The result of the mining audits are finally out! The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared the closure of twenty-three (23) mining firms, suspension of five, and deferral of one.
For these 28 communities directly impacted by mining, the announcement from the DENR Secretary is a reason for celebration. The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., (PMPI) rejoices with all the mining affected communities, especially our partners in the Island of Homonhon that after years of struggle, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived. The fear that the remaining patches of forest and vegetation will be totally destroyed will diminish.
PMPI commends the action of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez to protect the country’s natural resources. We hope that rehabilitation of the mining affected communities that prioritizes the well-being and needs of people over economic gains will be pursued. We hope that those responsible for the destruction and desecration of our lands shall be held accountable.
We are pleased that the verdict is out!
We now call for the immediate implementation of these orders. The communities and environmental defenders cannot afford to be complacent, until we hear that these mining companies have complied with the DENR suspension and cancellation order.
We now call for rehabilitation of the mine remnants. Mining companies, especially those ordered for closure, should be obliged by the government to start rehabilitation works. We hope that the gaping pits, dead water tributaries, and barren soils will not be simply abandoned and left to the suffering host communities, just like in Marinduque.
The Marcopper operations in Marinduque has stopped, but the people continue to suffer from its impact both human and environmental. We call on Secretary Lopez to take the lead in demanding accountability from these companies. Do not leave the battle for rehabilitation to the people of Marinduque alone. The same holds true for Rapu-rapu.
We are happy that the verdict is out!
But we hope and pray that more mining audits will be conducted and more mining companies will be held accountable. We reiterate our plea to Secretary Lopez to look into the plight of Manicani Island. To declare all small island ecosystem as ‘no-go’ zones for mining. We look forward to a total ban of SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato, given its magnitude, and that it can become our worst environmental nightmare if it pushes through.
We also appeal to Secretary Lopez to hear the voices of our communities in Kibungan, Benguet expressing their strong opposition against any activity that will alter the physical and ecological makeup of the environment that is giving them life and livelihood. Communities like these are the government’s allies in ensuring the preservation and conservation of the few remaining forest covers we have in the Philippines.
We rejoice that the verdict is out!
And we salute DENR Secretary Gina Lopez for this fearless action. No DENR Secretary has ever achieved this feat. We will continue to engage and be with her in areas of shared vision. We will be vigilant so that the entire DENR machinery follow her lead as this ailing and old structure of DENR has been lacking the political will to protect the natural resources for a long while now. We will keep careful watch over mining companies who are ready to overturn this order. We will forever be vigilant. The fight for the protection of environment and respect for all creation should become our WAY OF LIFE. In this case the modern mantra “There is no Forever” is not true.
The PMPI is a network of development organizations, environmental and rights groups, civil society organizations (CSO) people’s organizations (POs), church/faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.