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Verde Island Passage and the Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas: A Contemporary Legal Issue Ezekiel

Verde Island Passage

and the

Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas:

A Contemporary Legal Issue

Ezekiel T. Mostiero

Verde Island Passage and the Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas: A Contemporary Legal Issue Ezekiel T.

Verde Island Passage:

Sailing from World Recognition to Possible Mining Destruction

By: Ezekiel Mostiero

The World’s Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity” would dig its name out in account

had mining continued to plunder Lobo, Batangas’ resources in exchange of reserves.

This was the common view that sailed thousands of Batangueños, environmentalists, and religious leaders to oppose planned mining activities fearing that it will endanger the nearby Verde Island Passage (VIP) situated between the province of Batangas and the island of Mindoro.

between the province of Batangas and the island of Mindoro. The Serene Diversity Lobo, a fourth

The Serene Diversity

Lobo, a fourth class coastal municipality near the southern tip of Batangas, houses a large number of species that records the highest concentration of marine life in the world accounting to 1,736 species, filled with forests, walled by mountains and surrounded by rich waters of the Verde Island passages, which was named as the ‘World’s Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversityin 2005 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

More than half the Philippines’ documented fish species as well as many globally threatened species can be found in the said area. Numerous studies in the Verde Passage continue to yield discoveries of species that are new to science, further underscoring the global biological

significance of this area.

Figure 1. (Photo Source: www.kalikasan.net) “ The Verde Island Passage, the global center of marine

Figure 1. (Photo Source: www.kalikasan.net)

The Verde Island Passage, the global center of marine biodiversity, is of international and inter- generational importance yet currently threatened by different large-scale mining threats across its coastal provinces. We hope to raise this concern and gather support for the Filipino people’s struggles to protect one of the world’s richest marine bioldiversity corridors at the upcoming International People’s Conference on Mining,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, one of the IPCM organizers. (www.kalikasan.net)

“The central part of the nation is the “center of the center” for world marine shore fish biodiversity, and the peak in this marine biodiversity is found in the Verde Island Passage. About two-thirds of the known marine species of the Pacific can be found in these coastal waters of the Philippines,” according to a scientific research of Old Dominion University marine biologist Kent Carpenter and Victor Springer of the Smithsonian Institute.

Last June 8, American and Filipino scientists exploring the area have found more than 100 marine species, many of them previously unknown to science, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS). The CAS, in a statement, said the scientists were able to gather a wide range of marine specimens, including "rare and new species" of sea slugs, barnacles, and urchins, as well as "mysterious live animals from dimly-lit, deep-water reefs.

6 'Rare and New' species in Verde Island

The international recognition of the passage that followed widespread media coverage let Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inked “Executive Order No. 578 establishing the “National Policy on Biological Diversity” and prescribing its implementation by national and local government agencies in the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor.

These acknowledgements succeeded nine years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had recognized Lobo as the fifth of 18 biodiversity centers in the world.

Passage

(Photos

by:

Gary

Williams,

California

Academy of Sciences, via www.rappler.com July 2015)

Academy of Sciences, via www.rappler.com J uly 2015) Figure No. 2 Thorunna species This bright purple

Figure No. 2 Thorunna species This bright purple nudibranch (sea slug) with an orange margin has intense colors to warn predators that it is toxic.

Moreover, Owing to its richly varied geographic features and favorable location in the tropics, the Verde Island Passage was sought to be a source of livelihood among Batangueños and a known tourist spot.

According to Conservation International, Verde Passage is an important area for shipping, tourism, fishing and other economic activities. There are thousands of registered fisherman and fishing crafts in the various coastal municipalities, as well as registered commercial fishing vessels all taking a toll on the thriving fisheries of the passage.

all taking a toll on the thriving fisheries of the passage. Figure No. 3 Stiliger species

Figure No. 3 Stiliger species This sap-sucking sea slug was found on green algae in shallow reefs off Verde Island.

was found on green algae in shallow reefs off Verde Island. Figure No. 4 Neoferdina species

Figure No. 4 Neoferdina species This spectacular new starfish was found below 100 meters off of Verde Island.

