Thursday, October 13, 2011

Romblon rejoices from withdrawal of mining firm

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 13, 2011) – Villagers from the island of Tablas in Romblon province praised the withdrawal of the proposed exploration activities of a Canadian mining firm, and locals vowed to protect their area from future mining exploration, according to the environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina.

It said the mining firm Ivanhoe Philippines, a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, cited low priority exploration target in withdrawing its applications with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Leo Deiparine, the firm’s president, in a letter sent to the MGB, said there was a consensus decision by the company to withdraw its applications based on Tablas as a low priority exploration target, and the strong opposition of local politicians for the approval of the applications, according to Alyansa Tigil Mina.

Romblon Congressman Eleandro Jesus Madrona also welcomed Ivanhoe’s decision to cancel its planned exploration in the province.

“It is indeed the unity and strong opposition of the people of Romblon against mining which resulted to the withdrawal of the application for exploration permit of Ivanhoe Philippines. This is a giant step towards a mining-free Romblon,” said Madrona, who recently filed House Bill 4815 (An Act Declaring the Province of Romblon a Mining Free Zone and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof.)

Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo also sided with the locals. “The power of the people and the political will of the leaders with the help of the civil society and religious sector clearly manifest the strong position of the province. We will continue to defend the
right of our people to a balanced and healthy ecology,” he said.

Firmalo earlier issued Executive Order No. 1 imposing an indefinite ban on metallic mining in the province.

The Romblon Ecumenical Forum against Mining also called for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of a new mining law to rationalize the minerals industry, protect and promote human rights and establish so-called “no-go zones” based on alternative minerals management bills now in Congress.

Its conveners, Catholic priest Nonato Ernie Fetalino and Philippine Independent Church Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer said in a joint statement: “This victory of the people is just the beginning; the challenge to protect our islands is a life-long commitment. We are in the middle of a spiritual battle against greed and corruption. We shall continue to defend the integrity of creation and human rights.”

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, said: “The genuine
commitment and struggle of the people led to the shortest advocacy campaign being supported by ATM, and one that went against a large Canadian company.”

“If the province of Romblon can do it, the local government units and communities in other parts of the country resisting this destructive industry can now stand up more proudly to assert their power to decide.” (Mindanao Examiner)

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