Three years of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency has resulted in the wholesale of at least P773 billion worth of the Philippines’ sovereign mineral, water, wildlife, and marine resources.

This was the highlight trend of the latest edition of the annual State of the Philippine Environment forum held yesterday, July 18 at the Ateneo de Manila University, organized by the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC Phils), in cooperation with the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), the Ateneo de Manila Development Studies Program, and the Ateneo Environmental Science Society.

Around 600 participants from various schools, universities, NGOs, and institutions gathered to receive updates on the status of the country’s state of ecosystems and natural resources.

The forum organizers cited a study conducted by the UP Marine Science Institute (MSI) reporting that China has caused P33 Billion worth of damages from destroying the coral reefs in West Philippine Sea (WPS) annually, amounting to 99 billion from years 2016 to 2018. Up to date, Chinese paramilitary vessels continue to roam in our waters and effectively control our marine areas.

A whopping P23 billion worth of our lands and waters were promised as sovereign guarantees to pay in full should the country default on its onerous loans that Duterte entered into with China for the New Centennial Water System – Kaliwa Dam projects and the Chico River Pump irrigation project.

The Biodiversity Management Bureau estimates that roughly P50 billion worth of illegal wildlife trade per year, or P150 billion from 2016 to 2018, has poached and smuggled out endangered flora and fauna out of the country. 

Foreign dominated and export oriented large scale mining has cost the Filipino people the most. Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau showed that P501.4 billion worth of minerals have been virtually exported to other countries by large-scale mining operations in the same timeframe.

The P773 billion does not even account all other environmental costs lost to other projects and future damages it may bring. Studies have to be done to ascertain how much opportunity costs have been lost, and how much other consequential damages down the line may be incurred because of this wholesale.

There has been a short supply of the political will that President Rodrigo Duterte promised. The promise of an independent foreign policy has devolved into a policy of subservience to China and other foreign, corporate interests. The promise to close down big mines have resulted in the reversal of 9 out of 13 mines originally up for suspension or closure. 

The Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement of Oceanagold mining, an Australian-Canadian mining firm, has been endorsed for renewal by Environment Secretary. Roy Cimatu despite its economic and development contributions amounting only to 5.4% of the mineral value it has plundered in Nueva Vizcaya province.

Despite this, we believe there is hope for our environment and natural patrimony. Hope lies in the indigenous communities in Nueva Vizcaya currently barricading against Oceanagold. It lies in the para enforcers of Palawan apprehending chainsaw users and poachers through citizens’ arrests. It lies in the upcoming thousands upon thousands of people expected to converge in the United People’s Action, where the real state of the nation will be demonstrated.#

Reference:

LEON DULCE
National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE
0917 562 6824
leon@kalikasan.net

APRIL PORTERIA
Executive Director, CEC Phils
0917 508 8544

april@cecphils.org
*Aiko Alejo*
*Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment09156067883