We are dismayed and in utter disbelief upon learning that majority of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar hastily held a special session to endorse the application for renewal of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) for its nickel mining project in Manicani Island, Eastern Samar.
We feel that these members of SP are in a state of amnesia on the following grounds:
First, this is the same SP that made the Provincial Ordinance No. 09, series of 2005 which bans large-scale mining operations in Eastern Samar;
Second, such endorsement subverts the powers of EO 79, Letter e of Section 1 on Areas Close to Mining which states that “Other critical areas, island ecosystems, and impact areas of mining as determined by current and existing mapping technologies, that the DENR may hereafter identify pursuant to existing laws, rules, and regulations, such as, but not limited to, the NIPAS Act." Manicani is part of the Guiuan Protected Seascape and Landscape which was integrated into the NIPAS through Presidential Proclamation 469, Series of 1994;
Third, the MPSA of HMC in Manicani Island was suspended in 2002, and was never lifted since. Such suspension therefore covers hauling and transport of stockpiles out of the island. It also elicits questions such as “why would local government units endorse the renewal of a suspended MPSA? Are these LGUs willing to tolerate the same company?”
Fourth, there are petitions submitted in all the local government units of Eastern Samar opposing the renewal or issuance of any mining permit in Manicani and soliciting the local councils' indulgence not to endorse any mining operations in the island. But the same SB and SP did not heed the petitions nor bothered to invite the opposing residents to at least listen to their concerns. After all, these are the same residents who were negatively impacted by the mining operations and will be heavily affected in the next 25 years should the MPSA be renewed.
Fifth, Manicani was devasted by Typhoon Yolanda. Then came the rehabilitation projects of the government and other concernced development organizations. It is only logical that when an MPSA of a mining company covers an entire island, the LGU should not hastily decide in favor of the said mining company but rather decide on the basis of precaution and risk aversion, looking back into the core of “Build-back-Better” and climate resiliency.
We also condemn the MGB for its deceptiveness. Its record as of July 3, 2017 did not show any trace that HMC was already in the process of renewing its MPSA. But by August 2017, their records show that its office received the application for MPSA renewal of HMC in June 2016. We feel that this information was withheld from the public due to issues surrounding the operation of HMC in Manicani Island.
We ask Secretary Cimatu to disapprove outright HMC's application for MPSA renewal in Manicani. DENR should not even consider approving the application for renewal of the same company that was not even able to submit a Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan (FMRDP) for the same project. More importantly, allowing the renewal of the same MPSA that DENR itself suspended in 2002 poses a question on the ability and integrity of the agency to implement its mandate.
We ask President Duterte to put into reality his public admonition that he will not allow miners to destroy our land. Manicani is a very small island and home to endangered species such as the Philippine Mallard. Allowing the island to be mined is the same thing as killing the island.