MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Greater Threat To Nature

Published by MAC on 2007-08-09
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Greater threat to Nature

Inquirer -

9th August 2007

Placing the mining industry directly under the supervision of the Office of the President (Inquirer, 7/27/07) is like opening the country’s floodgates to more environmental destruction and allowing the displacement of more communities.

We all know that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her 10-Point Agenda, has mining as one of her priority investment areas, and we fear that with the mining industry under her watch, regulations will become loose, in pursuit of more foreign investments.

The closure order against S. R. Metals Inc., San R Construction Corp. and Galeo Equipment Corp. in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, is a triumph for environmental regulation and for the would-be affected communities. But with the mining industry under her direct supervision, will Arroyo exhibit the political will to go after bigger mining operations with better, more sophisticated connections? What is Arroyo going to do about Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu, TVIRD in Siocon and the dummy corporations on Sibuyan Island?

The closure of the Tubay operations is but one step in the right direction. Other areas in distress are still awaiting government action that would favor them. We also laud the provincial government of Zambales, through Gov. Amor Deloso, for shutting down the alleged illegal operations of at least five mining firms, including a Taiwanese company engaged in exporting high-priced Philippine minerals abroad. The inspection came after the newly formed Task Force Kalikasan reported the unabated illegal quarrying of precious minerals such as nickel, manganese and platinum in the area.

Despite identifying mining as one of Arroyo’s top revenue-generating investment areas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should still exercise oversight and regulatory functions to safeguard the national patrimony and human rights.

We enjoin the national government to revisit its policies on the industry, starting with the immediate scrapping of the mining law, an overhaul of the regulatory regime governing the industry and the stringent monitoring of mining operations and the companies behind them, some of which have been met with stiff resistance and slapped with environmental penalties in their other places of operation.

ROY A. CALFOFORO, national coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (via email)

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