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.
- (Read: PMPI Statement on Continuous Hauling in Manicani)
- (Read: PROMISI Statement during Jul 22 PressCon: English)
- (Basahin: Statement ng PROMISI na binasa noong Hul 22: Tagalog)
“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.
PMPI, aside from its Project Pagbangon, has recently launched its Values Formation Seminar, lead by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. The activity aims to train community leaders to become servant leaders, whose primary goal is to serve the community and not one’s self interest.
Melody Asia, Community Development Officer who attended both the dialogue and the Values Formation Seminar, said that a sustainable livelihood is needed.
“Aside from a holistic development projects it is imperative that people are empowered and capacitated to act and decide what is good for the community,” she said.
She added that money for livelihood is not enough. People need to be trained and values must be formed, she added.
NO TO MINING
In the same day the consulation took place, members of Protect Manicani Island Society Inc. (PROMISI) brought their concern through a Press Conference and Mobilization in Tacloban City and MGB-8 regional office in Palo, Leyte.
“It is a big help for us islanders that the DENR has been stirred to act on the mining in our communities. We await that the immediate suspension order of the hauling of the stockpiles by the dear Secretary Lopez,” said Becky Destajo, one of the PROMISI leaders.
UNITED. Representatives from different groups visit the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Office in Region 8 (MGB-8) during their July 22 mobilization to air their calls to discontinue the hauling in Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and to implement the suspension order released by the DENR in 2002 to the Hinatuan Mining Corporation (Photo: M.G. Elnar)
Destajo added that they will continue to air out their concern until the suspension order has been served to the operating mining company in their area, and expressed that “they will never allow any mining operation in their island again” because they are the ones who suffer in the end.”
Hinatuan Mining Corporation has been granted Ore Transport Permit last May, despite the corporation being under DENR suspension since 2002, released by then Sec. Heherson Alvarez.
According to DENR report, HMC was able to haul about 400,000 metric tons of nickel ore from the stockpiles it left in the island since its suspension. PMPI National Coordinator Yolanda Esguerra expressed relief that the DENR finally conducted audit on the mining operation in Manicani.
“The stockpiles hauled from the island for export are hot items. They were only allowed 250,000 metric tons in their interim mining permit. In several reports, however, and discussions during multi-stakeholder meetings the stockpiled nickel ore in the area reached 1.2 million,” she said, pertaining to the numbers indicated in the audit report, which is already beyond the limit set in the permit.
Esguerra said that there are many legal and environmental issues surrounding the operation and it is only just that the DENR finally look into the matter.
Last June 8, Manicani residents filed the Writ of Continuing Mandamus against the last administration’s officials of Mines and Geoscience Buereau and the DENR. PMPI, together with the Social Action Center of Borongan, PMPI-Central Visayas through Kaabag sa Sugbo Foundation supported the residents in filing the case.
The Writ filed is due to the inaction of the agencies to the calls of community, when HMC was able to haul stockpiles amid suspension order from the DENR. Lawyers Mario Maderazo and Aaron Pedrosa of SANLAKAS are the case’s counsel.
Several organizations including Alyansa Tigil Mina and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice are also supporting the campaign against mining in the island of Manicani.