MANILA, Philippines – Environmentalists have lashed out at Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary (DENR) Ramon Paje for supporting mining in the country.
Paje reportedly said at the Asia Mining Conference in Singapore last week that the department is “harmonizing local and national policies toward a more friendly regime for the mining industry."
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator, said in a press statement that he was surprised and frustrated at Paje’s stand.
He said Paje seemed to have forgotten issues surrounding mining operations in the country.
"His announcements are outrageous, given the strong resistance of mining-affected communities and local government units,” Garganera said.
He added that several provinces have already decided to ban mining in their localities.
"Fifteen years after the major mining disaster in Marinduque, the DENR and the national government cannot even defend our rights, as Marinduqueños, to compensation and rehabilitation of the damaged ecosystems," said Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns executive director Myke Magalang.
"Reforms for us is ensuring the capacity and demonstrated political will of the national government to defend its citizens against the abuse of foreign corporations, affording for the expeditious prosecution of civil, criminal and administrative cases, and declaring small islands and strategic biodiversities as ‘no-go zones’ for mining,” he added.
Other groups also reacted to DENR's “use it or lose it” policy, saying it is not applicable to communities in the Philippines.
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK) believes that there is a disconnection in national and local policies on mining.
It noted Paje's statement on the Tampakan project in South Cotabato, "The Philippine government commits to pursue the Tampakan project and resolve all attendant issues prior to its operations. The President has mandated that we shall be a nation serious about its commitment," a statement from the organization said.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) added, "The insistence of the PNoy administration to continue the policy of mining promotion contradicts its pro-poor pronouncements. The CBCP continually asserts that mining brings negative social and environmental impacts, while favoring corporations with big profits and tax incentives."
"This administration should prove that there is no business-as-usual in the mining policy. Kailangan and pagbabago at pagtahak sa tamang daan," Gariguez said. -- by Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com