Mining-affected communities across the Philippines renewed their commitment to oppose destructive mining practices and safeguard human rights.
Anti-mining and rights groups made the pledge during the 11th General Assembly of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) on November 17.
Teresa de la Cruz, a representative from the ATM Council of Leaders and Maporac Aeta Organization (MAO), lambasted the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his families’ alleged ties with mining project proponents.
“We stand firm in our commitment to continue opposing destructive mining,” said De la Cruz. “The family of Speaker Martin Romualdez, who is the cousin of President Marcos, owns Benguet Mines and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.”
Dela Cruz said it’s not surprising that the President is pushing for the revitalization of the mining industry,” adding, “But in the midst of this, we will persist in the fight for human rights and the right to self-determination.”
Elizabeth Ibañez, Coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM), challenged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to respond to community demands with “concrete, measurable, and timely actions.”
She lamented the lack of action on their plea to halt Altai Philippines Mining Company (APMC) operations in Sibuyan Island and cancel its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), stating, “Mag-iisang taon na simula nung nagbarikada kami sa Sibuyan at panay na nakikipagdayalogo sa DENR, pero wala pa ring konkretong aksyon ang ahensiya.”
Vic Colili, Councilor of Brooke’s Point Palawan, echoed Ibañez’s sentiments, demanding the cancellation of the MPSA of Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), which has allegedly violated legal orders and continued operations without proper permits. Colili emphasized, “Hindi makatarungan ang paglabag sa batas ng INC at ang patuloy nitong operasyon.”
Carmi Macapagao of Homonhon Environmental Advocates and Rights Defenders (HEARD) urged accountability from mining companies, including Chromiteking Inc.-Techiron Resources Inc., Nickelace Inc.-Verum Tierra Geosciences Inc & Global Minmet Resources Inc., Emir Mineral Resources Corp.-Goldrich Construction & Trading. Macapagao stressed the importance of rehabilitating mined areas promptly.
Marcial Somooc, president of Protect Manicani Island Inc. (Promisi), expressed concern over the potential resumption of operations by Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) in Manicani, Eastern Samar. Somooc urged the preservation, not exploitation, of the island’s natural resources.
Rene Pamplona from Convergence of Initiatives and Environmental Justice (CIEJ) in South Cotabato, who also chairs ATM, pointed to the irony of the Marcos administration aggressively promoting mining while local government units and communities are grappling with climate change impacts on food production.
“Government must veer away from mining, which threatens the country’s capacity to feed its people and worsens the impacts of climate change,” said Pamplona.