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    Posted April 3, 2014 by
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    PRESS RELEASE 2014-001
    Date: April 2, 2014
    New York, USA

    As the much awaited Las Vegas rematch with Timothy Bradley on April 12, 2014 nears, the people of Sarangani wait on Filipino boxer turned Congressman Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquaio to fight for his constituents by filing a bill to declare Sarangani a Mining Free zone.

    People count on the international media community to help save a rainforest and wait on Pacquaio to deliver the jabs in Congress.

    Sarangani Province of the Philippines, boasts of lush verdant forests, caves, waterfalls and white sand beaches. The majestic Mt. Busa located in Kiamba, is considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is home to endangered bird species protected under national and international laws. Philippine mining laws prohibit mining in mossy forests.

    The Sarangani seascape is a protected area as promulgated under Presidential Decree No. 756. Part of this seascape is the famous Bacud Reef and the Tuka Marine Sanctuary teeming with corals and nestling ground for rare marine life which are also protected under international laws.

    Majority of the people depend on fishing, agriculture and allied services. Mining poses a threat to their source of livelihood as any mining activity upstream will result to soil erosion and siltation of the waterways like what happened in Marinduque. The General Santos and Sarangani seas produce export quality tuna and any mining activity will greatly affect the bustling tuna industry as international trade laws are very strict on quality standards.

    Reports show that mining has only contributed a meager 1 % to the Philippine national GDP in 2011. Data for the same year also cites mining only accounted for .06 % of national employment. Reports also show that there is high incidence of poverty in mining communities in the Philippines.

    In a telephone interview with Pastor Jerry Bangon, Municipal Tribal Chieftain of Kiamba, Sarangani, he said: "We call on Congressman Pacquiao and our lawmakers to fight for the consitutional rights of the people to a healthy and balanced ecology. The forest serve as our critical watershed, home to our ancestors and has sustained livelihoods for the Indigenous People (IP) since time immemorial. Mining will destroy our farms, hunting grounds and desecrate our burial grounds. Allowing mining will result to massive displacement and will bear enormous economic, social and cultural impact on the indigenous and local communities."

    "We bring to the international community our plight through the media. We need sustainable sources of livelihood and not driven out of our lands to address our poverty situation. After the minerals are gone, where will we source our livelihood to live by? Why introduce something which will destroy the environment and is not sustainable like mining when our place is like paradise and holds a lot of tourism and other potential?”

    The coastal town of Kiamba is home to 54,871 inhabitants (2010 NSO), and is declared by the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau as prone to floods and landslides. A few hours of continuous rain in February, 2014 has already flooded several low lying barangays due to unbated cutting of trees.

    Pacquaio’s wife, the former Jinkee Jamora, now Vice Governor for Sarangani, hails from this lovely town.

    One person interviewed who wishes to remain anonymous said, "We hope Congressman Pacquaio will not fail us. We welcomed him to our place and adopted him as our own. He can show his concern by passing the Bill for a mining free Sarangani. If Nueva Viscaya and Cagayan de Oro City were able to pass the same bills in Congress, there is no reason Pacman will not do it if he is truly concerned about the welfare of our people. We will turn to other legislators if he will hesitate to sponsor the Bill and we will be on the watch. We hope he will take the Bradley rematch as an opportunity to announce his intentions to pass a bill for a mining free Sarangani. "

    Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Catholic Diocese of Marbel and the Diocesan clergy have already issued a statement supporting NO TO MINING IN SARANGANI. Thousands of local constituents have signed the petition in support of the initiative to declare Kiamba Rainforest a National Park and the signature campaign is ongoing.

    Pacquaio's OPLAN KALIKASAN (Save the Environment) was a campaign promise he made in 2010. He has campaigned for No To Mining in Palawan but has yet to issue a statement in support to No Mining in his own District of Sarangani.

    As the duly elected representative of the people, they hope that the declaration of Sarangani as a Mining Free Zone will be a lasting legacy Pacquaio will leave behind.

    By: Carol Villanueva Peralta, NY, USA (pr_know@yahoo.com / Tel No. 718-608-6158 for calls after 8 PM EST)
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