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You can’t kill the truth’

By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is alarmed that the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) reviewing the ban on open pit mining is being assisted by a lawyer who used to work for the mines and co-chaired by an official who is clearly pro-mining.

Lopez claims that her experience in the Commission of Appointments opened her eyes to business maneuverings even if the people suffer as a result.

Open pit mining was banned by Lopez when she was still Environment secretary. She described this heartless practice as horrendous beyond words.

Firing Line tends to agree in that conclusion and that the suffering will indeed go on forever.

Lopez points out that open pits need to be maintained forever. If left not detoxified and neutralized regularly, the acid water and toxic metals they generate will continue to pollute the rivers, streams and adversely affect the lives of the communities living in the area.

Miners will not be there forever. This makes the open pits a continuing financial liability to our government as it will be left to shoulder their maintenance.

Another reason for her ban is open pits kill the economic potential of the area, the biodiversity, possibilities of ecotourism and a lot more. There are more than 14 open pit mines in the Philippines. Ten of them are abandoned or suspended while five are filled with toxic acid water or heavy metals.

The Constitution says that the state shall promote social justice in all phases of national development. Yet, the government has allowed open pit mining near rivers and streams, putting communities eternally at risk.

An example is Marcopper Mining Corporation in Marinduque which stopped operations in 1996 and is considered one of the worst mining disasters in the world. Two rivers were declared biologically dead due to the open pit mine.

It has disastrously affected the economic potential of the entire province for 21 years while children, farmers and fishermen whose lives are destroyed continue to suffer from the poisons of the open pit.

She points out that mining is not a right but a privilege granted to operators under certain conditions. It is subject to the police power of the state to protect the common good and general welfare of the countrymen.

Lopez has a genuine concern for the environment and the people affected by the monstrosities of its abusers. Will there still be hope for the victims?

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