In Quest of Mines

Around 29,000 hectares of mountainous land within Lobo, have been explored thru rock gathering and soil samples examined by Mindoro Resources Limited Gold Philippines (MRL Gold), a 99 percent Canadian-owned and one percent Filipino- owned firm. It left hundreds of holes drilled, approximately one kilometer to search for gold deposits, copper and other mineral reserves after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) granted MRL Gold Minerals Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs)

spanning the towns of Rosario, Taysan, San Juan, Lobo, and Batangas City that permitted the said exploration in 2002 until at present.

Figure No. 5 Mourgona species This brand new species of sea slug crawled out of

Figure No. 5 Mourgona species This brand new species of sea slug crawled out of a clump of algae that had been collected and brought to the lab two days earlier. (June 10)

According to Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL-Batangas), an anti-mining environmental group in Batangas, there are already 173 drilled holes as of 2009 ocular survey.

However, it was only then that mining in Lobo stirred its fame not only on nearby localities, media but the Philippine landscape after Egerton Gold Philippines, Inc., an Australian-Canadian firm in Batangas, filed its local permit over the Municipal Council of Lobo for proper endorsement of its plan to MGB when their exploration didn’t fail to guarantee the conceivable large collection of gold reserves within 29,000 hectares of land.

“Egerton had seen that gold reserves can be mined in Lobo, thru the possible establishment of a processing plant, thru open pit mining to be done in the span of ten years as held in their proposal in order for these reserves to be sold in gold metal, “ said Dr. Leo Jasareno, the Director for Mines and Geosciences Bureau in a televised interview with ABS-CBN.

Geosciences Bureau in a televised interview with ABS-CBN. According to the proposal, not only that local

According to the proposal, not only that local communities will be uprooted from their homes, but even the local biodiversity would be affected by the mining activity.

According to Dr. Jasareno, in the same interview, after the processing stage, these gold reserves will be deposited over tailings pond, together with cyanide, in order not to leak on rivers and water bodies located nearby.

Figure No. 6 Coeloplana species This new species of bottom-dwelling comb jelly lives communally on starfish.

Figure No. 7 Halgerda species

Figure No. 7 Halgerda species

However, this was the same scenario that became a failed promise in Benguet and Surigao for the past years that affected and eventually destroyed the nearby agricultural lands, and water bodies located that were feared to happen in Lobo by environmental advocates, and citizens in Batangas.

This beautiful species with dark ridges and spots is found in the mesophotic zone at a depth of around 100 meters.

“Of the seven pit minings that will be established, one is only 600 meters away from the shoreline of the protected passage” added Dr. Jasareno.

Egerton Gold Inc. has also secured a water permit application in Lobo Water District accumulating to 865, 728 drums per day.

“Definitely, there will be scarcity of water, that will not be beneficial to the citizens of Lobo” said Danilo Perz the General Manager of Lobo Water District.

Nevertheless, last April 20, the Municipal Council of Lobo passed a Resolution endorsing the application for open pit gold mining in Lobo to the DENR after barangay captains gave their assent that is said to be an allegation.

According to Renato Perez, the Vice Mayor of Lobo, Batangas, they approved the resolution because it is economically viable. In the said interview, 150 workers will be employed. 120 million pesos will go to Lobo, Batangas, 92 million pesos to the affected barangays, and 42 million to the provincial government.

When asked about the dangers that it might brought to the Verde Island Passage, he said that he will take responsibility of such.

It then appears that 98 percent of the total income will go to the corporation leaving 2 percent to the government.

go to the corporation leaving 2 percent to the government. The above figure shows a vibrant

The above figure shows a vibrant view of the bountiful marine ecology in the Verde Island Passage. Photo Courtesy:

California Academy of Sciences (www. Calacademy.org)

Fr. Dakila Ramos, director of the Lipa archdiocese's Ministry on the Environment, joins residents of

Fr. Dakila Ramos, director of the Lipa archdiocese's Ministry on the Environment, joins residents of Lobo town in the province of Batangas during a protest rally against mining operations in Manila July 16. (Photo by Vincent Go) (courtesy:

www.ucanews.com)

Drive Against Destruction

Go) (courtesy: www.ucanews.com) Drive Against Destruction Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and priests lead a

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and priests lead a “prayer walk” in Lipa City on July 13 against the proposed gold mining and coal-fired power plant projects in Lobo town. (Photo: Fr. Leonido Dolor)

Last June 9, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), groups led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and BUKAL-Batangas urged the local government to follow its own laws and protect Lobo’s conservation area and sanctuaries from the Australian- Canadian mining firm.

