Raw lateritic soil is exposed at the center of Manicani Island, where a mining company dug for for their ore stockpile
IMPLEMENT THE SUSPENSION BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
WE, a network of environmental groups, rights movement, faith-based institutions, and people’s organizations have been working in solidarity with small island communities impacted by mining operations, and we should make a headstrong and unyielding stand against hauling activities in the island before it is too late.
We are thankful of the pronouncement of the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources head Sec. Gina Lopez on the controversial mining operation in Manicani, an island off the coast of Guiuan town, Eastern Samar. BUT WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT THE SUSPENSION ORDER should be served to HMC soonest to prevent the mining company from hauling what is left of the island’s precious soil.
The recent audit by the DENR found that the company may have exceeded as indicated in their interim mining permit, and therefore disturbing the ecological balance of the island. At least 400,000 metric tons of nickel ore has been shipped to China in 8 shipments.
Nickel Asia’s Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) may have been awarded permit to operate in the island of Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. They have had the right to operate in the island. BUT THE PERMIT HAS LONG BEEN SUSPENDED.
The MPSA will end next year. The permit to transport ore stockpiles does not, in anyway, cancel the suspension order. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources does not have any authority to cancel what its superior agency, the DENR has declared. The provincial leader himself, Gov. Conrado Nicart on May 17 has ordered the operation stop, due to peace and order issues. Now, the new DENR Secretary has joined the calls to stop hauling the islands’ ore towards China.
Our network, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., has been sued for libel for reporting to the national media what has been occurring in the island. But it is nothing compared to the division the operation have caused to families in the island communities. We, however, remain steadfast in our calls. Now that it cannot be done to restore the original mass of earth hauled from the island, we call on the government agencies, the mining company, and all concerned communities that it is time to start putting back what has been removed from the community: peace, richness of the land to spring crops, healthy coastal and marine resources, and improved relationship among families. The gaping hole of unrest and anger which have all become a public spectacle should be healed. It is time that we focus on the ways forward:
- Declare small island ecosystems as No Go Zones for mining, including the island of Manicani. Existing projects should be reviewed and must be stopped if found to have posed serious hazards to the environment and islanders. Existing contracts that will be honored must not be extended.
- Ensure the rehabilitation of Manicani Island.
- Provide alternative livelihood for islanders who were once employees of mining companies. Support the transition of the island’s economy from mining to sustainable agriculture, fishing, or ecotourism.
Let us end taking from the community. Let us stop exporting our piece of earth to richer nations. Let us all help to put back their home: A better one.