MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmental Group Takes Fight To Cyberspace

Published by MAC on 2006-12-16
Source: SunStar Davao ()

Environmental group takes fight to cyberspace

SunStar Davao

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A NON-government organization fighting for the welfare and rights of the lumads (indigenous peoples) and the protection of natural resources against highly extractive activities like mining has taken its fight to cyberspace, taking advantage of the infinite reach of the medium.

"The worldwide web is now one of the most effective tools in communication and information dissemination. Most of the information we need these days are just one click away. The fight now has been taken on a broader arena," said Keith Kristoffer Bacongco, campaigns paralegal office of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kailakasan (LRC-KSK)/Friends of the Earth Philippines Davao Office.

One of the sites (www.macambol.org) illustrates the threats confronting the small community of the coastal community of Macambol in Mati, Davao Oriental, which is now under the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) permits of two large-scale mining companies.

The residents of the village have already filed demand letters and petition with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the cancellation of the permits.

Until now, however, DENR has never acted on it. The stand of the resident against the mining operation in their village is anchored more than on the fact that the village lies between the protected areas of Mt. Hamiguitan Range and the Pujada Bay.

Known for its bonsai forest, Mt. Hamiguitan Range is considered as one of the hidden treasures the peninsula province of Davao Oriental. It sprawls the towns of Mati, San Isidro and Gov. Generoso, all in Davao Oriental.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development (Pcarrd) said the mountain is a haven of five endangered species, 27 rare species, 44 endemic species, and 59 economically important species in the wildlife sanctuary. It was declared as a protected area in 2004, under the category of wildlife sanctuary.

The Pujada Bay, on the other hand, is a major drainage of the major streams from Mt. Hamiguitan Range. Considered as an ecological jewel, a festival named before the bay is being celebrated annually by the local government of Mati in its bid to draw public attention on the most needed protection of the bay. It was declared a protected seascape and landscape under Presidential Proclamation 431 in July 1994 and it covers at least 21,000 hectares.

It is also aimed at gaining campaign support not just from the local scene but as well as from the international community.

The site contains several information on Mt. Hamiguitan and Pujada Bay. Both are declared protected areas. In July 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republicg Act 9303 declaring Mt. Hamiguitan Range and its vicinities as protected area under the category of wildlife sanctuary.

The other website (www.kontradevagg.com) contains information on development aggression. Interestingly, it contains initial mapping of mining hotspots in Mindanao. Literally, the website means "against development aggression."

"The site was put up to expose and oppose all forms of development aggression. The site contains information about development aggression issues, references and other useful materials," Bacongco said.

Behind the site also are different non-government organizations and people's organizations working in communities that are sites of various forms of development aggressions -- mining operations, banana plantations, and pineapple plantations, among others.

These groups include the Tribal Filipino Program of the Diocese of Kidapawan, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, and Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, among others.

Through the website, the interest groups and even the affected people, can "ventilate their plight against development aggression, which does not only drive them away from their ancestral domains but as well as trampling their basic rights."

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