MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 July) – At least 6,000 individuals have signed as of today an online petition to cancel the permits issued to Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) for the copper-gold project in Tampakan, South Cotabato and in two other neighboring towns, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) today said in a statement.
PMPI advocacy officer Primo Morillo said the petition was started a few weeks ago by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, on Change.org.
PMPI quoted Bp. Pabillo as having said, “We are elated. This proves that a great portion of the online community understands the dangers of mining especially the one in Tampakan. Malacañang should stop the Tampakan mining project or at least, answer our arguments against it.”
Pabillo explained that the Social Action Center of Marbel through the help of the Dioceses of Kidapawan, Marbel and Digos have already gathered 170,000 signatures from the areas surrounding the site.
Pabillo, who chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action, added, “As you can see, the project is very unpopular in its very vicinity. The Change.org petition is an inclusive attempt to broaden the opposition against SMI and compliment the efforts of our local allies.”
“I am pretty sure,” Pabillo continued, “that this online initiative will further strengthen the resolve of the people around Tampakan to fight destructive mining. To encourage them more, we are also planning to furnish them copies of the very supportive comments of those who signed the petition at Change.org.”
PMPI said that aside from Filipinos, the online petition has also received support from foreigners.
It said one of them is Paul Snazell from Halstead, United Kingdom who commented, “This open cast mining scheme is for corporate greed and not economic need. The Philippine Nation will receive a pittance compared to what SMI and Xstrata will make from selling the gold and copper to the commodities market.”
SMI’s copper-gold mining project straddles Tampakan, Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur.
SMI is now controlled by Glencore Xstrata plc following the merger of Glencore International plc and Xstrata plc.
The company had said it would employ the open-pit mining method for its operation, a move strongly opposed by environment groups and the Roman Catholic Church.
Moreover, the provincial government of South Cotabato approved in 2010 an ordinance banning the open-pit mining method.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued in February this year a conditional environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to SMI despite the ban.
Among the conditions cited in the ECC were the settlement of the question on social acceptability, protection of the rights of indigenous people, land access under the Department of Agrarian Reform and the willingness to assume continuing liability over any environmental damage.
In January last year, the DENR cited the ban in denying SMI’s application for ECC. The company appealed the decision but the DENR rejected it on the same ground.
The petition against SMI can be viewed online at change.org/tampakan. (MindaNews)