Groups challenge electoral candidates to heed victims’ call to stop destructive mining in PH
Demand human rights be top priority over environmental destruction
Quezon City – Today, 200-strong activists from church, human rights, and environment groups launched the campaign in celebration of Earth Day and in time for the May elections to remind the mid-term electoral candidates to take a firm stand on different mining issues that have plagued the country.
To dramatize their stance on these mining issues, the group locked down the head office of Mines and Geosciences Bureau in North Avenue and marched to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The group also demanded a moratorium on mining activities in the country and that the 10-Point Human Rights Agenda on Mining be prioritized.
“The Tao Muna-Hindi Mina campaign seeks to put at center stage large-scale destructive mining as a major electoral issue that candidates need to respond to,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.
“But even before and beyond elections, candidates as well as government itself must be able to heed the peoples demand for an end to large-scale destructive mining.”
Meanwhile Fr. Marlon Lacal, Executive Secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines AMRSP) challenged the electoral candidates to put people first before profit, people first before power, God and Creation first before Mammon and greed. “It demands no less than a shift from “soulless development” to a development paradigm that takes paramount the care of Creation wherein our generation and future generations’ survival depend on”, he added.
Noting the different agenda of electoral candidates specifically at the local level, anti-mining groups reminded the future leaders to prioritize the social issues of mining-affected communities and victims.
Judy A. Pasimio of LILAK – Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights said: “We are at this point where mining is no longer just an issue among environmentalists. Mining is a human rights issue. The different forms of human rights violations being experienced by the women, men and children especially from the indigenous communities in mining areas, need to be recognized, and be addressed by the government and those who are wanting to join the government through this election.”
Specifically, the groups demand that justice be given to families and victims of human rights violations in mining affected areas as well as an end to large-scale destructive mining in the country. They added it is time to seriously consider the Alternative Minerals Management Bill as a just resolution to the conflict engendered by the current corporate-biased, exploitative, unjust mining policy.
No CAGE Campaign
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, a coalition of communities and organizations that call for a new policy on mining said: “We challenge the candidates to take a stand on mining. At the national level, we are campaigning against senatoriables who have interests in mining and who we believe will push for their agenda to promote pro-mining policies.
They are Cynthia Villar (own Queensberry Mining—directly involved in the King-king copper-gold project in Compostella Valley), Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara (member of the board of directors of Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority (APECO)), Richard Gordon (independent director of Atlas Mining Corporation), and Rep. Jack Enrile from Cagayan where anti-mining advocates threatened and some killed.“
Mining-affected communities in different parts of the country also mobilized yesterday (April 22, Earth Day) and today to launch the campaign in support of anti-mining and human rights advocates running for leadership posts, and in opposition of pro-mining candidates. This includes Marbel in South Cotabato, Zambales, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan, Palawan, Romblon, Leyte, Agusan del Norte and Surigao.