“Our mine will be run to highest international standards and rehabilitated on closure to provide excellent amenities and landforms in consultation with local wishes. In Lobo, this will include eco- tourism facilities established during the life of the mine that will continue to enhance the tourism potential of the region both during and after the mine has operated,” said President of Egerton Gold Philippines, Edsel Abrasaldo, in an interview with Manila Standard Today.

Many members of the community chimed in to express their support for the project. “The company helps the local community by providing jobs during the exploration period on a weekly rotation basis in order that more jobless residents can benefit,” remarked Roger Lontoc, Barangay Secretary of Mabilog na Bundok, one of the ten barangays affected by the project.

“They improved our barangay hall and day care center for pre-school children, gave a hundred of cement bags every year for the construction of feeder roads and three basketball courts. [They

also] implemented tree planting near river banks and gave forest and fruit tree seedlings to the

Yes, “Our mine will be run to highest international standards and rehabilitated

on closure to provide excellent amenities and landforms in consultation with local wishes. In Lobo, this will include eco-tourism facilities established during the life of the mine that will continue to enhance the tourism potential of the region both during and after the mine has operated,”

- President of Egerton Gold Philippines, Edsel Abrasaldo, in an interview with Manila Standard Today, July 2015

community,” Vilma Atienza, one of the residents of Barangay Calumpit sitio Itaas Silyaran said “I am enjoying the water coming to our house and lot from the well that Egerton drilled on our land 8 years ago.”

All ten affected barangay councils in Lobo had unanimously granted their consent for the project by January 23, with the municipality council following suit on April 20, reflecting the social and economic interests of their constituencies. This followed a tour of an operating mine run by Oceana Gold in Nueva Viscaya last January 3-5, 2015 where LGU officials witnessed the mining operation and its resultant socioeconomic benefits to surrounding communities.

However, the approval of the municipal government gathered thousands of citizens, government officials, environmentalists and religious leaders to stop the proposed mining and urge the municipal government to withdraw its endorsement to the DENR.

“The Egerton gold project will be utilizing open-pit mining technology, which will result in the production and dumping of millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River, down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage. This impending mine pollution will surely spell death to current marine conservation areas in Lobo municipality alone,” said Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator. (Bulatlat.com)

BUKAL and Bishop Ramon Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa in collaboration with the Center for Environmental Concern-Philippines and other groups, held an environmental investigative mission (EIM) in Lobo that gather facts and data on the extent and possible impacts of mining in the exploration-affected barangays.

They concluded that once actual mining operations start, there is a possibility of contamination of the bodies of water when Pryite, an iron ore when reacted with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and the water table, contaminating sources of groundwater in the vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage (AMD), can cause heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.

“The adverse effects of large scale mining even at its exploration stage of drilling can immediately be felt by the host communities through destroyed vegetation and altered landscape thereby

disturbing thriving ecosystems in the area. Once the operation reaches large extraction and production stages, it will surely be a blow to the rich biodiversity of forest and marine ecosystems in Batangas,” said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of BUKAL.

Environmentalists said that wastes generated by the mining will find its way to Lobo rivers which will drain directly into the Verde Island Passage that would cause the destruction of the same especially as the Egerton’s project area is situated in a steep, mountainous areas just one or two kilometers away from the coastline. The passage, as a top-fifth of the 18 biodiversity centers in the country which houses a large number of terrestrial flora and fauna and a diverse range of habitats is subject to be endangered.

Yes, we envision Batangas to be a haven for investors and industries. But we

will never allow our environment to be compromised by any development, by any businesses. You can rest assured that we will maintain the beauty of Verde

Island Passage,

-Vice Governor Mark Leviste, in an interview with Rappler.com, July 2015

Vice Governor Mark Leviste said in a press conference that though Batangas wants to protect interests of investors, he said that the provincial government won’t allow activities that will compromise the passage and that they will block any moves to approve the gold mine project near the 'center of the center of marine biodiversity.

“Yes, we envision Batangas to be a haven for investors and industries. But we will never allow our environment to be compromised by any development, by any businesses. You can rest assured that we will maintain the beauty of Verde Island Passage,” he added.

He claimed that Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto has instructed the province’s environment and natural resources office that no mining will happen under her administration. (Rappler.com)

However, the provincial council has yet to issue a resolution against the gold mine while last July 20, the municipal council of Lobo had formally withdrew its endorsement for the proposed mining.

