Statement of Support for the Passage of the No Mining Policy in Davao City

September 24th, 2013 by

The Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) supports the City Council’s formulation of a No Mining Policy in Davao City to protect and sustainably manage the city’s watersheds and to ensure the food security of its citizens by protecting its remaining agricultural areas.

That Davao is a city of watersheds cannot be denied. Previous terrain analysis studies conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region XI have identified eight major watersheds and several tributaries in the City’s jurisdiction. Such natural bounty has endowed the city with one of the world’s top sources of high quality drinking water and favored the development of agriculture, fisheries and eco-tourism industries.

Recognizing its importance, City Mayor Duterte adopted the MGB study and later used the findings as basis to formulate, and eventually pass the Watershed Code in 2007 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations in 2008. Section 9 of the Code clearly states the prohibition of land conversion, mineral exploration, construction or maintenance of any kind of structure and conduct of any business enterprises in areas designated for conservation.

Several national laws also uphold the importance of saving the integrity of our watersheds. Section 19 of the Republic Act 7942, also known as the Mining Act of 1995, mandates that old growth or virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness areas, …as defined by law in areas expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected areas System (NIPAS), are closed to mining.

Farm lands are also exempt from mining. In July 2012, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III issued Executive Order 79 which explicitly prohibits mining in “prime agricultural lands, in addition to lands covered by RA No. 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, as amended, including plantations and areas devoted to valuable crops, and strategic agriculture” and fisheries development zones ,refuges, and sanctuaries, declared as such by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.”

That same EO also provides that the tourism development areas identified by the National Tourism Development Plan and, “other critical areas, island ecosystems, and impact areas of mining as determined by current and existing mapping technologies, that the DENR may hereafter identify pursuant to existing laws, rules, and regulations, such as, but not limited to, the NIPAS Act” are closed to mining.

Davao’s City Development Plan also echoes similar development thrusts. To ensure the food security of Dabawenyos, its agricultural lands must be protected; to sustain its communities, its healthy watersheds must be maintained and preserved.

Mining is a step backwards from all of these proactive strategies. It is a very resource extractive industry that lays waste to our forests, contaminating water sources with poisonous chemicals, and polluting coasts with silt and toxic tailings.

The negative impact to our environment and our society are staggering and irreversible, and will stretch through generations. Davao City can push for a more sustainable development agenda without resorting to this destructive industry. The potential destruction brought about mining far outweighs its perceived economic contribution.

We support the public declarations of former Mayor Sara Duterte and current Mayor Rodrigo Duterte opposing mining operations in the city .

We therefore call on the City Council to fast track the passage of an ordinance declaring Davao City as a Mining Free Zone.

(Submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Environment Hearing on the proposed  No Mining Ordinance in Davao City , September 20, 2013)