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Verde Island Passage

and the

Possible Mining
Destruction in Batangas:
A Contemporary Legal Issue
Ezekiel T. Mostiero
Verde Island Passage:

Sailing from World Recognition to Possible Mining Destruction


By: Ezekiel Mostiero
The Worlds Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity would dig its name out in account
had mining continued to plunder Lobo, Batangas resources in exchange of reserves.

This was the common view that sailed thousands of Batangueos, environmentalists, and
religious leaders to oppose planned mining activities fearing that it will endanger the nearby
Verde Island Passage (VIP) situated between the province of Batangas and the island of Mindoro.

I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Serene Diversity

Lobo, a fourth class coastal municipality near the southern tip of Batangas, houses a large
number of species that records the highest concentration of marine life in the world accounting
to 1,736 species, filled with forests, walled by mountains and surrounded by rich waters of the
Verde Island passages, which was named as the Worlds Center of the Center of Marine
Biodiversity in 2005 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

More than half the Philippines documented fish species as well as many globally threatened
species can be found in the said area. Numerous studies in the Verde Passage continue to yield
discoveries of species that are new to science, further underscoring the global biological
significance of this area.

The central part of the nation is the center


of the center for world marine shore fish
biodiversity, and the peak in this marine
biodiversity is found in the Verde Island
Passage. About two-thirds of the known
marine species of the Pacific can be found in
these coastal waters of the Philippines,
according to a scientific research of Old
Dominion University marine biologist Kent
Carpenter and Victor Springer of the
Smithsonian Institute.
Figure 1. (Photo Source: www.kalikasan.net)
Last June 8, American and Filipino scientists The Verde Island Passage, the global center of
marine biodiversity, is of international and inter-
exploring the area have found more than 100
generational importance yet currently
marine species, many of them previously threatened by different large-scale mining
unknown to science, the California Academy threats across its coastal provinces. We hope to
of Sciences (CAS). The CAS, in a statement, raise this concern and gather support for the
Filipino peoples struggles to protect one of the
said the scientists were able to gather a wide worlds richest marine bioldiversity corridors at
range of marine specimens, including "rare the upcoming International Peoples Conference
and new species" of sea slugs, barnacles, and on Mining, said Clemente Bautista, national
coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, one of the IPCM
urchins, as well as "mysterious live animals from
organizers. (www.kalikasan.net)
dimly-lit, deep-water reefs.
The international recognition of the passage
6 'Rare and New' species in Verde Island
that followed widespread media coverage let
Passage (Photos by: Gary Williams, California
Academy of Sciences, via www.rappler.com July 2015) Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
inked Executive Order No. 578 establishing
the National Policy on Biological Diversity
and prescribing its implementation by national
and local government agencies in the Verde
Island Passage Marine Corridor.

These acknowledgements succeeded nine


years after the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) had
recognized Lobo as the fifth of 18 biodiversity
centers in the world.
Figure No. 2 Thorunna species
This bright purple nudibranch (sea slug) with Moreover, Owing to its richly varied
an orange margin has intense colors to warn geographic features and favorable location
predators that it is toxic.
in the tropics, the Verde Island Passage was
sought to be a source of livelihood among
Batangueos and a known tourist spot.

According to Conservation International,


Verde Passage is an important area for
shipping, tourism, fishing and other economic
activities. There are thousands of registered
fisherman and fishing crafts in the various
coastal municipalities, as well as registered
commercial fishing vessels all taking a toll on
the thriving fisheries of the passage.
Figure No. 3 Stiliger species
This sap-sucking sea slug was found on green In Quest of Mines
algae in shallow reefs off Verde Island.
Around 29,000 hectares of
mountainous land within Lobo, have been
explored thru rock gathering and soil samples
examined by Mindoro Resources Limited Gold
Philippines (MRL Gold), a 99 percent
Canadian-owned and one percent Filipino-
owned firm. It left hundreds of holes drilled,
approximately one kilometer to search for
gold deposits, copper and other mineral
reserves after the Mines and Geosciences
Figure No. 4 Neoferdina species Bureau (MGB) granted MRL Gold Minerals
This spectacular new starfish was found below Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs)
100 meters off of Verde Island.
spanning the towns of Rosario, Taysan, San Juan,
Lobo, and Batangas City that permitted the said
exploration in 2002 until at present.

