Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Gina Lopez’ Caldero and Other Stories

I came across a story written by seasoned journalist Ellen Tordesillas which appeared in Vera Files last July 27, 2016.  It is about a tussle between Gina Lopez, the incoming DENR Secretary, and an unknown pro-mining participant in a business forum. In Tordesillas’ account, she accentuated that anti-mining are hypocrites for despite of their stance, they are using materials with elements coming from the mining industry. Gina Lopez is anti-mining but at the same time she uses a caldero or a microphone which are both products of mining.

Let me make it clear, I am in no way defending Gina Lopez here. I am not a fan of the Lopezes or ABS-CBN!

What was applied here is bad premise: One should not oppose mining if s/he uses anything made up of elements coming from mining. This is my take on the argument: Then, on that very same reasoning, one would not expect a pro-mining to breath fresh air in un-mined areas with, say for instance, carbon deposits underneath. The pro-mining individuals are not expected to swim too in a clean, cyanide-free river or eat fishes free of mercury contamination or enjoy all the gifts of nature that are not products of mining.  

To put it in the vernacular: Kung HINDI DAPAT gumamit ng kompyuter o caldero na pawang mga gawa sa mina ang mga anti-mining, ang mga halaman, gulay at bungang kahoy na HINDI mga produkto ng mina ay HINDI RIN DAPAT kainin ng mga pro-mining!  Unlike a caldero, my physical and spiritual self is not a product of mining, so, should I cease to use my whole self for my betterment and the betterment of my fellow human being?

I prefer to be called pro-environment than anti-mining, if I may emphasize. A pro-environment is one who favours and is biased for the environment over extractive business industries however financially feasible they are.

Both ends though should find right technology how to recycle mining products such as caldero, computers or other things containing minerals coming from mining. Similarly, responsible mining, if there’s really such an animal, should be defined once and for all and look for common working area to flesh it out. But how could the so-called responsible mining bring back and restore the mining areas destructed by mining operations to its original stage? This is our biggest “how” of all. Until it is assured, responsible mining rests only in one’s illusion!

Also, the Mining No Go Zones should be identified and established. Those communities vulnerable to environmental destruction like the fragile island ecosystem of Mindoro Island. Specifically I am referring to Occidental Mindoro’s  Key Biodiversity Areas, Island Ecosystems, Critical Watershed Areas, Geo-Hazard Areas, Natural Forests, Eco-Tourism Zones and Agricultural Lands.  Since we live in a fragile ecosystems, all mining applications in Occidental Mindoro should be cancelled and all existing mining licenses and permits be revoked. Let us focus more on agriculture and tourism and adhere to the 25 year mining moratorium ordinance of the province.

In-coming President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed Lopez as DENR Secretary who, until to this very day believes that there are no such thing as responsible mining. Duterte believes otherwise. The presumptive president is so certain that there is responsible mining elsewhere like those in Australia. On the other hand, just like Mar Roxas, Duterte’s candidacy was allegedly bankrolled by big personalities in the Philippine mining industry. But discussions and dialogues on mining must be anchored on facts and data of each individual mining application and not on fallacies such as I have mentioned above.

I haven’t heard much from the campaign supporters of Duterte regarding this. They are more eager to dwell on death penalty, drugs and corruption and Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, while our environment is dying slowly and the caldero of the majority of the masses in mining areas are empty …

(Photo: PTV-4)