Guiuan, Eastern Samar — It is truly Christmas! DENR sent out a gift to Manicani people when it rejected with finality the application of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) to extend its mining permit for its Manicani project for another 25 years. Manicani islanders will be spending their Christmas holidays this year with peace of mind and a flicker of hope that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy their island's gifts of nature.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) rejoices with its partners in Manicani, the Protect Manicani Island Society Inc. (PROMISI), and the Diocese of Borongan in receiving the good news published in www.inquirer.com that announced the positive position of the DENR on the mining issue in Manicani. As a stakeholder on the island's development through an integrated island rehabilitation and development project, PMPI supports the cause of protecting environment and people. PMPI has been dreaming with the people of Manicani for this day to come to the island.
“We hold on to Sec. Cimatu's recognition of our island as a protected area, and we look forward to his promise that it will be rehabilitated and that alternative livelihoods will be provided,” stated Rosalinda Bergado, a Manicani youth resident and member of PROMISI.
“I wasn't around on my father's deathbed because I was in Manila with fellow advocates fighting for this cause, but this news somehow eases the devastation I felt”, she added. Ms. Bergado in her young age, has been publicly speaking against mining in Manicani.
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Borongan who has always been at the forefront supporting the protection of Manicani island welcomes the pronouncement of the DENR officials.
“The people of Manicani has suffered long because of the mining operations on the island. It is good that Sec. Cimatu is finally putting an end to it. This a very important milestone in the struggle against mining not just in Manicani but in the whole of the Samar Island", noted Fr. Juderick Paul Calumpiano, the social action director of the diocese.
While in awe of such victory, PMPI calls on its partners to remain vigilant and continue monitoring the implementation of such pronouncements and ensure that rehabilitation will be implemented accordingly.
“We are very happy with this development, and we are hoping that healing will soon follow among the divided people of Manicani. But at the same time, we won't settle for public pronouncements. We want to see concrete documents and actions from the Secretary that would direct HMC to leave the island”, stated Ms. Yolanda Esguerra, National Coordinator of PMPI.
PMPI continues to call on the DENR to look into the plight of other communities affected by mining. It should weigh on the MGB's statement that the provision on opening new mines in EO 79 should be lifted as well as MICC's recommendation to lift the ban on open pit mining.
"We hope and continue to pray that Sec. Cimatu will heed the President's pronouncements that the ban on open pit mining stays and that he will not waver on his position to reject HMCs application with finality despite strong lobby from mining companies to decide otherwise” Ms. Esguerra further said.