By SANDRA FERWELO
BAGUIO CITY — Around 250 engineering and architecture students attended the film screening of an international film on mining at the University of the Cordilleras (UC) auditorium last July 22.
Amianan Salakniban, an environment and human rights watch network in North Luzon facilitated the screening of the film In Defence of Life by Jess Philimore in coordination with the UK based Gaia Foundation. It was hosted by the College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA) of UC under its Dean, Engr. David Angiwan.
The film follows the trials and triumphs of men and women in four geographically distant, culturally and politically diverse communities of Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa and Romania, as they battle the corporate mining giants that threaten to destroy their homeland, homes and livelihood. The struggle of the people in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya against mining giant, Oceana Gold Corporation was highlighted in the film
In a global context in which two environmental defenders are killed every week, In Defence of Life is a timely record and recognition of the bravery of communities standing up in defence of life worldwide.
The film showing is also part of Amianan Salakniban’s campaign to educate the youth on the need to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 which environment advocates believe to be the culprit to the suffering of mining affected communities.
Engr. Joshua Ricablanca, a faculty of CEA remarked that the topic of the film is vital for the future engineers and architects of the country.
“Why are we here? Because you (the audience) are the future molders of world. You should know the challenges that our world is facing in order for the future to be developed into a sustainable world, a better world,” Engr. Ricablanca expressed.
To contextualize the significance of the film in the current political situation of the country, Ms. Roxanne Bans-Veridiano, Executive Director of Regional Development Center- Katinnulong Daguiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-KADUAMI) talked on the Future of our Environment under the Duterte Administration.
In her presentation, Veridiano updates the audience on the positive pronouncements of President Duterte and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez on environment issues and its correlation to the environmental crisis that the world is facing today.
“While we applaud staunch anti-mining stance of the new administration, with their immediate actions on destructive mines, it is only a pinch of the environmental challenges experienced worldwide. The real solution to the crisis lies on changing the system. As long as we are remain prisoners of the capitalist system, the environment will always be in the brink of destruction because it (capitalist system) only values the natural world if it can be exploited for the process of wealth accumulation. Predicated on relentless growth, it consumes resources and produces waste at ever larger amounts regardless of ecological carrying capacities.”
Veridiano further posed that mining should be part of a National Development Plan to develop downstream industries that will contribute to the modernization of agriculture and local industries which will create jobs, while prioritizing human rights, Indigenous Peoples Rights and the protection of our environment.
“We are not anti-mining per se, because we believe that mining of minerals such as steel will be our country’s boost towards industrialization – the backbone of all developed economies. But we detest suffering of the many over (for) the profit of the few,” she said.
Fr. Manny Flores of the Baguio We Want, an environment group in Baguio City, also expressed his thoughts on the film as one of the panel of reactors.
“Irresponsible mining be it large or small scale mining can be outright dehumanizing and destructive to life and environment…It shows how some of us have lost our connection with life and what it means to be human. When material things matter most and wealth, profit and power becomes the priority, our sense of humanity become lost or even forgotten,” Fr. Flores said. # nordis.net