Stop All Mining Activities in ARMM

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page - (Mindanao Examiner. With a report from Monch Follosco.)

THE REGIONAL Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue an order stopping all destructive mining activities in the 5 provinces under the ARMM, especially in Tawi-tawi where nickel mining has allegedly affected the environment. Assemblyman Hanibal Tulawie, the chairman of the Committee on Environment and Ecology, has passed a resolution asking the DENR in the ARMM to immediately issue “cease and desist” order on all mining companies operating in the region.

Tulawie said he received numerous complaints from the public and environmentalists who are opposed to destructive mining methods.

“In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call and the growing complaints of residents, landowners including indigenous people and different nongovernmental organizations against the destruction of forest lands in the area, the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has asked Re- gional Secretary Kahal Q. Kedtag, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue cease and desist order to all mining firms and operators within the territorial jurisdiction of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Tulawie said.

“These operators (mining firms) are not environment-friendly and do not practice their corporate social responsibility to the affected areas, but they are contributing destruction and degradation of our forest lands within the areas of ARMM and in gross violations of Republic Act 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995) and Republic Act 9054 (to strengthen and expand the ARMM Organic Act), as these complainants that include residents, landowners including indigenous people in the affected areas are not properly compensated,” he added.

Photos of nickel mining operations posted on Facebook showed huge trucks and barges hauling off red soil which are allegedly being shipped to China where it is processed. The photos may be accessed on this URL: https://web.facebook.com/itsmorefunintawitawiphilippines/photos/?tab=album&album_id=479868325488169.

Tulawie’s committee is expected to conduct public hearings, including ocular inspections, in the areas affected by mining activities and then present its recommendations to the plenary.

He said reports indicate that Tumbagahan Island in Tawi-tawi is totally devastated due to mining explorations and the on-going nickel mining activities in Languyan municipality and Panglima Sugala, and other areas under ARMM.

“It is my primordial duty to protect and defend the interest of the majority and welfare of the people, especially, the next generations to come,” Tulawie said.

He said a copy of the resolution was also furnished to DENR Secretary Gina Lopez and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Lopez has ordered an audit of all mining firms in the country.

Lopez has recently suspended the operations of Claver Mineral Development Corp. in Surigao del Norte province where it is operating a nickel mine. It was the seventh nickel miner suspended by Lopez for various reasons and complaints from indigenous tribes. China is the country’s biggest nickel buyer.

Commies praise Lopez

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines also praised Lopez for her firm stand against open-pit mining in Mindanao.

Efren Aksasato, a spokesman for the NDFP in Mindanao, said Lopez even stood against the giant Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato province.

“DENR Sec. Gina Lopez is commendable for her remarkably firm stand against open pit mining in the country, as well as her decisive asseveration of the Duterte administration’s disapproval of the controversial and environmentally destructive $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato,” Aksasato said.

He said Lopez’s announcement to cease the mining operation in Tampakan is congruent with the people’s stand in objecting the “disastrous” open-pit mining project. “Certainly, it is a victory of the democratic mass movement and the unwavering revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside who will never give up the fight in defending the people’s interests and welfare and the protection of the environment,” Aksasato said.

He said there were also many reports of alleged human rights violations raised by indigenous people in South Cotabato, especially within their ancestral domain; and accused government soldiers and para-military forces as behind all these.

Aksasato said the openpit mining in South Cotabato approved by the past Aquino administration also violated the provincial environment code which prohibits such mining practice because of the hazards it posed to the environment and safety of the people.

“Sec. Lopez’s announcement to cease the mining operation in Tampakan is congruent with the people’s stand in objecting the disastrous and plunderous mining project. Certainly, it is a victory of the democratic mass movement and the unwavering revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside who will never give up the fight in defending the people’s interests and welfare and the protection of the environment Aksasato said.

He said the Aquino government approved on February 2013 the Environment Compliance Certificate of Xstrata-smi, the operator of Tampakan gold mine project despite massive protests from environmentalists and natives in the province.

But aside from South Cotabato, open-pit mining is also reported in Zamboanga Peninsula where Canadian miner TVI Resource Development, Inc. previously operated inside the Subanen’s ancestral domain in Mount Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte’s Siocon town. The company is now operating a gold mine in the mountains of Balabag in Bayog town in Zamboanga del Sur province.

He said the rebel group New People’s Army would continue to protect the indigenous people and their ancestral against destructive and large-scale mining activities in the South.

“The New People’s Army and the revolutionary forces in the region are the most reliable allies of the weak and disenfranchised victims of the mining company encroachment and state atrocities. Over the past years, the NPA have carried out several punitive actions against the company, its private armed guards and the AFP and PNP troops protecting its operation,” Aksasato said.

The NPA has been waging a secessionist war for decades now in an effort to overthrow the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the Philippines.

Charita Longo of Lampitak village in Tampakan town in South Cotabato enjoys clean and safe water from the newly established potable water system near her house saving her ample time to do other productive activities. The project was constructed under DA'S Philippine Rural Development Project.

Assemblyman Hanibal Tulawie (Photo by Monch Follosco)

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