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Philippine anti-mining activists remain defiant

Lawsuit won’t stop protests in Midsalip town

A Subanen tribal boy at a protest that aims to stop mining activities in Midsalip A Subanen tribal boy at a protest that aims to stop mining activities in Midsalip
  • Ryan Rosauro, Dipolog City
  • Philippines
  • January 24, 2011
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Anti-mining activists in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur have vowed to continue opposing mineral exploration in Midsalip despite threats and lawsuits leveled against them.

“It’s ironic that we are the ones being sued. In this struggle to preserve our community’s livelihood, we are on the defensive,” Jose Catamco of the Alliance to Save the Integrity of Nature told ucanews.com.

Catamco and nine others are facing legal action for hindering the exploration activities of Geotechniques and Minerals Inc., which holds a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement with the Philippine government.

Also facing charges with Catamco are several Church people including Irish missionary priest Sean Martin, Sister Patricia Andonaire and Father Arsenio Marane.

The case was lodged before a regional trial court in Aurora town. Catamco said they received the writ last month.

Under the law, anyone who prevents or obstructs the holder of any permit, agreement or lease from undertaking mining operations faces a maximum P5,000 (US$112) fine or a year in jail.

Catamco’s group has led an attempt to try and prevent equipment being delivered to designated drill sites, since Oct. 5.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of nearby Zamboanga del Norte province is expected to ban open-pit and open-cut land surface mining after the local Catholic Church led a march last week to call for a stop to mining activities in the area.

Provincial legislators are preparing a proposed ordinance that will “protect and conserve the integrity of the land and water resources.” The proposed measure takes note of previous ecological disasters at mine sites in the province.

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