KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 4 May) – With less than a week before the May 9 elections, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a coalition of around 100 organizations across the country, threw its support Wednesday to the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo.
Rene Pamplona, ATM chair, said that green groups decided to turn pink, Robredo’s campaign color, because of her commitment to the environment.
“[The decision to support her candidacy] was four months in the making. Basically, the basis of our endorsement was the candidates’ anti-mining stance,” Pamplona said.
In January, Robredo signed a “Green Covenant” with ATM, LILAK – Purple Action for Indigenous Women, NASSA/Caritas-Phil Ecology Program, Health Care Without Harm, Environmental Science Institute (ESI) – Miriam College, Philippine Permaculture Association and GreenAgenda-Leni.
“We make a shared special commitment to a people-centered sustainable development that ensures food security and human rights, and preserves our country’s biodiversity, natural resources and ecological landscape for welfare of all,” the covenant read.
It added: “We will jointly work to ensure that government policies and programs do not support destructive environmental practices that benefit the interests of a few to the detriment of our farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples, women, youth and other vulnerable sectors and the community at large.”
ATM, which was formed in 2004 to challenge the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the country, also endorsed the vice presidential bid of Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Robredo’s running mate, Pamplona said.
For senators, ATM declared support for Robredo party’s core members, namely, reelectionist Senators Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima, former Sen. Sonny Trillanes, former Rep. Teddy Baguilat, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, lawyer Alex Lacson and labor leader Sonny Matula, according to ATM’s sample ballot sent to this reporter.
The group also backed the senatorial bids of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) bets Atty. Luke Espiritu, Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo.
Reelectionist Senator Joel Villanueva, a guest candidate of Robredo’s party, and former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares also got the support of ATM.
For partylist, ATM backed the bid of PLM.
Marbel Bishop Cerilo Casicas, who is leading the opposition against open-pit mining in South Cotabato, earlier stressed the importance of making the environment a pressing issue for the May 9 polls.
“Definitely, the Diocese of Marbel will make mining and the environment an important issue during the coming elections. It will be part of the discernment in choosing the candidates,” the prelate said.
Currently, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato is deliberating on a proposal to lift the open-pit mining ban imposed in the province 12 years ago.
The prohibition on open-pit mining hampered the bid of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. to extract the Tampakan project, the largest untapped copper and gold minefield in Southeast Asia.
Casicas repeatedly asked the provincial board to keep the ban on open-pit mining. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)