MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Letter To The Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Published by MAC on 2004-12-06
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Letter to the Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer

6th December 2004

The PDI headline dated December 5, 2004 heralded President Arroyo's suspension of all logging permits all over the country as a way to avert destructive flooding that in most recent case has claimed nearly thousand lives and inflicted damages amounting to billions of pesos!

The government's anti-logging stand appears to be a mere face-saving political gimmickry and not an honest-to-goodness drive to protect the fragile environment. Barely a week before the calamity, President Arroyo was lauding the reversal decision of the Supreme Court that virtually granted transnational mining companies legal mandate to engage in large-scale plunder of our mineral resources.

The government's logic asserting that mining brings development to the poor is belied by the experiences of many affected communities that can attest that mining spells further devastation, ecological degradation, displacement of the indigenous peoples, greater suffering and deprivation. Even the recently concluded Extractive Industry Review (EIR) commissioned by the World Bank confirmed that mining contributed to greater poverty rather than easing it!

Moreover, the argument invoking "sound mining practices" remains to be a propaganda tactic in the light of continuing destruction that mining industry is inflicting to communities all over the world. The most recent reported damage is the poisoning of Buyat Bay in Indonesia, the site of submarine tailing disposal of Newmont Minahasa Raya. And we must not forget the tragedy in Marinduque, a mining disaster where mine tailings continue to poison the people with toxic chemicals! If we dare to call the unconscionable loggers terrorists, what do we call transnational mining firm like Placerdome that wrecked havoc and threatened the very survival of the people in Marinduque?

The consistency of our national policies with regard to the protection of the environment has become all the more necessary in the light of the present calamities. The government's move of suspending commercial logging while at the same time, promoting large-scale mining is simply inconsistent and utterly ridiculous!

We in Oriental Mindoro have consistently expressed our irrevocable opposition to the mining operation in our watershed by Crew-Aglubang Mining Corporation. In our recent protest rally (PDI, December 1, 2004, "Mindoro Folk Protest Entry of Nickel Mine Firm"), we reiterated our undaunted stand against Mindoro Nickel Project, whose MPSA was reinstated by the Office of the President on March 10, 2004.

We call on the collective force of the Church and the civil society to join the struggle of our people against the far graver threat of mining disasters posed by the reversed Supreme Court decision and the Arroyo government's aggressive pro-mining policies. Indeed, "how many more need to suffer devastation before we come to our senses?"

Mangyan Mission
St. Augustine Seminary
SVD Road, Tagaytay City
Tel. No. 046-4131-308

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