Mea culpa on mining policiesBy Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News
A Subaanen tribal leader, Timuay Barlie Balives and his son, Gerry, were mutilated to death on July 4.
On July 6, President Benigno Aquino III signed the historic Executive Order No. 79, the administration’s mea culpa on the onerous mining policies and a commitment to improve the mining standards in this biologically wealthy country. The EO was released to the public on July 9.
In August last year, Barlie Balives, together with residents in Zamboanga Peninsula and nongovernment organizations, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stop the mining in Zamboanga peninsula, a vital area for food production. Mining permits were granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources covering an unbelievable 50 percent of the total land area, which encroached on ancestral domains, protected areas, agricultural farms and affected coasts and biodiversity.
On Aug. 16, 2011, the Supreme Court issued an order granting the petitioners’ prayer for a writ of kalikasan. But it deferred the issuance of the temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) and writ of continuing mandamus “until the filing of the return.”
The writ of kalikasan gave “hope to the Subaanen of Midsalip that their sacred place, their mountains and tropical forest and all that gives life with it will be at long last be protected by the highest court in the land.” Unfortunately, death claimed Balives and his son on July 4. They were among those who were fervently praying that the TEPO and the writ of continuing mandamus would finally be issued for peace to reign in their troubled land.
They could not have known that on July 6, President Aquino would gallantly issue a mea culpa of his and the past administrations’ lop-sided policies on mining – thorugh Executive Order No. 79. Their brutal demise has added to the growing number of courageous ecological advocates in this country who had to die to save the future of the present generation and those yet unborn.
Quoted below is an excerpt of the report on the two heroes’ gruesome end.
“The murders of Timuay Barlie and his son were truly horrific. Both were brutally killed at their home in Duilec, a remote rural area about 4 hours hike on a walking track from the town of Midsalip. Timuay Barlie’s head of was split open, his face slashed. His side was knifed opened and his liver removed. His face, from mouth from ear to ear was slashed apart, his tongue cut out and an ear cut off. Fingers on his hand were severed. Hunks of flesh was sliced off both legs and taken by the criminals. His son was beheaded, tongue removed and chest carved up and his liver removed. They also cut off his left hand which they carried away with them.”
It is extremely difficult to figure out why so much hatred was vented upon them. They had the right as anyone to assert and claim from the State the protection of their rights to life, their livelihood which was farming and the right to healthy ecosystems which our Constitution and laws guaranteed each citizen.
(To be continued tomorrow)
More from this Column:
- Public participation and political dynasties
- Being green
- Nature cannot wait
- The stirring journey of Jireh
- Rediscovering our paradise in an ailing planet