Aquino vows to respect people’s will on mining

President Aquino and the Mangyan leaders with NCIP Secretary Roque Agton, Jr., Gov. Josephine Sato, Magsaysay Mayor Eleonor Fajardo and Occ. Mindoro Rep. Amelita Villarosa. (Photo by Jay Morales/Malacañang Photo Bureau).

President Benigno Aquino has vowed to respect the will of the people opposed to mining  in their localities even as he maintained that mineral extraction will create jobs  in the country.

Mangyan, community and church leaders hold a protest fast in November 2009 against DENR's issuance to Intex Resources of a mining clearance despite strong opposition from Mindorenos and a mining ban.

“Sa bagay na iyon, mayroon tayong makukuhang trabaho diyan. Hinahabol natin na dagdagan ‘yong value added, iyong processing,” Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview  in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro Wednesday.

“Pero ang bottom line kung ano ang gusto ng mga mamamayan,” said Aquino, following the awarding of a total of 18,616 hectares of provincial land to 824 Mangyan families in the province. “Kung ayaw ng taumbayan doon, sila ang papanigan natin.”

Asked what guarantee the government could provide to ensure the newly-awarded Mangyan ancestral lands will not be taken away from them by mining firms, he said: “Maliwanag po kung sino ang may titulo ng lupa. Palagay ko nasa batas na natin ‘yan, hindi ba?”

In December last year, Occidental Mindoro  issued a 25-year ban on large scale mining, making the entire Mindoro island off limits to mining activities.

A similar mining prohibition has been in effect in Oriental Mindoro since 2002.

But despite the island-wide moratorium, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been allowing  mining firms  to explore mineral resources on the island.

These two children join their parents during a protest against mining in Mindoro.

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