Environmentalists lash out against DENR chief for supporting mining industry

(SPOT.ph) Environmentalists lashed out against Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje after he said the agency is "harmonizing local and national policies toward a more friendly regime for the mining industry," reports ABS-CBN News. Paje made the announcement at the Asia Mining Congress in Singapore last week.

Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said in a statement, "His announcements are outrageous, given the strong resistance of mining-affected communities and local government units."

According to PhilStar.com, Paje also said at the Mining Congress, "Sustainable development principles are enshrined in the 1995 Philippine Mining Act and the law calls for responsible mining that will bring national growth and at the same time safeguard the environment and protects the rights of affected communities, including the indigenous peoples."

However, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns Executive Director Myke Magalang said, "Fifteen years after the major mining disaster in Marinduque, the DENR and the national government cannot even defend our rights, as Marinduqueños, to compensation and rehabilitation of the damaged ecosystems."

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines executive secretary Edu Gariguez said, "The insistence of the (Aquino) administration to continue the policy of mining promotion contradicts its pro-poor pronouncements. The CBCP continually asserts that mining brings negative social and environmental impacts, while favoring corporations with big profits and tax incentives."

PhilStar.com reports that Paje also said the Philippine government is pursuing the Tampakan project, which is said to become one of the biggest copper mines in the world, and "resolve all attendant issues prior to its operations." It is projected to operate in 2016 but Paje said they are "encouraging the contractor to advance its timetable to 2013."

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News and PhilStar.com.

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