By DEFEND ILOCOS (PR)
VIGAN CITY — The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) on June 2 expressed apprehensions regarding individuals and families associated with mining and logging corporations around President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Defend Ilocos Regional Coordinator Sherwin De Vera said that “While we recognize the pro-environment policies proposed by the incoming president in Davao City, we are sad and wary of the presence of big miners, energy concessionaires and loggers in the cabinet.” He also cautioned not to be swept by the “change is coming” euphoria ignited by the overwhelming win of Duterte.
“We are optimistic that the Duterte administration is more open regarding the review of our defective and pro-business environmental laws. However, we must work with more vigilance and careful not to misplace our sight since the president-elect’s political circle is full of individuals that are known enemies of the environment,” states De Vera.
On May 31, Duterte presented some of his cabinet members to the media. Appointees with ties to mining corporations include Mark Villar and Carlos Dominguez who will head the Public Works and Highways, and Finance departments respectively. Villar’s older brother, Manuel Paolo is the president of St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., the operator for the planned King-king gold-copper mine project in Compostela Valley. While Dominguez has been associated with mining giant Glencore Xstrata and mineral extraction in Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay.
De Vera also noted that some of the big-time miners being identified with the president-elect have interest in the region.
During the campaign period were; Manny Zamora of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) and the Alcantara family who owns Alsons Consolidated Resources, Incorporated (ACR). Zamora’s NAC is the mother company of Cordillera Exploration Company, Incorporated. The company has applied to explore more than 11,000 hectares of land covering five upland towns of Ilocos Sur. While ACR Mining Corporation’s partner Indophil Resources NL are also eying operations for magnetite and other minerals in the region. ACR also owns and controls eight power corporations and one of the biggest logging concessioners in the country.
Another cabinet member, Alfonso Cusi who will lead the Department of Energy is a close associate of the Aboitiz family. Duterte supported the installation of the 300 megawatt Therma South Incorporated (TSI) coal plant in Davao City. TSI is owned and operated by the Cebu-based Aboitiz Power Corporation. The company also controls the 70 megawatt Bakun AC Hydro located in Alilem, Ilocos Sur.
“With big corporate interests at stake, the new administration will have a hard time balancing environmental protection and profit, and the result might be far from being green. The people must be ready to put forward and fight for concrete steps to protect and conserve our natural resources against abuse and plunder upon Duterte’s installation as president,” explained De Vera. # nordis.net