MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Environmental groups caution Catholic Bishops against the Arroyo administration's mining promises

Published by MAC on 2006-03-13

Environmental groups caution Catholic Bishops against the Arroyo administration's mining promises

13th March 2006

Press Release - Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)

Environmental activists caution the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the promise of President Arroyo to "review and improve" the much criticized Mining Act of 1995. Several Catholic Bishops headed by Bishop Francisco Claver had a consultation with President Arroyo and her top Cabinet officials, which ended with Speaker Jose de Venecia and DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes promising to review of the mining law in order to improve environmental safeguards and safety standards to affected communities but according to environmental groups is not enough.

"We cheer the CBCP taking initiatives to seek meaningful changes in the government mining policies and the mining industry. We are one with them if their saying that the mining industry should be oriented towards benefiting the community and genuine economic progress at the same time ensuring the people's lives and environment," says Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE).

"While reiterating our support to the CBCP, we also call on them to remain vigilant with the Arroyo administration mining undertakings and firm on their patriotic positions, which are first and foremost, to repeal the Mining Act of 1995, moratorium on large-scale mining operations, cancel the 24 mining priority projects, and support the local people struggle against the operation of mining TNCs in defense of the environment and people's rights."

"We find Speaker de Venecia's statement another political maneuvering to assuage the growing clamor for the nullification of the Mining Act of 1995, as well as to ward off critics of the unpopular Arroyo's administration, also castigated for its anti-environment image. It is undeniable that President Arroyo is still hell-bent on peddling our mineral resources to foreign transnational mining corporations (mining TNCs). Consistent with the Mining Act, all the policies undertaken by the Arroyo administration from the Mineral Action Plan to the Mining Revitalization Program prove only to entice and give leeway to foreigners to control and intensify their exploitation of our natural resources to the detriment of the local communities and the environment," declared Mr. Bautista, "Instead of securing livelihood for her own people, she has made them more susceptible to dislocation, environmental disasters, and poverty by peddling our mineral lands to mining TNCs and fast-tracking the approval of large scale mining projects."

Last January, CBCP issued a pastoral statement on mining states, "the implementation of the Mining Act will certainly destroy both environment and people and will lead to national unrest. President Arroyo's Mining Revitalization Program is encouraging further the entry and operation of large-scale mining of TNCs."

"It is not only the lack of environmental safeguards that the people are concerned with, it is that the enforcement of Mining Act of 1995 carries with it more disastrous consequences, such as human rights violations caused by the militarization of mining areas as well as the loss of our mineral resources which is vital to our own industrialization. It is a law that fundamentally undermines our national patrimony by perpetuating foreign exploitation in our already ravaged country. Yet despite strong and continuous opposition by various sectors like the Church, indigenous peoples, and local government units (LGUs), the Arroyo administration has chosen to push on with its mining liberalization policies and 24 large-scale mining projects. She has even appointed a military strongman as the new DENR Secretary to ensure its full execution" adds Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson for Defend Patrimony!, a multi-sectoral alliance opposing mining liberalization policies and corporate large-scale mining in the country.

Under the Mining Revitalization Program, the government identified 24 priority large-scale mining projects. According to the government, the priority projects will generate a total of $6 billion in investments.

Reference:

Clemente Bautista 09283448797
Trixie Concepcion 09275254951

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