By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) and Defend Ilocos slammed the Senate’s Commission on Appointments for rejecting Secretary Regina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
CPA and Defend Ilocos in separate statements said that the rejection of Lopez’s appointment only proves that most politicians in the country are subservient only to big business interests.
“By denying Lopez’s the office that she has effectively headed, the Commission on Appointmnts (CA) upheld corporate profit and plunder over the people’s interest,” Sherwin de Vera of the Defend Ilocos said.
De Vera said that President Rodrigo Duterte is also responsible for Lopez’s rejection for remaining silent while “big mining companies in his cabinet like Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, NEDA Chief Ernesto Pernia and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ganged-up against Lopez’s policy reforms”. He also urged Duterte to stop consulting with Senator Alan Cayetano whom he called “one of the mining companies’ lapdogs in the Senate”.
“We urge the President to take on the helm of the DENR and uphold the positive policy reforms instituted during Lopez’s watch in the department, including the cancelation of 75 mining contracts located in watershed areas,” De Vera said.
De Vera also said that the President should implement the suspension of five mining companies and closure of 23 more operations. He said Duterte can also seek nomination from the progressive bloc for Lopez’s replacement.
De Vera rallied environmental advocates to continue to persevere in the struggle against mining and other destructive projects.
CPA Secretary General Abigail Anongos said that in the Cordillera region’s experience, decades of mining operations has brought militarization, human rights violations, irreparable environmental destruction and violation of indigenous peoples’ ancestral land and right to self-determination.
“We cannot help but think that the mining industry and the mining giants mobilized their millions to influence the CA,” Anongos said.
“We ask, what kind of government puts big mining businesses over human rights and social justice,” Anongos added.
Anongos said that Lopez’s rejection only proves that the people, especially from mining affected communities, should rely primarily on their own strength in defending their territories from plunder and destruction.
Anongos reiterated their demand for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the People’s Mining Bill.
“We will continue to resist imperialist plunder in our lands and territories, call for a stop to the operations of large and destructive mines, and for the pullout of military troops in our communities,” Anongos said. # nordis.net