By DEFEND ILOCOS
It has come to our knowledge that a resolution declaring the Province of Ilocos Sur as a Watershed Area and Mining-Free Zone is pending before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Sanguniang Panlalawigan Member Christopher Baterina, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (SP-CENR), is the author of the legislation.
The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) welcomes and supports this legislation. We believe that this initiative is timely and appropriate, and commend Baterina for taking this task under his watch as SP-CENR chairperson.
The legislation is timely because the recent decisions made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez have put mining in the center of debate on environment and natural resources conservation. Initiatives from the ground to oppose mining, such as this legislation, will bolster Lopez’s decision to close down destructive mines and prevent any extractive operations from encroaching into watershed areas. Furthermore, this step will inspire communities and organizations to pursue their struggle, and provide assurance that their local government and officials are with them against destructive and plunderous mining operations.
With a limited land area, thinning forest cover, and high vulnerability to geologic and climate-related disasters, the ban on destructive mining in Ilocos Sur is appropriate. Without a doubt, mining operations in the province will amplify geologic-related risk such as landslide, liquefaction, shoreline retreat among others. Forest destruction and water-resources contamination will aggravate the annual dry-spell experienced in the area. This is an appropriate action of the elected officials, tasked to protect the utmost interest of the people against further dangers and hardships.
The provincial and municipal level actions against mining operations and applications are resonant proof that the people of Ilocos Sur do not subscribe to mining activities, the legislative and executive officials of Ilocos Sur must heed the people’s call. We urge the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass this landmark legislation. We dare them to stand for the environment and the people, become trailblazers in the region on this matter.
We appeal to all people and environment-loving citizens, institutions, and organizations to support this noble and courageous undertaking. Let us take inspiration from El Salvador, the first country to ban mining in recognition of the primacy of people’s lives and nature over state revenue and corporate profit. # nordis.net