The issue about mining, particularly in Palawan, is heating up.
The Save Palawan Movement is gearing up its actions calling for a moratorium on all mining activities in the province. The Chamber of Mines is countering such actions and asserts that actions should be directed against small illegal miners and not the whole mining industry.
While I agree with the point raised by the Chamber of Mines on the value of developing the mining industry, particularly in countries blessed with rich natural resources, I also believe that such development should benefit the people and it should not be at the expense of the environment.
One of the main issues raised by the Save Palawan Movement is on the increasing incidence of poverty in the mining sector—workers in the mining industry stay poor.
This is a very valid issue. Do the Chamber of Mines and those who support mining in the country have figures that show improvement in the economic well-being of the people who work in mining firms and of communities where there are mining activities?
The claim of the Save Palawan Movement on the negative impact of mining activities on the livelihood of fishermen and farmers is likewise very serious and valid. The government needs to check the truth of the assertion that the operations of big and legal mining firms do not harm the farmers and fishermen.
The government should also immediately look into the small and illegal mining groups as they are indeed potential culprits because (being illegal) they are obviously not following the set environmental safety standards and regulations. It is also clear that the operations of illegal mining groups prove the weakness, if not outright failure, of concerned government agencies in regulating mining activities in the country.
In the matuwid na landas, mining should benefit the President’s “bosses”—the people. But such “benefits” should never be at the expense of Mother Earth because otherwise, mining cannot speak of any benefit at all.