Hunger strikers from Mindoro expressed their anxiety over their physical conditions as they enter the sixth day of their hunger strike in front of the DENR here in Quezon City. This developed as one of them, Edgardo Cruzado, 38, was rushed to the hospital last night, and after medical attention, was ordered by doctors to take a light meal of bread.
Librada Isidro, community facilitator from Mangyan Mission and one of the leaders of the hunger strike, echoed the sentiments of the hunger strikers. “Nag-aalala kami at nalulungkot sa nangyari sa aming kasamahan. Nahilo siya at nanghina at umabot siya sa ganitong sitwasyon dahil patuloy na di kami pinapakinggan ni Sec. Atienza.” (We are worried and sad with what happened to one of us. He felt dizzy and weak, since we have reached this point, because Sec. Atienza still refuses to listen to us.)
She confirmed that growing anxiety of the hunger strikers, saying that “kami po ay lubhang nangangamba sa maaaring mangyari sa Pilipinas, lalo na sa isla ng Mindoro, dahil sa kagustuhan niyang magpatuloy ang pag-mimina. Hindi man lang naiisip ni Sec. Atienza ang mga sakripisyo at paghihirap ng mga tao dito sa hunger strike.” (We are fearful of what may happen to the Philippines and to the island of MIndoro, because of his consent for mining to continue. It didn’t occur to Sec. Atienza what our sacrifices and hardships mean with this hunger strike.)
Isidro echoed their call for Atienza, saying “sana po, ang gagawin sa kalikasan ay pangalagaan at proteksyonan, at alagaan ang mga Mangyang nakatira sa Mindoro. Pero bilang namumuno sa DENR, ay hindi naaangkop ang kanyang pananaw at gawain sa pagpapaunlad ng kalikasan” (We hope that he will protect and conserve the environment, and also look over the welfare of the Mangyans. But as DENR head, he has displayed inappropriate views and behavior for environmental management.)
In a radio interview Saturday afternoon, Atienza said that he can’t do anything about the hunger strike, and called on the group to break their camp, so that discussions can move forward including an investigation of the case so that accountabilities can be determined. He also hinted that legal actions against the appropriate people or agencies could be possible.
Segundo Kalignayan, 46, another hunger striker, admitted that they were hurting both physically and emotionally with the hisptalization of their colleague. “Masakit sa amin na ang isa naming kasamahan ay naospital, dahil kailangan naming ipagpatuloy ang aming hunger strike” (It pains me that one of us ws hospitalized, because we are forced to continue with our hunger strike.) Kalignayan is President of Samahang Nagkakaisang Mangyang Alangan (SANAMA, Inc.). He appealed to Atienza to take a closer look at their plight saying “Maawa namam po kayo sa mga katutubo, pato na rin sa lahat ng mga taga-Mindoro. Naniniwala kami na hindi akma ang pagmimina sa inyong mga lupain” (Please have mercy on our indigenous friends, and all the people of Mindoro. We all believe that mining is not good for us and for our lands).
Meanwhile, farmer-leader Nick Tumaca, 49, expressed mixed feelings with their situation. “Hindi lang lungkot pati awa sa laki ng sakripisyo na ginagawa ng mga strikers. Talagang natatakot din ako dahil lumalapit kami sa punto na baka may mamatay sa amin.” (Not only distressed, I also feel pitiful for all of us hunger strikers. I am also starting to be afraid as we are nearing that point where someone from us might die), he added. He is concerned that it is possible that their numbers may dwindle in the coming days, and that their strength physically and emotionally will continue to decline. He demanded from Atienza to sincerely talk with them and listen to their demands, and to stop punishing the hunger-strikers by delaying the cancellation of the ECC of Intex. Tumaca is a rice-farmer in Oriental Oriental Mindoro. He is the Chairman of Samahang Lakas ng mga Mangignisda at Magsasak sa Lalawigan ng Silangan Mindoro (SALAKMMA).
Supporters of the hunger strike challenged Atienza to leave up to his claims of being a “pro-life” leader. Jonjon Sarmiento from ALAMIN said that the treat of death faces each and everyone of the hunger strikers, and that Atienza must act decisively on the ECC cancellation as soon as possible. Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) was established in 1999 to consolidate opposition to the Mindoro Nickel Project. The alliance has conducted numerous local and national mobilizations and International campaigns were also done in Europe.
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)
For more information:
Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, ALAMIN, (0919) 8005595, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://earthjedi.blogspot.com/
Jeff Rafa, ALAMIN (0918) 9443561 / Jaybee Garganera, ATM Coordinator, (0915) 315.37.19
Jonjon Sarmiento, ALAMIN (0926) 230.32.05
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937