SHACKLED. Representatives from communities and development organizations, in solidarity with PMPI staff charged with cyberlibel by Hinatuan Mining Corp., express their support to protect the environment against extractive industries and to uphold the rights of environment and rights defenders in Taguig, Feb 15. In a statement, PMPI calls for justice for the communities hosts to mining operations to serve as lens as the country mulls the DENR’s decision to close down 23 mining operations in the Philippines. Further, PMPI welcomes the decision of the DENR Secretary Gina Lopezto suspend 75 MPSAs in the country in favor of the threatened watersheds of communities hosts to these mining agreements.
The State Must Also Exact Accountability from Miners
Ensure the Protection of Environment and Defenders’ Rights
Communities long grieving the vast destruction brought by mining operation in their communities have just seen the light of hope again.
For the first time in history, a government Secretary cared about the water the communities drink over the earnings mining operations may bring in to the government coffers.
On February 14, Sec. Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has scrapped 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) across the country that are within the watershed system.
This is an even greater gift to Filipinos. We, environment and rights defenders, collectively as Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) are delighted that the order coming from the government has been responsive to the needs of the people and of the environment.
Not only Closure and Suspension, Demand Accountability from Miners
As we rejoice over this DENR decision, we hope and pray that the order of closure, cancellation and suspension will be implemented in due time as demanded by justice: justice for areas ravaged by the ill effects of mining operations must be at core of this resolution as the nation mulls the cancellation and closure of these extractive activities.
And justice demands more. We do not only demand closure and suspension of mining companies. Government must also hold these companies responsible for the damages and destruction of the natural resources and surrounding ecosystems of mining-affected communities. They have to be held accountable and made to pay for the violations and destruction they have committed.
Defend the environment and rights defenders
Nickel top producer in the Philippines Nickel Asia Corp. has started to threaten temporary restraining order against the DENR. The Secretary replied that no TRO can hold against the government standing on its decision to protect the environment.
We support the Secretary in this battle against Nickel Asia Corp. PMPI itself is a respondent to the case filed by Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC), subsidiary of NAC, on E-Libel case when our network brought the complaint of Manicani Islanders to the public in a news feature on our website.
Today, our NGO partners trooped to Regional Trial Court in Taguig City to show support to the case we are going through. They also expressed their desire that the government will step-up for the protection of all environmental and rights defenders subjected to various forms of harassment by many mining companies.
With the crackdown of the government on destructive mining operations, and mining companies pouncing back on the DENR, we hope that this will not extend to the communities and environment and human rights defenders. Thus, we encourage vigilance in monitoring and documentation of Human Rights Violations in mining-affected communities and among the environmental and rights groups. This is to ensure that the DENR’s crackdown on erring mining companies does not bring wrath down to the communities and development workers and environment advocates whose only interest is to protect the rights of people to a healthful environment.