Open letter to Atienza: No means no!

Secretary Lito Atienza

Which part of the sentence, “NO!” do you not get?

In front of your office at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are 25 women and men, mostly Mangyan people, from Mindoro, who are on hunger strike. They are calling for the cancellation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) you have issued to the Norwegian mining company, Intex for its Mindoro Nickel Project. They are the people who will be experiencing the direct impacts of the mining operations, and they have not been consulted, not by DENR, nor by INTEX. Most probably because you and INTEX would not want to hear what they have to say. Thus, they are bringing their position to your doorstep – they don’t want INTEX, they don’t want mining in the Alangan Mangyan’s ancestral domain, not in their watershed and anywhere in Mindoro.

A 25-year moratorium on mining was passed in 2002 in Oriental Mindoro. Similar ordinances were passed by different municipal governments of Occidental Mindoro, with 8 out of 11 municipalities passing a resolution against mining.

Governors, vice-governors, mayors and congressmen repeatedly stated in strong terms, and strong voices, that they do not want mining in their provinces. They said this in various public hearings in the provinces, they repeated this in DENR last Monday as the hunger strike began, and yesterday during the dialogue with you.

The Bishops, priests and nuns have called for the respect of the peoples’ strong position against mining, and one of them, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, is one of the hunger strikers. They made this statement in the pulpits, they made this on the streets of Mindoro, they repeated this during the dialogue with you, and they are reiterating this position in the hunger strike now.

You have issued the ECC to INTEX on October 14 even without the necessary requirements from INTEX – no documentation of public consultation, no documentation proving that they are not within the watershed areas. In fact, you have issued the ECC without waiting for the recommendation of the EIA-Review Committee. And that would not be surprising now that the Review Committee report has been released, with their final recommendation – DENIAL of the ECC. One of their findings is that no public consultation with the stakeholders directly affected was held; 4 of the 6 components of the mining project have no baseline data, particularly on terrestrial flora and fauna; and that there was no proper project area delineation.

With all of these, all you have to show for is a mere suspension of the ECC for 90 days. You are in effect giving INTEX and yourself the opportunity to cover up the inherent defects of the ECC . The 25 year moratorium was not recognized in the suspension order, and most certainly not the ancestral domain of the Mangyans.

What does it have to take for you to hear the message of the people of Mindoro? The LGUs and the religious of Mindoro are now more angered by the inadequacy of the suspension order, and the deceit with which this was issued. The 25 people who are on hunger strike are now more determined to pursue their cause.

The message of the Mindoro people is loud and clear –NO to INTEX. NO to mining in their provinces. The final recommendation of the EIA Review Committee –NO ECC for INTEX.

Why can’t you take NO for an answer, Mr. Lito Atienza? For someone who has been said NO to by the Commission on Appointment for 8 times, it might be really difficult for you to understand that NO is the opposite of yes. That NO is a negative response. That NO is a NO.

So before you leave your office to run for Mayor again, clean up your mess. REVOKE THE ECC of INTEX.

In solidarity with the people of Mindoro,

Judy A. Pasimio
Executive Director
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/Friends of the Earth-Phils.)



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