THE Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) echoes the call for veto on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng South Cotabato’s lifting of the open-pit mining ban in the Environment Code of South Cotabato.

Opening the heart of Mindanao, to large-scale mining operations in South Cotabato including the highly controversial Tampakan Mining Project of the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) exposes the river system networks and watersheds (on which irrigation, agriculture and the indigenous and local community’s water supply rely), to clear and present danger.

The undue haste with which the SP South Cotabato disposed of the proposed amendment in its session last Monday, May 16 betrays the spirit of public consultation and genuine commitment to environmental protection.

The SP body had agreed in its March 14 session that the proceedings of the public consultations will be presented to the body for discussion before putting to a vote on the proposed amendment.

No discussion nor discerned voting happened. The main proponent Board Member Larry de Pedro VI moved to adopt the amendment and there was no objection, in the absence of other board members (on leave) who have been vocal in their opposition to the lifting of the ban.

The public consultations (and position statements) have raised concerns on the following:

1. The impact on water supply and agricultural productivity and food security particularly in a climate crisis and pandemic recovery;

2. The fate and future of the indigenous peoples, those who will be directly displaced and the generations to come who will have no ancestral land to return to;

3. The denudation of vast tracts of forest when Mindanao is down to six percent of its original forest cover;

4. The permanent loss of biodiversity as South Cotabato is home to many RP/Mindanao endemic species;

5. The over-all impact on the economy of South Cotabato if mining will be prioritized over agriculture

These issues require thorough discussion and study, yet the amendment was adopted with no consideration to the people’s concerns at the public hearings conducted.

This move by the Provincial Board Members present last May 16, 2022, is an affront to the true spirit of public consultation, a genuine commitment to the environment, and good governance.

Mindanao is our Common Home and shared responsibility. We belong to only one Mindanao. As we grow sustainable cities like Davao, we need Mindanao’s environment and peoples to be spared from further destruction and harm.

We are in a climate crisis. We are running out of time. We cannot afford to dilly–dally and play politics.

We need our forests and watersheds intact if we are to soldier on to a common future with the rest of the global community. We must protect our indigenous and local communities and our children.

Veto the amendment on the Environment Code of South Cotabato!

Uphold the ban, protect Tampakan and defend MindaNOW!