Thursday, September 3, 2009
A Nameless Group
We had a hard time naming our newly-formed coalition. Suggestions vary from wise to “otherwise”, so the group came into the decision of just finalizing the matter on our upcoming consultative meeting in the next few weeks or so. I had suggestion in mind but I did not bring it up for I will surely get the ire of my fellow participants : "Hypocrites of Occidental Mindoro, Unlimited, or HOMU".
I was in Abra de Ilog the other day,- along with more or less 100 participants from the Local Government Units (LGUs), NGOs, POs and church leaders from MAPSSA (Mamburao, Abra de Ilog, Paluan, Sta. Cruz, and Sablayan) municipalities, to attend the Anti-Mining Forum called by Mayor Eric A. Constantino, as main its convener, and Vice Mayor Floro A. Castillo and the rest of SB members. The event was held at Villa Salustiana Resort in Brgy. Tibag. To refresh our memory, Abra de Ilog issued Ordinance No. 106-2008 declaring a 25-year moratorium on large scale mining activities in the municipality. Fr. Edwin "Edu" Gariguez and Jeff Rafa from Alyansa Tigil Mina or ALAMIN in Oriental Mindoro, Atty. Ron Gutierrez of Upholding Life and Nature (ULAN) and Msgr. Ruben Villanueva of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, serve as speakers while Mayor Constantino himself and Fr. Richard Castillo, Parish Priest of Holy Cross parish acted as facilitators. Mayor Godofredo Mintu and Vice Mayor Eduardo C. Gadiano are also invited but they sent separate representatives instead.
Why HOMU (Japanese-sounding, isn’t it?)? Or why “hypocrites”? It is simply because our kind,- pro-environment and anti-mining advocates, are considered as such by miners including their supporters and vanguards, coming from both government and private entities. They say : “The computer that you are using when blogging against mining came from minerals. Even environmental protection itself can never be possible without mining. You, hypocrite!”
In p. 6 of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines’ Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) regarding the CBCP Statement of Concern on Mining Act of 1995, it is stated : “The ultimate question, perhaps is : Could we live without mining? Whatever cannot be grown has to be mined. The materials that we need to build buses and jeepneys, telephones, calculators, eyeglasses, concrete churches, stained glass windows, bridges, ships and airplanes, televisions, printing press, tooth paste, plates and bottles, watches, toys, etc. all come from mining…”
But have we forgotten than here in our country, the mineral needs are NOT met by mining operations? According to “Miner’s Lie” (1998) a publication by the Legal Rights and Natural Resource Center authored by Andre Gerard G. Ballesteros, “It is clear that the products of mining industry in the Philippines, contrary to industry’s assertion, are not responsive to the needs for minerals, particularly metals. In a sense, what the mining industry addresses in not the need for metals but the need for revenue.” Yes, all in the name of revenue or profit regardless of environmental, energy as well as social cost such as landlessness and poverty, especially among rural communities.
Instead of massive extraction, we need to conserve, recycle and re-use. The properties of metal provide a unique advantage for its re-use. Unlike other recycled materials, such as plastic and paper, metals are eminently and repeatedly recyclable without degradation of their properties. Metal from secondary sources is just as good as metal from primary sources. Bishop Emeritus Julio X. Labayen once said : “After reaping their big profits they leave us with ecological system that they stripped of the capacity to support and sustain the lives of our people.”
This coming September 16-17, 2009, the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro in partnership with ALAMIN will be having a LGU-CSO Conference on Mining Moratorium in Calapan City. This is to discuss on how to effectively implement the mining moratorium through application of legal strategies or options in order to put a stop continuing activities of Intex Resources in the whole island. Social acceptability requirements are also expected to tackle. Top provincial leaders are also invited to join. Our still nameless group have decided,- as priority activity, to push our Occidental Mindoro political leaders to enact and implement and support parallel mining moratorium issued by our sister province some years back. So expect my next blog will be on LGU and mining. By the way in Abra last Tuesday, I was handpicked as one of the conveners of the still-to-be- named group.
If fighting for environment, for the Mangyans, for sustainability, for honesty and transparency and against (what JPII dubbed as), “development without a human face” is hypocrisy, I would be proud to shout from the top of my lungs that, “Hey world, I am a hypocrite!”
Care to join us? …
(Photo : SSC File. The majestic Calawagan River in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro)