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Marinduque Mining Legacy Forum

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AMONG 15 other schools, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) took part in a three-month campaign of a non-government organization to generate student awareness and to speed up deferred legal processes on a notorious mining disaster in Marinduque 17 years ago.


NGO Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK), with the participation of five foreign interns from the Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, the world’s largest youth-run organization, facilitated a photo exhibit and forum at the UST Civil Law Auditorium to launch its latest advocacy entitled “Marinduque Quest for Justice Campaign” last August 26.


The campaign “aims at raising the awareness of the public about the Marinduque mining accident and the negative impact of mining to the environment,” said Joey Shiu, an LRC-KsK intern and a student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


It also hopes to pressure the government to hasten the legal processes on hold over the past 17 years so that the residents of Marinduque,which is an island province that is geographically located at the center of the Philippines, would one day be given the justice they rightfully deserve.

 

Atty. Minerva Quintela of LRC-KsK presented through a photo exhibit how the mining disaster turned the once clean and untouched island province into a polluted mess and how it affected the people of Marinduque gravely through the slideshow of photos. Most of the subjects in the photographs are senior citizens and their severe diseases that are caused by the effect of mining.


The photo exhibit narrated the background of the mining accident and focused on informing the visitors of the impact the mining industry has not only on Marinduque, but on the Philippines as well. It lectured the audience to make smart and eco-friendly choices.


Experts also spoke about the problems in the island and various law and topics covering mining in the Philippines in a forum  that followed the photo exhibit.

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National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Jaybee Garganera, presented figures of how much the mining companies benefitted from the place and resources of their land.


ATM is an advocacy group and a people’s movement that supports the rights of the Filipinos against the enduring injustices related to mining.

 

But things began to heat up and left the audience in anxious silence when the former governor of Marinduque objected the said figures shown by Garganera and began a mini debate with the speakers.


In the end, both parties just agreed to help each other to solve the remaining problems of the island province.


Vice Governor of Marinduque and head of the Marinduquenong Tomasino, Dr. Antonio Uy, gave the closing remarks to put the event to a close.


What happened before

1969 – Placer Dome Inc. established the Tapian mine, its first open pit copper mine run by Marcopper, in Marinduque.


1975 – The National Pollution Control Commission issued the permit to allow Marcopper-Placer Dome Inc. to dump ore residues in Calancan Bay through a submerged disposal system. But the tailings were dumped via surface disposal until the Tapian Mine became depleted, causing a long causeway of tailings which extended out into the middle of the bay.


1991 – A dam was installed for the tailings on a tributary of Mogpog River, one kilometer north of the new Marcopper mine site in San Antonio.


1993 – The typhoon “Monang” prompted the dam to break, causing a flood of toxic tailings to the Mogpog River. Two people were reported killed among the numerous livestock and destruction of crops.


2005 – Marinduque’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan declared a 50 year mining moratorium in the province. By Erika Dizon


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Martial law victims slam Marcos day

Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

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Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Bantayog ng mga Bayani Executive Director Ma. Cristina Rodriguez said that it is “harmful to the country’s history” as it could generate misleading facts that can confuse younger generations. 

“Kapag hinayaan mo ang probinsya niya na i-honor parin siya, ang harm niyan hindi lang sa probinsya niya kung hindi sa buong bansa,” Rodriguez said. 

According to Rodriguez, the Marcoses should be held accountable for the youth to understand the atrocities during Martial Law. 

She stressed that Ilocos Norte should instead “be ashamed” as they “fully benefited” from Marcos, while Mindanao was bombed and Cagayan Valley and Samar’s forest were industrially logged. 

“Sa totoo lang ang dapat maging attitude ng mga taga-Ilocos Norte ay bumawi naman kayo. ‘Wag niyo nang igasgas sa sugat ang asin,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez also said that the national government should not acknowledge the bill to “hold a moral position” on the abuses inflicted by the Marcoses. 

“Yung mga nakinabang sa Martial Law at sa panahon ni Marcos gusto nila ‘yan. Dapat yung ating pagsusulat ng kasaysayan at pagtuturo ng kasaysayan ay tama,” Martial Law political prisoner Cris Palabay said. 

Palabay urged the youth not to forget the atrocities during the Martial Law. 

“Huwag po tayong matakot, lagi ko nga po sinasabi yung culture of fear, culture of silence, dapat yan ay labanan, tiyak yan, mas maraming magagandang mangyayari,” Palabay said. 

The webinar, “Francisco de Vitoria: Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao – Talakayang Batas Militar” was organized by UST SIMBAHAYAN Community Development Office to shed light on the abuse of human rights amid the pandemic. Cherizza Mae Bautista

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Filipino environmental advocates demand for ‘better normal’

Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

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Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

“As youth leaders, as young people, we have been active in different forms of advocacy work to forward our legitimate concerns on government policies, but particularly those related to environment and climate, and to those policies that will directly affect us,” said youth representative Jeff Estela during the online press conference.

Estela stressed the recent suppression of the freedom of speech, following the passage of the Anti-Terror Law.

Last July, youth environmental activist Greta Thunberg called to repeal the said law, citing that it equates environmental activism with terrorist activities.

“With the current move and actions of the government, this can be used to intensify the intimidation, fear-mongering, and the present attacks on the environmental defenders and advocates,” Estela said.

Environmental lawyer and activist Atty. Antonio La Viña emphasized the need of the youth to make strong demands, and to take direct action to appeal to the decision makers.

“I think the time now is to be really radical about the solutions,” he said.

La Viña highlighted the benefit of listening to indigenous people, as it will prevent further damage in nature such as the construction of Kaliwa Dam.

Yung climate change is not about carbon. It is not about emissions, ‘di ba? It’s not about markets. It’s on people,” he said. “Tao. Lalo na mahihirap.

Transition of renewable energy, according to La Viña, produces sustainable and cheap energy for everyone.

“Renewable energy is the future, the economics are there for it, and we just have to take very strong action to go to the transition very close to energy,” he said.

The online press conference, “National Youth Demands: Youth Declaration for Climate Justice,” with the theme “Para sa Klimabukasan,” was organized by Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines in solidarity with global movements inspired by Thunberg. Vhey Dela Cruz Tapia

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‘Democratic spaces shrink amid COVID-19 pandemic’—PhilRights exec

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo grabbed from the official Facebook page of UST Simbahayan

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Transparency and accountability are not government priorities. A culture of impunity continues to be perpetuated by the government,” PhilRights Executive Director Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan said. 

Simbulan, who is also the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of UP Manila, emphasized that passing the Anti-Terror Law of 2020 and lowering the age of criminal liability are “anti-people policies” propagated by the government’s legal apparatus. 

“Part of the efforts of the government to discourage protest actions, political actions intended to call the attention of the government to policies and programs that are anti-people is the framing of civic participation as a destabilizing force,” she said.

Duterte’s core principle of governance

Simbulan condemned the blatant red-tagging of democrative defenders and government critics that recently claimed the lives of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez, further highlighting the 2019 Global Peace Index which placed the Philippines as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific. 

She noted that the government playbook normalizes violence as there are efforts being undertaken by the administration to “make people accept violence” as part of their daily lives.

“President Duterte’s core principle of governance is violence, and even the international community has not failed to recognize this,” Simbulan said. 

However, Simbulan said that there are “glimmers of hope” in different forms of resistance such as continued mobilizations, documentations, and lobbying of petitions in Congress and Supreme Court. 

The webinar titled, “Francisco de Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao” was spearheaded by the UST – Simbahayan Community Development Program as a part of the annual human rights activities series every September.

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