SURIGAO DEL SUR, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 16, 2010) – More than 3,000 villagers in the town of Cantilan have signed a petition opposing the entry of mining operations of Marc ventures Mining Development Corporation in the southern Philippine province of Surigao del Sur.
The signing coincided with the town’s fiesta celebration as locals expressed opposition to the mining operations. The fiesta was also used for the launching of the Panalipdan Tubig Kinabuhi (Drive for Citizens’ Action to Stop Mining Operations within the Critical Watershed).
Baywatch Foundation President and Hermana Mayor Emma Hotchkiss explained that the petition signing was to preserve the watershed area of Cantilan, under Presidential Proclamation 1747, signed by then President Gloria Arroyo.
“We are not only celebrating our town fiesta, we are also asserting our right to a sound environment and ensuring that the next generation of Cantilanos can enjoy the benefits of our rich natural resources,” Hotchkiss said.
The proclamation of protecting the critical watershed and forest reserve was signed by Arroyo on March 23, 2009, and covers 43,601 hectares, encompassing the towns of Cantilan and Madrid in Surigao del Sur and three other towns in Agusan del Norte.
Local Mayor Genito Guardo also stood firm on his earlier decision to deny issuing a business permit to MMDC, citing alleged irregularities in the documents submitted by the mining company.
“The dates of the mining contract and the incorporation of the company do not jibe, leading us to suspect that there was not enough diligence and lack of transparency in the application,” he said. “We will not allow our natural resources to be destroyed, especially if the transaction is clearly riddled with irregularities.” (Farah Sevilla)