Senator Leila M. de Lima is opposed to the lifting of the provincial ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato, which would adversely affect the environment and the people in the community.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, urged South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. to veto the Provincial Board's amendment of the local environment code, particularly the removal of the prohibition on open-pit mining, after legislators in South Cotabato moved to overturn a 12-year-old provincial ban on open-pit mining last May 16.
Tamayo can still reverse the decision of the provincial board by vetoing it. If he fails to take any action within 15 days, it will pass into law.
"The negative effects of open-pit mining to the environment and communities are all well-documented. The air, land, and water pollutions brought about by these mining activities stay long after the mines are abandoned.
"The environmental fees to be paid by these companies will be pittance considering the fact that no amount of money can restore what will be lost due to mining," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1264.
"I implore South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. to listen to the people and veto the amendment. The ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato must stay," she added.
De Lima maintained that the community will be the ones who will live with the aftermath of the environmental degradation while the companies enjoy their profits.
"The people must be the one to decide whether to allow open-pit mining or not," the lady Senator stated.
"No person or corporation has the right to mine over the objection of the communities affected by it. On the contrary, our people's right to a balanced and healthful ecology has been authoritatively upheld by the Supreme Court," she added.
It may be recalled that De Lima, during her stint as Justice Secretary, created a task force led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to lead a crackdown on several illegal black sand mining operators in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur. The move led to the filing of charges against several individuals.
De Lima also filed proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1075 seeking to prohibit black sand mining operations in the country which continue to wreak environmental havoc while placing people's health and livelihood at great peril.