Philippine Congressional Inquiry Questions Mindoro Mining ProjectPublished by MAC on 2010-01-31
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2010-01-28)
After the successful hunger strike against Intex's proposed nickel project on Mindoro (see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9691), more pressure is being applied to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through a congressional inquiry.
DENR accused of violating laws over Mindoro mining clearance
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Inquirer.net
28 January 2010
MANILA, Philippines - Environment officials violated mining and local government laws when they issued an environmental compliance certificate for the $2.4 billion Norwegian mining project on Mindoro island, lawmakers and Mindoro executives [politicians] said.
In a congressional inquiry, lawmakers led by Alagad party-list Representative Diogenes Osabel grilled officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for issuing the ECC on October 14 for the Mindoro Nickel Project of Oslo-based Intex Resources, even without prior consultation and approval from the local government units.
Oriental Mindoro Governor Arnan Panaligan asserted to the committee that the DENR violated the Local Government Code by failing to conduct public consultations and was unsuccessful in obtaining consent from the LGU on the mining project, which covers 11,216.6 hectares in the towns of Victoria, Pola and Socorro in Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.
The Local Government Code mandates that any development project must secure consent or approval from the LGUs thru an issuance of a Sanggunian resolution.
Panaligan also said that the DENR violated the Mining Act of 1995 when it failed to observe Section 70 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which specifies the requirements for ECC issuance.
In October 2008, Panaligan served a cease and desist order against Alag-ag Mining, a subsidiary of Intex, on a scoping session in Barangay Villa Cerveza, in Victoria town.
Oriental Mindoro Vice Governor Estee Aceron reminded the DENR that Oriental Mindoro has passed a provincial ordinance in 2002, imposing a 25-year moratorium against large-scale mining operations in the province.
She said that her office also received resolutions from the barangay and municipal LGUs expressing their opposition against the entry of mining in their areas.
Green groups have expressed strong support to the anti-mining advocates. Haribon director Anabel Plantilla said that "nickel mining endangers not only the unique plants and animals in Mindoro, but more so people's livelihoods and eventually their lives. No amount of mitigation will bring back ecological services that will be disrupted if mining will be allowed."
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources also said that the project "did not have social acceptability."
In November last year, 25 Mangyans, village officials and Church people staged an 11-day hunger strike in front of the DENR head office in Quezon City to dramatize their opposition to the project.
Alyansa Tigil Mina coordinator Jaybee Garganera said that their group would remain steadfast and would stand by the people of Mindoro as they assert their right to a balanced ecology and sound economy.
He said it is hard to understand why Intex insists on pursuing this mining project.
"The local people are against it, it's becoming more obvious that the application process was flawed and nickel prices are plummeting globally. Even the biggest mining companies are shelving their nickel mines, and yet Intex is still unreasonably persistent", Garganera said.