SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on natural resources has approved measures declaring Davao City and Biliran province as mining-free zones to protect their local residents and the environment from the adverse effects of mining.
The committee chaired by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Party-list, Bayan Muna), passed House Bills 3166 and 872, declaring Davao City and Biliran Province, respectively, as mining-free zones.
Zarate said the bills recognize the constitutional provision which states that “it is the policy of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
Rep. Alberto Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), author of HB 3166, or “An Act Declaring the City of Davao as a Mining-Free Zone,” explained that “if opened to mining operations, a world-class city like Davao City would unnecessarily be endangered by deforestation and the risks attributed to mining since the place is traversed by Davao River from the highlands to the lowlands.”
Ungab further said the fresh waters of Davao City, considered as one of the best waters in the world, must be protected from any form of pollution or degradation, to include the surroundings and environs of its sources underneath the ground or above the ground.
Despite the laws and directives of both the national and local government agencies, Ungab said rapid deforestation caused by logging, kaingin, and mining operations is still prevalent.
Meanwhile, Rep. Rogelio Espina (Lone District, Biliran), author of HB 872, or “An Act Declaring Biliran as mining-free zone,” stressed that mining will be destructive to Biliran, citing the province’s small land area which is composed of two volcanic islands.
Espina said mining has adverse effects both on humans and the environment, saying that “aside from adding toxic chemicals to the ore, it strips off large areas of top soil of all flora and fauna.”
Espina, a medical doctor, cited a study conducted by Greenpeace International which states that “mining impacts include destruction of landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mine when trees, plants and topsoil are cleared from the mining area.”