Mass starvation feared after closure of mines in Surigao del Sur | Inquirer News
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Mass starvation feared after closure of mines in Surigao del Sur

/ 12:31 AM February 19, 2017

CANTILAN, Surigao del Sur — Over 7,000 people who depend on mines for their living will starve in this town even before Environment Secretary Gina Lopez can put in place an ecotourism program to provide them with alternative livelihoods, officials warned  on Saturday.

Both Surigao del Sur Gov. Vicente Pimentel Jr. and Cantilan Mayor Philip Pichay, whose families are into mining businesses, said it would take three to five years for the ecotourism industry to fully develop and take off.

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Implementation

Lopez had envisioned this to be implemented in just about two years and pursued the cancellation of more mining activities. She had recently ordered 23 mines closed and canceled 75 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), 14 of which are in the Caraga region.

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While Pichay welcomed the proposal of Lopez to offer affected miners employment in the proposed ecotourism ventures, Pichay said the industry needed to generate at least P1 billion in income to employ just 3,000 people.

Pichay said Lopez’s timetable of two years to stabilize the ecotourism industry was also not feasible, adding that even three-star hotels could not be built within this period. He said it would take three to five  years for the alternative industry to be sustainable.

Lost opportunities

“Can you give employment to some 7,000 residents (here) who will lose their jobs?” Pimentel asked Lopez.

Pimentel said that at least 5,000 new job opportunities would be lost because the Carrascal Nickel Co. had decided to put on hold the establishment of its $5-billion processing plant due to Lopez’s stand against the mining companies in the province.

Pichay said the indigenous communities would also suffer as they were the biggest beneficiaries of mining activities. He said that in his town alone, indigenous groups had managed to fund education and health programs for their children from their share in mining activities, estimated at P10 million.

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TAGS: closure of mines, DENR, ecotourism industry, Gina Lopez, jobless miners, mass starvation, Philip Pichay, Philippine mining, Surigao del Sur, Unemployment, Vicente Pimentel Jr.
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