09 March 2017
Foreign mining interests pull strings behind opponents of Lopez' confirmation as DENR Secretary
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said foreign large-scale miners are “pulling the strings” behind the long line of opposition to the confirmation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez during the recent Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing last March 8.
“The most vocal critics opposing the confirmation of Sec. Gina Lopez are puppets of foreign big mining interests determined to sabotage the historic DENR mine closure and suspension order. Greed is the name of the game as politicos in the Commission on Appointments and other objectors invited to speak have grown fat from the P1.59 trillion the industry has plundered from our mineralized lands over the past 22 years,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“It is disgusting to see politicians looking for the smallest of loopholes in the country’s pro-plunder Mining Act in a bid to justify the status quo of the foreign-dominated mining industry. They should recuse themselves in deliberating the DENR position for their conflicting vested interests. They shamelessly ignore all the clear cases of environmental destruction, community displacement, human rights violations, and economic pillage involving mining plunderers that warrant the people's clamor against big mines heeded by Sec. Lopez,” Dulce furthered.
Citing the Mines and Geoscience Bureau’s data, Kalikasan PNE pointed out that mining companies plundered P1.59 trillion out of the P1.70 trillion total mineral production value generated from 1997 to 2015, exporting some 93.4 percent of the entire mineral wealth extracted in the said time period.
On the other hand, only 11.75 percent of the total production value and only 21 percent of the value added translated into benefits for the country through taxes, royalties and fees.
The environment group noted how mining company Nickel Asia, associated with Rep. Ronnie Zamora who is the CA chair of the House of Representatives, is “a sterling example of a local mining comprador that wholesaled our minerals to foreign minerals markets while leaving our lands and environment devastated and heavily militarized.”
Nickel Asia, which serves as a local comprador or middle-man for transnational mining corporation Sumitomo of Japan, has a mining operation that was part of the 28 large-scale mining projects ordered shut down or suspended by the DENR after the regulatory agency conducted an industry-wide audit.
Its mining project in the region of CARAGA, despite questionably passing the audit, is reviled for the paramilitary groups that terrorize anti-mining communities in the provinces. Nickel Asia is publicly known to have funded Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) paramilitary groups to beef up its mine site’s security.
Kalikasan PNE added that Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, also a CA member, received millions of pesos in contributions from mining magnates during the 2016 national elections when he ran for the vice presidency.
The group further pointed out that Dr. Carlo Arcilla, a geologist who has continued to raise criticism after criticism of Sec. Lopez, is a mining consultant in the payroll of mining companies Marcventures and Century Peak Metals, among others, which are also among the closed or suspended mines for various violations of regulations.
“The Duterte administration should throw the gauntlet down on these greedy pigs and uphold the confirmation of Sec. Lopez and her mine closure and suspension orders. We should continue on this path of holding big mines accountable after enjoying full impunity against people's rights, environment, and aspirations for genuine development over the past two decades,” ended Dulce