First Posted 20:52:00 11/18/2009
MANILA, Philippines—The 25 hunger strikers from Mindoro are not going home just yet.
This despite the order made by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza Wednesday suspending the environmental clearance he issued to Intex Resources to mine 11,216.6 hectares of land in Mindoro, the Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN, Alliance Against Mining) said.
Some critical agreements made during the dialogue with Atienza were not contained in the order the former Manila mayor issued after meeting with protesters, the alliance told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
For this reason, the hunger strike of 25 Mindoreños, mostly Mangyans, will continue, the alliance said.
Oriental Mindoro Vice Governor Estela Aceron said the local governments of Mindoro were stressing their opposition to large scale mining on the island.
“We are reiterating our position that mining is not welcome in Mindoro. We expect Secretary Atienza to respect this,” Aceron said.
Oriental Mindoro has passed a 25-year mining moratorium ordinance in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in the province. In Occidental Mindoro, similar mining moratorium ordinances were passed by the municipal governments of Sablayan, Abra de Ilog, Paluan, Looc and Lubang. Eight out of 11 municipalities in Occidental Mindoro passed a resolution against the mining project.
Aceron, who was with the group that met with Atienza Wednesday afternoon, said the environment chief was in effect admitting he issued the environmental compliance certificate to Intex although the Norwegian firm has yet to comply with all the requirements needed before the mining clearance could be issued.
“I’m disappointed that Secretary Atienza issued the ECC on October 14 even without the required documents at hand,” she said.
She said that during the dialogue Atienza expressed his dismay on learning that there was no prior consultation made with the local governments and the affected communities.
Aceron said that Atienza even agreed that a committee be formed—composed of environment officials and local government executives—to look into the issues raised during the dialogue.
But this is never contained in the order Atienza released later, she said.
“We are really disappointed with his order of suspension. We understand that he is resigning before filing his certificate of candidacy so we want an answer before he leaves the office,” she said.
Atienza has hinted at his comeback bid in Manila politics where he served as mayor from 1998 to 2007.
Local officials on the island of Mindoro had opposed the project saying their sentiments had been disregarded and the issuance of the ECC was “irregular” and violated a moratorium on mining on the island.
They also said it would displace around 20,000 members of indigenous tribes, affect the agricultural output and food security of the island and threaten conservation areas of the Philippine Tamaraw and tourist spots like the popular Puerto Galera beach.
Twenty-five members of indigenous tribes, priests and residents of the island started a hunger strike Tuesday to dramatize their opposition to the project. With Alcuin Papa, Philippine Daily Inquirer