24 July 2017

Kalikasan on Duterte’s #SONA2017: We need concrete actions, not lacking lip service on mining, environment

President Duterte gives the same old lip service on mining and he environment that is lacking in substance. It is nothing significantly diferent from the hollow promises he ranted about in his first State of the Nation Address.

The same old rhetoric of holding large-scale mining companies accountable is belied by Duterte’s replacement of then-environment secretary Gina Lopez with a pro-mining ex-general, Roy Cimatu.

Duterte should start walking his cheap talk by taking large-scale foreign mining companies to task by upholding the mining closure, suspension and agreement cancelation orders issued by Lopez. These orders have been stuck in the Office of the President, and it only needs the political will of someone who is honestly against the big foreign mines.

On his proposal for a new mining policy, it must be emphasized that Duterte’s idea of just imposing a new mining tax policy will never be enough to solve the deep-seated problems of the liberalized mining industry. We demand Duterte to immediately scrap the Mining Act of 1995 by passing House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill for no less than the full overhaul of our national mining policy.

The PMB proposes the implementation of a National Industrialization program for the mining industry, which is precisely what Pres. Duterte said he envisioned for the strategic long term utilization of mineral resources. It also proposes stricter environmental, socio-economic, and labor regulations including clear cut provisions for the mandatory clean up and rehabilitation of mining-affected ecosystem and communities that Duterte wants to impose on the big mining companies.

Duterte should also remove Roy Cimatu from the DENR and appoint an environment secretary who will go above and beyond the standards set by Lopez.

On Duterte’s prioritization of the National Land Use Act, we have to remain vigilant over the possibility that this policy may be used for the rampant conversion of our forests, agricultural lands, and fisheries into agrochemical plantations, reclamation projects, ecotourism projects, and other land uses that could potentially displace millions of farmers and fisherfolks.

On Duterte’s proposed new agency on disaster risk reduction and management, we know for a fact that the Duterte regime’s proposal is to transform the NDRRMC into a Civil Defense Authority, which grants Marcosian powers to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to interfere in the operations, finances, and programs of NGOs and social movements engaged in disaster risk reduction and management. We fear that this may be a sugar coated tool to further militarize the bureaucracy.

What is most detestable is that Duterte still asserts the continuation of his bloody drug war and militarization campaigns that have created the most intense climate of impunity that took the lives of no less than 19 environmental defenders under his bloody iron-fist rule. It is hypocritical and callous to say that he is against big mining when these most reviled transnational corporations have contributed to almost 80 percent of all 120 environment-related killings we monitored since 2001.

So much for Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s claim that this SONA speech will be exciting for environmentalists.¬†

It seems the only dialogue that works with Duterte is resolute, militant protest. Duterte can expect that we will push for nothing the full enforcement of the mining closure, suspension, and agreement cancellation orders, the passage of the PMB, a pro-people disaster risk management authority and land use policy, and justice for environmental defenders through protest upon protest.#

Reference: Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 0917 562 6824

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
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