MANILA, May 16, 2009─In a display of solidarity with local government officials, environmentalists and clergy joined hands and led thousands of rallyists from Oriental and Occidental Mindoro against a mining company on March 14.
A public hearing on the proposed mining project of Intex Resources Philippines, Inc. was aborted Thursday in Pola, Oriental Mindoro when thousands of people showed up to protest.
Police estimated a caravan of about 200 vehicles and 7,000 people in attendance.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Oriental Mindoro’s Mangyan Mission assailed Intex Resources for pushing with the mining project despite a provincial ordinance disallowing mining activities in the province for 25 years.
“The corporate irresponsibility of Intex Resources is clearly obvious. They wanted to push their project with our fragile forest ecosystem, our critical watershed, and ancestral domain of the Mangyan indigenous peoples despite the strong opposition of the people,” Gariguez said.
Local officials led by Vice Governor Estela Aceron, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Lorebelle Tanyag, and Mayors Alfredo Ortega of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, and Godofredo Mintu of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, served a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) implementing the mining moratorium of the province.
“We are ready to go at all cause to implement and enforce our moratorium ordinance against mining,” said Vice-Governor Aceron.
Both Mindoro provinces have ordinances that ban large-scale mining operations in the island.
Meanwhile, anti-mining advocates praised the strong solidarity and sense of community of the people from Oriental and Occidental Mindoro in their opposition to the mining project.
“Today, 7,000 strong Mindorenos erased the line that separates Oriental and Occidental Mindoro as they displayed solidarity and a strong sense of community against Intex Resources’ almost ten years of attempts to sway local communities in their favor,” Jaybee Garganera, Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, an anti-mining advocacy group, said in a statement.
He praised the courage of the local officials in asserting their local autonomy and in protecting the ‘general welfare’ of the people.
“With the poor track record of large-scale mining companies in the country and a weak national policy on environmental and social safeguards, we need the initiatives of local government and communities to come together and fight against a highly centralized government and flawed national policy on mining that retards efforts to attain sustainable development,” Garganera said.
Opposition to the project of Intex Resources is led by the multi-sectoral movement called Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) and the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan together with other national and international anti-mining advocates. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)