Thursday, April 06, 2006

Charter Change intended to defend anti-Filipino Mining Act

Charter Change intended to defend anti-Filipino Mining Act
By Rep. Joel Virador, Bayan Muna Party-List / MindaNews / 6 April 2006

Among the deceitful Malaca�ang agenda to amend the 1987 Constitution is to pave the way to intensified environment and economic degradation due to liberalized mining.

We firmly believe that Arroyo's charter change drive also aims to add more teeth to the already notorious 1995 Philippine Mining Act (Republic Act 7942), that the Supreme Court again affirmed last year. The decision of the high tribunal declaring the constitutionality of Section 76 of R.A. 7942 and its implementing rules and regulations was expected.

However, no amount of touted revenues and compensation can pay for the permanent damage to the environment, the displacement of indigenous communities, and the loss of lives and livelihood that will result from large-scale mining.

It is frustrating that the lessons from our people's tragic experiences with large-scale foreign mining in Boac, Marinduque, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, Rapu-rapu, Albay, Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, Surigao del Norte, and other areas are ignored by the national government. It should be noted, however, that no measures have been put in place to reverse the continuing damage to the environs and people of the said areas.

We challenge the Supreme Court justices to go to these areas and see for themselves what the local communities have lost: indigenous peoples' ancestral domain, once productive farmlands, pristine rivers, and marine ecosystems. This may help them see the anti-Filipino and anti-environment nature of RA 7942.

The full-blown implementation of a liberalized, privatized, and deregulated mining industry will come into reality once charter change has been enacted. The constitutional overhaul will allow 100% foreign-ownership of our lands and the exploitation of our natural resources. Charter change will actually further open the country to unbridled foreign exploitation and plunder

Under the current Constitution, land ownership is reserved for Filipinos so that our people should have the priority to develop our resources for the good of the country.

The proposed Constitutional amendments for liberalization will further aggravate landlessness, land-use conversion, the whole-sale exploitation of our natural resources, food insecurity, and the destruction of the environment. Filipinos will be deprived of the right to use the country's resources for their own benefit. Local industry and agriculture, which cannot compete with big multinational companies, will also be destroyed.

We will heighten opposition to the Arroyo-engineered Charter Change and continue to work for an alternative people's mining policy.

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