DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mindanao watersheds have 37 mineral production sharing agreements, a number which Environmental Secretary Gina Lopez described as “horrifying.”

“The number is horrifying, right? 37?” she said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“And one wonders why is there war in Mindanao, well ladies and gentlemen, this is the reason why,” she added.

Lopez announced the cancellation of a total of 75 MPSAs in watersheds across the country, including the 37 in Mindanao, 11 in Visayas and 27 in Luzon.

Among the MPSAs located in watershed areas in Mindanao there are nine in Davao Region including areas covered by the mining contractors Kingking Mining Corporation, Alson’s Development and Investment Co., Incorporated, King Eagle Corporation and Mining Corporation, Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation, Phil. Youbang Mining International Corporation, Sinophil Mining and Trading Corporation, Core Mining Corporation, Oro-East Mining Company, Inc. and Napnapan Mineral Resources, Inc.

There are also 11 MPSAs in Dinagat Island and Surigao watersheds, including, 11 in Zamboanga, four in SOCCSKSARGEN and two in Agusan del Norte.

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, an MPSA is an agreement “wherein Government shares in the production of the Contractor, whether in kind or in value, as owner of the minerals.”

“In return, the Contractor shall provide the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project,” it said.

“Tama na…Stop it already, they have suffered so much and clearly this thing is not working because whatever you’re doing there, 95 percent of the money goes out of the local economy,” she said.

During the press briefing, Lopez questioned why even if there are 26 mine sites in Caraga province, it remains among the poorest region in the country.

“If mining is so good and has done so well, why is a province where there is 26 mining operations the poorest region in the country, there must be something wrong,” she said.

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) Lopez for the move.

“By removing the threats of forest denudation, water pollution, marine degradation, and biodiversity loss posed by impacts of large-scale mining, we are assured our agriculture and fisheries productivity can be better developed,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE in a statement Wednesday.

The livelihoods of our farmers and fisherfolks in areas targeted for mining plunder can flourish. Maintaining healthy watersheds in these areas will guarantee that our population will have adequate, clean and safe water supply for irrigation and domestic water needs,” Bautista said.

Bautista added Lopez was the only environment secretary “who finally stood up against the mining mafia.”

The group said government officials should work with the DENR to cushion the impacts of the mining crackdown to workers by providing aid and alternative livelihood.

Almost two weeks ago, Lopez released the result of the DENR mining audit, where only 12 mining firms passed, 23 were ordered for closure and five others suspended. (davaotoday.com)

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