“We will continue to struggle to stop mining in Lobo, and to have it declared as part of the protected area.” – Peti Enriquez, secretary general, Bukal-Batangas
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA — In the face of persistent broad protests, the municipal council of Lobo in Batangas province has backtracked on its support for a gold mining company that seeks to start commercial production after years of exploration.
Citing “social inacceptability,” the Lobo municipal council on July 20, revoked its own resolution, SB 2015-16 which endorsed the Australian-Canadian mining firm, Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL-Gold)-Egerton Gold Phils. Inc.,” said Peti Enriquez, secretary general of Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (Bukal-Batangas).
In the past month, tens of thousands of Lobo residents, members of church, environmentalist, and business groups voiced out their protest against the impending mining, which they said poses threats to the Verde Island Passage, a marine protected area deemed the “center of the center of world marine biodiversity.”
Enriquez said the town council’s turnabout was the fruit of the people’s struggle against the mining company since 2008. She said that they campaigned through signature gathering, held mass actions and dialogues with the Batangas provincial government and with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Denr).
Media mogul scion Gina Lopez of Bantay Kalikasan, and even showbiz personalities have recently joined mass actions to protect Lobo.
“A revocation is not an assurance. They can still issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for mining,” Enriquez told Bulatlat.com. “We will continue to struggle to stop mining in Lobo, and to have it declared as part of the protected area,” Enriquez said.
“We know that the foreign company will not stop, because they have invested a lot since 2003, they have the government on their side, and they can manipulate reports,” said Enriquez. She added that the Denr is currently considering the technical report submitted by the company.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment had warned that MRL-Egerton employs open-pit mining and threatens to pollute Lobo river, which flows out to the Verde Island Passage.
“Actually, Denr said Lobo is not part of the protected area. But what protection will Verde Island Passage get, if the surrounding area, Lobo, is not protected?” said Enriquez.
“The struggle will not end here, because there is still the Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79,” she said.
Today, July 23, a broad alliance, the Save Verde Island Passage alliance, will be launched in Quezon City.
She added that the company still has six Mining and Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) covering the mountain range in the towns of Lobo, Batangas City, San Juan, Rosario and Taysan. MRL-Egerton’s mining tenement covers 29,000 hectares in the five towns. T