Pinol to nat’l government: “no to mining”

He suggested that the Arroyo government focus instead on a well-planned and environment-friendly agriculture to ensure the country's sustainable growth and thus, contribute to the worldwide effort to combat global warming.

Pinol’s nine-year stint as governor of what used to be one of the poorest provinces in the country was marked by an unyielding "No Mining" policy.

"For the national government to talk of starting efforts to arrest global warming but at the same time push for massive mining operations in many parts of the country is simply ironic," he stressed.

He said history will prove that mining operations have greatly damaged the environment and have very little impact on rural development as rich multinational companies are the main beneficiaries.

"To talk of mining as the seeming hope for national economic salvation of the Philippines is to ignore the fact that nowhere is there a mining area in the country where people ended up prosperous after the mining operations," he explained.

The economic turnaround of North Cotabato, which was once a battlefield for communist and secessionist groups and government troops, is attributed to what Pinol calls "sustainable and market-oriented agriculture."

Under his leadership, he said, areas for rubber, oil palm, coconut and bananas expanded through the province's Plant Now Pay Later program where farmers are given seedling loans payable upon the start of harvest.

"Right now, we are working for the accreditation of our rubber farms in the Carbon Credit program under the Kyoto Protocol," he said emphasizing that scientific studies in Malaysia have shown that rubber trees are among the most efficient converters of carbon dioxide to oxygen.       

North Cotabato now has about 35,000 hectares of land planted to rubber trees, 25,000 hectares of coconut farms, 3,500 hectares of oil palm and several hectares for  bananas. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)