MANILA, Oct. 16, 2012—Indigenous peoples (IPs) and farmers from different areas in Luzon reiterated their call on the government to ensure food security over mining.
At least 500 IPs and farmers from Region 2 joined a four-day caravan to press government for the passage of Alternative Minerals Management Bill and a moratorium on large scale mining operations in the country.
The caravan which began on October 14 will converge in Mendiola near Malacanang on October 17, Wednesday.
Joining the caravan are IPs and farmers from Kasibu and Dupax, Romblon, Mindoro, Batangas, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales and Bulacan.
The group urged government to revoke the FTAA’s of Oceana Gold (Didipio Gold and Copper project) and SMI-Xtrata (Tampakan Copper Gold Mining Project) and called for a moratorium on large scale mining operations in the country.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the negative “impacts of mining to farmers [and ] indigenous peoples are undeniable .”
“It will be completely unfair if this government will not heed their call to ensure food security first, before prioritizing the continued large scale mining operations in the country,” he said.
“That is why the CBCP-NASSA has been asking the government to put a stop to mining first, and enact a rational mining policy, which for us is embodied in the AMMB,” he added.
A multi- sectoral movement against mining, the SOS-Yamang Bayan Network, in a press release said a new law is needed to address the issues and concerns of communities adversely affected by mining.
The group seeks for solution to the many problems faced by communities and local government units and the country due to the flawed framework embodied in the current Mining Act of 1995.
It said the AMMB is the new law that would embody all the issues and concerns of mining-affected communities.
“AMMB presents a framework for the rational, need-based, rights-based, domestic oriented utilization, development and management of our mineral resources. We and our supporters regard mining as a threat to life that results from various tragedies linked to mining,” it added.
The group also cited mining explorations and development in Nueva Vizcaya, Tampakan and other areas across the nation that is reinforced by militarization as a cause of increased human rights violations and abuses towards opposing parties.
“Many anti-mining advocates and IP/peasant leaders have been killed in the past years. In response to this and to uphold the integrity of creation, we call for the passage of AMMB within the 15th congress as the legal alternative Mining Act,” the group furthered.
In July this year, seventy-two bishops signed a petition to support and stand for the integrity of creation: rivers, forests, agricultural lands, lakes, mountains and the displaced and loss of dignity and livelihood of IPs, farmers and fisherfolks. (Melanie Reyes/CBCPNews)