MANILA, June 16, 2016— A local Church official in Eastern Samar has commended the provincial government’s mine closure order for at least three mining companies.
In separate letters, Eastern Samar Gov. Conrado Nicart has ordered three mining companies to stop their mining operations Manicani and Homonhon islands due to peace and order problems.
Copies of the said letters were obtained by the civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Incorporated (PMPI).
In the letter to Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC), the lone mining company in Manicani island in the town of Guiuan, the governor highlighted that “previous similar situation occurred before involving the community and your company which resulted to the loss of life and [caused] bodily harm.”
“Governor Nicart may be pertaining to an unfortunate event in May 2001 when protesting locals clashed with the security forces of HMC causing the death of a protester and injuring others,” PMPI National Coordinator Yolly Esguerra said.
Esguerra also mentioned that the situation today in Manicani is not very far from the circumstances of May 2001.
“Since the attempts of HMC to dock barges and start loading operations in September 2014, the situation in Manicani changed from peaceful to volatile,” she lamented.
Esguerra also warned: “It could get worse anytime and it is a good thing that provincial leadership has the courage to intervene and simmer the situation down.”
In the letter to Cambayas Mining and Emir Corporation, two companies involved in extracting minerals in Homonhon, Nicart also cited a 2003 provincial ordinance that imposed an “indefinite moratorium” on large-scale mining activities in the province.
“As you can see, the incoming president, as Mayor of Davao City, is one of those who supported local autonomy especially in the case of imposing mining bans,” added Esguerra.
“With this, we are optimistic that he will not question the decision of Eastern Samar Governor Nicart, and probably of other local government officials in the future, to implement their ordinance that only aims to protect their constituency and the environment,” she said.
Fr. Juderick Paul Calumpiano, social action director of Borongan diocese, said mining has been destroying the province’s environment and caused divisions in communities.
“It is putting first the interest and the protection of the islanders and the home islands from further destruction and division,” Calumpiano said.
Even Pope Francis, he said, is calling for the radical paradigm shift among mining companies whose interests are different from the communities affected by their operation.(CBCPNews)