Editor’s Note: The Manila Bay Reclamation Project is a series of projects around the bay in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Parañaque, Navotas, and Cavite. The projects- that should more accurately be called land grabs- ironically assert to “reclaim” the bay area for commercial, residential and tourism development. Offshore mining has started in the Manila Bay area.
Fisherfolks in the area have not been informed about the seabed quarry before it began. Now there are no fish for them to catch. Their entire livelihood has been destroyed. Many have relocated to other areas. The following is a statement by a coalition of organizations fighting for community rights and against the seabed quarry.
Statement on State of National Address
July 24, 2023
STATE OF NO ACTION (SONA). This is possibly our most apt evaluation of the performance of President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. and DENR Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga.
One full year in office, and yet PBBM and Secretary Loyzaga have not acted on the demands of mining-affected communities, particularly the residents of Sibuyan Island, Romblon and Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
Fact is, mining operations continue in both regions and the respective Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation in Sibuyan and Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Brooke’s Point have not been cancelled.
During last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) conducted a “serenade” at the DENR grounds addressing then newly-appointed DENR Secretary Loyzaga. We brought fruits and flowers as gifts, symbolizing the preservation of natural resources and our earnest desire to dialogue with the government.
Over the course of a year, grassroots communities have undertaken various activities to articulate our situation and push for our demands. The activities range from submission of petition letters and research studies, to vigils, dialogues and protest actions.
In particular, residents of Sibuyan and Brooke’s put up barricades demanding a halt in mining operations deemed illegal for lack of proper permits. People from both regions have been insistently asking the DENR for the cancellation of the MPSAs of the concerned mining companies.
The DENR did open its doors for consultations as well as dialogues with those either knocking on or protesting at its gates. They did give an ear to the leaders and representatives of mining-affected communities. They did promise to conduct investigations and address the concerns of people on the ground.
But, until now, mining-affected communities are still awaiting decisive government actions. Investigations have still to be conducted, mining operations have yet to be permanently stopped, and mining contracts have still to be cancelled.
Worse, while the demands of mining-affected communities are ignored, mining companies are given headway in their operations.
For instance, despite the moratorium in new applications for seabed quarrying permits imposed by the previous administration, seabed quarrying and offshore mining have become more active than ever.
Presently, there are 11 large-scale offshore mining projects all over the country. Also, based on a list obtained from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), there are 175 reclamation projects lined up at different stages of application. According to environmental groups belonging to People’s NICHE, there are at least 46 reclamation projects in Manila Bay alone which would affect 32,000-hectares of fishing waters.
In the midst of a climate emergency, the continued destruction of nature through mining and other extractive activities is simply unacceptable. For the continued destructive operations of mining companies and the miserable conditions of people in mining-affected communities, we hold PBBM and the DENR fully accountable.
On this second State of the Nation Address, we strongly call on President Marcos and DENR Sec. Loyzaga to immediately and decisively act on the demands of the people.
Specifically, we demand a stop to destructive and illegal mining operations through the cancellation of large-scale mining contracts in Sibuyan and Brooke’s Point, and other sites of struggles. We also urgently call for a comprehensive review of seabed quarrying and offshore mining activities and a halt to the operations in Manila Bay.
We do not want to waste more time waiting. The time to act is NOW.
Pagkatapos ng usapan, AKSYON ANG KAILANGAN!
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party
Aksyon sa Kahandaan sa Kalamidad at Klima (AKKMA)
Alliances of Buguey for Community Development Advocates (Albucoda)
Alyansa Kontra Mina – Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental
Ang Aroroy Ay Alagaan, Inc (4As)
Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF)
Aroroy Youth Environmental Guardian (AYEG)
Bangan – Malabago Fisherfolk Association- BMFA
Bayay Sibuyanon Inc. (BSI)
Bileg Dagiti Babbae (Bileg)
Carrascal Cantilan Madrid Carmen Lanuza Baywatch (CCMCL Baywatch)
Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice (CIEJ)
Didipio Earth Savers Multi- Purpose Association- (DESMA)
Guardians Brotherhood International Humanitarian Leadership, Inc.
Koalisyon ng Mamamayan at Sambayanan sa Northern at Sentral Luzon (Kumasa Na)
La Fraternidad Fisherfolk and Women Group (LAFFWO)
Living Laudatu Si
Marian Women Producers’ Cooperative (MWPC)
Maporac Aetas Organization- MAO
Nature Ambassadors of Sibuyan Island (NASI)
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)- Negros Oriental Provincial Council
Risktaker- AMKKAS (Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Kalikasan ng Kasibu)
Samahan ng Mangingisdang Kababaihan sa Minanga Este (Samakami)
Sibuyanon Against Mining (SAM)
Tagbuyawan Lakeshore Association
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Tubajon People’s Council (TUPECO)
Unahin Lagi ang Diyos (UNLAD)
Working Youth of Tubay (WYC)
Zambales North Payao Fisherfolk Association (ZambaNorFa)
Also published on Medium.