CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – The Center for Environmental Concerns, Philippines (CEC Phils) linked up the observance of Independence Day with the urgent call for the preservation of the nation’s resources.
Lia Alonzo, CEC Program Coordinator, said: “Today, we commemorate the independence of our country from foreign colonizers. We also pay tribute to the heroes and heroines who have bravely fought for our country. This sense of patriotism is needed now more than ever with the growing threat of foreign plunder of the natural resources of our country.”
Copy of CEC’s message was sent Wesnesday to Bicol Today in Naga City.
It continued: “China’s creeping invasion has been seen in the past years. It has constructed large airstrips and military facilities in the West Philippine Sea, reclaiming 290,000 square meters in the Spratly Islands in 2017 alone. This has caused great damage to marine ecosystems thus potentially affecting the ecological integrity in the area. Filipino fisherfolk have also been constantly harassed and being displaced in their own fishing grounds by Chinese state forces.”
Describing the energy concern, CEC continued: “International institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, a member of World Bank, have paved the way to the heightened environmental degradation. It has been supporting the construction of 19 new and expansions of coal-fired power plants in the country through investments in a local bank. Despite posturing as an advocate of climate change mitigation, it is actually an aggravator of climate change by aggressively promoting dirty energy technologies in our country.”
On large-scale mining, “Policies that opened the country to foreign plunder such as the Mining Act of 1995 are still in place. This is the only law in the country that allows 100% foreign ownership under the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA). As of 2018, FTAAs cover more than 100,000 hectares of land. We have seen the widespread ill effects of mining in the environment: flattened hills, destroyed forests, polluted coasts and rivers, and displaced communities. All of this is sacrificed for a meager 0.79% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and 0.53% in employment as of 2016.”
The Duterte administration is even pushing to open more lands to foreign owners. Under the Charter Change proposals, state or regional legislature may be granted power to allow foreigners to own lands, observed CEC.
The country’s natural resources have been plundered throughout the years supplying the unquenchable thirst for the profit of foreign corporations and their local counterparts. Filipinos have the sovereign right to utilize the country’s natural resources for their sustenance and for future generations. These should be used for national development and not to be commodified for the profit of a few, CEC lamented.
Our fight for genuine independence continues. We call on our fellow patriots to staunchly defend our national patrimony before it is too late. This Independence Day, we call on our fellow Filipinos to become the heroes and heroines that our country direly needs, declared CEC.