Table Talk: Back to the past and mining PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 13:18

BY Mike S Apostol


Table Talk is no anti-environmentalist. In fact in my small farm in Barangay Marwing, Lapuyan, Zamboanga Del Sur, where an indiscriminating stranger once described it as an “obscure municipality” in a meeting in Zamboanga City, is not anymore today. It is a booming town with Internet café shops, Videoke bars minus the GROs unless you bring one for your consumption, cheap seafood restaurants and grills, gasoline stations and other signs of modernity, like cellphone shops and wireless cable stations. The town proper itself is served by Globe Telecom and Smart Phone networks with their own towers and cellphone signal is almost everywhere except those barangays that are situated between mountains where cyber frequency cannot penetrate. One of those barangays with an off and on cellphone signal is Marwing but it is compensated with an electricity service and a good national highway, part of the coastal road that Governor Antonio H. Cerilles strongly recommended for its construction to boost the local economy and ease dramatically the threats to the peace and order of the outlying municipalities where the coastal road passes.

The government’s 4Ps or Pantawid program is seen as a “boon and bane” to many barangays and municipalities. It is a “boon” to the program because it has lightened the poverty burden of those deserving beneficiaries, the poorest among the poor, illiterate farm laborers and jobless families with large number of unschooled children. It is a “bane” to the program because among the beneficiaries are undeserving like land owners, local businessmen, some professionals who are mostly close friends or related to those tasked to select beneficiaries. The 4Ps program became an extra income to many undeserving beneficiaries while there are still many deserving families who were not included in the program and are “left in the cold” looking in desperation every time the beneficiaries troop early in the morning to withdraw their allocation at the distribution center in the town proper. The 4Ps program of beneficiaries has to be reviewed if the government intends to continue distributing billions of pesos of hard earned people’s taxes otherwise only the undeserving will be benefited while the great majority of poor families will remain to wallow in misery.

Some Local Government Units are opposed to mining like Zamboanga City for fear of environmental destruction. The national government allowed the harvesting of our natural wealth through responsible mining to boost our economy in terms of employment and a share to the income the mining companies will provide. The great bulk of these government share from mining goes back to the LGUs through development, without those added mining income the national government cannot cope with the staggering trillion of pesos it budgeted to fund and support the country’s developmental, military and social thrust. The billions of pesos coming from taxes and the other billions of dollars contributed by our overseas workers is barely enough to pay the salaries and perks of our bloated public system and its services. Without mining our natural resources it would be detrimental to run our industries because raw materials like iron, manganese, gold, silver, coal and other mineral natural resources are all vital to our manufacturing industries of machines, appliances, vehicles and construction materials, even the tiniest gadgets like staple wires, paper clips, wrist watches etc. They all came from mining and every homes has it and everybody needs it for convenience and not luxury. The national government allowed mining for many economic reasons and the LGUs have the responsibility to monitor the “responsible” aspect of mining but not to stop it, because the Mining Law is a national law and the fiscal autonomy of LGUs provided by the Local Government Code is limited on this aspect.

Agricultural farming like mining has its hazards to the environment, but the country cannot go without them, they are very vital to our survival. We should monitor their compliance on the protection of our environment and not “kill the goose that lay the golden egg”. “Mining and agriculture are two basic industries that the world has come to know in its thousand years of existence and they simply respond to the demands of society and produces the minerals needed to satisfy societal needs.”

Scoop: Have you read of the Science Fair project made by Junior High students in Idaho, USA where 43 of the 50 people surveyed signed a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical called “dihydrogen monoxide” and only one came to know that the chemical was “WATER”.  People have been conditioned to be alarmist, practicing pseudo science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. One “must look before your leap”.