Monday, November 16, 2015

Local governments stand firm against mining - ATM

From: Alyansa Tigil Mina


Beth Manggol of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) is shown with ATM national coordinator, Jaybee Garganera at a recent street protest at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGM) in Quezon City.

Local governments and green groups reinforced their stance against large-scale mining yesterday, in a policy dialogue held in Astoria Plaza, Pasig City, asserting that local bans and moratoriums against mining are legal and mandated. Public administration experts and local communities supported this view during the national event.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), as of February 2015, 47%, or 38 out of 81 provinces in the country have at least one local government unit (LGU) with anti-mining resolutions or local ordinances.
These include LGUs in Nueva Vizcaya, Albay, Leyte, Romblon, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Marinduque, Bukidnon, Capiz, Davao City, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Antique, Bohol, Samar, South Cotabato, La Union, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Aklan, Cagayan de Oro City, Bukidnon Sultan Kudarat and Iloilo.
“LGUs are rightly positioned to regulate mining operations, particularly under Section 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991, where the LGU mandates of promoting the general welfare of communities are clearly outlined. And part of this regulatory function is to ensure a safe and healthy ecology, which has been used by LGUs to determine if they will allow mining or not in their localities”, said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), one of the co-organizers of the dialogue.
Governor Ruth Padilla from the Province of Nueva Vizcaya shared their difficult experiences on numerous human rights violations related to mining activities that were documented by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) since 2008, as well as issues revolving around collecting the correct taxes from mining operations. Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) from Australia is the owner and operator of the Didipio Mining Project in the town of Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya. In 2011, the CHR issued its landmark resolution on the Didipio case, declaring that at least seven (7) instances of human rights violations transpired, and recommended to the Office of President Aquino that the mining contract be reviewed for possible revocation.
Meanwhile, Ms. Doris Melgar, from the Office of the Governor of Orienal Mindoro, recalled the hunger strike staged by Mangyans (indigenous peoples), farmers and religious groups in 2009, against Norwegian mining company Intex. The 11-day hunger strike successfully secured the withdrawal of the environment permit for the Mindoro Nickel Project, which the local governments of Oriental Mindoro has never endorsed.
“The local governments are the voices and representatives of the peoples. We entered into a social contract with them when we elected them. So when LGUs put a ban on mining, or issue moratoriums against mining, these LGUs are merely capturing and reflecting the will of the people”, said Fr. Edu Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA), the social arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or CBCP. The Catholic Church is widely known as one of the strongest opposition groups against destructive mining, especially now in light of the recent encyclical released by Pope Francis – “Laudato Si”
Organizers of the national dialogue include RePubliko, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), CLCG, LILAK, Philippine Society for Public Administration (PSPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bantay Kita, Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and the Provincial Governments of Albay, Nueva Vizcaya and Oriental Mindoro.
The dialogue aimed to review the status of local legislations on mining projects, enhance the awareness and learnings among locally elected officials on the current issues of mining, specifically the challenges the LGUs face, and produce a set of actions that facilitate convergence of advocacy efforts on local autonomy and extractives.

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