.
“Over the years, several mining explorations and extractions have resulted to the abuse and destruction of our resources and abuse of our motherland,” she said.
De Jesus said that people’s access to clean and potable water will be affected with mining operations in watershed areas.
“We have had tragic experiences of rivers and reservoirs being damaged and made toxic due to mine operations all over the country,” De Jesus added.
Push for People’s Mining Bill
In Congress, Gabriela is pushing to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and to pass the People’s Mining Bill.
The People’s Mining Bill aims to reverse the liberalization of mining industry in the country.
“It upholds the Filipino People’s Constitutional right to appropriately use, manage, and enjoy the benefits of the country’s mineral resources, considering these as national patrimony and as irreplaceable and non-renewable wealth,” reads a primer of the bill.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said that extraction of the country’s mineral resources “must primarily serve and benefit our communities and not multinational corporations and big business.”
“More importantly these should not result to the massive destruction of our land and communities,” Brosas said. “This move from Sec Gina Lopez gives much hope and boosts the morale of people struggling to preserve their and protect their lands from plunder.”
The congresswoman said that people’s defense of their lands from plunder resulted to deaths of their tribal leaders and anti-mining activists during the previous administration which “allow deployment of [government] troops to protect mining interests.”
Meanwhile, youth group Anakbayan said that it “stands with Secretary Gina Lopez in her bid to preserve our watersheds by going against big mining interests that are being reinforced by the neoliberal rightwing gang in Duterte’s cabinet.”
Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan secretary general said DENR’s Lopez’s commitment against large-scale mining is “admirable in the face of the systematic media and political campaign to bring her down even as President Rodrigo Duterte backtracks on his previous anti-mining pronouncements in favor of mining profits.”
“Duterte pretends to be brave, but in reality he is tolerating his big miners and oligarch friends who are in his cabinet,” he said.
“Human rights violations are bound to intensify now with the military rampaging all over the countryside,” he pointed out, citing the case of an anti-mining activist and Lumad leader Veronico “Nico” Lapsay Delamente, who was gunned down by unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle in Claver, Surigao del Norte.
Including the case of an anti-mining Lumad leader Jimmy Saypan was also killed by unidentified riding-in-tandem, in Compostela Valley on October 2016.
Anakbayan called on the Filipino youth and people “to stand against the imperialist plunder of Philippine lands and communities, saying the country’s mineral resources should serve national industrialization rather than just benefit transnational corporations and big mining interests.” (davaotoday.com