Filipino farmer goes on a hunger strike in Rome to protest nickel miningg project

Environmental activist Jonjon Sarmiento stages a hunger strike in Rome protesting the Norwegian nickel mine on Mindoro island. Sarmiento is in the Italian city attending a meeting to coinside with FAO's World Summit on Food Security.

PRESS RELEASE
By Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA)

ROME–On the opening of FAO’s World Summit on Food Security, Jonjon Sarmiento, a young farmer for Mindoro Island in the Philippines, and a participant to the CSO Forum Parellel to the World Summit on Food Security, will go on a hunger strike to protest the mining project to be operated by Intex Resources, a giant mining company in Norway.

The Mindoro Nickel Project is located at Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, an island in the Southern Part of the Philippines. It will cover 9,720 hectares of critical watershed areas . The project will affect the rice farmers in the nearby towns , since the watershed area is the farmers’ main source for irrigation.

From November 17 onwards, volunteer campaigners in Mindoro will hold a hunger strike and fasting at the Philippines; Department of Environment Office in Quezon City, Philippines. “

I am from this town. I am a farmer. I am a youth leader. I am here in Rome. So , I will join my townmates in their hunger strike while I am here in Rome”, Mr. Sarmiento said.

Mr. Sarmiento farms a .044 hactare land, using integrated, diversified , organic farming. In his farm, he has some plots for organic rice, vegetables and fruits. He also raises some goats and pigs. He is the Youth Organizer of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka ( PAKISAMA) or National Confederation of Peasant Movement. PAKISAMA is a member organization of Asian Farmers’ Association or AFA, one of the International Steering Committee members of the CSO Forum .

The Mindoro Nickel Project has been opposed by the people and the local authorities for the past 15 years. But last October 14, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). The ECC 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.

“Today, governments all over the world will be in Rome to discuss for the World Food Summit. We urge to FAO, and to the governments to stop all activities ,that threatens the food security of the local people of a developing country and to respect the rights of indigenous peoples. We ask the Norwegian government to investigate the operations of Intex Resources,” said Sarmiento.

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 by the government!” concluded Sarmiento.

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.

Source: Asian Farmers Association

Contact persons:

Mr. Jonjon Sarmiento labuyo28@yahoo.com
Mr. George Fernandez, george fernandez georgedixon72@yahoo.co.in
Ms. Esther Penunia, afaesther@asianfarmers.org
Fr. Edu Gariguez, edugariguez@yahoo.com, +63919 800 5595

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