Manicani Island Residents camp out in DENR against Mining
Quezon City – In a bid to stop Hinatuan Mining Corporation’s attempt to renew its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), and demand from DENR not to allow mining in Manicani Island, around 30 members of the Protect Manicani Island Inc. (PROMISI) formerly Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) held a caravan from Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar to the Central Office of the DENR, with support from United Manicani Community in Metro Manila, Inc., SANLAKAS, ATM, PMCJ, SENTRO, CEED, LRC, and the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI).
The group, including PROMISI members, of about 100 marched from the National Housing Authority to DENR Central Office. The PROMISI’S leader, Mano Marcial Somooc said that they intend to stay right in front of the agency until they are assured that the application for renewal of HMC is rejected by DENR Secretary Cimatu.
USec. Maria Paz Luna OIC, Undersecretary for Manila Bay Concerns and Related Water Concerns and USec. Jonas Leones, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs received the marchers and heard their grievances inside the premises of DENR.
During the dialogue with the DENR Officials, Mano Marcial reiterated that the purpose of their caravan is to personally converse with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu on the plight of Manicani Island which is once more under threat of the intended MPSA renewal of Hinatuan Mining Corporation. He said that they would like to request the DENR Secretary to put final judgement and disapprove the MPSA renewal of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC).
Mana Becky, member of PROMISI and also present during the dialogue said that, “There are many legal issues surrounding the suspended mining operations of Hinatuan that were unresolved and yet most of our local government officials have endorsed this renewal.”
Lyn Bergado, one of the youth residents of Manicani Island who joined the caravan said that she hopes that the DENR will no longer allow mining in Manicani Island as she fears for the future of her fellow islanders especially the younger residents of the island. She stated that the MPSA of HMC covers the entire island and what would be left them once mining operations continue.
In response, Usec. Luna said that they hear the grievances of PROMISI, especially that the new DENR Secretary requires all development to consider biodiversity. In the case of Manicani Island, it is part of NIPAS due to Proclamation No. 469, series of 1994, and Sec. Cimatu intends to visit the island of Manicani and Homonhon. She further stated that the requirements submitted by Hinatuan Mining Corporation for the renewal of its MPSA was already returned to the mining company since it did not comply with all the necessary requirements prior to the expiration of the MPSA. She added that since the current MPSA of HMC has already expired last October 28, 2017 there will be no MPSA Renewal. HMC, if they intend to apply, will instead be required a new MPSA, thus documentary requirements and processes for new mining contracts will apply.
Mr. Romeo Cabalitan and Mr. Fred Macabasag Jr. of the United Manicani Community in Metro Manila, Inc. shared the sentiments of their fellow PROMISI. Both argued in defense of the island’s biodiversity and for tenurial security of their fellow Manicani residents as the MPSA of HMC covers the entire island. They hope that DENR will hear their voices and consider them whenever a mining company applies for a mining permit covering the island.
Meanwhile, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. calls for the preservation of Island Ecosystems such as Manicani and Homonhon Island by not allowing any forms of mining operation in them.
“Manicani is a protected landscape and seascape under NIPAS law and a provincial ordinance in Eastern Samar protects the entire province against large-scale mining. Thus, there is no merit to allowing Hinatuan Mining Corporation to have another contract (MPSA) and continue mining in Manicani for another 25 years”, underscored Yoly Esguerra, PMPI National Coordinator.
Fr. Odick Calumpiano, SAC Director of the Diocese of Borongan and Co-Convenor of PMPI further reiterated that “Mining operations remained suspended up to present but HMC has been attempting to transport the ore stockpile outside Manicani Island. They have not submitted a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation which they should have submitted 5 years ago before the expiration of their permit. They do not deserve to have a new mining contract.”
PROMISI demands that the DENR Secretary a clear statement on the agency’s position on mining in Manicani Island. With support from various environmental groups they intend to stay and live out in front of DENR Central Office until the Secretary assures them that there will be no mining in Manicani.
The Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) is an advocacy and social development network of peoples’ organizations (POs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), church/faith-based groups and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.