ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/22 June) — Around 200 residents of Barangay Anislagan in Placer town, Surigao del Norte today marched to the Hall of Justice in Surigao City to file a case that an environment watchdog said would put to test case the New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
The villagers, organized as the Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force Inc. (Abakataf), filed an injunction ‘mandamus’ class suit against Manila Mining Corp. (MMC), Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources (KCGR), Silangan Mindanao Mining, Inc. (SMMC) and the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and some of its top officials.
Bringing streamers bearing slogans that assert their right to water as well as to protect their farmlands and environment, the villagers went to court assisted by lawyers known for their long-time opposition to mining.
In a statement, Carl Cesar Rebuta, project development officer of the Legal Rights and Natural Resource Center (LRC/KSK), said the case is the first of its kind to be filed after the Supreme Court created environment courts.
In their 14-page complaint, Abakataf alleged that “DENR 13 granted mining operation permits to MMC to explore the mineral-rich Anislagan without even a proper legal consultation with the residents in the area.”
“DENR gave exploration permits to these mining companies despite strong opposition from the communities since September of year 2000,” the complaint added.
Rebuta said MMC is a subsidiary of the Lepanto Group of Companies, a large mining firm issued with two exploration permits (EPs XIII-014 and XIII-014A) by the DENR-Caraga.
He said DENR 13 also granted exploration permits to KCGR and Silangan Mining.
“KCGR is a joint venture of MMC and Anglo American, a British mining company,” he added.
Abakataf expressed fears the mining activities will affect their farms and will have an adverse impact on Anislagan’s forest areas and water sources.
LRC-KsK lawyers noted that despite opposition from the local government units and their constituents the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued MMC a temporary exploration permit on Dec. 29, 2000.
In 2001, the municipal council of Placer passed an ordinance that would protect the watershed and communal forest in the whole municipality of Placer. Anislagan also approved a barangay resolution declaring its watershed as a protected area, Rebuta pointed out.
“With the New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, the Anislagan farmers hope that the court will finally act on their prayer to put a stop to the mining activities in their area,” he said. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)