According to Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan


(BUKAL-Batangas), an anti-mining environmental
group in Batangas, there are already 173 drilled
holes as of 2009 ocular survey.

However, it was only then that mining in Lobo


stirred its fame not only on nearby localities,
media but the Philippine landscape after Egerton
Gold Philippines, Inc., an Australian-Canadian Figure No. 5 Mourgona species
firm in Batangas, filed its local permit over the This brand new species of sea slug crawled out
Municipal Council of Lobo for proper of a clump of algae that had been collected and
brought to the lab two days earlier. (June 10)
endorsement of its plan to MGB when their
exploration didnt fail to guarantee the
conceivable large collection of gold reserves
within 29,000 hectares of land.

Egerton had seen that gold reserves can be


mined in Lobo, thru the possible establishment of
a processing plant, thru open pit mining to be
done in the span of ten years as held in their
proposal in order for these reserves to be sold in
gold metal, said Dr. Leo Jasareno, the Director
for Mines and Geosciences Bureau in a televised
interview with ABS-CBN.
Figure No. 6 Coeloplana species
According to the proposal, not only that local This new species of bottom-dwelling comb jelly
communities will be uprooted from their homes, lives communally on starfish.
but even the local biodiversity would be affected
by the mining activity.

According to Dr. Jasareno, in the same interview,


after the processing stage, these gold reserves will
be deposited over tailings pond, together with
cyanide, in order not to leak on rivers and water
bodies located nearby.

However, this was the same scenario that


became a failed promise in Benguet and Surigao
for the past years that affected and eventually
destroyed the nearby agricultural lands, and
Figure No. 7 Halgerda species
water bodies located that were feared to This beautiful species with dark ridges and
happen in Lobo by environmental advocates, spots is found in the mesophotic zone at a
and citizens in Batangas. depth of around 100 meters.
Of the seven pit minings that will be established, one is only 600 meters away from the shoreline
of the protected passage added Dr. Jasareno.

Egerton Gold Inc. has also secured a water permit application in Lobo Water District accumulating
to 865, 728 drums per day.

Definitely, there will be scarcity of water, that will not be beneficial to the citizens of Lobo said
Danilo Perz the General Manager of Lobo Water District.

Nevertheless, last April 20, the Municipal Council of Lobo passed a Resolution endorsing the
application for open pit gold mining in Lobo to the DENR after barangay captains gave their
assent that is said to be an allegation.

According to Renato Perez, the Vice Mayor of Lobo, Batangas, they approved the resolution
because it is economically viable. In the said interview, 150 workers will be employed. 120 million
pesos will go to Lobo, Batangas, 92 million pesos to the affected barangays, and 42 million to the
provincial government.

When asked about the dangers that it might brought to the Verde Island Passage, he said that he
will take responsibility of such.

It then appears that 98 percent of the total income will go to the corporation leaving 2 percent
to the government.

The above figure shows a vibrant view of the bountiful marine ecology in the Verde Island Passage. Photo Courtesy:
California Academy of Sciences (www. Calacademy.org)
Fr. Dakila Ramos, director of the Lipa archdiocese's Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and priests lead a
Ministry on the Environment, joins residents of prayer walk in Lipa City on July 13 against the
Lobo town in the province of Batangas during a proposed gold mining and coal-fired power plant
protest rally against mining operations in Manila projects in Lobo town. (Photo: Fr. Leonido Dolor)
July 16. (Photo by Vincent Go) (courtesy:
www.ucanews.com)

Drive Against Destruction

Last June 9, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), groups led by the Kalikasan Peoples
Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and BUKAL-Batangas urged the local government to
follow its own laws and protect Lobos conservation area and sanctuaries from the Australian-
Canadian mining firm.

Our mine will be run to highest international standards and rehabilitated on closure to provide
excellent amenities and landforms in consultation with local wishes. In Lobo, this will include eco-
tourism facilities established during the life of the mine that will continue to enhance the tourism
potential of the region both during and after the mine has operated, said President of Egerton
Gold Philippines, Edsel Abrasaldo, in an interview with Manila Standard Today.

Many members of the community chimed in to express their support for the project. The
company helps the local community by providing jobs during the exploration period on a weekly
rotation basis in order that more jobless residents can benefit, remarked Roger Lontoc, Barangay
Secretary of Mabilog na Bundok, one of the ten barangays affected by the project.

