Nearly 80 non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups have expressed their opposition to the impending magnetite offshore mining in Cagayan.
In a letter sent to a host of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, Cagayan provincial government officials, and Senate and House of Representatives members, the groups said they were “alarmed” that such a project was approved in the first place.
“We are alarmed that the (DENR) permitted another activity that is destructive and has irreversible negative impact to our marine ecosystems,” read the letter.
“We call on your offices to stop this project and investigate to ensure the protection of our people’s rights and the sustainable use of our natural marine resources,” it further read.
Among the 76 signatories to the letter were Oceana Philippines, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. (ELAC), Sanlakas, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE), Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), President and Principal Investigator, BALYENA.ORG, and the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. (PEJC).
Heading the recipients was DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. Magnetite is a valuable source of iron ore and is mainly used in steel production.
The groups claimed that the magnetite offshore mining in Cagayan poses geologic hazard to the province.
“It harms marine life and ecosystems. In particular, it poses hazards to marine mammals since the area is the only known breeding ground for humpback whales in the Philippines. The area is part of the Babuyan Marine Corridor, which is identified as an Important Marine Mammal Area,” they said.
“The project also impacts the access of fisherfolks to their fishing grounds since the mining activities will be within 14-15 kilometers from the coast of Cagayan. This is a possible violation of their constitutionally guaranteed preferential right to access their fishing grounds,” they pointed out.
Citing the need for transparency, the signatories asked the officials to make public the project documents in relation to environmental impact assessment laws and regulations, as well as proof of public consultation compliance.
“We demand science-based and sustainable use of our natural resources. We demand adherence to the precautionary principle for our environment. We demand compliance to laws and international commitment for sustainable development. We demand that peoples’ voices be heard, especially the affected communities who will bear the impacts of this project,” they said.