HUNGER STRIKER RUSHED TO HOSPITAL, GR0UPS DENOUNCE ATIENZA’S CONTINUING INACTION ON CANCELLATION OF INTEX ECC IN MINDORO
One of the twenty-six Mindorenos who went on a hunger strike last week in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City had been rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center, at around 8 p.m. Saturday, after suffering locked jaws and cold sweats.
Edgardo Cruzado, 38, community leader from Kapulungan Para sa Lupaing NInuno – KPLN (Organization of Seven Tribes), was brought to East Avenue Medical Center at 9 p.m., Saturday where he was examined, given dextrose and was placed under observation. He was discharged at 4:30 a.m. Sunday and joined the camp again. He remains with the group, despite the medical order to stop his hunger strike. KPLN is organization of Mangyan communities from Oriental Mindoro
Cruzado is a widower with five children. His main livelihood is farming in Oriental Mindoro, and is a member of the Tadyawan tribe that holds an ancestral domain land certificate (CADC-086) in the mining-affected area.
The Mindorenos decided to go continue their hunger strike after DENR Sec. Atienza merely issued a letter to mining company Intex Resources Philippines, informing them that their ECC Is suspended for 90 days, pending submission of additional documents.
Atienza issued the suspension letter canceling the ECC after a dialogue last Nov. 18 with local government officials and civil society organizations from the two Mindoro provinces. The delegation was led by two governors, two bishops and a host of community leaders representing indigenous peoples, farmers and women from Mindoro
“We decided to rush him to the hospital after he complained of dizziness”, said Jonjon Sarmiento of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN), the broad alliance anti-mining groups in Mindoro. He added that they got worried after Cruzado’s face felt very cold.
“We will hold Secretary Atienza personally responsible for whatever happens to the hunger strikers. He is using the sham suspension letter as an excuse not to cancel the ECC. He is again raising the issue of local autonomy, and the responsibility of local officials and communities to oppose the mining in their localities. He has missed the fact that all legal and extra-legal measures have been exhausted by the Mindorenos to oppose the entry of Intex, and yet he still signed the ECC, even under questionable circumstances. The real issue here now is whether or not Atienza wants to uphold the law,” said Mangyan Mission Coordinator Fr. Edu Gariguez.
He said that the ECC was signed by Atienza despite the absence of consultations among communities, and the lack of permission of LGUs as stated under the Mining Act and the Local Government Code.
“The local governments and the people have withdrawn their consent and launched mobilizations against Intex, but these have been disregarded, both the mining company and the DENR”, Gariguez added.
Alyansa TIgil Mina (ATM) condemned the continuing callousness of Atienza and DENR officials on their inaction on the demand of the hungers strikers, saying that there seems to be a lack of genuine leadership and commitment to resolve the matter, as the election mode grips the department.
ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera also denounced Atienza’s insensitivity, saying the DENR secretary continues to ignore the Mindorenos despite their hunger strike.
“He had only met the group once, and only after being pressured with the presence of high-level personalities such as the governors, congressional representatives and bishops from Mindoro. He had never tried to face the group but had all the time and energy to host Manny Pacquiao in his triumphant return,” said Garganera.
“We, in ATM, strongly support the fight of the Mindoreños against Intex Resources and we intend to continue providing all forms of assistance to these communities and groups that have strongly aired their resistance and decisions to stop the entry of mining operations that continuously threatens environmental sustainability and most especially lives of Filipino people," concluded Garganera.
Father Robert Reyes, known as the “running priest,” continued his solidarity fasting for the group and gave out rosaries to the hunger strikers yesterday. He called on Atienza to heed the hunger strikers’ just demand. During the reflection session with the hunger strikers, he said “If anything happens to these people, the mining companies and DENR Secretary Atienza will have blood in their hands. This is not simply about land anymore, but about justice and sharing what God had given to us. Sustainable development and genuine local autonomy, if it will succeed in this case of resistance of local people against mining, will mean peace, justice and no more lying without end. Respect the decision of these indigenous peoples and the LGUs of MIndoro, Mr. Atienza.”
The group in hunger strike, together with the local government officials of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Catholic Church leaders, civil society organizations and individuals from the communities affected the project calls for the immediate revocation of INTEX ECC and demand the DENR to respect the LGUs’ mining moratorium in their respective provinces.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group and a people’s movement that upholds the rights of the present and future Filipinos against the persisting injustices related to mining. ATM is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and PhilDHRRA. —(30)