Odiongan nixes Canadian firm’s mining plan on Tablas island

ROMBLON—The Municipality of Odiongan has voiced strong opposition to a Canadian firm’s application for a mining permit on Tablas island.

In a resolution, the town’s council said the application for an exploration permit by Ivanhoe Philippines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., if approved could cause havoc on the island’s ecology and the people’s health and livelihood.

Ivanhoe’s application for exploration is pending before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mines and Geosciences Bureau IV-B (Mimaropa).

The resolution, passed on January 10, opposes any mineral extraction in the municipality, saying that mining activities pollute the bodies of water and cause deforestation, which results in the loss of biodiversity.

It said that Tablas island is a very small island with elongated and narrow topography, making its inhabitants more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of mining operations.

Ivanhoe’s application covers several villages in the municipalities of Alcantara, San Agustin San Andres, Calatrava, Looc, Sta. Maria and Odiongan or almost the entire island of Tablas, the resolution said.

It also cited the experience of Marinduque province, saying that residents of the towns of Mogpog, Boac and Sta. Cruz are still reeling from the devastation wrought by the Marcopper Mining Corporation almost two decades ago. It said that the firm’s mining operations led to the death of Boac river and adversely affected Calancan Bay and the rivers of Mogpog and Sta Cruz.

To better protect the municipality, Odiongan called on Congress to repeal Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

It criticized the mining law as anti-Filipino, adding that it violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution, particularly Section 15, which states that “the state shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

Under Section 16, the charter provides that “The state shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of the nature.”

Instead, the Odiongan municipal government urged Congress to enact a mining legislation that would avert disasters and put in place a long-term development agenda that is non-destructive of the environment.

On January 10, the provincial government of Romblon has ordered an indefinite moratorium on large-scale mining, citing environmental concerns raised by the communities, environmental experts and non-government organizations.

Elsewhere in the Mimaropa region, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro have also issued a 25-year ban on mineral extraction. Marinduque has also ordered a mining ban.

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