Anti-mining alliance unites to help Banay-banay ricefields and Sumlog watershed

Mar. 15, 2009

Anti-mining alliance unites to help Banay-banay ricefields and Sumlog watershed

The famed Banay-banay ricefields including those in the town of Lupon, which covers around 4,000 hectares, are reportedly threatened because the Sumlog watershed that provides it water for irrigation has become the dumping site of chemical waste of mining firms funded and managed by a Chinese company called Skynix Holdings.

Francis Morales, spokesperson of the environmental rights network Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao reported that seven Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA’s) held by Oro East, Viclode, Eastern Horizon, Southern Horizon, and Jake Mining that were all contracted by Skynix have been relentlessly conducting mining exploration and extraction in Pantukan, Maragusan in Compostela Valley Province that spans all the way to Lupon and Tarragona, in Davao Oriental. Skynix uses MPSAs of local firms and sells the extracted gold, copper and other minerals in the Chinese market.

Morales added that according to Skynix’s website, the five companies have listed the Sumlog River, a 24, 450 hectare watershed in Lupon, Davao Oriental, as a drainage site. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has declared that this practice has made Sumlog River ‘critical’. Other waste receptacles of the mining companies are the Cateel River, CaragaRiver, Tagum River, and the Davao Gulf.

Fact finding mission launched

In response to this alarming situation, a fact-finding mission (FFM) will be held on March 10-12 to investigate the mining sites of Southern Horizon Mining Company in Sitios Anogkot and Tabon in Brgy. Marayag, Lupon.

The FFM is a joint collaboration of environmental and cause-oriented groups Panalipdan-Davao Oriental, Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, Sisters of the Order of Benedict-Mati, Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples (Sagip), Almasid-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and concerned individuals from the academe, and local government units.

The Save Sumlog River Alliance (Sasura), the local leading alliance heading the movement to protect the watershed and other critical areas in Davao Oriental leads the FFM.

Lobbying their concerns at the Banay-banay Sangguniang Bayan council, the Sasura has been successful in enabling the passage of two resolutions calling for the stop of the mining operations and holding immediate investigation concerning the damages wrought by the foreign-funded mining operations particularly in Sitio Anogkot, which lies in the boundary of the Lupon and Pantukan.

Threat to food security

Panalipdan-SMR urges the provincial government of Davao Oriental to heed the peoples’ call for the protection of the province’s land and resources stressing that aggressive and massive mining operations by foreign firms threaten the peoples’ food and water supplies.

The group estimates that if 4,000 hectares of rice fields are to be subject to toxic mine wastes, more than 43,200 tons of rice will be lost per year (computed at 3.6 tons national average yield x 3 harvests x land area) which will then deprive around 60,000 families of rice.

Morales said local struggles against large-scale foreign mining operations have been erupting all over the region due to the people’s awakened consciousness about the tragic and irreversible impact of mineral toxins on the environment, food security and even on the peace in their communities.


Francis Morales



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