“With government pronouncements that the influx of 100 new projects would generate P21 billion ($433 million) worth of revenue, it is estimated that this will cost around P210 billion ($4.3 billion) worth of minerals that will be shipped offshore instead of circulated in the domestic economy,”
By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA – Environmental and progressive groups criticized the Duterte administration for allowing the foreign plunder of the country’s mineral and marine resources.
The groups are referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent order lifting the moratorium on new mineral agreements, which would give way to at least 291 existing mining applications, and pronouncement allowing China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the Center for Environment Concerns- Philippines (CEC) cited that large-scale mining as one of the biggest blows to the efforts to preserve the country’s natural resources.
“It’s very ironic that the President still agreed to lift the moratorium, considering that mining is one of the causes of massive flooding damages from typhoons Rolly and Ulysses,” CEC Executive Director Lia Mai Torres.
The group estimated that mining and other destructive activities touted as ‘economic recovery’ will cost the country a minimum P680 billion ($14 billion) ecological deficit.
CEC noted that the mining industry, on average, has generated mining revenues equivalent to 10 percent of total mineral production value.
“With government pronouncements that the influx of 100 new projects would generate P21 billion ($433 million) worth of revenue, it is estimated that this will cost around P210 billion ($4.3 billion) worth of minerals that will be shipped offshore instead of circulated in the domestic economy,” CEC said.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), meanwhile, warned that the lifting of the ban on new mining permits “can bring about massive ecological destruction and will greatly impact the health of our people especially at this time when we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.”
The NCCP added that large-scale mining has also left many affected communities impoverished, vulnerable, and displaced especially among indigenous peoples since the majority of mining areas are in ancestral domains.
“Massive human rights violations are also consequences of mining as the police and military become investment defense forces to protect the mining companies’ interests. Many of our land and environmental defenders are under attack as they put their lives on the line for a safe and healthy environment,” said the group in a statement.
Last year, the Philippines was declared as the second deadliest country in the world for land and environmental defenders by international investigative organization Global Witness.
Destruction of marine resources
Meanwhile, militant fisher’s group PAMALAKAYA called on the President to remind him that he is mandated to protect marine and fishery resources.
“Mr. Duterte’s recent pronouncement runs contrary to the provision of the Constitution on the national patrimony. Oil, mineral, and fishery resources amount to equal value that should be protected and utilized exclusively for the Filipinos,” said PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap.
Hicap was pertaining to Duterte’s approval of “Chinese plunder of fishery resources” in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Based on data from scientist group AGHAM, reclamation sites of China amounting to 62-square miles destroyed coral reefs that caused the country to lose P1.3 trillion ($26.8 billion) annually.
Data from AGHAM also show that the entire West Philippine Sea, which covers the Kalayaan Group of Islands in Spratlys and the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), could contribute two to five-percent of the domestic total marine capture fisheries output.
The group called on the state to protect the nation’s marine wealth, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.
“The irony on this year’s Earth Day is that the Philippine President is obviously on the camp of those who want to destroy the planet. Moreover, dereliction of the state’s duty to protect and utilize what is rightfully ours is tantamount to treason of the constitution and the Filipinos,” Hicap said.