The nationwide farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB, KMP Eastern Visayas) blamed the massive mining operations for the destructive effects of heavy rains in the region.

SAGUPA - SB reported that 66,087.27 has. within the region are covered by 192 mining companies since August last year.  Now that the effects are endured by farmers, particularly the gruesome landslides in St. Bernard town, Southern Leyte that killed 3 children, farmers and other sectors are urging the local government units (LGUs) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to cancel the mining permits they have approved to mining companies.

“As we can recall, these mining permits were approved on August last year, within the term of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who is boasting of the Public-Private Partnership program.  This is exactly what Aquino is implementing, the exploitation of foreign companies of our natural resources at the expense of Filipino farmers and people,” said Nestor Lebico, Secretary-General of SAGUPA - SB in a press statement.

SAGUPA - SB said that the flash floods and landslides damaged about P3-million on St. Bernard’s agricultural production and forced about 3,000 people from 15 barangays to evacuation centers.

The group vowed to oppose mining operations in the region and condemned the LGUs approval of mining explorations to foreign companies.  They claim that these operations are part of the major cause of destructive flash floods and landslides affecting the lives and livelihood of local farmers.

“This is very enraging as the Aquino government has no program to protect the people from environmental destruction, worse, it is promoting it through its programs such as the PPP and mining operations.  Aquino did not promise of junking the Mining Act of 1995 and obviously continuing its implementation,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General.

KMP said that the Aquino government is gearing towards the further extraction of natural resources from Eastern Visayas as it allocated almost half of the Millenium Challenge Corp. grant of $434-million to infrastructure projects in Samar island.

“Aquino is responsible for these environmental destruction and loss of lives.  He is continuing the implementation of the Mining Act, preparing for further exploitation of our natural resources and encouraging more foreign mining companies to operate in our country.  Farmers all over the country should unite to oppose Aquino’s mining program as it threatens our lives and livelihood,” Ramos called. #

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