Mindoro hunger strikers appeal to Pacquiao: Help us knockout Intex

Hunger strikers hold placards urging Manny Pacquiao to help them in their fight against Intex Resource's nickel mine project in Mindoro. Fresh from a new Vegas win, the Philippine boxing icon began his victory parade at the DENR office where his close ally, Lito Atienza, is the head. Photo by Roslyn Arayata

PRESS RELEASE

“Pacman, help us stop mining in Mindoro!”

In the midst of Manny Pacquiao’s victory and grand motorcade from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office in Quezon City, 25 hunger strikers have called on the “People’s Champ” to support their fight against mining.

The hunger strikers are members of indigenous tribes, priests and residents of Mindoro island. They have been staging a hunger strike in front of DENR office since November 17 to dramatize their opposition to the proposed Mindoro Nickel Project of Norwegian company Intex Resources and call for the revocation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza on October 14.

“The strength and determination of Manny Pacquiao to win his games is the same strength and determination we, Mangyans have in our struggle against mining,” Librada Isidro, a Mangyan woman leader and one of the 25 hunger strikers, said. “We draw the same strength from him.”

Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao greets the Mindoreños who are on a hunger strike in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office to protest the Mindoro nickel project. The ‘People’s Champ’ began his victory parade at the DENR office where his close ally, Lito Atienza, is the head. Photo by Roslyn Arayata

Atienza is a close ally of Pacquiao.

The hunger strikers, along with the support groups are dismayed with the order issued by Atienza after local officials, the church and civil society groups held a dialog with him on November 18. Atienza ordered a 90-day suspension of the implementation of the ECC as opposed to the revocation call of the hunger strikers.

Nick Tumaca, a farmer-leader of Mindoro said the project would affect the agricultural output of the province which is considered as the fourth largest rice producing area in the Philippines with P12 billion worth of agricultural income. “It would destroy our agricultural lands from which a large number of our people depend.”

The mining project also threatens to displace 20,000 indigenous peoples from their ancestral domains and threaten the island’s biodiversity.

Fr. Edu Gariguez of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN), a Mindoro-based anti-mining coalition, reiterates their call that mining is not welcome in Mindoro. “The DENR should respect the people’s call that we do not want any mining project in our province.”

Oriental Mindoro issued a 25-year mining moratorium ordinance in 2002 banning the entry of large-scale mines in the province, while five municipalities of Occidental Mindoro have passed mining moratorium ordinances.

Meanwhile, the national anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)  expressed continued support for the fight of the Mindoreños.

“The hunger strike is valid and ATM supports this move as we believe that the issuance of the ECC was ‘irregular’ and violated the mining moratoriums on Mindoro island,” Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator said.

For more information:

Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, ALAMIN, (0919) 8005595, edugariguez@gmail.com, http://earthjedi.blogspot.com/
Jeff Rafa, ALAMIN (0918) 9443561
Jaybee Garganera, ATM Coordinator, (0915) 315.37.19/
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937

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