‘Cancelled mining applications not enough to save Palawan’-Green group

ENVIRONMENTAL activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the cancellation of mining applications is not enough to save Palawan from environmental destruction.

“We welcome the President’s decision to cancel the mining applications. However, this action has little effect on the Palawan environment since it does not stop the destruction and degradation already being done by the mining projects that are still operating in the island. Nor will the President’s decision save the province from more destruction that will be caused by the future activities of mining projects that have been approved but not yet operating,” says Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Palawan is known as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines. It has rich flora and fauna. It is home to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which is a top nominee to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Ironically, the province hosts at least ten (10) large-scale mining projects such as the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining, Coral Bay Nickel Mining, Berong Nickel, Macroasia mining and MBMI mining projects. Total mining concessions cover around 38,149 hectares of Palawan as of July 2010. Almost all mining concession areas are considered as biodiversity rich and environmentally critical.

“Also, the earlier move by the President to cancel some 500 mining applications all over the country does not automatically protect our environment. The basis of cancelling these permits and applications is not because they are destroying the environment or violating the human rights of the communities covered in the mining claims but because these permits and applications are either incomplete and ageing or just into speculation. They were revoked to free up the proposed mining areas for new mining applications that are serious in operating, not just on speculations. This means that the moment new mining companies that intend to operate are given the go signal, more destruction will come with their operation,” says Bautista.

Meanwhile, Defend Patrimony, an alliance against foreign plunder of our natural resources, also welcomes PNoy’s statement that he will listen to Palaweno’s protests against mining. “If he can do it in Palawan, then PNoy should also lend his ears to and more importantly, heed the calls of the people in the eight (8) other provinces wherein the people have long been struggling against large scale foreign mining,” says Pia Malayao, Defend Patrimony Spokesperson.

At least (9) other provinces have active struggles against mining, these are Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Samar, Northern and Eastern Samar, Marinduque, Romblon, Capiz and in South Cotabato wherein a law on banning open pit mining signed by the provincial board is being blocked by DENR.

“Large scale foreign mining projects, including those approved but not yet functioning, all over the country should be cancelled in order to save not only Palawan but the whole country from environmental destruction and human rights violations caused by the mining operations,” Bautista said.

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