no to mining

“No to mining!” — Anthonians

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Lawas, limug, liug. On 4 August 2015, nearly 4,000 Anthonian students and personnel, members of the Antique Diocesan Social Action Center, and Radio Stations DYKA and Spirit FM marched around San Jose de Buenavista town proper to protest coal mining, illegal fishing and other environmentally unsound practices.

Choosing to revert to the institutional core value of community service, Anthonians themed their College Foundation Day celebration, “Ako. Anthonian. Bantay-Kalikasan.” (I. Anthonian. Earth Guardian.) Tackling the issue of coal mining that for the last few years have generally been confined to internet and newspaper circulation, Anthonians, carrying anti-coal mining and pro-environment placards marched around town and held an advocacy rally at the EBJ Freedom Park just across the offices of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Provincial Governor, and the Congressman of the Lone District of Antique.

Responding to speakers with shouts of “No to mining!” and “In mining there is no tomorrow!” the Anthonian community once more made a strong stand on issues affecting Antique.

Citing that St. Anthony’s College was founded 57 years ago as a response to the need of the community, Rev. Fr. Edione R. Febrero, College President, said that it should not be different now. Referring to Revelations 3:6 of the Bible he extolled Anthonians not to be lukewarm on socio-environmental issues and to bravely stand against coal mining for the sake of the future generations. Anthonians must put a serious stake: “lawas, limug, liug.”

Translating the slogan to “body, voice, neck,” and referring to passages in the Laudato Si, Fr. Febrero said that if the advocacy for the environment were to be successful, Anthonians must put in their physical efforts, must not be afraid to speak up, and must be willing to sacrifice. Fr. Febrero cited the direct effects of coal mining in Antique to global warming, and argued that while some government officials cite that Semirara is a small thing, it could not be as small if its effects were big enough to prevent closure actions. He called for the closure of the coal mines and the prevention of any other mining in Antique. He said that the government must seriously study more environmentally sound alternative sources of energy for the country. He cited that the Malampaya Funds must be used for this purpose.

Val de Guzman, a speaker from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice said that the government must consider that while coal mining is making a lot of money, it actually only pays the government a measly 3% of its profit over the fact that it enjoys a lot of tax exemptions. He further said that the amount going to the IRA of Caluya has also been observed not to translate to local development. He said that the cost of coal mining and coal fire powered plants when counted in environmental losses and disasters are far greater. De Guzman also informed the community that several groups at the national level are in solidarity with the Anthonian community in calls for closure of the Semirara coal mines.

Jose Edison Tondares, Research, Planning and Development Officer of SAC said that following national figures, Antique is emitting at least 491,428 of CO2 per capita and the Semirara coal mines significantly plays a direct role in the production of greenhouse gases being the major local source of coal for coal fired power plants in the country. He said that the 118,635 forest cover of Antique which is being depleted at 2,262 hectares per year can barely make the province carbon neutral. Tondares also cited that the Philippines globally ranks no. 8 among countries most affected by rising sea level and no. 1 among most affected by storms due to global warming. Tondares stressed that the issue of continuing environmental disasters due to global warming is very real and it is extremely urgent to act on it.