Thursday, March 16, 2006

Davao leaders demand mining deals dismissal

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Davao leaders demand mining deals dismissal

LEADERS in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental reportedly filed demand letters addressed to Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes for the cancellation of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement.

The agreement is covering the areas within the territory of the municipalities of Mati, Governor Generoso, and San Isidro all in Davao Oriental.

Meanwhile, the leaders who filed the demand letter were from the different local communities, non-government organizations, and people's organizations in Governor Generoso.

Lawyer Ana Rhia T. Muhi, on behalf of the affected communities, said the opposition is based on the alleged unconstitutionality of the agreements.

This stemmed from the overlapping of the contract areas and protected areas, unfair government share, and excess in 50-year tenure -- all in favor of the large-scale mining corporations.

Muhi said these do not include the non-consent of the concerned Local Government Units (LGUs) and non-compliance of technical requirements on the part of the mining companies.

"Laws are made for the interest of the public, especially of the poor majority. And this should be construed strictly as such and not in favor of the allegedly foreign-sponsored corporations whose concern is nothing but profit, immaterial of the social and environmental damages that they will bring about," said Muhi.

Muhi said the crusade of the affected communities is to prevent calamitous environmental effects posed by mining especially so that the agreement covers Pujada Bay Protected Seascape and the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary.

The petitioners said that although mining in the area is still on its exploration stage, locals reported cutting of trees and ground drilling activities, which cause decreased supply of water in the springs in the area.

"People have to go to higher ground to get a sufficient supply of potable water. This is its effect, since we have experienced this only after their operation have started," said lumad leader and one of the petitioners Datu Rogelio Billote.

Mayor Jerry de la Cerna of Governor Generoso reportedly joined the petitioners not only to represent the sentiment of his constituents against large-scale mining but also to assert the power of the LGU over the entry of any mining corporation in their municipality.

To date, the Municipalities of Governor Generoso and San Isidro have passed resolutions opposing any large-scale mining companies to operate within their jurisdiction.

Under the Local Government Code, mining companies should secure the consent of the LGU concerned before they could operate.

Sun.Star Davao tried getting confirmation from dela Cerna but to no avail.

The mining corporations with agreement, purportedly financed through Asiaticus Management Corporation by BHP Billiton, are Hopewell Mining Corp., P.L. Goldman Mining and Dev't Corp., Blue Ridge Minerals and Dev't Corp., St. Patrick Mining and Development Corporation, Galactica Mining & Development Corp., Mt. Peak Mining & Develeopment Corp., Oregon Mining & Development Corp. (BOT with Press release)

(March 15, 2006 issue)

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