They improved our barangay hall and day care center for pre-school children, gave a hundred
of cement bags every year for the construction of feeder roads and three basketball courts. [They
also] implemented tree planting near river banks and gave forest and fruit tree seedlings to the

Yes, Our mine will be run to highest international standards and rehabilitated
on closure to provide excellent amenities and landforms in consultation with
local wishes. In Lobo, this will include eco-tourism facilities established during
the life of the mine that will continue to enhance the tourism potential of the
region both during and after the mine has operated,

- President of Egerton Gold Philippines, Edsel Abrasaldo, in an interview


with Manila Standard Today, July 2015

community, Vilma Atienza, one of the residents of Barangay Calumpit sitio Itaas Silyaran said I
am enjoying the water coming to our house and lot from the well that Egerton drilled on our land
8 years ago.

All ten affected barangay councils in Lobo had unanimously granted their consent for the project
by January 23, with the municipality council following suit on April 20, reflecting the social and
economic interests of their constituencies. This followed a tour of an operating mine run by
Oceana Gold in Nueva Viscaya last January 3-5, 2015 where LGU officials witnessed the mining
operation and its resultant socioeconomic benefits to surrounding communities.

However, the approval of the municipal government gathered thousands of citizens, government
officials, environmentalists and religious leaders to stop the proposed mining and urge the
municipal government to withdraw its endorsement to the DENR.

The Egerton gold project will be utilizing open-pit mining technology, which will result in the
production and dumping of millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River, down to the
waters of the Verde Island Passage. This impending mine pollution will surely spell death to current
marine conservation areas in Lobo municipality alone, said Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE
national coordinator. (Bulatlat.com)

BUKAL and Bishop Ramon Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa in collaboration with the Center
for Environmental Concern-Philippines and other groups, held an environmental investigative
mission (EIM) in Lobo that gather facts and data on the extent and possible impacts of mining in
the exploration-affected barangays.

They concluded that once actual mining operations start, there is a possibility of contamination
of the bodies of water when Pryite, an iron ore when reacted with oxygen and water to form
sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and the water table, contaminating sources of
groundwater in the vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage (AMD), can cause
heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.

The adverse effects of large scale mining even at its exploration stage of drilling can immediately
be felt by the host communities through destroyed vegetation and altered landscape thereby
disturbing thriving ecosystems in the area. Once the operation reaches large extraction and
production stages, it will surely be a blow to the rich biodiversity of forest and marine ecosystems
in Batangas, said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of BUKAL.

Environmentalists said that wastes generated by the mining will find its way to Lobo rivers which
will drain directly into the Verde Island Passage that would cause the destruction of the same
especially as the Egertons project area is situated in a steep, mountainous areas just one or two
kilometers away from the coastline. The passage, as a top-fifth of the 18 biodiversity centers in the
country which houses a large number of terrestrial flora and fauna and a diverse range of habitats
is subject to be endangered.

Yes, we envision Batangas to be a haven for investors and industries. But we


will never allow our environment to be compromised by any development, by
any businesses. You can rest assured that we will maintain the beauty of Verde
Island Passage,
-Vice Governor Mark Leviste, in an interview
with Rappler.com, July 2015

Vice Governor Mark Leviste said in a press conference that though Batangas wants to protect
interests of investors, he said that the provincial government wont allow activities that will
compromise the passage and that they will block any moves to approve the gold mine project
near the 'center of the center of marine biodiversity.

Yes, we envision Batangas to be a haven for investors and industries. But we will never allow our
environment to be compromised by any development, by any businesses. You can rest assured
that we will maintain the beauty of Verde Island Passage, he added.

He claimed that Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto has instructed the provinces
environment and natural resources office that no mining will happen under her administration.
(Rappler.com)

However, the provincial council has yet to issue a resolution against the gold mine while last July
20, the municipal council of Lobo had formally withdrew its endorsement for the proposed mining.

