The Defend Patrimony Alliance against Mining Liberalization, along with various church institutions, environmental groups and grassroots formations formally launched today the People’s Caucus on the Mining Executive Order (EO).
The launch was held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
The caucus was formed to consolidate the broadest number of people’s initiatives to challenge EO 79, the latest mining policy of the Aquino administration.
“The recently released Implementing Rules and Regulations of EO 79 confirms our fears that Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s centerpiece mining policy will only intensify mining plunder and environmental destruction. This gives greater urgency to the need for the Filipino people’s call to revoke EO 79, which the caucus will take to task,” said Clemente Bautista, President of Kalikasan Partylist and convener of Defend Patrimony.
The Caucus seeks to legally challenge EO 79 as one of its main thrusts in opposing the said mining policy. Several legal groups and prominent lawyers such as Kabataan Partylist National President and counsel on mining of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Atty. Terry Ridon have signed up to help in immediately formulating a solid case.
Conveners also discussed additional courses of action to take against the Aquino administration’s mining EO. “We are planning to embark on a nation-wide signature campaign to gather every voice opposing the onerous mining policy. We are also building the capacities of local governments, communities and grassroots sectors to oppose threats from mining transnational corporations through the EO 79,” added Bautista.
The EO’s provisions on the harmonization of conflicting local and national laws are expected to serve as the basis for mining TNCs to override existing local ordinances banning destructive mining practices.
“We are calling for the passage of a new mining policy that will wisely utilize our mineral resources while ensuring environmental protection and upholding the interests of the Filipino people. The Aquino administration should immediately declare a moratorium on exploration and large-scale mining operations. Environmental and human rights criminals such as Philex Mining Corporation, which EO 79 revalidated, must also be held accountable,” ended Bautista.
The People’s Caucus on the Mining EO is currently convened by almost 40 environmental organizations, NGOs, church institutions, regional networks, indigenous people’s organizations and health groups. They are also joined by prominent leaders such as Bishop Arturo Bastes of the diocese of Sorsogon, Michaela Ortega of the Justice for Dr. Gerry Ortega Movement and Sr. Stella Matutina, secretary general of Panalipdan! Mindanao. (Kalikasan)