Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Of Public Interest Lawyers and the Philippine Mining Conference 2015

We, the anti-mining advocates all over the country today, September 15, 2015, are officially launching what we call “Mining Hell Week” as symbolic protest against the Philippine Mining Conference 2015 which is also starting today spearheaded by the Philippine Chamber of Mines. And to show my sentiment against that Congress, I am telling the world that as long as we have ladies like those I will mentioning later, we are ready to give the mining companies one hell of a legal fight.

Environmental lawyers in the Philippines are rare species and as fragile as the ecosystems and the poor and marginalized people they are protecting. Generally categorized as public interest legal practitioners, instead of serving powerful economic interests, they practice law and stand in behalf of the country’s natural resources. I had a chance listening to their lectures last August 26-28, 2015 at Submarine Garden Beach Resort 1 in Brgy. Sawang, Lobo, Batangas while attending the MIMAROPA Paralegal Training sponsored by Alyansa Tigil Mina or ATM.

Atty. Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda is the Executive Director of the Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), an alumnus and professor at UP College of Law. ELAC is an environmental non-government organization committed to helping communities uphold their constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology. In elaborating theories of environmental justice, Atty. Gerthie told the training participants from all over MiMaRoPa provinces including Masbate, that environmental justice brings together environmental protection and social justice and this is grounded in Article 2, Section 16 of our constitution where the right to sound environment and as a national policy, to promote sustainable development, with land use and carrying capacity as important concepts, are guaranteed.

Aside from other cases Atty. Gethie are handling all over the land, she is also into challenging the operation of Rio Tuba Mining in Bataraza and Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation in Narra despite that the areas are core zones or restricted zones under RA 7611. Atty. Gerthie believes that the local government officials should be more concerned about protecting the last remaining natural resources and the people than the interests of private investors.

On the other hand, Atty. Mary Grace Ellen “Grace” S. Villanueva dwelt on the topics “Measures and Procedures in Building Up Environmental Cases” and “Citizen’s Remedies in Violations of Mining-relevant Environmental Laws”. Atty. Grace has been working as a lawyer for indigenous peoples, upland rural poor and farming communities and their members, and representing them at judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals so they could defend their rights to life, land and natural resources.  At present, she is the legal coordinator for Legal Resource Center or LRC.

The conference dubbed “Mining Philippines” is a 3-day event starting today until September 17, 2015 at the Solaire Resort and Casino Manila in Manila. This event showcases mining products in Minerals, Metals and Ores industry.

And to counter this event, I “showcased” two brave and dedicated ladies from the ranks of the earth protectors. I paraded people while the mining companies paraded products. It only goes to show that for the environmentally-destructive firms, the latter is more important than the former...


(Photo: behance.net)

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