On September 16-17, 2009, at Capitol Square, Calapan City, local government officials and civic society organizations of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro convened for the LGU-CSO (Civil Society Organizations) Forum on Mining Moratorium.
Themed “Isang Mindoro, Isang Paninindigan: Tutulan ang Minahan”, the forum tried to come up with a joint campaign plan to stop the mining operation of Intex Resources and other mining applications by way of enforcing the moratorium ordinances and by advocating for the rights of the stakeholder-communities for healthy environment, food security, and for indigenous Mangyan communities, their right for their ancestral domain. Resource speakers from Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center and PANLIPI were invited to present legal options for the consideration of the two provinces.
The event was hosted by the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro, with Governor Arnan C. Panaligan leading the Oriental Mindoro participants. Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Occidental Mindoro also came together with the majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and other LGU representatives. Both the Apostolic Vicariates of Calapan and San Jose were represented by the parish priests of the mining-affected communities. Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig gave the opening remarks.
Reproduced below is the position paper adopted by the participants of the conference:
WE, the Chief Executives and officials of the local government units, together with the coalitions of Civil Society Organizations, Churches, Indigenous Peoples Federations, Civic and Environmentalist Groups, Peoples’ and Sectoral Organizations and Non-Government Organizations both in Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro, manifest our vehement objection to the resolute attempts of INTEX RESOURCES to proceed with the operational phase of the mining project, despite our long-standing opposition.
Mindoro is a fragile island ecosystem. The rate of degradation of the forest in the island is alarming. From the 967,400 hectares of forest in the 1950s, the remaining forest cover of Mindoro at present is only about 50,000 hectares. The significant forest loss of 95% contributed to the instability of the environment both in the upland and lowland areas.
But instead of restoring the balance, the forest ecosystems are now even more in danger of being denuded due to the threats posed by more than 92 mining applications all over the island of Mindoro.
The people’s unified stand against the Mindoro Nickel Project and our opposition to the entry of any mining operation in the province were already clearly articulated in the Mining Moratorium Ordinance of Oriental Mindoro and in Resolutions passed by the Municipal Sanggunians of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro.
Since the economic thrusts of the Mindoro island is anchored on food sustainability, eco-tourism and the development of the agri-industry, the entry of mining operations is found to be detrimental to the sustainable development agenda of our island province.
In July of 2001 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, under the newly-installed government of Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, revoked the mining concession on environmental and social impact grounds.
Then DENR Secretary Alvarez explained his decision and that of President Arroyo as being based on the need to protect critical watersheds, to protect the food security of the Mindorenos (local communities), and to respect the social unacceptability of the project. “The Mindoro Nickel Project is one case where sustainability is bound to fail . . . President Arroyo is fully aware of the situation . . . what does it gain the nation to be short sighted and merely think of money, when an irreparable damage to the environment will cost human lives, health and livelihood capacity of our farmers and fisherfolks endangering the food security of our people.”
In the light of the foregoing and of many other issues and socio-environmental threats of mining, the Mindoro Nickel Project had been rejected overwhelmingly by the people of Mindoro and even by all the local government units.
Signed this 16th day of September 2009, at Calapan City, during the MINDORO LGU-CSO CONFERENCE ON MINING MORATORIUM, held at Provincial Capitol Square, Calapan City.