Mining EO contrary to Christian Stewardship of Creation-A A +A
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
WE IN the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao join the widespread clamor of the Filipino people -- especially indigenous peoples, small farmers and small-scale miners -- in opposing the deceptiveness of President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 79.
The Filipino people have made clear the message: we say no to large scale foreign mining!
Proof of this is a growing anti-mining movement that has seen the coming together of the poor, enlightened professionals and media, the Christian churches and even a few from the rich who are standing up for communities and the environment.
On the other side of the social divide are the titans of the mining industry and President Aquino, who have both closed ranks through this mining EO.
“People think that they can make arbitrary use of the earth subjecting it without restraint to their will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which people can indeed develop but must not betray.” (CentesimusAnnus No. 37)
1. This Executive Order and the Mining Act upon which it is based is against the values of Christian stewardship.
The heart of the matter is that the Mining Act of 1995 upon which this EO is based, remains to be the most environmentally destructive law ever passed in the country. This EO, like the Mining Act which it reinforces, runs contrary to the principality of ecological balance, the rights of communities to the integrity of their physical environment and livelihood, the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination in ancestral domains, and most of all the preservation of our national patrimony and the sustainability of generations.
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”(Isaiah 11:9)
2. This Executive Order only seeks to deodorize the stench and destructiveness of large scale foreign mining.
The people can see through the deceptive language of this EO by showcasing compliance with environmental standards in mining, adherence to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and the so-called Programmatic Environmental Impact Assessment. The Aquino government is using sugarcoated words to sound ‘green’ but in reality these only mask the denudation of remaining forests, the pollution of rivers and waterways, and the deformation of mountains and reefs, among others. Worse, it exploits the issue of climate change adaptation and mitigation and cunningly uses it as a primary consideration in mining policy.
“Care for the earth is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people. We should strive to live simply to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”– Pope Paul II, Solicitudo Rei Socialis
3. This Executive Order is an imposition to favor the plunderers of Creation than to look after the interest of the Common Good.
From the time of the Pharaohs to the rule of Herod, from the colonial rule of Spain to the current hidden reign of the United States, from the time of the Marcos Dictatorship until today’s Aquino government, presidential decrees have been issued to impose the monopolization of resources by the elite. President Aquino has used this discretionary authority to force the liberalization of the mining industry in the face of stiff opposition from communities and the indefensible argument for large scale foreign mining in the national public debate.
This EO is clearly not for the common good as it worsens the ailing domestic economy, promotes conflict and divisiveness in communities, dislocates indigenous peoples and settlers and disempowers people from making the life-giving choices such as tilling the land to produce a good harvest of food and other basic needs.
“They have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth…” (Isaiah 24:4-6)
4. This Executive Order renders communities and local authorities powerless and asserts the primacy of the Aquino government on determining the direction and framework of mining policy.
This EO has been designed to stifle grassroots opposition to large scale foreign mining. Communities are asserting their right to self-determination even in spite of approved mining exploration permits and mineral agreements. And there has been a bandwagon of local government units walking hand-in-hand with these communities to declare no-mining zones or open-pit mining bans. This is what the mining transnational corporations are seeking to break, and the EO gives back to them the primacy of vicious rights under the Mining Act of 1995 (timber rights, eviction rights, etc.) over communities.
The liberalization of the mining industry is now protected more strongly through the alignment of local policy to those of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC). Apparently, it had not been enough to have the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources -- agencies with tarnished records of corruption -- on the side of large scale foreign mining companies. LGUs that stand in the way are now whipped into line.
“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.”(Leviticus 25:23-24)
5. This Executive Order leads to the sacrifice of Creation at the altar of large scale foreign mining.
Finally, this EO enforces the total sell-out and plunder of our mineral wealth to big foreign business. It boasts of raising revenues but covers up the fact that these taxes are at run-away discounted rates compared to other parts of the world. More importantly, the meager income is right away cancelled out by the huge environmental and social costs. Consequently, our present and future generations are deprived of the resources to truly advance national industrialization.
The EO falsely claims it is for a National Industrialization Program (NIP). In carefully crafted fashion, this EO restrains the full development of small scale mining as a viable jobs and income-generating enterprise -- if regulated in favor of the people and the environment -- and eventually eases them out for the entry of the big scale plunderers.
We rage as women religious against EO 79. We weep yet are moved to action for the women and children who shall further suffer the death of the environment.
Denounce EO 79 and the Mining Act of 1995! Announce an alternative peoples’ mining law that upholds human rights and the integrity of creation!
(Reference: Sr. Noemi P. Degala, SMSM, executive secretary, 0929-4463684/297-8552)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 25, 2012.