July 12, 2007
The Alyansa Tigil Mina welcomes the continued and unwavering support of the church in the campaign against the intensified drive for large-scale, corporate-driven mining operations in the country.
We share the sentiments of the bishops that mining, the way government and private, transnational corporations pursue it now, does not present a viable solution to the widespread poverty in our rural areas, nor is it a palatable alternative to the real policy issues that hound our country's continued economic sluggishness.
Mining now represents nothing but the destruction of the environment and the displacement of communities including indigenous peoples from their homes. The touted economic benefits of mining are a mythology long debunked. It has been historically proven by figures from government itself that where mining companies operated, the surrounding communities became no better off than before these companies came in. Regions where mining permits were given remain high on the list of provinces with the highest poverty levels. Employment in the mining industry has reached only a maximum of about 300,000 since the 1970s, or an ignorable average of 10,000 a year compared to the continued influx of millions of new labor entrants into the labor force every year.
ATM believes it is all about the money. The puny foreign exchange brought in by mining companies, after all deductions and tax holidays have been effectively repatriated, still amount to a considerable proportion. And yet our present and future generations bear the ill-effects of mining to our environment. At the expense of human rights, government and private corporations are riding roughshod over due process and the rule of law in their drive for maximum profit and the plunder of our natural resources.
Guided by the Mining Act of 1995 and the Mineral Action Plan, the GMA administration's 10-Point Agenda seeks to promote mining as one of its priority investment area, despite the fact that where mining operations intrude, local resistance has been often fierce, contentious and fraught with company violence and intimidation. Despite these realities government remains insensitive in its maniacal desire to tap into the dollar inflow.
In Sibuyan Island in Romblon, multinational corporations under the guise of local subsidiaries applied for small-scale mining exploration permits in Brgy. Mabini, San Fernando town to escape EIA and EC requirements. An ocular of the area however reveals that heavy equipment have been brought in, and excavations have began along the buffer zone at the foot of Mt. Guiting-Guiting, a Natural Park by presidential decree. Company infrastructures have been built onshore a few meters away from the national road affecting transportation and damaging coral reefs in the area. Other mining applications totaling about 20 or more are pending in Sibuyan Island, threatening the biodiversity of the area.
Interestingly a Marcos-era decree has assigned Sibuyan Island as a mangrove protected area, which would effectively bar any kind of mining activity in the area.
In Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, the TVI Phil's. has again resorted to maliciously attacking the duly-recognized representative of the indigenous peoples affected by their operations in the area. This is nothing but an attempt to cover up for the flawed and deceptive manner in which the company fabricated the supposed free and informed consent of the local residents to acquire mining rights in the area.
These cases, along with other sites of struggles where ATM actively works with local coalitions demonstrate the tragic reality of mining as an environmentally-destructive and violated industry. People's rights have been time and again violated by mining companies in cahoots with government agencies and other local players in total abandonment of our national patrimony and our people's rights to self-determination, development and freedom of choice.
We enjoin government at the national level to revisit its policy regime towards the industry, starting with the immediate scrapping of the mining law, an overhaul for the regulatory regime governing the industry and the stringent monitoring of mining operations and the companies behind them some of whom have been met with stiff resistance and slapped with environmental penalties for their operations elsewhere.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina offers its Annual Report to the public in hopes of drumbeating support for its continued campaign, and the wider dissemination of information regarding the realities of mining in the country. We salute the bishops in their continued support for our cause, and the tireless dedication of our communities and partner organizations at the local level who are the real engines of this continuing struggle.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is a national coalition of NGOs, POs, church and other support groups born out of the collective concern against the impending threat of the revitalization of the mining industry in the Philippines .
For inquiries, please contact:
JAYBEE GARGANERA,Alyansa Tigil Mina, Mobile No. 09153153719 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
ROY CALFOFORO, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Mobile No. 09202970492 Email email@example.com