Caravan wants mining license revoked, law repealed
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 15, 2012
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–About 150 tribal members and farmers from upland communities in the province on Sunday slammed what they said was the Aquino government’s alleged indifference to calls for the revocation of mining licenses granted to projects here.
The groups, which is composed of various non-government and people’s organizations opposed to mining, said they were not losing hope that the government would finally heed calls to stop supporting what they described as “development aggression” by foreign mining companies.
“We have left our farms, our houses to join this caravan as our way of telling President Aquino and our (lawmakers) that it is never too late; they can still do something,” said Lorenzo Pulido, vice president of the Didipio Earthsavers Multi-Purpose Association (Desama).
Desama is a people’s organization that is leading calls for the revocation of a 25-year financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) given to OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm, for the gold-copper project in Didipio village in Kasibu town.
Pulido made the statements on the sidelines of the opening program of a four-day caravan which calls for the repeal of the current mining law and passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).
The caravan began its 300-km journey from the Catholic church-owned Lunduyan pastoral center and provincial capitol here on Sunday afternoon, and will bring participants to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija, San Fernando City in Pampanga, Malolos City in Bulacan in the next two days.
The motorcade is expected to wind up at the Commission on Human Rights central office and House of Representative in Quezon City, and Malacañang Palace in Manila on Wednesday, Oct.17.
In a statement, SOS-Yamang Bayan Network, said President Aquino should also give attention to the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 the same way that government did with the Bangsamoro peace agreement.
“While we welcome this positive development, we also seek the openness and resolve of (Aquino) to engage mining-affected communities–specifically indigenous peoples and farmers–to hear our stories, and act on our calls,” it said.
It is also calling for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill, which remained pending in Congress.
“We call on (the Aquino government) to go beyond (Executive Order) 79 and the Mining Act of 1995. What our country needs is a new law that will address the issues and concerns that mining-affected communities have long been raising, and (stop) the devastation of our rich but fragile ecosystems,” the group said.
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