DAVAO CITY — Two Presidential candidates expressed support to the Lumad mining victims and anti-mining advocates during the Mindanao People’s Mining Conference held here on Wednesday, March 2.
Resource persons and representatives from different tribes and anti-mining advocates gathered at Finster Building, Ateneo de Davao University to conduct the Mindanao People’s Mining Conference in commemoration of the 21st year of the signing of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 today, March 3.
The conference was spearheaded by Panalipdan Southern Mindanao (SMR), Panalipdan Mindanao, Kalumaran, Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), Buklurang Atenista (BUKLAT) and Ateneo de Davao University.
The conference challenged the presidential candidates in the 2016 elections to listen to the demands mining-affected communities and other concerned sectors in Mindanao.
According to the organizers, the conference committee sent letters to all Presidential candidates requesting them to give their stand on mining through a video message that was presented in the Mindanao People’s Mining conference. But among the five Presidentiables, only two sent their video messages – Senator Grace Poe and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
In her video message, Senator Poe sent her support to to the ongoing conference, but did not expound her stand on the mining situation in the Philippines.
“Binabati ko ang lahat na kalahok ng Mindanao People’s Mining Conference, naway magkaroon kayo ng makabulohang pagtitipon para sa ikabubuti ng ating bayan,” Poe said in her 12 second video.
Mayor Duterte on the other hand stated he does not allow mining activities in Davao City because of the dreadful effects it does to the environment. He also added that mining is good when it is done according to a set of standards.
“My view in Davao City is I do not allow mining, not because I do not allow it but I have yet to find the standard to impose on doing business in mining. For most is the protection of the environment and so as not to contribute to the footprints of carbon, destruction of ecology, which is really terrible, it cannot be repaired in just one generation, two or three,” said Duterte.
He added: “It will take a lifetime to ponder on this thing and so we have to be really careful.”
“Mining is good when it is done according to the standards, the best there is. But mining as it is now, is practically destroying just like what’s happening in Tubay, Agusan del Norte. These are the irresponsible people making the Filipino a victim in is own land,” said Duterte.
Panalipdan-SMR, Kim Gargar, said that the objectives of the conference is to unify all mining affected communities and anti-mining advocates all over Mindanao, it also highlights the people’s mining bill proposed by the mining advocates.
He said the first item for their mining agenda is the call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995.
In a statement, Panalipdan- SMR also said that “the signing into law of the Philippines Mining Act of 1995 of the 3rd of March 21 years ago marked the start of a long struggle of the Filipino people against foreign-dominated large-scale mining.”
“The 21 years of the law has resulted to mining plunder and environmental disasters. Clearly, the Mining Act violates the Filipino people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology,” it said.
Ateneo de Davao University stands against mining
The Ateneo community also condemned the extra-judicial killings and harassment that were inflicted on the Indigenous peoples who are opposing foreign large-scale mining. Human rights advocate and Ateneo de Davao University president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ expressed his support to the Lumad victims of mining in the conference.
“We oppose the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Under this law a lot of negative things happened to our country especially to our indigenous brothers. The law has allowed our resources owned by the Filipino people, owned by the indigenous communities in their ancestral domain, are brought to other countries at almost no cost,” he said in Filipino.
The Philippines has one of the world’s richest mineral deposits, especially in Mindanao where the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) estimated a value reaching $1.4 trillion in mineral reserves of gold, copper, nickel, aluminum, and chromite.
The conference carried the theme: “Mindanao People’s Mining Conference: Strengthening Mindanao people’s unity in the defense of Mindanao patrimony and ancestral lands against foreign mining plunder.”
After the conference, the participants, who are composed of small-scale miners, indigenous peoples, and students marched towards the Mines Geosciences Bureau office here to stage a protest. (davaotoday.com)