MANILA – Dozens of people rallied on Friday in Pasig City, east of the capital, to denounce mining operations in the Philippines and to express support for the President’s bid to shut down mines.
Organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), protesters marched through downtown Pasig City while carrying banners, placards and chanting slogans, an epa journalist reported.
Included in the group were villagers from areas affected environmentally by mining operations, as well as Igorot – or Ifugao – tribespeople from the mountainous northern region of Luzon island who were wearing simple traditional clothing.
Their banners carried messages slamming industrial mining, such as “Stop large scale mining” and others like “Peoples mining bill isabatas (enact)” that backed Rodrigo Duterte’s mine shutdown plan.
Members of the group also held prayers and conducted a war dance as they chanted criticisms of the environmental and health effects of mining.
“The people suffer from the destruction of our environment, from the pillaging of our lands and the plunder of our mineral resources,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan PNE.
“For every 10 pesos worth of minerals that are extracted from our lands, only 1 peso returns to our economy and the people suffer landlessness, they suffer health problems and they suffer a devastated environment (sic),” Dulce added.
Before wrapping up their march, the protesters used duct tape to hang up a sign on the wall of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) that read “Chamber of Mines of the Philippines is hereby ordered closed in violation of the people’s rights to land, life and healthful environment.”
In a statement on the group’s Facebook page, Kalikasan PNE denounced the COMP and the liberalization policy of the Mining Act of 1995 which “resulted to (sic) the plunder of 93.4 percent of the total mineral wealth extracted from our lands.”
The statement goes on to support the decision of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez – announced early last month – to close down numerous mines and cancel mining contracts.