Groups march to Supreme Court, Mendiola to demand remedies to mining issues
Reiterate call to stop the plunder of Philippine mineral wealth
500-strong activists marched to the Supreme Court to call on Justices to respond to a mining-related petition, Thursday September 12, 2013. From the High Court, the group continued to march to Mendiola to call on the executive to fully implement the provisions of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012.
In a creative action, with a 6-feet Scales of Justice—with objects to symbolize mineral produce and environment and natural resources and peoples affected—the marchers asked the Supreme Court to come out with its decision with regards to a petition filed in 2008 questioning the constitutionality of the economic provisions of the Republic Act 7942.
“The government gets almost zero to nil from mining, and the mining industry contributed measly to our domestic growth. It’s because the present mining law failed to ensure that the government and the people get an equitable, if not favorable share from the extraction of minerals which it actually own,” said Erwin Quinones of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.
He added that there is no reason why the court should deny the petition and call on the highest tribunal ‘to rule in favor of the interest of the Filipino people, and declare these provisions and the entire law as unconstitutional.
“As the people are mobilizing against pork barrel, another form of plunder has been happening in our country for many years: the plunder of our mineral resources,” said Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of Akbayan Partylist.
She added: “We call for the prosecution and punishment of all government officials, private individuals, and mining corporations guilty of plundering our environment and natural resources. If the government is aghast at the corruption brought to light by the pork barrel scam, the more it should take action against the corruption that leads to the destruction of our environment.”
They also demand for justice for victims of human rights violations and reparation for tragedies in mine sites. Under President Aquino, there have been a total of twenty-four mining-related killings. Most recent is the killing of a Blaan elder and his son last month.
“It is unfortunate that the “matuwid na daan” has led to more human rights violations including the right to life in mining-affected communities. We must not only stop the plunder, we must stop the plague of death and destruction. Tama Na, Sobra na, Itigil na ang pagmimina!” said Emmanuel Amistad, executive director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines and lead convenor of the Tao Muna, Hindi Mina Campaign.
Additionally, a total of fifteen large-scale mining tragedies have affected millions of lives. Philex’s Padcal tailings pond spill August last year caused the spillage of 20-million metric tons of sediments to the Balog and Agno River and impacted the water source of northern Luzon provinces and Metro Manila. It has also affected the livelihood of communities whose livelihood depends on the impacted areas.
These are some of the justification for their call for TAO MUNA, HINDI MINA!
Flaws of the Mining Law, EO 79
To Mendiola, they proceeded to call on the Aquino administration to fully enforce the provisions of Executive Order 79-2011 specifically on expanding No Go Zones, implementing the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, respecting indigenous peoples rights and local autonomy, and reviewing mining contracts.
Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator said: “EO 79 does not fully respond to the flaws of the current Mining Law, but since the policy is there and in the absence of an alternative minerals management framework, it is imperative that the provisions of the executive order be implemented. Since last year, we have not seen any concrete action from government agencies assigned to implement the EO.”
Hontiveros concluded: “We call on the government, particularly Congress, to immediately repeal the Mining Act of 1995 which has allowed the plunder of our natural resources. To replace it, we push for a new minerals management framework under the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill.”
Every September, ATM leads an Anti Mining Solidarity Week of Actions to question and oppose the Philippine Chamber of Mines International Mining Conferences.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB. (30)
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 firstname.lastname@example.org
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Advocacy Officer (0915) 331.33.61 email@example.com