February 2, 2017
ATM Statement on the Closure and Suspension Orders of Mining Projects by DENR
ATM lauds the recent pronouncement of DENR Sec. Gina Lopez ordering the cancellation of 21 mining projects and suspending the operations of six other mining firms.
Our alliance believes that this is a logical conclusion of the mining audit that was conducted last year, a landmark initiative by Sec. Lopez that initially resulted in the suspension of 10 mining operations and recommending the suspension of 20 other mines. The mining audit itself was a welcome initiative last August 2016, a move that has been mandated by the issuance of Executive Order 79 by the Aquino administration but was sadly, never implemented by past DENR officials.
Sec. Lopez has delivered on her promise to bring social justice. Her arguments that water, livelihoods and food are primary ingredients for a sustainable life are well-placed. She has displayed strength of character in this decision and we will continue to engage her administration in the DENR to push for genuine reforms. We particularly welcome the public comment of Pres. Duterte that he supports the move of Sec. Lopez on these mine closures.
We fervently hope that Sec. Lopez’s display of political will be rewarded thru her confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. The country needs more leaders like her who are decisive and incorruptible.
These cancellation and suspension orders are good first steps to introduce reforms in the DENR. More is left to be done.
We expect the mining industry to question and appeal these decisions. We know that they will not take these developments lightly and our alliance anticipates that they will question the legality of these orders and the competence of DENR Sec. Lopez. We are ready to confront the mining industry and expose more violations and non-compliance. Their pitch for “responsible mining” has been unmasked as mere rhetoric. We challenge them that we pursue a debate on the mining policies and the urgent need to pass a new mining law, especially in this context of climate change we all face.
But the real victors here are the mining-affected communities. The closure and suspension of these mines capture the struggles of dozens of communities and indigenous peoples resisting the entry or expansion of destructive mining in Cagayan, Cordillera, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Bulacan, Batangas, Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate, Leyte, Samar, South Cotabato, Zamboanga, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Dinagat Islands.
These communities have set-up barricades, signed petitions, filed cases, and lobbied government agencies to stop mining in their localities. Indigenous communities and environmental activists have organized themselves and committed their time, sweat, blood, tears and resources to protect their lands and the environment. Local governments have even declared their localities as “no-go zones” against mining. Some have even offered lives to prevent the destruction of their environment and ensure a sustainable future for their families. Fundamentally, the rights of peoples and communities were being protected and fulfilled in resisting mining.
For all of them, we claim this victory, and to them we offer our continued vigilance and militancy.