The Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the Sagittarius Mining Inc. that was cancelled by then DENR Sec. Regina Lopez and technically invalidated because of non-implementation beyond the 5-year limit, was said to have been resurrected from the grave by the Office of the President.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) stand with the Blaan communities, NGOs and Peoples Organizations, and the Diocese of Marbel in the belief that the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project (TCGP) will not only bring devastation to the lives and culture of indigenous and rural communities, but will bring environmental destruction to the five ancestral domains of the Blaans, four provinces South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, rainforests, shrub lands, and agricultural lands.
If the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project commences, it will cause the degradation of water catchment of Mt. Matutum and its six (6) rivers Altayan, Dalal, Manit, Mal, Manteo and Taplan, with farmers and irrigators, fisherfolks and some 40,000 Muslims dependent on freshwater from Lake Buluan negatively impacted. The project could also induce disaster as the proposed mine site will be on top of the Cotabato Fault Zone a West-Northwest Strike slip fault Zone and a Stratovolcano1.
WE are dismayed and surprised that the Office of the President, as informed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region 12 Director Omar Saikol in an article published by MindaNews, that Sagittarius Mines, Inc. ECC was “reacquired”2.
The ECC for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project was approved during DENR Secretary Ramon Paje’s time. The approval came with requirements that should be fulfilled by SMI, one of which is the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) from Indigenous Peoples living within the ancestral domains that will be affected by the TCGP. Until now, no consent was fully given by the Blaans contrary to SMI’s claim that all did.
WE believe that the resurrection of the ECC is irregular.
The ECC of SMI’s TCGP is a contract (Financial/Technical Assistance Agreement or FTAA) with public interest, entered into by the President of the Philippines and Sagittarius Mines, Inc. and should not be transacted in secrecy.
Furthermore, the late and former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez has nailed this ECC to its coffin when she cancelled the said document. Based on the DENR Environmental Management Bureau’s published “What you should know about – Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) clearly states that “The ECC loses its validity if a project has not been implemented within five (5) years from ECC issuance.”
How does one “reacquire” an ECC that is already cancelled and invalidated?
The ECC for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project was issued in 2013, the MindaNews report states that on May 6, 2019 the Office of the President, like a grave robber in the dead of the night, dug deep, stole the body, and miraculously resurrected a long deceased ECC to life.
We believe that the resurrection of ECC from its grave is instead a death blow to the Blaans of Tampakan and its neighboring towns and regions. The Duterte regime’s fixation to make mining and the extractive industry as its main driver for recovery and development foretells a grim future of destruction for the people and environment. This administration is set to kill endemic species and other sentient beings living inside forests and under rivers of Marbel-Buluan watershed for the love of everything that glitters.
Mining does not provide job. Mining does not give revenue. Who then gets the filthy bucks?