LIPA, Batangas – Church people, professionals, environmental advocates, businessmen, women, youth and students, and local residents in here formed a new alliance against large-scale mining.
The Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL) was formally launched at the Bishop House of Archdiocese of Lipa. Representatives from the Redemptorist Church, De La Salle University, Batangas State University, Lyceum of Batangas and other institutions attended the launching
The alliance called for moratorium on mining in the province and for the stoppage of mining exploration of Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL).
The MRL, a Canadian mining firm, acquired two Minerals Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) in 2002 and has already started explorations in the towns of Rosario, Taysan, San Juan, Lobo and Batangas City. Dubbed as “The Archangel Project,” the 120-hectare area in Barangay Balibago in the town of Lobo had undergone drilling and trenching prior to reaching a mineral resource estimate. The resulting mineral resource report of MRL was completed in February 2008.
The MRL has several mining tenements and agreement covering a total of 29,000 hectares in the province.
Fr. Oliver Castor, BUKAL spokesperson, said, “The adverse effects of large scale mining even at its exploration stage of drilling can immediately be felt by the host communities through destroyed vegetation and altered landscape thereby disturbing thriving ecosystems in the area. Once the operation reaches large extraction and production stages, it will surely be a blow to the rich biodiversity of forest and marine ecosystems in Batangas.”
The priest said that Mount Lobo and Mount Banoi encompassing the town of Lobo, Batangas City and other adjacent municipalities where current explorations of MRL are being undertaken are watershed areas. “Large-scale mining in the area will endanger the health of Batangueños as mine tailings and other toxic substances will pollute the water systems of Mt. Banoi and Mt. Lobo, which have been a vital source of water supply in the province,” Castor said.
Bishop Ramon Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa said, “I am one with the position and concerns of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] regarding large-scale mining and mining liberalization policy of the government. I believe foreign-owned mining in Batangas will be destructive and unsustainable. It will not benefit the Batanguenos and the province as a whole.”
Arguelles supported the call to implement a moratorium on large-scale mining in Batangas. “As a shepherd of my flock, I need to assure the wellness of my people’s dwellings and protect them from imminent danger,” he said.
Castor belied claims that mining will bring development. He said, “What is true is that large scale mining will even hamper economic development in the province, with the negative effects offsetting any financial benefits in the short run. It does not coincide with the province’s economic program and will even threaten the agriculture and tourism industry in Batangas. Just imagine how many sources of livelihood for Batangueños will be lost once the province’s famous beaches, especially the ones located along the Lobo coast gets polluted and its agricultural lands contaminated.”
Meanwhile, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, asserted that large-scale mining provided no substantial progress for the country and instead has only destroyed the environment and exploited the natural resources, dislocated thousands of farmers and other residents. Foreign-owned large-scale mining projects have brought about intensified human rights violations such as military violence and land grabbing,” Bautista said.(Bulatlat.com)