De Lima slams lifting of ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato

Published May 25, 2022, 10:18 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday criticized the lifting of the provincial ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato, which would adversely affect the environment and the people in the community.

De Lima urged South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. to veto the Provincial Board’s amendment of the local environment code, particularly the removal of the prohibition on open-pit mining.

Lawmakers in South Cotabato have decided to overturn a 12-year-old provincial ban on open-pit mining last May 16.

The senator said Tamayo can still reverse the decision of the provincial board by vetoing it. If he fails to take any action within 15 days, it will pass into law.

“The negative effects of open-pit mining to the environment and communities are all well-documented. The air, land, and water pollutions brought about by these mining activities stay long after the mines are abandoned,” de Lima said in a statement.

“The environmental fees to be paid by these companies will be pittance considering the fact that no amount of money can restore what will be lost due to mining,” she further said.

“I implore South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. to listen to the people and veto the amendment. The ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato must stay,” she added.

De Lima insisted that the community will be the ones who will live with the aftermath of the environmental degradation while the companies enjoy their profits.

Thus, she said, the people must be the one to decide whether to allow open-pit mining or not.

“No person or corporation has the right to mine over the objection of the communities affected by it. On the contrary, our people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology has been authoritatively upheld by the Supreme Court,” the lawmaker stressed.

De Lima, during her stint as justice secretary, had created a task force led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to crackdown on several illegal black sand mining operators in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur. Several individuals faced charges after being held criminally liable following the investigation.