In order to strengthen its protection, Senate Bill No. 1898 or the Verde Island Passage Act was filed
by Senator Loren Legarda in the 16th Congress, that seeks to declare Verde Island Passage Marine
Corridor as a Marine Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone.
Current Environmental Problem
For the exploration of the possible mining industry of Egerton Philippines, the following were
the effects that had already occurred, and continues at present:

a. Disruption of natural habitats;


MRL has created a total of 173 drill holes approximately one kilometer deep in the ground
and is currently working to drill more holes to complete its exploration. MRL has two years
left to finish its exploration under the permit issued. ( www.kalikasan.net)

The disturbance of the landscape even in the exploration stage is already adverse to the
disruption of natural habitats. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Law
Alliance Worldwide, Mining causes direct and indirect damage to wildlife. The impacts
stem primarily from disturbing, removing, and redistributing the land surface. Some impacts
are short-term and confined to the mine site; others may have far-reaching, long-term
effects. The most direct effect on wildlife is destruction or displacement of species in areas
of excavation and piling of mine wastes. Mobile wildlife species, like game animals, birds,
and predators, leave these areas. More sedentary animals, like invertebrates, many
reptiles, burrowing rodents, and small mammals, may be more severely affected.

Fr. Oliver Castor, BUKAL spokesperson, said, The adverse effects of large scale mining
even at its exploration stage of drilling can immediately be felt by the host communities
through destroyed vegetation and altered landscape thereby disturbing thriving
ecosystems in the area. Once the operation reaches large extraction and production
stages, it will surely be a blow to the rich biodiversity of forest and marine ecosystems in
Batangas.

b. Presence of Iron Ore found that could lead back into the ground and water table;
The findings of the Center for Environmental Concern-Philippines and its fact-finding team,
noted the presence of pyrite from rock samples within the drill holes. Pyrite is an iron ore
found in sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock areas and is popularly known as
Fool's Gold because of its resemblance to the latter. It is used for car batteries,
appliances, food cans, paper, tools, some jewelry, and machinery.

Pyrite is exposed to the elements during mining, reacting with oxygen and water to form
sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and the water table, contaminating
sources of groundwater in the vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage
(AMD), can cause heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.

The AMD can potentially leach out into the rivers of the Mt. Banoi watershed which are the
source of potable water for Lobo residents and farm animals as well as irrigation. Lobo's
climate, where the rainy season lasts from June to October, is also conducive to the
formation of AMD if large-scale mining commences.
The priest said that Mount Lobo and Mount Banoi encompassing the town of Lobo,
Batangas City and other adjacent municipalities where current explorations of MRL are
being undertaken are watershed areas. Large-scale mining in the area will endanger the
health of Batangueos as mine tailings and other toxic substances will pollute the water
systems of Mt. Banoi and Mt. Lobo, which have been a vital source of water supply in the
province, Castor said.

c. Reduced slope stability or higher risk of landslides;


For most mining projects, the potential of soil and sediment eroding into and degrading
surface water quality is a serious problem, as supported by the Environmental Law Alliance
Worldwide (ELAW).
According to a study commissioned by the European Union: Because of the large area
of land disturbed by mining operations and the large quantities of earthen materials
exposed at sites, erosion can be a major concern at hardrock mining sites.
With the drilled holes done by the MRL, there is already a reduced slope stability and higher
risk of landslides in Lobo, Batangas that could affect the destruction of natural habitats
and further loss of biodiversity.

Possible Environmental Impacts

For the possible production and establishment of the mining industry of Egerton Philippines,
the following are the possible impacts on the environment according to Natural resource
economist Germelino Bautista has identified potential resource and environmental
damage that can result from each stage of mining operations and researches done by
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide:

Mining exploration, operation, & ore extraction

a. Disruption, if not loss of, natural habitats


b. Forest land conversion/loss
c. Decline in carbon sequestration capacity
d. Erosion, sedimentation
e. Reduced slope stability or higher risk of landslides
f. Diversion of surface or groundwater
g. Reduced or erratic stream flows
h. Clogged stream channels
i. Potential acid rock generation
j. Contamination of surface waterways
k. Mineral production
l. Threat to particular species or biodiversity loss
m. Diversion of surface or groundwater
n. Reduced stream flow or groundwater depletion
o. Acid rock drainage and contamination of soil and water
p. Surface, groundwater pollution
q. Reduced fish spawning area
r. Damage to aquatic life
s. Air pollution (increased dust, PM, metal gases, sulphuric acid)

Mine waste and tailings management

a. Contamination of streams, rivers, other water bodies from tailings release


b. Destruction of habitats (rivers, mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs)
c. Fish kills
d. Groundwater contamination from tailings dam seepages
e. Air pollution from dried tailings
f. Loss of particular species

