PMPI Statement on the Lifting of the Nationwide Ban on Open-pit Mining

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Ending the year with a blow against the Environment
 
The lifting of the ban on copper, gold, silver, and complex ores open-pit mining is another blow against an already gasping state of our Philippine environment. To this government, and particularly the DENR, the many incidents of landslides and flooding wrought by Typhoon Odette, seem not enough reminder that a big shift in policies and development projects would give due protection to the environment is imperative now, more than ever.
 
For PMPI, the lifting of the ban signals yet another flip-flopping of the DENR, giving high priority to the opening-up of mining operations for income or revenues and on the one hand public propaganda by President Duterte of ensuring the protection of the environment against mining industries which destroys and earn big bucks from it. The DENR as a government agency’s task is not only to manage the use of our natural resources but also its conservation and protection. But clearly, the lifting of the ban shows the biased of DENR to favor the destruction of watersheds, forests, culture, and biodiversity – under a skewed and vague assumption that these are but necessary trade-offs for a better future. 
 
PMPI and our Sites of Struggles (SoS), partner communities struggling against mining operations across the archipelago strongly believe that mining is not and can never be a strategic vehicle towards economic recovery. The mining sector’s historical performance in terms of revenue and job generation was never significant – an average of 205,000 jobs per year and less than 2% contribution of the total national revenue (Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Bureau of Internal Revenue data).
 
Our partner communities affected by mining operations are living testimonies of the lies peddled by this government and the mining corporations on the so called “Sustainable Mining” and “Globally accepted method” on mining operations. The islands of Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Rapu-Rapu in Albay bear the scars of mining corporations’ bad practices and the DENR’s incapacity to enforce existing environmental safety standards and policies. Both islands have yet to be rehabilitated to this day. 
 
Further, PMPI does not share the glossy assumption of DENR and MGB that stiffer monitoring and stricter implementation of environmental safety standards will be imposed as part of the new DAO 2021-14. DENR. From our communities’ experience, MGB does not have the capacity to monitor all fifty (50) active mining operations in the country, more so, additional mining operations once the lifting of the moratorium on Open-pit mining takes effect.
 
Threats to indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains, lowland communities, irrigators, fishers, and farmers in the four provinces of South Cotabato continue. The conglomerate Indophil and Sagittarius Mining Corporation is aggressively pushing to dismantle the Environmental Code of the province to finally start the biggest copper and gold mining in Asia. But incidentally, the projected trade-offs are the destruction of the Marbel-Buluan Watershed, the irrigation systems of the productive, jobs and revenue-generating agriculture of the Province of South Cotabato. 
 
We hope that whoever wins the 2022 election will give the highest priority to protecting the environment. We commit to support candidates who embrace a green development agenda in the next 6 years and will definitely vote against those who have maligned our environment through their policies, programs, and projects. Climate change and environmental destruction are real issues confronting the whole of humanity. Environmental issues should take precedence. After all, nature as the source of all life can make or break the life and future of humanity.

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