PHL’s policy on mining at odds with climate change advocacy, says environment group

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 June) – The government’s policy on mining and other extractive industries contradicts its avowed concern for the environment and threatens its commitment to mitigate the impact of climate change, an environment nongovernment organization said.

Worse, said Catherine Abon, training coordinator of the Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines, “it’s the people who are living in these [mining] areas who are always being dislocated, and sent to areas that are also being hit by the impact of climate change”.

Government should know that there are also people living in areas where there are minerals, she told a press conference here on Tuesday, at the sides of a legal training for leaders of several environment organizations in Regions 9 and 12.

Abon said that in the four trainings that the CEC has conducted across the country, “the clashing policies and interests between government and the corporations against the environmental groups and the affected residents in mining and logging areas have become more glaring”.

Specific experiences of communities where large-scale mining, logging and plantations also operate “show how corporate interests have been directly at odds with environmental protection and conservation”, she said.

The CEC conducted a legal and advocacy training last week with environmental groups in the Davao and Socsksargen regions.
According to the Socsksargends Agenda, the looming copper-gold mining operation in the region would threaten the watershed and river system irrigating 33,000 hectares in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, and another river system that feeds 13,000 hectares of rice lands in the Davao del Sur side of the mining concession.

A coal-fired power plant proposed in coastal Malalag town in Davao del Sur would also further threaten the dying marine habitat ravaged for decades by illegal logging and kaingin system in the mountains of the province, said Domingo Billones, chairman of the Socsksargends Agenda.

He added that another coal-fired power plant in Maasim town in coastal Sarangani province would lie close to a fish sanctuary.

A coal-fired power plant in Davao City may soon rise west of the downtown area after the Sangguniang Panlungsod approved its construction, but Francis Morales of the Panalipdan Southern Mindanao Region said his organization would continue to mount protests against it.

“It turns out that government is paying only lip service to its pronouncements to preserve the environment and mitigate climate change. In fact, what it is doing is only to ask money from countries with the commitment to implement mitigating measures,” Abon said.

She said the CEC and other national environment organizations would continue to press government to adopt policies that would benefit the communities. She cited that they have pushed for House Bill 4315, an alternative to the Mining Act of 1995. (MindaNews)