Atienza’s ouster sought over ‘railroaded’ ECC for Mindoro mining

PRESS RELEASE

CALAPAN CITY – Around 5,000 Mindorenos from different sectors staged a mock funeral procession for Intex Resources and Secretary Joselito Atieza of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest against the ill-omened issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Intex Mindoro Nickel Project.

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A mock coffin bears the photo and name of Environment Secretary Lito Atienza at a protest march in downtown Calapan City on November 30 to denounce the issuance of a mining permit to Intex Resources. PHOTO BY RAYMOND PANALIGAN

Coffins marked with INTEX logo and photos of DENR Secretary Atienza, were paraded in the procession coinciding with the traditional celebration of All Souls’ Day. The event signified the grave dismay of civil society organizations including the Catholic Church together with the local government, led by Governor Arnan Panaligan, Congressman Alfonso Umali, Jr., Mayor Alfredo Ortega Jr. of Victoria, Mayor Doy Leachon of Calapan, together with the Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ang Sanggunian Bayan of Victoria, and other prominent political leaders of the province.

Priests came in their cassock bearing anti-mining placards. Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig also delivered his message during the program, challenging the people to hold on to their faith and to strengthen their ranks against those who are using money as bait to accept mining. Fr. Edu Gariguez of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) slammed DENR Secretary Atienza because he railroaded the issuance of ECC on October 14, 2009 during the massive flooding incidents, which recently happened in Marikina, Antipolo, Rizal and Northern Luzon. These calamities should have prompted Secretary Atienza to think twice before granting the ECC to INTEX considering that Mindoro is an Island Province, with very fragile ecosystems.”

“The ECC gave the green light to Intex Resources to proceed with the implementation of the mining operations in the municipalities of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro despite the lack of ‘social license’ from the local governments”, added Gariguez.

“Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Resolution No. 719-2009, dated October 26, 2009, denounced in clear terms the issuance of ECC by the DENR to Intex Resources, for it directly violates the Provincial Ordinance imposing a 25-year moratorium in the province of Oriental Mindoro, and the ECC was issued in complete disregard of the opposition of most numbers of local government units, the church and the civil society groups, both in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro”, said Gariguez.

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Students join the mock funeral staged in downtown Calapan City to stop the Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources. PHOTO BY RAYMOND PANALIGAN

According to Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera, the issuance of ECC is deemed highly irregular and patently questionable because according the SP Resolution: “the approval and issuance of the ECC is premature and short of procedural and substantial requirements particularly on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, considering that the Review Committee has not come up with its recommendation when Secretary Atienza issued the ECC.”

“Secretary Atienza shoud be ousted for his dreadful acts! It is horrific and ironic for a DENR secretary to consistently favor big mining companies over the conservation and preservation of environment, which provides benefits the Filipino people more rather than mining,” exclaimed Garganera.

The ECC granted allows for the extraction of nickel ore covering 11, 216 hectares of mining tenement, a big part of which is identified as critical watershed catchment of Mag-asawang Tubig and Bucayao River systems, as affirmed by the recently concluded Norwegian Agency Development Corporation (NORAD) study. House Resolution No. 25 states that the mining site encroaches on the largest source of irrigation water for the 40,000 hectares of rice lands in Calapan City, and the towns of Naujan, Baco and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.

“The province of Oriental Mindoro, which is ranked third as the province that produces the most food in the country, and known as the food basket of the southern Luzon region is threatened by Intex Resources’ attempt to open up a nickel mine despite local opposition. The proposed mine site is located within a critical watershed area that provides the irrigation for 70% of the provinces vital rice fields and fruit plantations. Thus, the INTEX ECC should be revoked!” concluded Garganera.

In Occidental Mindoro, the Municipality of Sablayan is one of the major rice- and corn-producing areas in the province and any major mining operations would greatly affect the agriculture production and endanger social economic conditions in the area. Sablayan’s 22 barangays and its Sangguniang Bayan are opposed to mining operations expressed through their respective resolutions and through a municipal mining moratorium ordinance.

For more information:
Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, ALAMIN, (0919) 8005595, edugariguez@gmail.com
Jaybee Garganera, ATM Coordinator, (0915) 315.3719
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937

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