9 March 2023
MANILA, Philippines — After two communities formed barricades against mining firms in February, Alyansa Tigil Mina has called on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to put a stop to illegal mining operations that wreak havoc on the environment and surrounding areas.
The nationwide alliance of anti-mining advocates began its weeklong commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the passage of the Mining Act of 1995 with a demand for Marcos to halt the activities of companies involved in large-scale mining, especially those that dispensed with government permits in conducting its operations.
“We call on the PBBM administration to listen to the demand of the people, especially those holding barricades in Sibuyan, Romblon; Brooke’s Point, Palawan and Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya,” said Jaybee Garganera, a national coordinator of ATM.
“Our natural resources should be protected and preserved and not subjected to exploitation and corruption,” Garganera added.
Mining-affected communities in Sibuyan Island and Brooke’s Point, Palawan set up barricades in February to block the entry of mining firms which they say profit off of natural resources while exposing nearby residents, including indigenous persons, to health hazards.
Elizabeth Ibanez, coordinator of Sibuyanons Against Mining, called for the cancellation of the Mineral Product Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Altai Philippine Mining Corporation in Sibuyan Island, Romblon.
“To allow mining in Sibuyan, which is known to be the Galapagos of Asia, is unacceptable. Large-scale mining will drastically and negatively impact the rich biodiversity of our region as well as affect the livelihood of our people,” Ibanez said.
Meanwhile, Brooke’s Point, Palawan Vice Mayor Jean Feliciano echoed the demand to DENR to cancel the MPSA of Ipilan Nickel Corporation for reportedly worsening the flash floods in the area due to its deforestation and nickel ore extraction.
“We are already experiencing the harsh effects of mining as our communities were damaged by flash floods, which we suspect are due to mining. We do not want mining in the region, and the government must respect our decision to determine for ourselves our development programs.”
Repeal Mining Act to prevent disasters
The group has also called to repeal the Mining Act of the Philippines and replace it with another measure that prohibits mining in critical areas, imposes tighter regulations on mining firms and allocates portions of mining companies’ revenue to local governments.
The Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) is “anchored in the climate discourse (and) situates mining within the country’s aspiration for a low-carbon development pathway,” said Maya Quirino of SOS Yamang Bayan Network, a group calling to reform the country’s mining regulations.
Supporters of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill previously cited the need for its urgent passage to prevent possible mine spills that would damage the lives of residents living near mining sites.
One case is the Marcopper Mining Corporation’s disastrous collapse in 1993, which poisoned the community’s drinking water and exposed residents to toxic vapors, causing skin rashes and other ailments.
A Marinduque court in 2022 ruled in favor of the survivors of the incident, citing the damages caused by the mining project on the community. #