Capiz lifts 50-yr mining ban; groups condemn ordinance
ILOILO CITY—Environmental groups and residents of Capiz province have condemned the passage of a provincial ordinance lifting a landmark 50-year ban on large-scale mining in the province.
The Capiz Environmental Protection Alliance (Cepa) said the passage of Provincial Ordinance No. 9 “is an act of treachery” by the provincial board against the position of of Capiceños who fought against the operation of large-scale mining in the late 1990s.
The previous provincial board passed the ordinance on May 11, two days after the national and local elections. The decision, however, was made public only last week.
Capiz Gov. Antonio del Rosario said he was against the ordinance and he would ask the provincial board to repeal the lifting of the moratorium once he receives a formal opposition from Capiz residents.
“I only learned about it from the media. I am against it because Capiz is dependent on agriculture and its aquatic and marine resources. I will not implement an ordinance that is detrimental to the interest of the people,” Del Rosario told the Inquirer on Sunday.
Capiz is a top producer of rice and seafood. Its capital, Roxas City, has been dubbed the “seafood capital of the Philippines.”
The provincial board, in the ordinance, said it was lifting the moratorium in response to appeals of officials of Maayon town who wanted to allow the operation of the Australian-owned Teresa Marble Corp.
Maayon officials had cited economic benefits for the community, including creation of jobs, business opportunities and other social benefits.
“This honorable body has come realize that it is of the best interest of the community of the province of Capiz that it is about time to fulfill the economic and social benefits of the mining project …,” the ordinance said.
Cepa said the ordinance was passed “suspiciously” and without public consultation.
“[The mining moratorium] was a product of almost half a decade of advocacy, lobbying and social mobilizations for the preservation and protection of the environment in Capiz. The moratorium for mining activities in a province was a people’s victory in the fight against commercial mining,” said Darlene Surriga, Cepa advocacy officer.
On Aug. 27, 1999 the provincial board passed an ordinance declaring a 15-year moratorium on all large-scale mining activities and the acceptance and processing of all application for mineral agreements.
Three years later, on Feb. 15, 2002, the board amended the ordinance extending the moratorium to 50 years.
Environmental advocates have hailed the 1999 and 2002 ordinances as landmark pieces of legislation passed by a local government. Several provinces, including Guimaras, have also passed similar ordinances.