Green groups seek end to mining in Zambales
Claim extractive industries destroys farming, fisheries activities
By MARVYN N. BENANING - mb.com.ph
Environmental groups have expressed their unconditional support to the demand of the people of Zambales for a stop to large-scale mining in the province.
More than 3,000 people gathered at the Provincial Capitol in Iba, Zambales Wednesday and denounced the entry of mining operations.
The protesters claimed mining destroys the remaining forest cover in Zambales and threatens the Negrito ancestral domains in the area aside from affecting agricultural and fisheries activities.
“The Zambalenos are crying loud against the aggressive entry or mining companies, such as Rusina Mining, Coto Mines, NiHao Mineral Resources International and DMCI Mining Corp. We hope that this action sends a clear message to the candidates in Zambales, and they heed the peoples’ calls”, said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a national campaign against large-scale mining in the Philippines.
“We support the calls of the Zambalenos, and are one with them in demanding for a moratorium on destructive mining operations in the province,” he added.
ATM is a group of more than 80 organizations all over the country that are against the revitalization of the large-scale mining industry in the Philippines.
Garganera stated that the mining projects in Zambales “poses direct and serious threats to the remaining forest covers, watersheds and ancestral domains of Aetas in Zambales.”
Zambales hosts at least 12 Mineral Processing Sharing Agreements (MPSAs), a form of service contract between the government and mining companies.
“These mining projects will severely impact on the water source, agricultural lands and forest areas of Zambales”, he said.
Garganera also charged the provincial government with actively supporting these mining projects, citing the case of Sitio Maporac, Barangay New San Juan in the town of Cabangan.
“We are aware that the provincial government has tacitly backed destructive mining there, under the guise of granting several small-scale mining permits that are actually involved in large-scale mining operations”, he added.
He also lamented the fact that the opposition of Aetas, particularly from the Maporac Aeta Association (MAO), have landed on deaf ears, as tensions continue to rise in the locality due to continued operations of mining inside the ancestral domains, without the consent of the indigenous people there.
ATM is aligned with HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA).