"Finally, the hauling has stopped. We thought we'll see our island waste away first."
This is one of the sentiments of residents of Manicani, an island several kilometers off the coast of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar upon receiving the news that finally, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has released an order to stop the hauling of ore stockpiles from their island.
GAPING. One of the gullies in barangay Buenavista in the island of Manicani shows where the mining company in the area extracted what have became loads of sitting stockpiles in the area. The stockpiles have been shipped to its buyer in China through hauling operations, which started May this year.
"We are rejoicing that finally, the DENR listened to us and that the MGB has now officially recalled the ore transport permit issued to Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC)," Rebecca Destajo, an official of Protect Manicani Island Society Inc. (PROMISI) said.
Destajo, a councilwoman of a barangay in Manicani, added that they are thankful DENR Sec. Regina Lopez met their group and understood their concerns.
In a one-page letter from the MGB Region 8 with an attached order from the Central Office, OIC Regional Director Raul Laput on August 2 wrote to HMC that the office is recalling all the permits for ore transport and mineral export.
Since Lopez took a seat as its chief, DENR has been conducting a series of audit to existing mining operations in the country in an effort to address the “disturbance of the ecological balance” of mining host communities.
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra welcomed this development and expressed hope that the Government will continue to stand path in its positions against destructive mining.
Today, as we celebrate the role of development workers in World Humanitarian Day, we highlight how the members of vulnerable communities are development workers, themselves.
We celebrate the efforts of every community member to prepare against disasters and everyone's roles as first responder to one's own home villages in times of emergencies. We acknowledge every push, when struck, towards recovery as the whole community work hand-in-hand to build back a better version of their "homes."
As church-based institutions and a faith-based networks, we witness this first hand. Every corner of the country our parishes are homes to people seeking refuge to communities lashed by disasters brought either by natural and human-induced hazards or by both. It is part of our parochial function not only to give shelter but to educate, advocate, and assist the people towards unity in preparedness. And when struck, we help respond by providing each and every one a rights-based intervention until they are nurtured back to working towards recovery.
We may have the structure when it comes to emergency response as church with parishes in every municipality and lay organizations in every community, but our effectiveness as well rests on the people. The very people we call vulnerable are the same people who can be most effective in dealing with their conditions when capacitated and involved in development work.
This is our experience in 2013 Yolanda response. That our partner peoples' organization, though heavily affected, community-based organizations like HERO of Homonhon and PROMISI of Manicani Island were our partners in responding during the first crucial weeks. A living manifestation that in preparedness, it is highly important to capacitate the people as first responders. They should not be treated as victims only but a proactive resource we work in partnership with.
A CALL FOR AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
We, a network of human rights movement, faith-based institutions, and community-based people’s organizations both in rural and urban areas, appreciate the effort done by the government in ridding this country of crime and drugs that have ruined the lives and even the moral fiber of our nation for a long time.
In the process of realizing a clean and crime-free society, some bad elements may have taken advantage of the situation and, alongside with the crackdown of the police force, run a rampage killing civilians allegedly involved in drugs. The saddening fact is that the killings also included innocent civilians whose family claimed they were never involved in drugs.
The fact is whether involved or not, these individuals should have been arrested and have had their chance to defend themselves according to our law. Their cold bodies should not just be a number, and neither should they serve as warning to the people of doom, as in the medieval times. Their deaths are not drama scenes we can just look on and forget. They are humans and fellow Filipinos, who have the right as we all do to defend themselves in court.
THESE KILLINGS MUST STOP. Be it summary execution carried out by masked assailants, or casualties of “reported encounter.” Be it reported as accidental upon subduing suspected criminals.
WE CALL FOR DUE PROCESS
The President must be true to his promise that he will adhere to the rule of law in dealing with the criminality in our land. We call for independent investigation on all cases of human rights abuses. Killings and abuses must stop. The human rights of all people regardless of their background must be observed.
We call for an independent investigation on the following cases:
SUPPORT PEACE ROADMAP FOR GPH-CPP/NDF/NPA
End bloodshed. End strife.
Originally agreed-on by both parties, the Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) are set to return to the peace table this coming August 20-27. This window shall be an opportunity for both groups to show their genuine resolve in paving the road for peace for this country.
The recent exchange of jarring statements by both parties against each other; the seemingly slow response of the CPP-NPA-NDF to the unilateral ceasefire by government, which lead to the death of civilian militia from the recent encounters; the usual blow-by-blow exchanges of criticisms and seeming provocations: all these should not deter the peace talks that is now about to happen.
We ask both parties to act with restraint and discuss their differences in the negotiating table, not over media. We ask the President to give his full trust to his appointed peace panel and to ensure that his ground troops toe the line of peace. We ask the CPP-NPA-NDF to ensure that no further discordant actions, that could undermine the peace talks, shall take place given that they have already agreed to ceasefire.
As a network of faith-based institutions, civil society, community-based peoples’ organization, and rights defenders, we desire that the long-standing strife between the GPH and the CPP-NPA-NDF will result to resolving issues justly and rationally, and will ultimately end to peace, not to further bloodshed.
Instead of dying by bullets and being caught in crossfire, we urge everyone to “turn their arms into plowshares” and discuss peace-building and development initiatives especially of the poorest communities affected by armed conflicts.
Communities in the mining-afflicted island are preparing for sustainable livelihood.
In a dialogue initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) with the Diocese of Borongan listened to the community members and leaders of Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar sharing their preferred livelihood, which can be supported by the government after the mining operation leaves the area.
DENR-Forest Management Bureau Chief Ricardo Calderon facilitated the dialogue, along with Father Odick Calumpiano, Executive Director of the Social Action Center of Borongan Diocese. During the consultation held Friday July 22, leaders of the Local Government units (LGUs) of Manicani Islands and members of the community shared that the benefits of mining in their area is only temporary.
“We have to look forward and secure our future by starting to practice sustainable livelihood because mining is only temporary,” Hon. Tito Abusejo, one of the barangay captains present in the dialogue said.
Abusejo added that they are very thankful of the efforts from the government. Their barangays welcome the initiative coming from the DENR to consult the people for securing their food sources after the temporary employment brought by nickel mining in the area.
DENR lauds the efforts of Project Pagbangon of PMPI, which provides holistic and integrative development in the island including coastal resource management, shelter, sustainable agriculture, health and legal assistance, community-based disaster risk reduction and management, and communication system and devices for emergencies which is already in place in the islands of Manicani and Homonhon.
OPPOSITIONS. Groups show their different stand in placards during the consultation with DENR-Forest Management Bureau Chief Ricardo Calderon. Barangay Buenavista Captain Tito Abusejo, however, was quick to explain to the people that the discussion is not about mining but about the islands sustainability after mining in the island of Manicani. (Photo: Mel Asia)
“The government will support these endeavors and whichever the best livelihood the community may request that will also promote the protection of the environment,” said Calderon.
Most suggestions for livelihood include livestock, hog raising, cash crops, and similar endeavors.
Father Judrick Calumpiano, who is also PMPI Convenor, emphasized during the talks that the consultation is for all the members of the community, whether they are pro mining or not.
The consultation is part of DENR’s efforts to look into how the mining operation is “disturbing the ecological balance” of its host communities.