Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Hunger Strike Vs. MNP
This hunger strike reminds me of the same protest made by a Canadian named Donna Dillman which I stumbled upon from a website months ago. Dillman, a grandmother to four kids, began her hunger strike outside of the gates of the uranium protest site in Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada, on October 8, 2007 calling for a moratorium on uranium mining in Eastern Ontario two years ago. The woman legislator survived 68 days without food.
The anti-mining advocates from my island of birth are gathering today in Manila for a hunger strike scheduled this week (November 16-18, 2009) to vehemently oppose the issuance of a clearance by DENR Sec. Joselito Atienza to a mining firm operating in the whole island of Mindoro. The hunger strikers will be joined by representatives from the local government units of two Mindoro provinces led by governors Arnan Panaligan and Josephine Sato of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, respectively. Representatives from the Church led by Calapan Bishop Warlito Cajandig, DD together with CBCP-NASSA Chairman and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, DD will say Mass for the strikers on Nov. 18. Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD, DD will be represented by Msgr. Ruben S. Villanueva, Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose.
The protest activity is meant to pressure DENR secretary Joselito Atienza to revoke the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued to said mining firm. Intex Resources Philippines, a division of Intex Resources ASA of Norway, has been granted an ECC by DENR last October 14, 2009 to operate the Mindoro Nickel Project or MNP that will extract and process nickel laterite ore and its by-products, such as chromite, cobalt, zinc, sulfide and ammonium sulfate. The mining site lies in a critical watershed area which supplies irrigation water for Mindoro’s rice fields.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) and Mangyan Mission said in a statement that the move of DENR to grant permit to the mining company was a “brazen act of betrayal of public trust.” A statement from ALAMIN states that : “Instead of coming to rescue our fragile ecology, the DENR shamelessly pursued the national policy agenda of the Arroyo government to promote mining industry, with utter disregard to the risks posed by the destruction of Mindoro’s critical watershed through the risky large-scale, strip mining operation of Intex Resources ASA.”
In our interview with Rep. Diogenes Osabel of ALAGAD Party List over DZVT yesterday , he said that representatives Rodolfo G. Valencia (first district) and Rep. Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. (second district) of Oriental Mindoro already signed a resolution for the revocation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the DENR, while Deputy Speaker Amelita C. Villarosa of lone district of Occidental Mindoro opted for another round of legislative consultation on the issue. Osabel rendered his privilege speech on Mindoro Mining at the Hall of Congress also last Tuesday. For Villarosa, hunger strike should not be made as an option against mining in Mindoro. You may click and read the news item here.
While the events are unfolding in Manila, back in Occidental Mindoro, the Provincial Board headed by Vice-Governor Mario Gene Mendiola spearheaded series of public consultation and hearing in municipalities of Calintaan and San Jose geared towards the finalization of a 25-year moratorium ordinance for large-scale mining in the whole province of Occidental Mindoro. In his powerful speech during the consultation, Fr. Carlito M. Dimaano, Parish Priest of St. Michael Parish said : "Hindi natin papayagan ang anumang uri ng mina na papasok sa ating lalawigan". ("We will oppose any form of mining in Occidental Mindoro") Let us keep our fingers crossed. By the way, lunch is served elsewhere after the public hearing courtesy of Mayor Lily Estoya.
Going back to hunger strike, definitely one can live a long time without food, but clean water is essential to all life. Food and eating are symbolic of wellbeing and we are hoping that this activity would help increase awareness among our people, specially those who are still reluctant to fight for environmental protection. With the immediate revocation of the ECC, the hunger strike will end at once.
Here are worth-reflecting words from Donna Dilliman, a federal councilor that time in Frontenac County, Ontario : “As a society, it is time we grew up and realized that we live on a finite planet; that we must begin to live on Earth as if we want to stay.” What an inspiring nugget from a woman, from a grandmother who undoubtedly care for nature and her constituents' survival.
Unlike that big gramma whom I know ….
(Photo from http://www.ccamu.ca/ by Wolfe Erlichman and Sandra Hannah)