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President Elect Duterte save small islands from mining.

June 7, 2016 · 

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Civil society groups appeal to President-Elect Rodrigo Duturte to Declare small island ecosystems as No Go Zones for mining.

3 June 2016

To Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, the next Philippine President;

We, inhabitants and environmental advocates of various island-ecosystems in the Philippines, write this letter to share and bring to your attention the destruction being done by mining operations to some of the smallest inhabited islands in our country.

We are optimistic that, as you have campaigned and won in the name of change, your incoming administration will usher-in new hope which will transform the way islands and islanders are being treated by previous administrations. We are hoping that you will not hesitate to go against powerful business interests that have continuously ignored the plea of islanders.

Mr. President, we are also looking at how you were able to ban mining in Davao City during your stint as its Mayor. We see that you are one of the many local government officials who have defied the strong pressure from the central leadership to accede to mining interests. During the early parts of your electoral campaign, you have repeatedly mentioned how frustrated you are with the irresponsible mining activities in Mindanao which have destroyed several areas in our nation’s second largest island.

You may need to check further how smaller Philippine islands have been subjected to the same, if not worse, destructive mining operations. Some mining activities in small islands have been abandoned without any form of rehabilitation while others are still resisting the entry of mining interests. These small islands and their residents need your attention, Mr. President.

Various studies have already suggested that mining and other large-scale economic activities like logging should not be allowed in small island ecosystems. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), as early as 1974, has mentioned the destructive effects of mining in small islands in their Ecological Guidelines for Island Development. The Japan-based non-profit think tank Global Development Research Center (GRDC) has also included mining as one of the four significant localized problems encountered by island and archipelagic countries. A study of the GDRC has also revealed that some islands were mined out to the point that their residents have to be evacuated as they could no longer support a human population.

A more recent book, published last year, entitled A Companion to Global Environment History, revealed how some Pacific island nations were once dependent on mining but have since returned to agriculture as it is more sustainable. The book also mentioned the story of Nauru- one of the world’s smallest nations- and its struggle to get back on its feet after it was mined out and how the benefits from mining were not sufficient to rehabilitate the island’s core to its former habitable state.

There is still hope that our small islands will not suffer the same fate as Nauru, Mr. President. We just need to act fast and decisively in favor of the protection of our islands and their inhabitants. As such, we forward to you the following steps:

1. Declare small island ecosystems as No Go Zones for mining. Existing projects should be reviewed and must be stopped if found to have posed serious hazards to the environment and islanders.

2. Ensure the rehabilitation of all islands subjected to mining including but not limited to Marinduque, Rapu-Rapu in Albay, Manicani and Homonhon in Eastern Samar, and Semirara in Antique.

3. Provide alternative livelihood for islanders who were once employees of mining companies. Support the transition of the island’s economy from mining to sustainable agriculture, fishing, or ecotourism.

Signed:

* Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI)
[formerly Save Manicani Movement-SAMAMO]

* Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization (HERO)

* Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC)

* Sagip Isla, Sagip Kapwa, Inc. (SISKI)

* Diocese of Borongan

* Social Action Center of Borongan

* Social Action Center of Legazpi

* Social Action Center of Dipolog

* Social Action Center of Marbel

* Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI)

* Medical Action Group (MAG)

* Rev. Fr. Alejandro M. Galo, Jr. – DCSA Borongan Justice and Peace 13. Arlene Christy Lusterio – TAO Pilipinas

* Shen Maglinte – Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), Inc.

* Mary Ann V. Fuertes – IDIS, Inc., Davao City

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