Green groups hail 25-year mining ban in Palawan, urge other LGUs to do the same

Environmental activists group commend the 25-year moratorium passed by Palawan Provincial government, saying that the provincial resolution shows that local government units (LGUs) now recognize how environmentally irresponsible and economically unsustainable the mining policy and program of the Arroyo administration.

“The Palawan Provincial government is another addition to the growing list of LGUs opposing the priority mining projects of the national government. Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and the provincial board have clear and justifiable bases in banning large-scale mining in Palawan,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network Environment.

Bautista added that, “Aside from protecting Palawan’s pristine environment from the impacts of mining, Palawan LGUs have realized that the priority mining projects of the government like Rio Tuba Nickel and Coral Bay Nickel mining projects have insignificant contribution to the local economy and worse, they only result to community displacements, environmental pollution and health problems.”

Based on the monitoring of anti-mining liberalization alliance Defend Patrimony, there are already 8 provincial governments that have declared moratorium on large-scale mining. These are Capiz, Western Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Marinduque, Mindoro Oriental, North Cotabato and Palawan. Several municipal governments have likewise issued similar moratoria. More and more LGUs are also withdrawing their support as with the case of Nueva Vizcaya from OceanaGold’s Didipio mining project, another priority large-scale mining project of the Arroyo administration.

“The growing resistance of the communities and the increasing number of LGUs rejecting the large-scale mining show the failure of the Mining Revitalization Program and the bankruptcy of the mining liberalization policy of the Arroyo government. It’s becoming clearer that even the LGUs do not benefit from these said mining projects and are now directly confronting the national government,” said in the statement of Defend Patrimony! Alliance.

“Even President Arroyo’s closest party allies like Albay Governor Joey Salceda and North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Pinol came up with position opposing large-scale mining in their areas. In addition to these positive developments, the pressure from environmental organizations and sectoral organizations, will convince more provincial governments to openly go against the mining projects and policies of the Arroyo administration,” Bautista pointed out.

Regional, local and national environmental groups, along with other sectoral organizations and several international delegates will conduct an International Solidarity Mission (ISM) on December 6-10 in mining affected areas in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. Located in these areas are two of the flagship mining projects of the Arroyo administration where the supposed benefits of mining will be demonstrated but instead have resulted to deep economic hardships and grave environmental effects in the communities.

Bautista explained that, “The ISM will focus on documenting and validating the economic, social and cultural violations of the mining companies and the environmental and mining-related issues in the target communities. At the same time, the ISM aims to provide concrete support to the local struggle of the communities. At the last day of the ISM, the delegates will conduct a dialogue with the local leaders and head of other sectors like the Church people and local government officials to urge them to also pass a similar resolution and ban on large-scale mining in the area.”

“The courageous and sensible move of the provincial government of Palawan, as with the similar moves of other local government leaders, the intensifying struggle of mining affected communities and the growing support of different sectors and concerned individuals will only result to more closure and suspension of mining projects in the country,” Mr. Bautista ended.

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