Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Appeal for Help: Please Support the "No to Mining in Palawan!" Movement

It's been years since I started advocating for the environment and I am not stopping. I want future generations to benefit from, and enjoy, everything Mother Nature has to offer. Unfortunately, this will not happen if we let certain people and companies continue to destroy our natural resources for the profit of few.

Last week, I attended a press conference hosted by the ABS-CBN Foundation to listen to what nine indigenous people from Brooke's Point Palawan had to say. Their mission is fully supported by ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) Indigenous Network, a Philippines-based advocacy campaign network of Indigenous peoples defending their ancestral land and resources from mining corporations, oil palm companies, top-down conservation schemes and all forms of imposed development.

The indigenous leaders' goal is express a direct response to a disturbing event that happened recently which involved about 30 so-called tribal leaders who came to Manila to show support for MacroAsia Corporation (MAC). According to ALDAW, the self-professed tribal chieftains acted despite opposite views from the majority of the Indigenous Peoples of Brooke's Point Municipality in Palawan. In addition, the chieftains have been appointed by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to favor MAC, which is owned by Lucio Tan, and other mining companies.

Honestly, I was personally dismayed to find that the 30 fake katutubo signed a MOA with NCIP signifying their agreement to start mining in Mount Mantalingahan, one of Palawan's 33 watersheds that has lush forests and pristine rivers.To think that majority of them don't even live in or near the place! According to one of the speakers, only two of the 30 actually live in Brooke's Point and they are just migrants!

The TRUE indigenous representatives want to bring their voices and grievances to the attention of NCIP and counterbalance the fabricated testimonies of the fake tribal chieftains. To get more detailed information on the mission, please read the two web-international releases by Intercontinental Cry and Rainforest Rescue.

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa ng Tigil Mina (ATM) said that mining only contributes 1.5% to the Philippine economy. I'd bet that this is because the majority of profits from the said industry goes to the pocket of millionaires and their companies that finance mining operations. It was heartening to see Congressman Dan Fernandez, Chairman of the Committee on Ecology, at the press con who expressed support to the Save Palawan Movement. I hope Congress could really do something about this.

Ms. Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN, explained that, "Whether the mining operation is small or large-scale, you just need one accident and it's already a major disaster." She then showed us photos and videos of other mining operations all over the Philippines which have already destroyed the once-beautiful surroundings near them. "Brookespoint is still maganda, kaya pang tulungan!" she passionately appealed.

Based on official information, between June 15 and 17, the NCIP will meet to decide on the issuance or non-issuance of the Certificate of Precondition to MacroAsia Corporation. If the endorsement pushes through, MAC will be able to proceed towards the next step which is getting the Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).

There is not much time left to influence NCIP. So please help save Palawan by signing the petition online at http://www.no2mininginpalawan.com/. For inquiries and support, send e-mail to signatures@no2mininginpalawan.com or fax to: 632-4152227.

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