MAC/20: Mines and Communities

DENR Act Now! Implement the Supreme Court Decision!

Published by MAC on 2004-02-02

DENR Act Now! Implement the Supreme Court Decision!

Cordillera Peoples Alliance - For the Defense of Ancestral Domain and for Self-Determination

Press Statement

February 2, 2004

The Supreme Court’s decision declaring as unconstitutional major provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 (R.A. 7942) on January 29, 2004 already puts in question the constitutionality of the controversial law in its entirety. The Cordillera Peoples Alliance reiterates its commendation of the Supreme Court justices for taking the right path in upholding Philippine sovereignty and national patrimony. It is a victory in our quest for indigenous peoples’ rights, national sovereignty and justice, together with the peoples’ movement and advocates who have been calling for the scrapping of R.A. 7942 for almost a decade.

After the highest judicial body of the land has decided, let the rule of law prevail on the Philippine Mining Industry. Instead of challenging the Supreme Court’s ruling by filing for a motion for reconsideration, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should now act accordingly. President Arroyo and the DENR should immediately revoke and cancel all approved and pending FTAAs (Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement), review and cancel all approved and pending MPSAs (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement) and EXPAs (Exploration Permit Application) in the context of seriously respecting indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare, environmental protection and genuine development. The call for a moratorium of large-scale mining in the Cordillera becomes more urgent given the Supreme Court decision.

In the Cordillera, the remaining FTAA application of a US mining company, Newmont Mining, with a total land area of 77,549 hectares affecting Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet and Ilocos Sur should be thrown into the trashcan just as pending MPSA and EXPA applications affecting a total land area of 433,377 hectares must be reviewed and cancelled. The Cordillera Peoples Alliance also urgently calls for the scrapping of 9 approved MPSA in Abra and Benguet with a total land area of more than 13,000 hectares.

With this development, the DENR should also finally address urgent issues and longstanding demands on rehabilitation and compensation on damages to victims of mining disasters such as the environmental pollution of the Abra and Agno rivers, land subsidence in Mankayan, destruction of the environment and livelihood sources in Tuba and the rehabilitation of and turn over of mined out areas in Itogon, Benguet.

It is high time that the mining giants, namely Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Mining Company and Philex Mining Company be made accountable for the adverse impacts of their commercial mining operations to the people and the environment and the violation of the rights and welfare of workers for several decades. The DENR and mining companies should act now on these urgent issues and stop their divisive maneuvers and empty rhetoric on responsible and sustainable mining.

The Supreme Court decision of January 29 is a big blow against President Arroyo after issuing her Executive Order 270 meant for the unhampered implementation of the Mining Act of 1995. As the decision did not hammer down the full scrapping of the whole law, we pursue the campaign to totally scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and E.O. 270.

It does not lay down the fundamentals of Philippine economy on national industrialization and progress. Thus, we call on all concerned groups to work together and push for a nationalist development policies and programs in accordance to our needs as a people while remaining vigilant in protecting our patrimony and sovereignty. Further, we pose the challenge to the Supreme Court justices to remain firm on their decision and not to be swayed by pressures from the big mining giants.

Reference persons: Ms. Joan Carling, Chairperson

Mr. Windel Bolinget, Secretary General

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