Towards a Green Navigation

The serene biodiversity of the natural scenery that earned domestic and international recognition
that is eyed for mining has been a remarkable call among Batangueos, environmentalists,
government officials and religious leaders in order to prevent the possible destruction of Verde
Island Passage that is regarded as the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity not only to
preserve its name in account of such recognition but the States duty to promote social justice in
all phases of national development and advance the right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
Verde Island Passage
and the

Possible Mining
Destruction in Batangas:
LEGAL ANALYSIS
II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

According to the Philippine Law Journal, (La Vina, et.al), It is an established fact that mining
carries with it negative environmental impacts. Mineral exploration, extraction, and production
are by nature disruptive and destructive activities, such that their undertaking must necessarily be
accompanied by comprehensive measures aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and
remediation of environmental impacts.
At present, For the current mining exploration that had happened, the following laws were
already said to be violated based from studies and researches generally made by International
and Local Organizations on mining exploration, but the researcher of this legal analysis believes
that further researches must be conducted to actually support the following infractions of law:
LAWS , REGULATIONS OR ORDINANCES VIOLATED

A. International Environmental Law


International agreements to which the Philippines is a party are part of the law of the land.
28They are thus subject to implementation with the same force and effect as domestic laws, and
the Philippines is bound to perform the obligations imposed by these treaties.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims at the conservation and sustainable use
of biological diversity, the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from its use, and the regulation of
biotechnology. A significant provision of the CBD which relates to the mining industry is found in
Article 3 on Principle, which calls on member States, such as the Philippines, to ensure that use
and exploitation of natural resources carries with it a responsibility to ensure the protection of the
environment and the preservation of biological diversity.

B. R.A. No. 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;


According to KALIKASAN Peoples Network for
Environment, position paper to the DENR, Mt. Lobo is the
habitat of several endangered terrestrial species, among
them are endemic trees like Philippine Teak, Dungon and
Molave and threatened wildlife species like the giant fruit
bat and flying foxes, whose numbers are presently only
hundreds as compared from at least 10,000 50 years ago.
As of 2004, the taxonomic diversity of plants accounted
for in Mt. Lobo amounts to 181 species. There are also a
total of 96 avifaunal species, of which 31% are endemic
to the Philippines.
With MRLs creation of a total of 173 drill holes
approximately one kilometer deep in the ground and is
currently working to drill more holes to complete its
Figure no. 7. Molave. This is one of the
endangered trees in Lobo, Batangas. exploration, the wildlife and species were already
disturbed and their natural habitats were already altered.
C. Republic Act No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990
The law was passed in 1990, with the ultimate goal of ensuring full protection of the
peoples health and the environment from unreasonable risks posed by industrial chemicals and
chemical substances. It provides the legal framework for the countrys program to control and
manage the importation, manufacture, processing, distribution, use, transport, treatment, and
disposal of toxic substances and hazardous and nuclear wastes.
The result of the findings done by the Center for Environmental Concern- Philippines and
the fact-finding team noted the presence of pyrite from rock samples within the drill holes. Pyrite
is an iron ore found in sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock areas and is popularly known
as Fool's Gold because of its resemblance to the latter. It is used for car batteries, appliances,
food cans, paper, tools, some jewelry, and machinery.
Accordingly, Pyrite is exposed to the elements during mining, reacting with oxygen and
water to form sulfuric acid which leaches back into the ground and
the water table, contaminating sources of groundwater in the
vicinity. This outflow of acidic water, or acid mine drainage (AMD),
can cause heavy damages on the people's health and livelihoods.
The AMD can potentially leach out into the rivers of the Mt.
Banoi watershed which are the source of potable water for Lobo
residents and farm animals as well as irrigation. Lobo's climate,
where the rainy season lasts from June to October, is also
conducive to the formation of AMD if large-scale mining Figure no. 8. PYRITE. This is
commences. the mineral that is found in the
drilled holes that are said to
leach back into the ground that
D. Violation of Chapter XI of the Mining Act Safety and could contaminate the
Environmental Protection. groundwater of the people of
Lobo, Batangas as of the
It generally refers to safe and sanitary working conditions in present.
mining areas, and to waste-free and efficient mine
development. It is the declared policy of the DENR that mining
permits, agreements and leases be managed responsibly, so as to promote the general welfare
and sustainable development objectives and responsibilities. These objectives are:

Sustainable environmental conditions at every stage of mining operations;


Progressive rehabilitation of all areas and sites affected by mining operations;
Preservation of freshwater and seawater quality and natural marine habitats;
Prevention of air and noise pollution; and
Respect for sustainable management practices of ICCs and other communities.

POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF MINING AND INFRACTIONS OF LAW


Mineral operations cannot be conducted without affecting and disturbing the land, water,
and air surrounding and connected to the site, as well as the various natural resources found on
and in them. 6
In assumption that mining in Lobo, Batangas had started to commence in the area, and
thereby produce and dump millions of metric tons of mine wastes into the Lobo River, down to
the waters of the Verde Island Passage, the following laws, regulations or ordinances were to be
violated:

a. Water Code of the Philippines or Clean Water Act.


Since metric tons of mine wastes will be dumped into the Lobo River, there is a great
possibility that it would go down into the waters of the Verde Island Passage that could eventually
poison and pollute its waters. A suit can then be filed versus the MRL Gold, even if actually
permitted by the DENR and its local government due to the effects that it could cause to the said
passage.
According to the Proposal of the MRL Gold, as cited by the DENR thru Dr. Leo Jasareno,
the nearest establishment of the mining industry is only 600 meters away from the passages
shoreline which is vulnerable to water pollution brought about by the dumping of the collected
dump in its tailings pond that had already happened to Benguet, Surigao and Marinduque that
is feared to happen in Lobo, Batangas.
b. Republic Act No. 9147 Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Marine Resources and
their Habitats
The provisions of this Act is enforceable for all wildlife species found in all areas of the
country. It shall be the policy of the State to:
(a) to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats to promote ecological balance
and enhance biological diversity;
(b) to regulate the collection and trade of wildlife;
(c) to pursue, with due regard to the national interest, the Philippine commitment to international
conventions, protection of wildlife and their habitats; and
(d) to initiate or support scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity.
Thus, with the possible water pollution that is caused by the leakage of the dumped mines
in the tailings pond according to the companys proposal, and supported by the DENR, could
poison the wildlife marine resources and their habitats which is violative of the act.

LEGAL ACTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN IN THE PAST


There will still no legal actions that have been taken in the past as of the creation of this
legal analysis. At present, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has just
ordered a multisectoral group opposing the implementation of a gold mining companys project
in Lobo, Batangas to formalize its complaint and substantiate demands for operation stoppage.

III. CONCLUSIONS

It is an established fact that mining carries with it negative environmental impacts. Mineral
exploration, extraction, and production are by nature disruptive and destructive activities, such
that their undertaking must necessarily be accompanied by comprehensive measures aimed at
the prevention, mitigation, and remediation of environmental impacts.
At present, the researcher has concluded the following:
a. As of the exploration stage, the people could file suits versus the appropriate courts that
the said mining proposal violates the following laws:
a. Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology, Article XVI, Section II, 1987 Constitution
b. R.A. No. 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;
c. Republic Act No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act
of 1990;
d. Violation of Chapter XI of the Mining Act Safety and Environmental Protection.

b. Further Researches and Studies are needed to be done in order to fully materialize the
peoples clamor on the destructive mining exploration of the MRL-Gold;
c. Further Researches and Studies are needed to be done to scientifically foresee the
possible environmental effects especially on the Verde Island Passage, which is said to
be the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity and thereby file suits in order to halt
the possible commencement of Mining Industry in the forest of Lobo, Batangas.

IV. LEGAL RECOMMENDATION

1. To declare the Verde Island Passage as a Marine Protected Area under the National
Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and Ecological Tourism Zone.
The declaration of such, will totally strengthen the legal framework protecting the
Verde Island Passage from any attempt of destruction especially of the mining industries.
In 2013 Sen. Loren Legarda, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and
Natural Resources, filed a measure seeking to declare the entire region as a marine-
protected area and ecological tourism zone. Senate Bill 1898, however, remains at the
committee level.
According to the NIPAS Act, when a certain environmental area is classified either
as a strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected
landscape and seascape, resource reserve, natural biotic area, or other category
established by law, convention, or international agreement, it is managed with the goal
of enhancing biodiversity and protecting it from destructive human behavior. Buffer
zones are also identified around the protected area, and these shall be subject to special
development control to minimize harm to the protected area.

