“The Mines and Geosciences Bureau will play its role in this callousness by further ignoring the impunity of large-scale miners in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines, to perpetuate the lie of peace and economic development in the mining industry.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Lumád and environmentalists continued their series of protests against destructive, large-scale mining companies this week, with a protest at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) central office in Quezon City, today, Nov. 11.
The protesters condemned the MGB’s “silence and inaction” on the impunity of mining companies which continue to operate, despite having a track record of environmental disasters, and being linked to the killings by paramilitary groups.
Some 200 protesters entered the MGB compound along North avenue, and held their program inside the compound.
“We have repeatedly appealed to the MGB to close down these mining companies, because what is at stake is not just the destruction of the environment, but the very lives of the indigenous peoples,” said Joan Jaime of the Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayang Pilipino (Katribu).
“For every permit that you issue, do you think about the indigenous peoples who will lose their homes to destructive mining?” she said.
Jaime said that not only indigenous peoples are affected, as even those in the lowlands are affected by flooding during typhoons, such as what recently happened in Zambales during Typhoon Lando, when red-colored floodwaters laden with nickel laterite submerged communities near mining areas.
The MGB is the government agency that processes, evaluates and issues mining permits to individuals and companies.
MGB Director Leo Jasareno went out to talk to the protesters, led by leaders of the Mindanao Bishops Conference of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), peasant and environment groups from Mindanao. Jasareno told the protesters that they were just following the processes under the law, and advised them to formalize their complaints.
Finesa Cosico, secretary general of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham), spoke during the program and said they have submitted to the MGB various reports of environmental investigation missions that showed evidence of mining pollution by big, foreign companies, but these were not acted upon by the agency.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) cited mining projects with destructive environmental record such as the Tampakan mining project in Mindanao, now owned by the Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) but was previously funded by the Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore, and the nickel mining operations of Nickel Asia, a local partner of Japanese miner Sumitomo.
“These projects also have previously assessed major environmental threats and actual adverse impacts to water, agricultural lands, fisheries, and forests. Ironically, the mining companies that have interests in these mine projects are all members of the Chamber of Mines, the so-called ‘responsible mining’ lobby group of the mining industry,” Bautista said.
“The MGB will play its role in this callousness by further ignoring the impunity of large-scale miners in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines to perpetuate the lie of peace and economic development by the mining industry,” Bautista said.