Davao vows to shield mining ban from Malacañang pressure

Subscribe Now May 15, 2015 at 10:50am

Environmentalists urged Davaoeños to "defend [the] hard-earned victory" that is the city's total ban on mining, noting that the local law is a step forward for the nationwide campaign to end destructive activities that would permanently damage the country's rich natural resources.

"The Davao City mining ban is a fruit of the people's tireless struggles to oppose destructive large-scale mining projects, but its punitive fines are too miniscule to effectively discourage violators," Kim Gargar, spokesperson of the local environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, said Wednesday, May 13.

"From this point on, we must continue advocating for the passage of the People's Mining Bill in Congress for the long-term re-orientation of the entire mining industry toward the sustainable path of national industrialization," he added.

Kalumaran, an alliance of 18 ethnolinguistic lumad groups in Mindanao, warned that mining companies interested in the mineral resources of Davao will continue to lobby the government to circumvent the city's mining ban.

"There will be political pressures from Malacañang and mining companies to strike down the mining ban ordinance. President [Benigno] Aquino [III] will invoke Executive Order 79 to subvert local autonomy. Albertos Gold Corporation and Penson Corporation will surely mobilize their lobby machineries," said Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan.

He said the two United States-based mining companies are eyeing to explore some 17,000 hectares in Paquibato District, which is home to indigenous peoples. "But we expect this august body" – referring to the Davao city council – "to stand firm in its conviction to uphold the people’sconstitutional right for a balanced and healthful ecology."

MRC Allied, a Filipino mining firm, is also known to be interested in exploring Paquibato, the group said.

The ordinance was authored by councilors Leo Avila and Danilo Dayanghirang. It states that no mining operations, except for quarry purposes, will be approved in the city.

“No approval shall be granted or issued by the city through its Sangguniang Panglungsod to any person, natural or juridical, to undertake any and all forms of mining operation in any area within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City, except rocks and mineral substances classified under the quarry,” the ordinance stated.

Ogan said, "We congratulate the people of Davao City, especially those who were in the frontline of the protest movement against the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, for this hard-earned victory against an anti-people, anti-environment mining law."

"We also commend the leadership of Vice Mayor Paulo Duterte and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, which has given teeth to the newest pro-people and environment-responsive legislation by warning mining companies, 'We don’t want you here,'" Ogan said.

Mayor Duterte is vocal about his stand against mining. He says that mining not only destroys the environment but also causes conflict in the communities.

"The bias for the unbridled extraction of mineral wealth by multinational corporations has only fuelled violence in the communities and brought unspeakable destruction to the environment. The so-called benefits of mining are just but myths created by those who want to control the exploitation and utilization of our natural resources," Kalumaran's Ogan said.

"We are also urging the people of Davao to continue our vigilance and defend this hard-earned victory. Let us not allow self-serving policy imposition to clip the power of the people to determine their appropriate local economic development," Ogan added.

At least 12 local government units, including provinces and city governments across the Philippines have already banned large-scale mining. They include Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Puerto Princesa City, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Capiz, Albay, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, and Negros Occidental.

Source: rappler.com

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