2. To declare the forests in Lobo as a forest reserve under the NIPAS Act in order to protect
its wildlife resources and natural landscape from possible mining and eventually,
protecting the Verde Island Passage from possible environmental damage that can
caused by mining in the said forests.
The forests in Lobo be declared either as an old growth or virgin forests, proclaimed
watershed forest reserves, wilderness areas, mangrove forests, mossy forests, national
parks provincial/municipal forests, parks, greenbelts, game refuge and bird sanctuaries
as defined by law, to be expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected
Areas System (NIPAS) under Republic Act No. 7586, or any administrative proclamation
in order not to be a center of mining industry in order to totally prohibit the possible
establishment of mining industry.
3. The Municipal Council of Lobo could pass an ordinance delineating the area to be
conserved and protected in order for mining applications be excluded by the Secretary
of DENR in cases of mining applications.

CONSTITUTIONALITY

The researcher thinks that the legal recommendations set is constitutional. The 1987
Constitution itself recognizes the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.
Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology
The 1987 Philippine Constitution enshrined the oft-cited state policy on the right of the
people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of
nature.[13] The Supreme Court has declared this provision self-executory, that is, capable of
being enforced independent of any enabling statute. 4 Article XII, Section 3 of the 1987
Constitution reiterates the requirement that Congress take into account the requirements of
conservation, ecology, and development when granting rights over lands of the public domain.
A new environmental provision established in the 1987 Constitution is the mandate to Congress to
legislate the limits of forest lands and national parks for the purpose of conserving them, and to
provide for the prohibition of logging in endangered forests and watershed areas. 5

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology, as enshrined in Article II, Section 16 of the
1987 Constitution, has been made the basis of remedies by actual or potential victims of
environmental damage. Among these is the internationally recognized case of Oposa v.
Factoran, Jr., 6 in which the Supreme Court, apart from declaring this right self-executory, held that
such right is no less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the [Bill of
Rights]. 7 The Court also introduced in this case the doctrine of intergenerational responsibility,
allowing minor parties to sue in behalf of succeeding generations.8
The declaration of the Verde Island Passage and the forestry of Lobo, Batangas
is part of full materialization of the said constitutional right.

BENEFICIALITY
If the law will declare the Verde Island Passage and the Forestry that surrounds it as an
Integrated Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone, the issue of the possible mining in the
said forests area will no longer be a contemporary environmental and legal issue. People could
have a peace of mind that there will be no possible alteration of such thru mining, due to the
prohibition that the law will provide.
We could ensure that the waters and marine ecology of the passage are conserved and
protected, the wildlife and the current extinction of species in the forests will be sheltered
otherwise.
For the people of Lobo, the feared shortage of water brought about by the large demand
and consumption of the mining industry will not anymore happen.
Lastly, if mining would said to happen, Based from the MRLs proposal, 98% of the income
will go the incorporators, leaving 2% only to be shared by the provincial government of Batangas
and municipal government of Lobo. Accordingly, a hundred of people will only be employed in
exchange of thousands of folks and tourists that are benefiting currently, from the beautiful
seascape of Lobo, which is recognized as the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity in the
whole world.

PRACTICABILITY

Passage of a law is not practical. But, it may be the easiest method of all that the
researches sees beyond suing the concerned entities where in fact, there is a current deficiency
of researches and studies to support the environmental damages of the mining exploration. What
is needed at present, is the prohibition of the possible environmental destruction to be caused by
the establishment of mining industries.
If the said areas will be declared Integrated Protected Area and Ecological Tourism Zone,
then, it would be easier to sue before the courts of law of the environmental damages that it
resulted, and primarily, mining is no longer an issue for it is legally prohibited.

***
REFERENCES:
http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/thought-leaders/95802-protect-verde-island-
passage
http://www.cecphils.org/node/43
http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/100236-batangas-opposes-gold-mine-
verde-island-passage
http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/96129-new-species-verde-island-passage
http://outoftownblog.com/save-lobo-batangas-and-the-verde-island-passage-let-these-natural-
treasures-go-unmined/
http://plj.upd.edu.ph/legal-responses-to-the-impact-of-mining/