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Anti-mining groups issue declaration vs mining in MIMAROPA islands

SIBUYAN ISLAND, Romblon, Feb. 23, 2012—Mining-affected communities formed a united effort to protect rich biodiversity areas from destructive mining activities.

Members of a regional convergence group, on February 19, have signed a declaration opposing mining in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (MIMAROPA).

In a statement titled ‘Defending MIMAROPA Islands, Securing the Future from Mineral Extraction’, the group called for a moratorium on mining and urged to make agriculture and tourism as basis for development.

The declaration also called for the cancellation of all mining applications and revocation of existing mining licenses and permits; recognition of the local government’s autonomy to ban mining in their respective territories and respect for the indigenous people’s genuine Free, Prior and Informed Consent processes.

Stressing the people’s right to a healthful and balanced ecology, the group also called for the scrapping of Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the alternative mineral management bills pending in Congress.

It further urged President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to declare Key Biodiversity Areas, Island Ecosystems, Critical Watershed Areas, Geo-Hazard Areas, Natural Forests, Eco-Tourism Zones and Agricultural Lands as Mining No-Go Zones.

The regional convergence group is composed of 10 alliances and non-government organizations.

During the three-day assembly in Romblon’s Sibuyan Island, the group launched the Cooperation of Small Islands (CSI-MIMAROPA), which, among other things, aims to strengthen “regional cooperation for environmental justice and protect the epicenter of marine biodiversity of the country; broaden support to communities to confront the impacts of climate change and hazards; engage government at all levels and communities to promote eco-cultural, historical tourism and sustainable initiatives; and help ensure food self-sufficiency and recognize the interdependence of island provinces.”

“As a regional convergence, the Cooperation of Small Islands (CSI – MIMAROPA), we shall stand up learning the lessons of the past to act on the challenges of the present and face confidently the future to make our islands the best places to live in without chaos in the grand harmony of Mother Nature,” the group said.

Among those who signed the declaration were KAAGAPAY PO-NGO Network Inc. (KAAGAPAY) from Occidental Mindoro, Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) from Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) from Marinduque, Alliance of Students Against Mining (ASAM) from Romblon, Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM), Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM), Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE), Ancestral Land / Domain Watch (ALDAW) from Palawan, Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) and the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC). (CBCPNews)