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Mothers of Manicani cry for jobs, vow to protect the island

In time for the celebration of International Women’s Month, a group of mothers are calling for the immediate resumption of the mining operations in Manicani Islands as this would provide livelihood and jobs for the people.

The mothers, representing the four barangays of the island of Manicani –Banaag, Buenavista, Hamorawon, San Jose– gather together to draw attention to the economic condition in their communities.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that the operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp.–Manicani Nickel Project (HMC-MNP) will resume on March 2, after years of deliberation, including the release of the result of the investigation conducted by the Agency’s ‘Special Team’ attesting to the feasibility and viability of mining in the island.

According to the DENR, the Sangguniang Barangays of Banaag, Buenavista, Hamorawon and San Jose, and the Sangguniang Bayan of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, enacted Resolutions supporting the resumption of the mining operations of HMC-MNP.

At the same time, the mothers committed to protecting Manicani as they await the resumption of jobs on the island.

The island of Manicani in Eastern Samar is a highly-mineralized area. Mining operations on the island however had been deferred for years as the government contract of HMC’s Manicani Nickel Project (MNP), to manage the development of the mineral resources of the island, had to go through extended and detailed legal scrutiny.

For years, the majority of the residents of the island have been anticipating and appealing for the government to allow the resumption of mining operations knowing it will bring the much-needed jobs and economic freedom to the more than 600 households in the island.

Julie Morante is a mother of five who worked for years in SM in Bicutan but was forced to come home to Manicani when her husband lost his job due to the pandemic.

Julie, currently jobless, struggles with the hard reality of not having a regular income and she knows that this situation, if prolonged, will put at risk the future of her children.

Julie’s younger sister is a mining engineer in Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) in Dinagat Islands in Mindanao. Through her, Julie is made knowledgeable of the concept of responsible mining and is aware of the mining industry’s Environment Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) as mandated by law and even of the rehabilitation of mined-out areas disturbed by mining activities.

She is excited for Manicani and for the future of her whole family but she assured that she will remain vigilant just like her sister.

Mary-Ann Samares is a 40-year old wife and mother from barangay Hamorawon. She got married at age 16 to escape poverty at home, or so she thought.

She has seven children and she worries every day that she is watching her children grow up under the same poverty she thought she ran away from. It’s a continuous cycle she says and she prays for a way to break it for her children.

Julie and Mary-Ann are among the most vocal in the group of mothers in Manicani who gathered recently to talk about the economic condition in the island as news of the resumption of HMC-MNP’s operations quickly spread.

The mothers exchanged opinions during the get-together. They pour their hearts out not hiding their excitement that after years of waiting, finally the jobs are coming.

They all believe that the availability of job opportunities in the island will “raise all ships” – and that’s where all the good things for the communities can come from.

The mothers chanted “jobs, jobs, jobs!”

“We have been paying attention, we have been watching the pros and cons of mining. We are pleased that it is Nickel Asia (NAC) that is handling the contract in Manicani, a company with a good track record, we trust NAC but we will be its watchdogs from the communities,” said Julie.

HMC and CMC are subsidiaries of NAC.

From their own data gathered from the communities, HMC-MNP’s Engr. Manolito M. Javar, project manager, said the company has at least 89% trust-rating and with the same percentage of residents supporting mining in the island.

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