Panalipdan: Arroyo, TNCs liable for plunder and environment destruction

The 39th commemoration of Earth Day is an occasion for Mindanaoans and all patriotic Filipinos to call for the accountability of the Arroyo government and its big business partners for their role in the destruction of the environment and the plunder of our national patrimony.

While still a senator, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was instrumental in the creation and passage of the controversial Mining Act of 1995. This law opened up our country for further exploitation done by transnational corporations. The promotion of the mining industry is now a top economic thrust of her administration with ten priority projects being promoted in Mindanao alone.

As the fifth most mineralized country in the world, the untapped mineral wealth of the Philippines is estimated to be 840 billion dollars. This is more than sufficient to pay our foreign debt and develop our basic industries and the economy.

However, the mining industry in the Philippines is in the hands of foreign transnational mining giants. They grab our mineral resources for private profit. While the net profits of foreign mining companies reach billions of dollars, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that the government received less than five percent of the total value of production through taxes and royalties from 2001 to 2005.

Large-scale mining operations seek to extract the greatest amount of mineral wealth through the fastest and least expensive means possible. This kind of mining results to deforestation, soil erosion, and water resource pollution, leaving behind wastelands where mountains once stood. Large-scale mining operations are one of the causes of environmental degradation that costs the Philippines two billion dollars a year, according to the World Bank.

As of 2006, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was processing a total of 2,224 mining applications, covering more than 500,000 hectares. This hasty mining bonanza has made us vulnerable to massive environmental and social destruction.

Large-scale mining by foreign corporations has caused displacement and militarization of communities in Zamboanga Peninsula, Surigao Norte and Surigao Sur, South Cotabato, and Davao Provinces.

Harassment and killings of community and environmental activists are bound to increase with Malacanang’s special police and military patrol for mining corporations.

The Arroyo government and its big business partners must be held accountable. They are responsible for the wholesale of our national wealth, robbing future generations of Filipinos of the opportunity to live in an industrialized country developed through its own mineral resources.

Industrialized nations are the world’s largest producers of waste and greenhouse gases, yet they pass the burden of mitigation of global warming to the world’s poorest countries. The United States alone releases 19.6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in a year, yet it has taken few steps to reduce its emissions.

The promotion of vast plantations of bio-fuel crops in Mindanao such as oil palm, jatropha (tuba-tuba), corn, and coconut is principally an export venture that serves to benefit foreign private companies at the expense of small farmers, indigenous peoples, and agricultural lands that could be used to increase rice production.

This scheme proliferates in our import-dependent and export-oriented economy. Worse, it effectively defends the primary polluters from global accountability.

The dire condition of the world’s eco-systems is principally caused by private control of natural resources in order to obtain maximum profits. The world’s poorest people are made to suffer through the natural and manmade disasters caused by this greed and irresponsible destruction.

Panalipdan! Mindanao holds that the commemoration of Earth Day is not just a simple exercise in environmental awareness to protect nature. Rather, the protection of the environment and our natural resources is an integral part of protecting our livelihood, our national sovereignty, and our right to sustainable development.

In cities and municipalities across Mindanao today, organizations of youth, Lumads, church people, environmental advocates have organized pickets, march-rallies, symposiums, and other actions to promote a nationalist, people-centered environmental movement. We condemn the corruption of the Arroyo administration in its deals with foreign businesses, and its sell-out of our patrimony.

Stop the selling of our natural resources to transnational corporations!

Genuine development of our country through people-centered planning and use of our national patrimony!

Hold the world’s largest polluters accountable for the environmental and social disasters they have caused!

For reference:
Sr. Diane Cabasagan, RGS
Cell number: 0920 952 3604

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