Green party asks gov’t to cancel mining, logging permits in ComVal

GREEN political party Kalikasan today challenged the national government to cancel existing mining and logging permits in Compostela Valley, stressing that 40 days have already passed since typhoon Pablo devastated many vulnerable communities in the province’s mining and logging-affected areas.

“The Aquino administration should heed the call of Compostela Valley’s communities to cancel large-scale mining and logging permits in the area for good. It should stop allowing the conversion of forests and lands into plantations, logging areas, and large-scale mines which do not benefit the majority of the province’s people and which only make these areas more vulnerable to natural hazards,” the group said in a statement.

Yesterday afternoon, over 5,000 people from the towns of Monkayo, Naburuntan, Compostela and Montevista in Compostela Valley and Baganga, Cateel and Trento in Davao Oriental set up a human barricade along the main Montevista Highway in Compostela Valley, in protest against mining and logging operations that have contributed to the massive destruction left by the typhoon. Their ranks have swelled to over 8,000 as of last night as the barricade continues.

Typhoon Pablo of 2012 is one of the deadliest typhoons to hit Mindanao in recent decades: killing thousands, affecting nearly two million people, and destroying around 14 billion pesos worth of property and infrastructure. The rapid destruction of the province’s forests and lands have contributed greatly to the devastation left by the typhoon.

Kalikasan expressed support for the grassroots communities’ struggle, stressing that the Aquino administration has failed  to curb large-scale logging and mining projects in the region. People’s organizations in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte have long condemned the entry of large-scale miners and loggers in the regions as well as the increase of military troops in areas with strong opposition to mining and logging.

The group called for justice for victims of environmental plunder and destruction, saying that the Aquino administration has not learned anything from the lesson of typhoon Sendong in 2011, which similarly killed more than a thousand people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities. In this time of increasing extreme weather events, the national government must ensure that policies and programs that pose long-term impacts on the environment and people’s welfare must be reviewed and changed. However, the administration has continued to support mining liberalization and private and foreign exploitation of natural resources.

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