Green groups slam
Atienza’s anti-Buhay track record
By Sibuyan ISLE
June 1, 2013
SIBUYAN ISLAND, Romblon – An
environment group in Romblon scored Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay)
party-list representative-elect Lito Atienza’s anti-life background on
environmental protection. Backed by a strong Catholic charismatic
renewal group El Shaddai, BUHAY party-list got three seats for the
next congress as it gained victory garnering 1,265,992 votes
equivalent to 4.74 percent of the total votes cast.
According to the website of
Buhay, the party-list’s core principles are based on the Pledge of
Allegiance to the Philippine Flag: for God, people, environment and
country. In being maka-kalikasan or pro-environment, Buhay believes
that the Creator gave us abundant and overflowing natural resources
which must be developed and used justly for the benefit of all
Filipinos and the next generation – not only for the chosen few. Buhay
further sees that the Philippines was formed by God to be emulated by
the world through the promotion of good and effective governance.
But Sibuyan Island Sentinels
League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) director Rodne Galicha said
in a statement that the background of former Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Lito Atienza as future lawmaker
goes against the very principles of Buhay.
“One working day, on
December 23, 2009, before Atienza resigned as DENR secretary to run in
Manila as mayor, he signed five mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA)
permits and three exploration permits. What was questionable? All
these are midnight deals. How come? December 24th was non-working
holiday, 25th a regular holiday, 26th is a Saturday and 27th is
Sunday. He resigned December 28th, Monday.”
Atienza stayed as head of
DENR from 2007 until 2009 under the baton of former President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo. The lady president that period was bullishly
promoting the mining industry left and right through Executive Order
270-A and the Mining Act of 1995 despite lack of social acceptability
and environmental threats in communities.
“In 2007, he vowed to help
us in Sibuyan as we personally delivered our petitions and opposition
letters against nickel mining. After an anti-mining activist was shot
to death, even the thee mayors of our island that year signed a
memorandum of agreement that destructive mining shall not be allowed
and the barangay councils revoked former recommendatory resolutions.
But lo and behold, in 2009 he signed through a midnight deal an MPSA
for 1,581 hectares of land to mine nickel, iron, cobalt, chromite and
other associated mineral deposits.”
Sibuyan ISLE demanded that
Atienza must be held accountable by Buhay itself, in the first place.
By approving mining in Sibuyan, the source of almost 95% clean energy
is threatened – Cantingas River. It is also the source of irrigation
of San Fernando town’s rice granary on top of being the summer tourism
capital of Sibuyan and apparently, of Romblon province as a whole.
“Being pro-life is to
protect human life as a whole – not only from the Catholic Church’s
claim of conception, or from birth when the fetus becomes a baby
curiously staring for the first time at the kaleidoscope of Earth’s
life. Protecting life in the present and in the future is as important
as protecting it from conception, fertilization or birth, or else one
becomes a backward pro-lifer being pro-conception, pro-fertilization
or pro-birth but generally, anti-life”, said Galicha.
Meanwhile, national group
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) coordinator Jaybee Garganera urged the
national government through the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC)
to conduct an immediate investigation on the alleged midnight
approvals and eventually revoke the license.
“As our country becomes a
candidate for the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative or EITI,
transparency and accountability in governance especially in mining
deals must be promoted. Although the Sibuyan license has been
suspended, it must be revoked due to lack of social acceptability and
threat to the environment and people’s lives.”
ATM further challenged the
new elected officials in Sibuyan to stand firm and prove themselves
right to defend their people. It also urged Buhay party-list to make
Atienza accountable and to be true to their principle on environment
by supporting pending legislations like Freedom of Information Act,
National Land Use Act and Philippine Mineral Resources Act or the
Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an
alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of
NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the
aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The
alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation
of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.