“Mine-Free Palawan and Nueva Viscaya – A bold move against Environmental Impunity”
Quezon City – “In an environment of impunity, not only against humans but the environment, the passage of bills in the House of Representatives seeking to free the Third District of Palawan and the Province of Nueva Viscaya is a welcome development. It highlights the urgency of protecting bio-diversity of these two areas, and a recognition of the weakness of our current legal system to truly protect the environment. Thus another layer of legislations to protect both provinces are needed”, said Yolly Esguerra, National Coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI).
We believe that the passage of these Bills is a step forward for the cause of the environment and a hallmark legislation – in a time of wholesale and wanton destruction of rural communities’ traditional source of livelihood, and Indigenous Communities way of life, as our lawmakers sit on many environmental bills especially in the House of Representatives.
“These bills give hope to many local communities threatened by mining contracts. It will further strengthen the position of the LGUs of South Cotabato as well as the Highland and Lowland communities that will be affected by the proposed Tampakan Copper and Gold Project of the conglomeration Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI), as the project is poised to affect the Ancestral Domain of B’laans and farmers and water irrigators’ association of South Cotabato”, stated Rene Pamplona of the Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice (CIEJ) of Korondal, South Cotabato.
There are still pending mine-free bills currently pending in the House of Representatives being sought for passage by communities of Marinduque Province, the Municipality of Kibungan, Benguet, and Davao Oriental Province to list a few.
“PMPI supports the passage of the abovementioned bills and other mine-free bills pending in the lower house of Congress as they are solid examples of what our representative politicians should be doing – instead of concerning themselves with how much pork barrel should they receive from the national budget”, said Mel Asia, Project Officer for PMPI’s Anti-Mining Campaign.
Representatives Gil Acosta of Palawan, and Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City (for HB 8816) and with Luisa Lloren Cuaresma of Nueva Viscaya (for HB 8951) deserve commendation for these bold initiatives, as these legislations seek to end environmental impunity caused by malpractices of erring mining corporations. House Bill 8816 and House Bill 8951 will ban all forms of mining in the Third District of Palawan and the Municipality of Aborlan, as well as the entire province of Nueva Viscaya. This is a victory for the people and the all the living creatures in the island of Palawan considered one of our few remaining ecological sanctuary, and for Nueva Viscaya being a major producer of agricultural products and citrus fruits. A bold step against large-scale destruction of biodiversity.
PMPI is network of some 250 civil society organizations across the Philippines advocating for the protection of people’s rights especially in small communities and the rights of the environment.
“We will pursue hard to lobby for a bill that sought to give legal rights to the environment this coming 18th Congress even if it takes decades to finally pass it,” Esguerra added.