Quezon City, Philippines – Members of Protect Manicani Island, Inc. (PROMISI) troop to a meeting of the members Protected Area Management Board for the Guiuan Protected Landscape and Seascape today to protest on what they call another attempt from Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) to load mine ores from the Island of Manicani in Easter Samar.
Mano Marcial “Gaeng” Somooc, who joined his members in 2017 in a caravan leading to camp out in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to call on Secretary Roy Cimatu to put an end to mining in the island and disapprove application of HMC for another mining contract in the island said, “Ayaw namin sa causeway na planong itayo sapagkat hindi namin alam kung para saan ito at kung sino ba ang makikinabang dito.” (“We are against a planned construction of the causeway as the purpose and who would benefit from the said construction is unclear to us.”)
HMC, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation, is applying for a Special Agreement in Protected Areas for a new causeway to be constructed in Brgy. Banaag in Manicani Island. In 2017, the mining corporation failed to renew its application for another mining contract but remained the island under a care and maintenance agreement with DENR.
Esayra Abucejo, a bonafide resident of the island said, “The area targeted for the construction in Brgy. Banaag for a new causeway by HMC is not even accessible to community members living in that barangay.” She further laments, “What will be the trade-off for the causeway this time?’) Rebecca Destajo, a member of PROMISI who joined the caravan and camp out in DENR in 2017 stated, “Why is it that the focus of the discussion in PAMB is not the rehabilitation of Manicani Island as part of the Guiuan Protected Area when it is their role to push for a rehabilitation of the mine site on the first place.”
The E-NIPAS Act – the national law governing all protected areas in the Philippines, including Guiuan Marine Reserve where the island is part of, states, “If the permits, contracts, agreements are not renewed, such areas shall be rehabilitated or restored by the permit holders within the period provided by the pertinent laws and shall revert to the national parks classification (REPUBLIC ACT No. 11038 E-NIPAS Act, Sec. 20).”
Lyn Bergado, a resident of Brgy. Hamorawon, also a young member of PROMISI said, “the causeways in Brgy. Buenavista and Banaag are perfectly functioning and were constructed to serve the communities specially the fisherfolks of the island. This is the reason why we doubt the purpose of the construction of another causeway in Brgy. Buenavista.”
Mel Asia, Project Officer of Partnership Mission for Peoples’ Initiatives (PMPI), an NGO supporting the island communities in Guian, Eastern Samar said that the LGUs of Guiuan should thoroughly implement the provincial ordinance declaring a moratorium on mining in Manicani Island. “Their goal is to also ensure the integrity of Guiuan Marine Reserve,” she continued, “The impact of Typhoon Yolanda and now Covid-19 pandemic to the livelihood of people in the island communities should be more than enough reason for the current members of PAMB Guiuan to prioritize rehabilitation of Manicani Island and other areas within their jurisdiction.”
“The planned construction of causeway will not answer the pressing need of the people in the area for livelihood and health protection at this time of pandemic. Clearly, this action will benefit more the mining company, the applicant of the causeway and not the people.” Asia further stressed.