Groups ask CA not to confirm Paje as DENR secretary

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DENR Secretary Ramon Paje. PHOTO BY ANGEL AYALA / BICOLTODAY.COM
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje. Photo by BicolToday.com

Environmental activists lead by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment support the Senate Commission on Appointment’s deferment of the approval of Ramon Paje’s appointment as Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ secretary. The group also said that there is a basis not to appoint Ramon Paje as DENR secretary.

“Paje should not be allowed to continue his current post as DENR Secretary. He has already done more harm than to protect and manage our environment and natural resources. As DENR Secretary, Paje has facilitated the sell-out of thousands of hectares of our mineral lands and resources to foreign mining companies,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Based on government data, the DENR under Paje has already approved or recommended 353 new mining contracts which are mostly owned by foreign mining companies from Australia, Canada, China, and United Kingdom. Secretary Paje also lobbied and pressured local governments units that oppose large-scale mining in their area, like the provincial government of South Cotabato which declared moratorium on open-pit mining, to retract their declarations. Open pit mining is the technology that Xstrata, a Switzerland owned mining company, will employ in their gold mining project in the province.

In a statement, anti-environment plunder group Defend Patrimony similarly asked the CA to deny the approval of Paje as DENR secretary. It also asked members of the CA, Senator Chiz Escudero and Senator John Osmena to support and sponsor the People’s Mining Bill or HB 4315 which promotes genuine development of the local mining industry.

“Mining in our country under the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942) has only been beneficial to big foreign mining companies and never to the Filipino people. Foreign mining companies and their local partners not only failed to deliver development and progress but left host mining communities poorer than before and suffering from the environmental damages and health complications. Indigenous peoples and peasant communities are being driven away from their ancestral lands to give way to mining operations,” said Piya Malayao, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony.

“We ask the Senators to support the People’s Mining Bill (HB 4315) which seeks to reorient the Philippine mining industry towards national industrialization and providing the domestic needs of the country. HB 4315 seeks the development of mining, ensures significant gains and shares for the government and at the same time, ensures the protection of the environment and respects the rights of communities.”

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