OPEN LETTER TO
SECRETARY RAMON JESUS P. PAJE
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
ON THE PLANNED MINING OPERATIONS
IN NORTHWEST PANAY PENINSULA NATURAL PARK
September 28, 2011
SECRETARY RAMON JESUS P. PAJE
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Fourth Floor, DENR Building, Visayas Avenue
Quezon City, Philippines
Dear Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje,
I am a concerned citizen of Pandan in the province of Antique living outside the Philippines and I oppose the planned mining operations in the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park in Western Visayas.
I would like to ask your office for an appeal to help us in protecting Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park.
Northwest Panay Peninsula is considered as one of the remaining significant stretch of low-elevation rain forest in Western Visayas straddling in the municipalities of Pandan and Libertad in the province of Antique, and municipalities of Nabas, Buruanga, and Malay in the province of Aklan.
Protecting the low-elevation rain forest produces a clean river system, the Bugang river system in Pandan. Bugang river has won the President’s Award for Environment “Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran” as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines.
Northwest Panay Peninsula has a high rate of endemism, a high number of endangered species both flora and fauna. It is habitat to a range of highly endangered, partly endemic species of reptiles, birds and mammals.
The mountain ranges of the municipalities of Pandan and Libertad are part of the Northwest Panay Peninsula, which has been declared as a natural park under the Proclamation No. 186.
Proclamation No. 186 declares, “THE MOUNTAIN RANGES OF NORTHWEST PANAY PENINSULA SITUATED IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF NABAS, MALAY, BURUANGA PROVINCE OF AKLAN AND MUNICIPALITIES OF LIBERTAD AND PANDAN IN THE PROVINCE OF ANTIQUE AS PROTECTED AREA PURSUANT TO R.A. 7586 (NIPAS ACT OF 1992) AND SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE NORTHWEST PANAY PENINSULA NATURAL PARK.”
Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park is a protected area and an additional component to the Natural Integrated and Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 or Republic Act No. 7586.
It is stipulated in Republic Act No. 7586, Section 4 h that, “Natural park is a relatively large area not materially altered by human activity where extractive resource uses are not allowed and maintained to protect outstanding natural and scenic areas of national or international significance for scientific, educational and recreational use.”
How can we allow mining in this protected area when the law says that extractive resource uses are not allowed in a natural park?
Northwest Panay Peninsula as an additional component of NIPAS Act of 1992 is part of an area closed to mining applications pursuant to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 7942 as well as under DENR Administrative Order No. 25, series of 1992.
It is stipulated in Republic Act No. 7942, Chapter 3, Section 19 f that areas closed to mining applications are, “Old growth or virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness areas, mangrove forests, mossy forests, national parks provincial/municipal forests, parks, greenbelts, game refuge and bird sanctuaries as defined by law and in areas expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) under Republic Act No. 7586, Department Administrative Order No. 25, series of 1992 and other laws.”
How can we allow mining in this closed area and protected at that, regardless if it is responsible mining?
Applying to mine in this protected area is an act of total disregard and disrespect to the laws of the Philippines. The mere act of applying to extract resource uses in this protected area is a blatant show of being irresponsible. We expect these mining companies and corporations to strictly implement responsible mining? Is that not ironic?
If the mining application was submitted and/or approved before Northwest Panay Peninsula was declared a natural park and a protected area, these mining companies and corporations should have withdrawn their applications after the proclamation to show their respect to our laws.
How are we going to ensure responsible mining when at the very start, these mining companies and corporations already showed irresponsibility?
Are we going to allow these mining companies and corporations to dictate and manipulate us to disrespect our laws?
I hope not! I hope that your office will not issue the Environmental Compliance Certificate to these mining companies and corporations.
It is stipulated in Republic Act No. 7942, Chapter 3, Section 19 m that “Environmental compliance certificate (ECC) refers to the document issued by the government agency concerned certifying that the project under consideration will not bring about an unacceptable environmental impact and that the proponent has complied with the requirements of the environmental impact statement system.”
We know the potential economic contribution of mining in terms of revenue and jobs but we also know for a fact that mineral extraction will bring about unacceptable environmental impact and destruction such as permanent alteration of terrain, the stripping of vegetation, soil erosion causing floods and landslides, and mine tailings and wastes resulting to water pollution. These are just few among the so many unacceptable environmental impacts caused by mining.
But then, responsible mining is an oxymoron! It is a fact that mining will bring about unacceptable environmental impacts. It is a fact that mining will have adverse effects to our health and environment leading to deaths and injuries due to cave-ins, explosions, hazardous gases, toxic fumes, floods and landslides. The municipalities of Pandan, Libertad, Nabas, and Buruanga are highly prone to landslides. When mining causes these environmental destruction, deaths and injuries, then it is definitely not an act of being responsible.
The people initiate the destruction, and nature strikes back because, as if, we do not care for our lives and our environment.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been tasked to safeguard our environment. Let us then enforce these laws. Let us make it right. Let us make the right decision and be the true stewards of our land.
NO TO MINING IN NORTHWEST PANAY PENINSULA NATURAL PARK!
(SGD.) Sofie Hofmann
Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project – http://www.pescp.org/
Biodiversity – http://www.pandan.gov.ph/environment/biodiversity/
Flora – http://www.pandan.gov.ph/files/pdf/table-flora-pandan-antique.pdf
Fauna – http://www.pandan.gov.ph/files/pdf/table-fauna-pandan-antique.pdf
Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 6
Copy furnished (Blind carbon copy recipients):
President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
Director Leo Van V. Juguan, Regional Director, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 6
Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., Department of Tourism
Director Edwin G. Trompeta, Regional Director, Western Visayas Regional Tourism Center
Senator Loren B. Legarda
Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan
Senator Ralph G. Recto
Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.
Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, CBCP Online, Chairman, Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (CSAJP)
Prof. Dr. Eberhard Curio, Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project (PESCP)
Dr. Enrique Sanchez Jr., President, PhilinCon
Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI)
Haribon Foundation Sagip GUBAT
Asean Center for Biodiversity
Mines and Communities
Fauna and Flora International
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Ana Ver-Papa, Bangon Kalikasan
Anna Oposa, Director, The Law of Nature Foundation
Imelda V. Abaño, Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists, Inc.
Vicente Edgardo C. Bartilad, Editor-in-Chief, Manila Bulletin
Letter to the Editor, Sunstar.com.ph
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The News Today Online