Climate group joins call for probe on activities of Chinese vessel in Antique
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMJC) has joined Antique Rep. Loren Legarda in demanding the provincial government of Antique to investigate Semirara Mining and Power Corporation’s (SMPC) decision to allow a Chinese vessel into the province.
PJMC said that locals in the area reported that the Chinese vessel “continue to enter and exit” SMPC to ship materials and goods for coal mining thus violating the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act’s enforcement of physical distancing in the mining workplace.
“It has been reported by mine workers and locals that foreign vessels from China continue to enter and exit Semirara for coal mining. The report confirms the complaints of Rep. Loren Legarda and why the government is lax about it,” said the group in a statement on Thursday.
PMCJ asserted that the shipment of materials and goods for mining by a foreign vessel for exportation is a non-essential service in the time of COVID-19. Allowing foreign vessels during the period of a nationwide lockdown defeats the purpose of the Bayanihan Act, it also said.
Rodrigo Cabatac, the community leader of Sabang Poocan Farmers and Fisherfolks Association (Sapoffa) even called for the shutdown of SMPC.
PMCJ implored the provincial government, through the Office of the Governor, as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate the activities of the Chinese vessel in Antique.
The DENR, however, said the PMCJ is barking up the wrong tree because coal mining is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy.
Cabatac added that the continuous mining operations during the COVID-19 crisis would put the lives of workers and locals at a risk.
PMCJ also questioned the apparent lack of relief operations that the government should have extended to communities in SMPC during the enhanced community quarantine.
“It’s during this lockdown that the government should help the citizens who don’t have work so they can support the daily needs of their families,” said Cabatac. “If the government doesn’t give its support then hunger will fall on the citizens.”
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