MANILA, July 22, 2015— The local government of Lobo in Batangas has reversed a resolution it issued earlier endorsing a mining project, earning praise from the Catholic clergy and environmental advocates.
The resolution by Councilor Rey Nelson Amparo withdrawing support from the MRL-Egerthon mining project was approved through a unanimous decision by the town council during its session on Monday.
“It is really a victory for the people of Lobo,” said Fr. Dakila Ramos of Lipa’s Archdiocesan Ministry on Environment.
The priest lamented how the town council earlier passed the pro-mining measure “without undergoing the proper process and without any consultation”.
The move, according to Dakila, was a “betrayal to the people of Lobo and our environment”.
“We do not want mining to destroy Lobo, and we will never agree to it ever. It is about time that the abusive use of power stops. It is about time that the mining companies realize that they cannot pay their way into ravaging our lands because the people of Lobo will never let it happen,” he said.
More than 200 people earlier rallied for the cancellation of the mining project outside the town hall as the dialogue between the local residents and mining firm officials was being held.
Many residents cried foul against the project for supposed lack of sufficient consultation and its impact on the environment, especially the Verde Island passage which the the American Smithsonian Institute dubbed the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity.
The Verde Island Passage is home to dolphins, sea turtles, humphead wrasses, giant groupers, giant clams, flying fish, luminous planktons, and some 300 species of corals – considered one of the biggest concentrations of corals in the whole world.
The MRL-Egerthon is seeking government approval to commercially mine gold in 1,174 hectares, adding that it can give Php 640 million worth of revenue to Lobo.
However, anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina shot down the mining firm’s claims, saying the supposed economic benefits is “worthless” compared to the destruction the project will bring to Lobo.
Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator, said Lobo houses an estimated 40,000 citizens and Mount Banoi, a watershed that provides potable water for Batangas.
MRL-Egerthon’s mining operation will surely produce adverse effects not just to the people but to the environment,” he said.
“Even the people of Lobo know this that is why they are doing everything in their power to culminate the plans of mining in their area.”
“Social acceptability is one of the fundamental elements for a mining operation to start and since MRL-Egerthon failed to secure this, it is time the mining company faces defeat and leave Lobo alone.” Garganera added.
Aside from gold mining, the Lipa archdiocese is also leading the fight against the proposed 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant project in Lobo.
The ATM said generating power from what is known to be one of the dirtiest fossil fuels and biggest producers of carbon dioxide will not only hurt the environment but also the health of the residents.
“Coal plant can also affect farmlands and all the living things in the sea because of the toxicity it may bring in the process of heating coal,” it said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)