Not just a pound of flesh
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure of twenty-three (27) mining operations for indiscriminate mining and conducting operations in watershed areas. As expected, the mining firms protested the closure orders ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the DENR Secretary for her failure to afford them due process before proceeding with the suspension. The Chamber of Mines complained that while the orders were announced to the media, its members have yet to receive them from the DENR. It claimed that the announcement contradicts the overall economic plan for the country. According to the association, the orders are a “surprise, worrisome, and irresponsible” (see http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/599189/money/).
Courtesy of the Asian Correspondent.com
Secretary Gina Lopez also ordered the cancellation of seventy-five (75) mining contracts. These cancellations effectively put across the message to mining firms that she will continue to clamp down their operations until they bow down to government regulations on the protection of the environment and the local communities.
The debates are far from over. Mining firms were reported to have exerted pressures on Malacanang and the Commission on Appointments, where Lopez’s appointment is pending confirmation, to stop her from hurting their businesses. It was reported later that certain Palace officials have cautioned her about the mining firms’ due process claim.
There is no doubt that mining has made our lives convenient. It provides us with many useful and wonderful things—from simple household and office tools to hard metals used in making equipment and erecting buildings for people and industries. Also, it is the source of government revenues needed to finance public infrastructures and programs. Thus, it is not easy to debunk the claim that mining is an important industry in the country today.
Courtesy of Alyansa Tigil-Mina
However, all the good things that may be said about mining are discredited by its setbacks to people’s lives and the environment.
That mining destroys the environment is beyond dispute. What the DENR saw before the issuance of the closure orders were conclusive evidence of severe environmental degradation: destroyed animal and human habitats, barren hills, flattened mountains, silted rivers, and spilled chemicals in farms and waterways.
Courtesy of Globalriskinsights.com
That mining jeopardized people’s livelihood is too glaring to ignore. It turned timber and agricultural lands to wastelands. It caused severe flooding and landslides to lowland communities. It damaged fish sanctuaries and breeding places. It polluted the air and destroyed the watersheds.
Mining has become a harbinger of death instead of becoming a beacon of hope.
Courtesy of GMA News.com
Proverbially, mining is cutting away not only a pound of flesh from us. It is costing us our lives. Its destructive impacts on the environment have become irreversible already. And thus, its catastrophic effects will still be upon our heads even if we adopt a total mining ban from now on.
Courtesy of Asian Correspondent.com
We are screwed!
We know it, and the mining firms are well aware of this.
Courtesy of Inquirer.net
Accordingly, suspension orders are not enough to finally arrest the menace which continues to deplete our land of all its living force. People need justice, not a temporary respite from its pernicious effects.
Courtesy of GMA News
If justice is to be done, then, the hammer should fall heavily on those who committed crimes against humanity and nature. It requires the accountability of people behind these destructive mining activities. It decrees that they should be barred from continuing to ruin the lives of the present and future generations. Most importantly, it demands that they should all be put behind bars and stripped of the privileges that they acquired at the expense of the common good.