to Secretary Mike Defensor of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR)
occasion of the Mining and Safety Week 2004 Celebration
On this occasion of Mining and Safety Week celebration
of the government and the mining industry, we cannot be celebrating
with you, as mine workers remain unsafe in their workplace, and
mining -affected communities continue to suffer from the adverse
impacts of mining operations here in the Cordillera and other parts
of the country. Time and again, we’ve raised our voice in
protest over the destruction of our land and water bodies due to
large scale mining operation. Time and again, we urged the government
to decisively address these issues as a matter of public accountability,
recognition of the rights of indigenous communities and for the
protection of the environment.
Yet our calls and legitimate demands have fallen on deaf ears.
Till today, communities around the Agno river and the Abra river
continue to suffer from serious pollution caused by past and present
corporate mining operations. Till today, mined-out areas remain
un-rehabilitate for the use of former communities and land owners.
Till today, avoidable accidents and injuries of mine workers continue
to happen. Till today, we indigenous peoples continue to be denied
of our rights over our land and resources.
Inspite of the serious impacts of large scale mining, you have
expressed your commitment to aggressively implement the Mineral
Action Plan (MPA) for what you claim to be for responsible and sustainable
mining. For us, this is a mere lip service and devoid of substance.
The Mining Action Plan provides for the further weakening of legal
procedures and mechanisms on environmental protection and democratic
space for local government units and affected communities. Clearly,
the MPA was designed based on the demands of mining companies for
their unhampered and smooth operation, using additional foreign
investment as a bait. The MPA signals a renewed effort of the government
for the complete sell-out of the people mineral resources, sacrificing
the rights and welfare of affected communities, and the protection
of the environment in the process.
Mr. Secretary, we disagree with your position that massive corporate
mining is a key solution to the financial crisis. The financial
crisis was brought about by the government’s dependence on
foreign debt and investment, on massive corruption and a distorted
development framework which worsened the condition of the already
impoverished majority of our people. Thus, the solution to this
crisis should address comprehensively its root causes, and not by
selling out our remaining resources to foreign investors.
Mr. Secretary, we urge you instead to address the past and present
destruction caused by corporate mining operations, ensure the recognition
of the democratic rights of affected communities and mine workers,
and ensure strict implementation of environmental protection mechanisms
which should include mandatory and direct accountability of mining
companies over adverse impacts of their operations.
Sir, OUR RESOURCES IS NOT FOR SALE! We shall defend it with all
our might and power as a people! We challenge you to act on our
demands as a public official, whose primary responsibility is to
serve the people and not corporate greed and the interest of a few.
Until then, any celebration of Mining and Safety Week is mere public
image building for the discredited mining industry.
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE