DAVAO CITY – The Panalipdan Southern Mindanao together with sectors and communities affected by mining disasters staged a protest rally in front of Mines and Geosciences Bureau XI (MGB) office Tuesday morning.

The environmental advocacy group declared MGB “inutile and not worthy of the Filipino taxpayers’ money.”

Panalipdan – SMR spokesperson Kim Gargar said that the Mining Act of 1995 has worsened the poverty in the country.

“Dugay na, pila ka-tuig ang milabay human nahitabo ang Marinduque mining disaster diin ang isla sa Marinduque usa ka maanindot nga isla bago kini giguba sa Canadian Marcopper Mining Corporation. Wala gihapon mahatagan og hustisya ug hangtod karon wala gihapon natagaan og pagtagad ang mga katawhan nga maapektuhan sa mining disaster didto (Years have already passed after the Marinduque mining disaster wherein Canadian Marcopper Mining destroyed the beautiful island of Marinduque. Victims are still not given justice up to now. People who were affected by the mining disaster are yet to be given attention),” Gargar said.

Gargar also said that they have been calling for MGB not to allow and approve foreign large-scale mining corporations.

“Pero hangtod karon ang MGB nagpakabuta-bungol sa duso sa katawhan (Until now MGB has not heeded the call of the people),” Gargar added.

He also added that they wanted the immediate closure of the agency to stop all mining activities in the region.

The protesters have put up a “Notice of closure” signage at the MGB office, but employees of the said agency took it down.

“Wala man pud silay gipakita nga closure order sa amo, ila lang man ng kaugalingon,” said Engr. Edilberto Arreza, MGB Regional Director.

Arreza also said that they are just public servants who implement the law passed by the Congress.

“Mura’g they are barking (at) the wrong tree. Kasi kami sa bureau, we are just implementing the law. This law was passed by candidates, so didto sila sa congressmen, magsulti sa ilang mulo (It seems that they are barking at the wrong tree. Because we, in the bureau, are just implementing the law. This law was passed by congressmen so they should address their demands to them),” he said.

Arreza also urged the protesters to go to Congress if they want their complaints to be heard.

“In fact kung ingon ana, daghan man sila didto mga partylist nga makahatag sa ila og suporta. Kami diri, wala gyod. Hopeless. We are just public servants (In fact, they have several partylist representatives who can support them. We here are hopeless, we are just public servants),” Arreza added.

He also said that small-scale mining activities have resulted to pollution of rivers because of improper waste disposal.

“Kinsa diay nagpollute? Small-scale miners. Mga small-scale miners nga kuyaw kaayo, dili mahilabtan, untouchable (Who caused the pollution? It was the small scale miners who are untouchable),” he said.

Arreza said that here in the region there are only two large-scale mining companies which are Apex Mines and Holcim.

But Gargar said MGB as an agency is “interpreting only the letter of the law and not balancing whether these laws would benefit the country or not.”

“Therefore, the MGB has accelerated the destruction of the environment,” Gargar said.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Sheena Duazo said that MGB should not be recognized as a government agency that considers the interests of the people.

“Usa na sya ka ahensya sa gobyerno nga naga-serve lang sa interes sa mga mining corporations isip sila ang primarily ang nagahatag og mga permits and clearances sa mga mining companies na maoy nagdaot karon sa atong kinaiyahan nga nagresulta sa pagkamatay sa panginabuhian ug mismo sa mga katawhan panahon sa mga kalamidad (As an agency that issues permits and clearances to mining companies, they only serve the interest of mining corporations who are accountable for the destruction of the environment and the livelihood of the communities especially during calamities),” said Sheena Duazo, Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

The group cited several cases of environmental destruction such as “the pollution of the river in Padcal due to the mishap of Philex Mines; the wide-scale destruction of marine life in Claver, Surigao del Sur due to the operations of Taganito Minerals Corporation; and the suffering of the people 15 years after Marcopper Spill in Marinduque.” (davaotoday.com)

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