DAVAO CITY – An alliance of indigenous people’s organizations expressed their concern over the possible reversal of the mining ban recently approved by the City Council here.

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), a national alliance of indigenous peoples organizations in the Philippines, said President Benigno Aquino can reverse the Davao City ordinance prohibiting mining.

Katribu said the Mining Act of 1995 and President Aquino’s Executive Order 79 could be used to overcome the mining bans imposed by local governments.

“Mining bans imposed by local governments had become a sort of defense against mining pushed for by the national government. It is a product of hard-won battles of communities and local governments against mining plunder. We must be vigilant to defend this triumph,” Piya Macliing Malayao, Katribu spokesperson said.

According to Katribu, twelve mining moratoriums have been declared in the provinces of Capiz, Guimaras, Romblon, Negros Ocidental, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque, Western Samar, Northern Samar, Batangas, Nueva Vizcaya and South Cotabato.

The group blamed the Mining Act of 1995 for the influx of mining projects in the country in the past two decades.

“The liberalization of the mining industry is exemplified by the Mining Act of 1995. It has offered sweetheart deals to mining corporations to attract foreign investments such as tax exemptions, water rights, timber rights, and easement rights,” Malayao said.

The group is pushing for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995.

Malaya claimed that President Aquino is “also an active peddler of our mineral resources.”

“The President himself has approved mining operations in more 270,000 hectares. His posturing as a environment protector is a sham and a deception. EO 79 is a testament to this,” Malayao said.

Aquino issued the Executive Order 79 in July 2012. EO 79 proclaimed a moratorium on all new mining applications, but excluded the 771 large-scale mining permits filed or approved prior.

“EO 79 also placed the national government in-charge of expropriating mineral lands for mining development, undermining indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and the authority of local government,” Malayao said.

Malayao said EO 79 “subverted the people’s sentiments against destructive mining by merely demanding more taxes from mining concessions.”

“We expect that there will be political pressures from Malacanang and mining companies to strike down the mining ban ordinance. We must defend this hard-earned victory against mining plunder,” Malayao said. (davaotoday.com)

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