The Green Thumb Coalition (GTC), representing various civil society and environmental organizations triumph as Secretary Regina Paz Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced today the closure of 23 mining operations and suspension of 6 mining firms.
In a forum last Thursday, Lopez presented the ills left by mining in communities in Mindanao, Eastern Samar, and Zambales. In the same event, community leaders gave testimonies to the sufferings they bore as mining corporations profit.
“Natutuwa kami dahil tinupad ni Sec. Gina ang kanyang pangako. Naniniwala kami na mas abot-kamay ngayon ang hustisya para sa mga komunidad. Ito ay matagal nang panawagan ng mga apektadong mamamayan. Ngayon lamang napakinggan sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Sec. Gina kaya malaking pasasalamat talaga, Ma’am” said Ben Molino of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS) from Zambales.
Lopez reiterated the need to protect our waters and forests by stopping and not allowing destructive projects. “Water is life,” she declares as forum participants cheer. Lopez reaffirms the government’s strong commitment to promote the community’s welfare over the material gain of others.
GTC lauds the leadership support given to Sec. Lopez. President Rodrigo Duterte said in a separate press event, “I support her [Lopez] and there was never a time that I called her to slow down a little bit.” Duterte also reminded Lopez during a Cabinet meeting to implement the total log ban.
Following this development, GTC calls on the DENR and the Duterte administration to take big steps in correcting policies that have allowed the entry of (mining and other) destructive development projects.
“The next challenge ahead is a review of the current mining policy framework. We believe that a long-lasting solution to the current injustices is a socially just minerals management framework that is being promoted under the Alternative Minerals Management Bill,” said Norie Garcia, Partnership and Advocacy Director of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. and secretariat member of GTC.
GTC is positive that the steps by Lopez will lead the nation closer to social and environmental justice.