In order to strengthen its protection, Senate Bill No. 1898 or the Verde Island Passage Act was filed by Senator Loren Legarda in the 16 th Congress, that seeks to declare Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor as a Marine Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone.

that seeks to declare Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor as a Marine Protected Area and Ecological

Current Environmental Problem

For the exploration of the possible mining industry of Egerton Philippines, the following were the effects that had already occurred, and continues at present:

a. Disruption of natural habitats;

“MRL has created a total of 173 drill holes approximately one kilometer deep in the ground and is currently working to drill more holes to complete its exploration. MRL has two years left to finish its exploration under the permit issued.” (www.kalikasan.net)

The disturbance of the landscape even in the exploration stage is already adverse to the disruption of natural habitats. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, Mining causes direct and indirect damage to wildlife. The impacts stem primarily from disturbing, removing, and redistributing the land surface. Some impacts are short-term and confined to the mine site; others may have far-reaching, long-term effects. The most direct effect on wildlife is destruction or displacement of species in areas of excavation and piling of mine wastes. Mobile wildlife species, like game animals, birds, and predators, leave these areas. More sedentary animals, like invertebrates, many reptiles, burrowing rodents, and small mammals, may be more severely affected.

Fr. Oliver Castor, BUKAL spokesperson, said, “The adverse effects of large scale mining even at its exploration stage of drilling can immediately be felt by the host communities through destroyed vegetation and altered landscape thereby disturbing thriving ecosystems in the area. Once the operation reaches large extraction and production stages, it will surely be a blow to the rich biodiversity of forest and marine ecosystems in Batangas.”

b. Presence of Iron Ore found that could lead back into the ground and water table;

The findings of the Center for Environmental Concern-Philippines and its fact-finding team, noted the presence of pyrite from rock samples within the drill holes. Pyrite is an iron ore found in sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock areas and is popularly known as “Fool's Gold” because of its resemblance to the latter. It is used for car batteries, appliances, food cans, paper, tools, some jewelry, and machinery.

Pyrite is exposed to the elements during mining, reacting with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and the water table, contaminating sources of groundwater in the vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage (AMD), can cause heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.

The AMD can potentially leach out into the rivers of the Mt. Banoi watershed which are the source of potable water for Lobo residents and farm animals as well as irrigation. Lobo's climate, where the rainy season lasts from June to October, is also conducive to the formation of AMD if large-scale mining commences.

The priest said that Mount Lobo and Mount Banoi encompassing the town of Lobo, Batangas City and other adjacent municipalities where current explorations of MRL are being undertaken are watershed areas. “Large-scale mining in the area will endanger the health of Batangueños as mine tailings and other toxic substances will pollute the water systems of Mt. Banoi and Mt. Lobo, which have been a vital source of water supply in the province,” Castor said.

c. Reduced slope stability or higher risk of landslides;

For most mining projects, the potential of soil and sediment eroding into and degrading surface water quality is a serious problem, as supported by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).

According to a study commissioned by the European Union: “Because of the large area of land disturbed by mining operations and the large quantities of earthen materials exposed at sites, erosion can be a major concern at hardrock mining sites.

With the drilled holes done by the MRL, there is already a reduced slope stability and higher risk of landslides in Lobo, Batangas that could affect the destruction of natural habitats and further loss of biodiversity.

Possible Environmental Impacts

For the possible production and establishment of the mining industry of Egerton Philippines, the following are the possible impacts on the environment according to Natural resource economist Germelino Bautista has identified potential resource and environmental damage that can result from each stage of mining operations and researches done by Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide:

Mining exploration, operation, & ore extraction

a. Disruption, if not loss of, natural habitats

b. Forest land conversion/loss

c. Decline in carbon sequestration capacity

d. Erosion, sedimentation

e. Reduced slope stability or higher risk of landslides

f. Diversion of surface or groundwater

g. Reduced or erratic stream flows

h. Clogged stream channels

i. Potential acid rock generation

j. Contamination of surface waterways

k. Mineral production

l. Threat to particular species or biodiversity loss

m. Diversion of surface or groundwater

n. Reduced stream flow or groundwater depletion

o. Acid rock drainage and contamination of soil and water

p. Surface, groundwater pollution

q. Reduced fish spawning area

r. Damage to aquatic life

s. Air pollution (increased dust, PM, metal gases, sulphuric acid)

