Thursday, February 16, 2012

Country’s 1st anti-mining monument erected in Romblon

TABLAS, Romblon, Feb. 15, 2012—Anti-mining advocates witnessed on Tuesday the unveiling of a Memorial in Romblon commemorating the biggest protest held in the province against mining by the Church, local officials and residents.

A first in the country, the anti-mining monument is a reminder of the people’s struggle against the entry of large scale mining firms in Romblon.
Romblon Governor Eduardo C. Firmalo said the province will not allow any mining activities to destroy the environment and bring suffering to the people, stressing that local government units have the autonomy to defend the general welfare of the population.
"Today we commemorate the unity of our people to uphold the dignity of life and environment. As a person and public servant, I continue to adhere to the principles of genuine sustainable development, which will not sacrifice the capacity of future Romblonanons to survive,” he said.
“Metallic mining has no room in the province, and to follow the priority industries of President Noynoy Aquino: we should focus on agriculture, tourism and infrastructure," he added.
Firmalo expressed hope the Aquino government will respect the autonomy of local government units “to defend the health, security and future of the general welfare” of its constituents.
“We hope that the proposed mining policy reform order of President Aquino will uphold the decision of my constituents, recognize and further respect the mandate of the local government officials to defend the health, security and future of the general welfare.” Firmalo said.
For his part, Msgr. Nonato Ernie V. Fetalino, administrator of the Diocese of Romblon and adviser of Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM) explained that safeguarding the integrity of the creation requires a lifetime commitment.
"For nine months we have united all our voices and efforts but it is a lifetime commitment to defend the integrity of creation,” he said.
The priest stressed that it is everyone’s “spiritual duty to defend the dignity of life.”
“We look at our environment as significant source of life and we are called to maintain the balance of ecosystem, we are stewards and we are not called to abuse it,” he furthered.
Aglipayan Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer, who chairs REFAM, called for the scrapping of Mining Act of 1995 saying that the law has become the source of division among communities and cause of environmental destruction.
“We cannot permit this to happen in the province,” he said. “We call for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and urgent enactment of the consolidated alternative mining bills pending in the House of Representatives."
Meanwhile, Representative Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona is pushing for the enactment of House Bill 4815 that seeks to declare Romblon as a mining no-go zone, stressing that the people will not allow mining in the province.
“This [is the] biggest legacy we can leave for the province—to make our province a better place to live in with a balance and healthful ecology. We hope the House Bill 4815 will soon be passed as a law,” said Madrona.
The province’s anti-mining struggle began in 2006 when 8,000 people held a protest against mining in Sibuyan that led to the killing of activist Armin Marin a year later, by an employee of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation.
In 2011, more than 12,000 people protested against Ivanhoe Philippines’ application to explore about 14,000 hectares of land in the island.
The mining company, which is wholly-owned by Ivanhoe Canada, withdrew the application in September 30 that same year due to strong opposition from the local government and the people. (CBCPNews)


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