The National Anti-Poverty Commission-Office of the Vice Chairperson for the Basic Sectors (NAPC-OVCBS) expressed its support for Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and her cause against destructive mining and other activities that pose threats to the country’s natural resources.
Vice Chairperson for the Basic Sectors Ruperto “Ka Uper” Aleroza called on the Commission on Appointments (CA) to confirm Lopez with dispatch, stressing that, “the CA should base their confirmation on Lopez’s performance, merit, and sincerity in protecting the environment and livelihood of the poor in the countryside—the fisherfolk and farmers, and indigenous peoples.”
Aleroza said that environmental degradation and depletion of resource bases are contributing factors of widespread poverty and hunger among Filipinos.
“Abusive practices of large foreign and local businesses such as large-scale mining pose a danger to the livelihood and lives of the people,” he said.
Aleroza added that among the effects of large-scale mining are deforestation, air pollution and water contamination due to the presence of huge amounts of chemicals and heavy metals, diseases caused by air and water pollution, habitat destruction and poisoning of terrestrial and aquatic organisms, and coastal erosion in the case of magnetite mining in coastal areas which have direct impact on the livelihood and safety of rural communities surrounding mining sites.
He said that ironically, the Philippines has laws protecting the environment, but that there has been a lack of political will, in the past, to implement laws protecting the country’s natural resources.
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has a crucial role in improving the situation of our environment, in particular, the people whose income and sustenance are derived from it. Unlike the past heads of DENR, Secretary Lopez is sincerely doing her mandate to protect the country’s limited natural resources from plunder and destruction,” Aleroza explained.