Mining-Free Zone Bills Rekindles Hope for Mining-Affected Communities

PMPI Press Statement

14 August 2017

“Please understand that in our own little world, everything is
interconnected. The mountains, the trees, the waters, the land, the air
we breathe, and even the minerals underneath the grounds. If one of
these elements will disappear or will be changed, everything else
changes. Thus, however way we look at it, mining will only bring
destruction to us”, caps the short presentation of Mr. William Tudcor
who spoke in behalf of the Kankana-ey tribe of Kibungan, Benguet during
the Natural Resources Committee hearing at the House of Representatives
in support of House Bill (HB) 4387 which seeks to declare Kibungan,
Benguet as a mining-free zone.

“While this is not yet the end of our struggle , we celebrate this
victory. This gives hope to the people of Kibungan who have struggled
for more than 80 years opposing attempts of mining companies to operate
in the area. We have witnessed parts of the struggles and we can’t help
but give a sigh of relief that something is happening,” stated Ms.
Rosella Bahni, Executive Director of Igorota Foundation (IFI) and
cluster point person of the Philippine Misereor Patnership Inc. (PMPI)
Northern Luzon Cluster. IFI has been directly working and supporting the
communities in Kibungan.

Authored by Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan, the said bill passed
the third reading in the House of Representatives but failed to pass in
the Senate before the 16th Congress adjourned.

“This is good news! Our partner community in Macambol will be delighted
with this development”, stated Mr. Edgar Diares, Executive Director of
Amaya Lay – Mindanao, a member of PMPI Davao Region Cluster that
directly works with MMSAID in Macambol, Mati. He was referring to the
approval of HB 5086 which also seeks to legislate into law Davao
Oriental as a mining-free zone. The bill was authored by Davao Oriental
2nd District Representative Joey Mayo Z. Almario.

“While the ECC of Austal-asia Link Mining Company is suspended, having a
law that prohibits mining in our land will give us peace of mind. We
hope that this bill will be passed into law in this Congress,” reacted
Primo Solis, President of the Macambol Multi-Sectoral Association for
Integral Development (MMSAID) upon hearing the news on the committee’s
approval of HB 5086. MMSAID which is composed of various sectors was
organized to protect the environment from destruction especially in
Macambol, Mati City.

Last July 13, 2017, PMPI Davao Region Cluster visited Macambol, Mati in
solidarity with the communities affected by the mining operations.
During the said visit, the community shared their struggles and sought
support from the group. PMPI currently supports and works with the
community of Macambol through its member-partner Amaya Lay – Mindanao.

Ms. Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI National Coordinator who was also present
during the approval of both bills commented that, “This is indeed a step
forward for the community of Kibungan and Macambol. The determination of
the community to fight the onslaught of mining corporations on the
people and environment, is the most effective action to stop the greedy
corporations from destroying their ancestral homes and their culture.
Support from CSO’s can only be relevant and fruitful when communities
have the resolved to protect their lands and rights.”

The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) promotes environmental
protection by supporting its partner communities through its anti-mining
campaign. PMPI also supports the legislation of mining-free zones, and
seeks reform in the country’s mining regime through the passage of
Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

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For more information:

Geri Matthew Carretero
Communications Officer
Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.
E-mail: gericarretero.pmpi@gmail.com
Contact No.: +639255767426 / 09176216901

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