TABLAS, Romblon, Oct. 13, 2011—The recent withdrawal of a mining firm of its application to explore the island of Mindoro is a victory for the people who continue to fight for human rights and integrity of creation, an ecumenical group against mining said.
The Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM) said the victory of the people is only the beginning of a life-long commitment to protect the island from the threats of environmental degradation.
Mining firm Ivanhoe Philippines has earlier withdrawn its application for a mining exploration of the island according to a letter sent to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
In a letter dated September 30, 2011 to the MGB, Ivanhoe Philippines President Leo S. Deiparine said the company’s board decided to withdraw its applications “based on Tablas as a low priority exploration target for Ivanhoe Philippines and the strong opposition of the local politicians for the approval of our applications.”
REFAM’s convenors Msgr. Nonato Ernie V. Fetalino, a Roman Catholic priest and Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer of the Philippine Independent Church both called for the scrapping of Mining Act of 1995.
The group is seeking for the enactment of a new law that would rationalize the mining industry, “protect and promote human rights and establish No-Go Zones, based on alternative minerals management bills lodged in Congress.”
The mining advocates said they are right into “the middle of a spiritual battle against greed and corruption” and they will continue the fight to “defend the integrity of creation and human rights.”
Meanwhile, local officials and residents in the island also lauded the withdrawal of the mining application in the province.
Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona said he received a copy of the letter dated October 11, 2011 from MGB-IVB Regional Director Roland de Jesus informing him of the withdrawal.
“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,” he declared.
Madrona has recently filed House Bill 4815 in Congress declaring the province of Romblon a mining free zone.
Meanwhile, Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo stressed they will continue their fight to preserve the healthy ecology of the island. He has earlier issued an Executive Order declaring an indefinite ban on metallic mining in the province.
“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.
Ivanhoe Philippines is a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines. The company’s application to do mining exploration in the island has created uproar among the local community, especially the indigenous people who will be displaced if the exploration goes through.
More than 15,000 hectares in Tablas island that span the municipalities of Odiongan, San Andres, Calatrava, San Agustin, Sta. Maria, Alcantara and Looc have been eyed for exploration of gold and copper. (CBCPNews)