Mine waste and tailings management

a. Contamination of streams, rivers, other water bodies from tailings release

b. Destruction of habitats (rivers, mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs)

c. Fish kills

d. Groundwater contamination from tailings dam seepages

e. Air pollution from dried tailings

f. Loss of particular species

Towards a Green Navigation

The serene biodiversity of the natural scenery that earned domestic and international recognition that is eyed for mining has been a remarkable call among Batangueños, environmentalists, government officials and religious leaders in order to prevent the possible destruction of Verde Island Passage that is regarded as the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity not only to preserve its name in account of such recognition but the State’s duty to promote social justice in all phases of national development and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with
Verde Island Passage and the Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas: LEGAL ANALYSIS

Verde Island Passage

and the

Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas:

LEGAL ANALYSIS

Verde Island Passage and the Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas: LEGAL ANALYSIS
Verde Island Passage and the Possible Mining Destruction in Batangas: LEGAL ANALYSIS
According to the Philippine Law Journal, (La Vina, et.al), It is an established fact that

According to the Philippine Law Journal, (La Vina, et.al), It is an established fact that mining carries with it negative environmental impacts. Mineral exploration, extraction, and production are by nature disruptive and destructive activities, such that their undertaking must necessarily be accompanied by comprehensive measures aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and remediation of environmental impacts.

At present, For the current mining exploration that had happened, the following laws were already said to be violated based from studies and researches generally made by International and Local Organizations on mining exploration, but the researcher of this legal analysis believes that further researches must be conducted to actually support the following infractions of law:

LAWS , REGULATIONS OR ORDINANCES VIOLATED

A. International Environmental Law

International agreements to which the Philippines is a party are part of the law of the land. 28 They are thus subject to implementation with the same force and effect as domestic laws, and the Philippines is bound to perform the obligations imposed by these treaties.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims at the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from its use, and the regulation of biotechnology. A significant provision of the CBD which relates to the mining industry is found in Article 3 on Principle, which calls on member States, such as the Philippines, to ensure that use and exploitation of natural resources carries with it a responsibility to ensure the protection of the environment and the preservation of biological diversity.

environment and the preservation of biological diversity. Figure no. 7. Molave. This is one of the

Figure no. 7. Molave. This is one of the endangered trees in Lobo, Batangas.

B. R.A. No. 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;

According to KALIKASAN People’s Network for Environment, position paper to the DENR, Mt. Lobo is the habitat of several endangered terrestrial species, among them are endemic trees like Philippine Teak, Dungon and Molave and threatened wildlife species like the giant fruit bat and flying foxes, whose numbers are presently only hundreds as compared from at least 10,000 50 years ago. As of 2004, the taxonomic diversity of plants accounted for in Mt. Lobo amounts to 181 species. There are also a total of 96 avifaunal species, of which 31% are endemic to the Philippines.

With MRL’s creation of a total of 173 drill holes approximately one kilometer deep in the ground and is currently working to drill more holes to complete its exploration, the wildlife and species were already disturbed and their natural habitats were already altered.

C. Republic Act No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990

The law was passed in 1990, with the ultimate goal of ensuring full protection of the people’s health and the environment from unreasonable risks posed by industrial chemicals and chemical substances. It provides the legal framework for the country’s program to control and manage the importation, manufacture, processing, distribution, use, transport, treatment, and disposal of toxic substances and hazardous and nuclear wastes.

The result of the findings done by the Center for Environmental Concern- Philippines and the fact-finding team noted the presence of pyrite from rock samples within the drill holes. Pyrite is an iron ore found in sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock areas and is popularly known as “Fool's Gold” because of its resemblance to the latter. It is used for car batteries, appliances, food cans, paper, tools, some jewelry, and machinery.

Accordingly, Pyrite is exposed to the elements during mining, reacting with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and the water table, contaminating sources of groundwater in the vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage (AMD), can cause heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.

The AMD can potentially leach out into the rivers of the Mt. Banoi watershed which are the source of potable water for Lobo residents and farm animals as well as irrigation. Lobo's climate, where the rainy season lasts from June to October, is also conducive to the formation of AMD if large-scale mining commences.

to the formation of AMD if large-scale mining commences. Figure no. 8. PYRITE. This is the

Figure no. 8. PYRITE. This is the mineral that is found in the drilled holes that are said to leach back into the ground that could contaminate the groundwater of the people of Lobo, Batangas as of the present.

D.

Environmental Protection.”

Violation

of

Chapter

XI

of

the

Mining

Act

“Safety

and

It generally refers to safe and sanitary working conditions in

mining areas, and to “waste-free and efficient mine development”. It is the declared policy of the DENR that mining permits, agreements and leases be managed responsibly, so as to promote the general welfare and sustainable development objectives and responsibilities. These objectives are:

Sustainable environmental conditions at every stage of mining operations; Progressive rehabilitation of all areas and sites affected by mining operations; Preservation of freshwater and seawater quality and natural marine habitats; Prevention of air and noise pollution; and Respect for sustainable management practices of ICCs and other communities.

POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF MINING AND INFRACTIONS OF LAW

Mineral operations cannot be conducted without affecting and disturbing the land, water, and air surrounding and connected to the site, as well as the various natural resources found on and in them. 6

In assumption that mining in Lobo, Batangas had started to commence in the area, and thereby produce and dump millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River, down to the waters of the Verde Island Passage, the following laws, regulations or ordinances were to be violated:

a. Water Code of the Philippines or Clean Water Act.

Since metric tons of mine wastes will be dumped into the Lobo River, there is a great possibility that it would go down into the waters of the Verde Island Passage that could eventually poison and pollute its waters. A suit can then be filed versus the MRL Gold, even if actually permitted by the DENR and its local government due to the effects that it could cause to the said passage.

According to the Proposal of the MRL Gold, as cited by the DENR thru Dr. Leo Jasareno, the nearest establishment of the mining industry is only 600 meters away from the passage’s shoreline which is vulnerable to water pollution brought about by the dumping of the collected dump in its tailings pond that had already happened to Benguet, Surigao and Marinduque that is feared to happen in Lobo, Batangas.

b. Republic Act No. 9147 Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Marine Resources and their Habitats

The provisions of this Act is enforceable for all wildlife species found in all areas of the country. It shall be the policy of the State to:

(a) to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats to promote ecological balance

and enhance biological diversity;

(b)

to regulate the collection and trade of wildlife;

(c)

to pursue, with due regard to the national interest, the Philippine commitment to international

conventions, protection of wildlife and their habitats; and

(d) to initiate or support scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity.

Thus, with the possible water pollution that is caused by the leakage of the dumped mines in the tailings pond according to the company’s proposal, and supported by the DENR, could poison the wildlife marine resources and their habitats which is violative of the act.

LEGAL ACTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN IN THE PAST

There will still no legal actions that have been taken in the past as of the creation of this legal analysis. At present, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has just ordered a multisectoral group opposing the implementation of a gold mining company’s project in Lobo, Batangas to formalize its complaint and substantiate demands for operation stoppage.

complaint and substantiate demands for operation stoppage. It is an established fact that mining carries with

It is an established fact that mining carries with it negative environmental impacts. Mineral exploration, extraction, and production are by nature disruptive and destructive activities, such

that their undertaking must necessarily be accompanied by comprehensive measures aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and remediation of environmental impacts.

At present, the researcher has concluded the following:

a. As of the exploration stage, the people could file suits versus the appropriate courts that the said mining proposal violates the following laws:

a. Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology, Article XVI, Section II, 1987 Constitution

b. R.A. No. 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;

c. Republic Act No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990;

d. Violation of Chapter XI of the Mining Act “Safety and Environmental Protection.”

b. Further Researches and Studies are needed to be done in order to fully materialize the peoples clamor on the destructive mining exploration of the MRL-Gold;

c. Further Researches and Studies are needed to be done to scientifically foresee the possible environmental effects especially on the Verde Island Passage, which is said to be the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversityand thereby file suits in order to halt the possible commencement of Mining Industry in the forest of Lobo, Batangas.

of Mining Industry in the forest of Lobo, Batangas. 1. To declare the Verde Island Passage

1. To declare the Verde Island Passage as a Marine Protected Area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and Ecological Tourism Zone.

The declaration of such, will totally strengthen the legal framework protecting the Verde Island Passage from any attempt of destruction especially of the mining industries. In 2013 Sen. Loren Legarda, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, filed a measure seeking to declare the entire region as a marine- protected area and ecological tourism zone. Senate Bill 1898, however, remains at the committee level.

