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Environment groups to raise alarm over mining across Verde Island Passage at upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining

23 July 2015

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) will be raising the specter of large-scale mining interests across the famed Verde Island Passage (VIP) in the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) that will be held in Quezon City, Metro Manila from July 30 to August 1.

“The Verde Island Passage, the global center of marine biodiversity, is of international and inter-generational importance yet currently threatened by different large-scale mining threats across its coastal provinces. We hope to raise this concern and gather support for the Filipino people’s struggles to protect one of the world’s richest marine bioldiversity corridors at the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, one of the IPCM organizers.

The group announced this in a press conference today attended by various advocates and supporters for the protection of the VIP, including various governors and other top elected officials across the VIP provinces of Batangas, Mindoro, and Marinduque, and various leaders of civil society.

The snowball of support is coming off the heels of a successful protest movement led by the Batangas-based groups Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan, the Archdiocesan Ministry for the Environment, and the people of Lobo Town, Batangas, which recently succeeded in compelling the pull-out of the Lobo government’s resolution endorsing the impending mining operations of Canadian-Australian mining company MRL-Egerton.

“While the people’s movement has recently gained ground through its initial victory in the revocation of the local government’s endorsement to the MRL-Egerton mining operation, threats are still abound in the VIP. The threat will not cease to exist until the DENR enforces the pull-out of MRL-Egerton. Other mining threats, such as the Norwegian Intex Resources proposed mine in Mindoro, and the abandoned Canadian-owned Marcopper mines in Marinduque, are still unaddressed across the VIP,” explained Bautista.

The group noted how the threat of big mines is present across the entire Coral Triangle, a marine biodiversity corridor to which the VIP is part of that straddles the countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste that contains no less than 500 coral reef species. Tin mining on Bangka Island, Indonesia, and sea-bed mining in the Solomon Islands are just some of the current mining controversies that beset the Coral Triangle.

“The ecological integrity of the VIP and the entire Coral Triangle is interconnected to the productivity of various seas in the Pacific that is contiguous it. The potential and actual benefits harnessed by research and development from the VIP and the Coral Triangle far outweigh the immediate profitability promised by large-scale mines that pepper the region,” noted Bautista.

Around 140 participants from 28 different countries are expected to join the IPCM, composed residents of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, alternative media practitioners, environmental activists, and scientists, among others.

“We are optimistic that the IPCM will serve as an impetus to launch the ‘Save Verde Island Passage’ call as a global people’s campaign, and we likewise hope to share our experiences in protecting critical ecosystems and people’s livelihoods from the negative impacts of large-scale mining,” ended Bautista.#

The IPCM is jointly organized by various environmental and social movements in the Philippines and the world, namely the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.