March 3, 2023

Green groups hold climate strike to protest ‘Marcos mining plunder’

3 March 2023, Quezon City  –Environmental groups held a mobilization in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on March 3 to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and protest against its continued implementation in the country.

According to the protesters, for 28 years the country’s mining policy has “worsened climate change” and “caused severe pollution and other negative impacts to communities that host mining operations.”

“The Philippine Mining Act has caused significant and irreversible damage to the environment and contributed immensely to climate change through both the direct release of greenhouse gases and the destruction of carbon sinks and habitats,” said Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The group also pointed out that it was during the implementation of the Mining Act that some of the country’s worst ecological disasters occurred. These include the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque, the 2005 Rapu-Rapu mine cyanide spills in the Bicol region, and the 2012 leak from the Philex mine in Benguet.
“These disasters are stark reminders of the inherent dangers of mining and quarrying, and the need for stronger regulations to protect the environment and local communities,” Bonifacio said.

The protesting groups included Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, Pilipinas, Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas, and Kilusang Mayo Uno. The mobilization also featured speakers and statements from the Masungi Georeserve, and the anti-mining movement in Sibuyan Island in Romblon.

Recent community efforts to oppose mining have been observed in Sibuyan Island, Romblon and Brooke’s Point, Palawan, and the groups asserted were additional grounds for repealing the Mining Act of 1995.

“Eight mining permits totaling 5,864 hectares have been approved under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and more destructive mining projects will commence in the next months and years because of the lifting of the moratorium last April 2021,” said Lia Mai Torres, executive director of environmental think tank Center for Environmental Concerns.

“If President Marcos Jr. is sincere in addressing the climate crisis and in using the mining industry to boost the economy, he must replace the Mining Act with House Bill 259, “An Act Re-Orienting the Philippine Mining Industry Towards National Industrialization and Ensuring the Highest Industry Development Standards, and For Other Purposes,” or also known as the People’s Mining Bill,” said Torres.

Last January, the Marcos Jr. administration announced plans to expand the mining industry in the Philippines, purportedly to finance the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund.