By IVAN LABAYNE
On the first night of the Northern Luzon Mining Summit held at Teacher’s Camp last Tuesday and Wednesday, the offshore mining video presenting the rampancy and misguided practices of offshore mining in areas like La Union, Ilocos Norte and Cagayan were launched.
Produced by Kaduami and entitled No Black, No Green and No Blue includes actual testimonies from community members and experts from the academy and non-government science-oriented organizations who attest to the hazards and other ill effects of the current practice of offshore mining in some provinces in Northern Luzon.
The current situation
In Sta. Ana Cagayan, the anti-magnetite mining mass movement is very marked and is being led even by barrio officials. In Pilar, Bauang, La Union, the offshore mining is being practiced by the Fil. Magnetite Inc. from 1964 to 1976. Alongside other municipalities in La Union like Aringay and Agoo, these practices have started during the Martial Law period.
In Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, the biggest mining applications are being conducted by the Colossal Mining Corporation. The corporation was granted around 14,000 hectares in Region I and 13,000 hectares in Region II for extraction by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources. MinProcess Group has an approved permit for 8,942 hectares in the shores of Pangasinan. These only imply that the mining applications existing in these provinces were sanctioned by the government despite the apparent environmental threats and disadvantages posed on the lifestyle and safety of the communities.
Celia Austria, Professor of Biology at the University of the Philippines Baguio stated that black sand extraction drags deep down the sea, reaching beyond the levels permitted for the sustenance of the good condition of the aquatic habitat. She added that the damages deep sand extraction poses on the aquatic habitats also have repercussions on the entire biodiversity which also involves the land creatures and vegetation.
She emphasized that these breaks in the biodiversity affects the food chain where not only the aquatic creatures are implicated. Also, Giovanni Tapang of Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan (Agham) notes that “local employment must be balanced with the huge sales of magnetite.” He remarked that “mining industry can be used for the national interest and common good.”
Aside from boosting the employment in the local communities, the tax from foreign investors can also help in the development not just of the locale but the country as well.
However, Tapang stresses that this is not being achieved in real life. In fact, he said that in the current set-up of offshore mining in the Northern Luzon provinces, human rights violations are always inextricable with the presence of large mining companies in rural communities. This is another harm of offshore mining that Tapang focuses on.
As a conclusion, Roxanne Veridiano, Exective Director of RDC-Kaduami Northern Luzon emphasizes the interrelation of the “black, green and blue” in the biodiversity; that is, the damages in one aspect will also harm the other aspects. In the video, she cites the massive and rapid loss of the black sand/magnetite which is an effect of the large-scale offshore mining applications conducted by foreign mining companies.
This makes the riverbanks less cohesive and more susceptible to natural weather disasters that can eventually imperil the lives of the people.
Next, the vegetation and growth of the plants are also affected and opens the risk of the gradual loss of food supply and security for the people of the community.
Lastly, the coral reefs and the natural habitats of the aquatic creatures are also destroyed and can displace the fish and other sea creatures, if not totally kill them.
This also has a bearing on the food supply and security of the people who also depend on aquatic resources for livelihood and source of food.
Veridiano ultimately stresses the need for a change in the framework of offshore mining practices which will center on the needs and welfare of the people and not the benefits of the foreign mining companies who initiate the mining applications. Recalling again that the Philippines is the 5thrichest in the world in terms of mineral resources, she calls for our self-determination in using these mineral resources for our own country’s and people’s growth.
A final look on the video
Made by Kaduami Productions and tackling one of the novel procedures in the mining industry, this video provides key insights that give us a substantial bird’s eye-view of the current trends in this otherwise unknown mining practice.
It directly pinpoints the flaws seen and attested by the community members themselves in the current practice and taps reliable academic informants and resource persons who amplify the critique forwarded and agree on the alternative direction that the offshore mining practice must take in Northern Luzon. By showing the clear interrelationship between the aquatic environment, the growth of plants another crops and the presence of black sand or magnetite, the video cleverly reveals the important operation of the biodiversity which renders one seemingly little damage open to the potential of vast destruction.
This includes the displacement of the sea creatures, the decline in the food sources and loss of security for the people and the militarization, violations on human rights and unfair labor practices caused by the presence of foreign mining companies.
The video does not solicit pity or sympathy, it challenges and dares for bold actions. It proposes a definite alternative which it sees must be put in the stead of the current mechanisms in offshore mining.
Finally, this alternative is hinged on the framework a pro-people and pro-environment mining industry that puts premium on food security, the community’s welfare and the self-determination on the use of resources. # nordis.net