Unity Statement re: Tampakan Mining Project
Protect Tampakan… Defend Mindanao: SMI Tampakan, Leave MindaNOW
We are one with the peoples of Mindanao and as the Filipino people, united in faith that calls for ecological justice and integrity.
We vigorously oppose, vehemently denounce and verily object to this Tampakan Mining Project of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), wholly owned by the Alcantara Group of Companies.
EXTENSIVE IMPACT: The Tampakan Mining Project is a mammoth project and leviathan in its impact. SMI Tampakan covers 4 provincial boundaries , the headwaters of six (6) catchments and 2 major river systems, where:
- Nearly 10,000 hectares of forestland will be razed, 50% of which are closed and open canopy forests. The open pit is 800 meters deep, 2.5 km wide and 3 km long.
- 1000 families will be ejected from their community, relocating 5000 persons, including women and children.
- AT LEAST 5000 farmers/irrigators depend on the headwaters in the FMA for their cultivation of prime agricultural lands.
- 500 hectares will be covered by waste rock high in arsenic and ripe for acid mine drainage
The area sits on geological faultlines and a cluster of dormant volcanoes within 12 km of Mt. Matutum, an active volcano.
|a) The Project lies at the heart of river systems
|b) Nestled in a network of faultlines
SMI Tampakan will leave irreversible impacts on food security, peoples and biodiversity, including Mindanao’s resilience to climate change.
We do not want another Marcopper incident: dead rivers, poisoned Calancan Bay, heavy metals flowing in the bloodstream of children, tailings-laced ricefields, from nearly 25 years ago until today.
- When the mine tailings are dumped, or the open pit operates, which river systems will die? Can Sarangani Bay survive a power station and a filter plant that will dewater the mine concentrate?
- When water to be used in the mining operations is 300 million liters per second which rivers will dry up and how many hectares of farmland will become wasteland?
- When the forests are cleared where will the people go? How will they live when their lifeblood is the forests and rivers?
- How will Mindanaoans brace for the impact of natural disasters and remain resilient when the region’s vulnerable ecosystem has become more fragile? Mining accounts for the highest number of human-induced earthquakes worldwide.
CHAIN OF IRREGULARITIES
In 2016, SMI’s permit was cancelled by then Secretary Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). She had said that the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) should not have been issued at all due to serious irregularities.
In 2019, the Office of the President restored this ECC. How can a cancelled ECC be “restored”? And have the issues surrounding the illegitimate issuance of the ECC been resolved?
In 2020, we learned that the contract of the Tampakan Mining Project was extended for 12 years. The Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement/FTAA expired last March 2020. Apparently, in 2016, then DENR Secretary Ramon Paje of the previous administration, “approved” the 12 year extension.
But isn’t this being done behind the back of President Rodrigo Duterte who has declared repeatedly that the protection of the Filipino people and the environment is NON-NEGOTIABLE in his term.
Or did President Rodrigo Duterte himself sign this 12-year extension? Did he actually consent to a project that endangers the whole of Mindanao, its old-growth forests, its rivers, its flourishing rice fields, the rights of the B’laans and the livelihood of 200,000 famers in the interests of foreigners, or worse, in the private interest of political allies in business with foreigners?
If not, as we suspect, are there not odious signs of malpractice in government in the resurgence of the Tampakan mines?
This October, Indigenous Peoples’ Month, tribal rights were “granted” to the SMI Tampakan by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that is charged to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples. This CP (Certification Precondition) was granted on the heels of a court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the open-pit mining ban of South Cotabato.
How can the actions of government be justified and reconciled?
The silence of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu is deafening with consent.
The silence of President Rodrigo Duterte fails to protect his Mindanao and its peoples.
Silence means YES. Yes to the destruction fomenting in the horizon:
- The brewing disintegration of cultures and peoples especially the B’laans;
- The backlash of losing the remaining forest cover of Mindanao in the face of climate change;
- The worsening water crisis in Mindanao
- The continuing suffering of peoples, especially farmers, women and children in Mindanao
Adverse impacts will be felt not only in Tampakan and the entire island of Mindanao – potentially for 2000 years.. As Mindanao is the food basket of the country, a national food crisis in the middle of a pandemic looms.
- Recall the 12-year extension of the FTAA of SMI Tampakan mining.
- Respect the open-pit mining ban of South Cotabato and ensure the safety of the peoples and
environment in all provinces.
- Repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and prioritize the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
- Reconcile the governance priorities of the national government and local government on its mining
policy and its environmental agenda as a whole.
Economic recovery stimuli to cope with the pandemic cannot be an excuse for mining. We cannot afford
to compromise the environment especially in a pandemic brought about precisely by the exploitation of
nature and biodiversity.
With our youth and young leaders we watch closely especially as the elections draw near – for signs of
genuine and sincere leadership in environmental governance.
We are One for Mindanao and one as a Filipino people. We listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of
the poor especially in Mindanao: Oya Mindanao.
We share our voices with our sisters and brothers, our mothers/fathers and children in Mindanao.
Tampakan and Mindanao is Our Common Home: Let us protect Tampakan and defend Mindanao.
SMI Tampakan, leave MindaNOW.