According to the NIPAS Act, when a certain environmental area is classified either as a strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscape and seascape, resource reserve, natural biotic area, or other category established by law, convention, or international agreement, it is managed with the goal of enhancing biodiversity and protecting it from destructive human behavior. Buffer zones are also identified around the protected area, and these shall be subject to special development control to minimize harm to the protected area.

2. To declare the forests in Lobo as a forest reserve under the NIPAS Act in order to protect its wildlife resources and natural landscape from possible mining and eventually,

protecting the Verde Island Passage from possible environmental damage that can caused by mining in the said forests.

The forests in Lobo be declared either as an old growth or virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness areas, mangrove forests, mossy forests, national parks provincial/municipal forests, parks, greenbelts, game refuge and bird sanctuaries as defined by law, to be expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) under Republic Act No. 7586, or any administrative proclamation in order not to be a center of mining industry in order to totally prohibit the possible establishment of mining industry.

3. The Municipal Council of Lobo could pass an ordinance delineating the area to be conserved and protected in order for mining applications be excluded by the Secretary of DENR in cases of mining applications.

CONSTITUTIONALITY

The researcher thinks that the legal recommendations set is constitutional. The 1987

Constitution itself recognizes the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.

Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology

The 1987 Philippine Constitution enshrined the oft-cited state policy on the “right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”.[13] The Supreme Court has declared this provision self-executory, that is, capable of being enforced independent of any enabling statute. 4 Article XII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution reiterates the requirement that Congress take into account the “requirements of conservation, ecology, and development” when granting rights over lands of the public domain. A new environmental provision established in the 1987 Constitution is the mandate to Congress to legislate the limits of forest lands and national parks for the purpose of conserving them, and to provide for the prohibition of logging in endangered forests and watershed areas. 5

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology, as enshrined in Article II, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution, has been made the basis of remedies by actual or potential victims of environmental damage. Among these is the internationally recognized case of Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., 6 in which the Supreme Court, apart from declaring this right self-executory, held that such right is “no less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the [Bill of Rights].” 7 The Court also introduced in this case the doctrine of “intergenerational responsibility,” allowing minor parties “to sue in behalf of succeeding generations.” 8

The declaration of the Verde Island Passage and the forestry of Lobo, Batangas is part of full materialization of the said constitutional right.

BENEFICIALITY

If the law will declare the Verde Island Passage and the Forestry that surrounds it as an

Integrated Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone, the issue of the possible mining in the said forests area will no longer be a contemporary environmental and legal issue. People could have a peace of mind that there will be no possible alteration of such thru mining, due to the prohibition that the law will provide.

We could ensure that the waters and marine ecology of the passage are conserved and protected, the wildlife and the current extinction of species in the forests will be sheltered otherwise.

For the people of Lobo, the feared shortage of water brought about by the large demand and consumption of the mining industry will not anymore happen.

Lastly, if mining would said to happen, Based from the MRLs proposal, 98% of the income will go the incorporators, leaving 2% only to be shared by the provincial government of Batangas and municipal government of Lobo. Accordingly, a hundred of people will only be employed in exchange of thousands of folks and tourists that are benefiting currently, from the beautiful seascape of Lobo, which is recognized as the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversityin the whole world.

PRACTICABILITY

Passage of a law is not practical. But, it may be the easiest method of all that the researches sees beyond suing the concerned entities where in fact, there is a current deficiency of researches and studies to support the environmental damages of the mining exploration. What is needed at present, is the prohibition of the possible environmental destruction to be caused by the establishment of mining industries.

If the said areas will be declared Integrated Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone, then, it would be easier to sue before the courts of law of the environmental damages that it resulted, and primarily, mining is no longer an issue for it is legally prohibited.

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REFERENCES:

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/thought-leaders/95802-protect-verde-island-

passage

http://www.cecphils.org/node/43

http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/100236-batangas-opposes-gold-mine-

verde-island-passage

http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/96129-new-species-verde-island-passage

http://outoftownblog.com/save-lobo-batangas-and-the-verde-island-passage-let-these-natural-

treasures-go-unmined/

http://plj.upd.edu.ph/legal-responses-to-the-impact-of-mining/