Environmentalist pushes for Minerals Mining Bill

SunStar File Photo
SunStar File Photo

AN ENVIRONMENTAL group is pushing for the Alternative Minerals Mining Bill, raising concern about the current Mining Act 1995.

Ecoteneo Director Mylai Santos, during the Sangnilikha Press Conference on Wednesday, October 4, at the Big House, Juna Subdivision, said that while the Philippines has sound environmental laws, the government lacks in its implementation and monitoring.

"We have laws, but we are not enforcing them," Santos said.

Santos expressed concern about protected areas and lands being adversely affected. She suggested a potential lack of communication between local and national governments. 

She emphasized that although the laws are well-written, their execution falls short.

Society has shown interest in environmental movements like climate resilience, disaster risk prevention, and management. However, Santos said these disasters cannot be mitigated if people contribute.

“We are fighting against the global problem of the climate and yet in our local environment yung pinakapanlaban natin yung bundok, yung panlaban natin yung coral reefs, yung pinaka panlaban natin sa epekto ng pagbabago ng klima yan yung tinatanggal natin (We are combating the global climate issue, yet in our local environment, we are damaging the very resources we need to protect against climate change, such as mountains, coral reefs, and other vital elements),” Santos said. 

Santos said that the ban on open pit mining in South Cotabato was lifted in December 2022, and despite being vetoed in June 2023, coal mining began in Barangay Ned that August, led by San Miguel's company holdings. This nearly doubled the final mining area in Tampakan and occupied almost half of Ned, the largest barangay in Lake Sebu.

She revealed that some areas were forcibly purchased for P8 to P12 per square meter from the residents of Barangay Ned, while others were a mix of ancestral domains.

As of November 2022, according to data from Ecoteneo and Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis), Davao Oriental granted 39 permits to mining companies covering 60,000 hectares. At least 19 are Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), four for exploration, and 12 for Minahang Bayan.

Meanwhile, Onisimo Sunggahid from the Ecological Wisdom of Banayan Initiatives for Environmental Protection Preservation Conservation Association disclosed on May 21, 2023, in Causwagan, Banaybanay, that over 200 farmers conducted a signature campaign to oppose mining. 

In Bucana, about 200 fisherfolk signed a petition regarding the environmental impact of mining in the sea, which reduced fish yields.

"Slowly, we will not be dili ta patyon ana in one in two days those mining companies will kill people softly (Slowly, those mining companies will harm people, though not immediately)," Sunggahid said. RGP 


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