Clive Wicks the Wicked

THEDURIANBEAT

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

Filipinos particularly from South Cotabato know very well this Mr. Clive Montgomery Wicks, the alleged expert on mining imported by anti-mining activists led by Ateneo de Davao University president Fr. Joel Tabora to speak on mining in a forum in Davao City.

Mr. Wicks has a sad record of bringing tears to people who see in mining a saving grace in the country’s sagging economy.

He wants the poor to remain poor. Filipinos sit on soil rich in gold and other precious minerals, but this Mr. Wicks does not want Filipinos to gain benefit from it.

Mr. Wicks was in town last week to speak at the International Conference on Mining in Mindanao on Fr. Tabora’s invitation held at the Ateneo campus.

Naturally, Mr. Wicks felt at home in such a gathering: the audience was a large company of anti-mining adherents, who subscribed to his idea that mining is bad for environment and people.

Mr. Wicks is an old hand in the anti-mining business and responsible mining is not in his dictionary.

People looking at the $5.9 billion Sagittarius Mines Tampakan Gold-Copper Project with hope has a special hatred for this Mr. Wicks.

He has dished out doomsday scenarios about how the project would cause damage to environment and people, dashing the hopes of thousands of Christians and indigenous people looking at the Tampakan project with much anticipation that could bring progress and development.

Last year, while the whole of South Cotabato jubilated at the prospect of hosting Asia’s biggest gold-and-copper project, easily the country’s single biggest investment in decades, came this Wicks the Wicked with his prognostications of doomsday scenarios and alleged shock-and-awe findings about what would happen to the province once the mine project starts operation.

For the uninitiated, Wicks is a British national, who wrote a book about mining in the Philippines, and who claim to be an expert on mining’s impact on people and environment.

He acted as mouthpiece of environmentalists and the Catholic Church in SoCot in opposing the SMI project while the company was conducting massive consultations on the project in host communities.

According to the bible of Wicks the Wicked, the SMI project would cause massive flooding, steal away lands from the native Blaans and generally cause misery to the region.
The people of SoCot are looking with great anticipation at the US$5.9 billion project to change the economic landscape of the province and the lives of its people for the better. But no thanks to Wicks the Wicked, this anticipation is being muddled by his lousy and unfounded projections.

Does Mr. Wicks the Wicked have an alternative to lifting up the economic landscape of SoCot? Nada.
Does this Mr. Wicks want the people of SoCot to remain poor despite the billions of dollars worth of gold and copper sitting in the bowels of their God-blessed land? I guess so.

The people of SoCot had dismissed this Mr. Wicks as a joke. So he grabbed the opportunity to speak in Davao City about SMI.

 The wicked never prevails over the good, and Wicks the Wicked shall miserably fail in derailing the project, greatly anticipated by the people of SoCot, with his doomsday scenarios and shock-and-awe pronouncements.

As it is SMI is but a step away from starting operation, its Environmental Impact Study laid open in a public consultation attended by an approving thousands.

The denial by DENR of its application for Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) may have brought jubilation to Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, Mr. Wicks and others opposing SMI.

But they could be having only a premature ejaculation. SMI has appealed the decision and we are seeing President Aquino intervening one of these days to put a close to the misery of SMI and make a reality the dream of the people of South Cotabato to take advantage of their God-given rich mineral resources.

 

Okay, to be fair to Mr. Wicks the Wicked, it’s true that mining is a “destructive” business. But being a “mining expert” Mr. Wicks could have heard about “mitigating measures” and “responsible mining.”

He could have known that mitigating measures are precisely imposed on mining company plans to avert ennvironmental damage. And that mitigating measures are the keys to preventing “destruction” and provide a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

Mr. Wicks the Wicked could also have heard about responsible mining, a mantra that the Philippine government inculcates in the mind of foreigners who want to invest in mining in the country.

Mining, certainly, is a saving grace for the Philippine economy, the country being rich in mineral resources.

Is Mr. Wicks trying to derail this program for the economic development and social upliftment of the masses with his doomsday scenarios?

Then he should be driven out of the country, along with his projections.

Mr. Wicks the wicket in our book is an economic saboteur.

SMI is the biggest investment ever in our part of Mindanao. Certainly, economic boom would be a reality when it starts digging for gold and copper.

Responsible mining is the key word, and it appears SMI has its heart in the right place when this requirement is imposed on it.
Being one who puts his fingers into the mining business, Mr. Wicks could have known about the speech of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje before the ASIA MINING CONGRESS 2011 held early this year in Singapore.

We attribute to past and current experiences the negative impacts of mining on the environment and host communities.   The industry continues to labor under the stigma of its “sins of the past,” according to Paje    Has Wicks the Wicked read the Philippine Mining Act of 1995? Then he could have been educated of the fact that under this law, the  ” sins of the past”, through an elaborate mechanism imposing strong mitigating measures on mining companies, will never happen again.

According to Paje, the administration of President Aquino lllis bent on fully  addressing the issues confronting the Philippine mining industry.

The Philippine government continues to bank on mineral resources development as a vehicle for economic growth.  There will definitely be challenges along the way.  But for as long as democracy remains dynamic, we will always see the Philippines taking a critical role in promoting responsible mining as a measure of making this part of the world a better place to live in and invest in, said Paje.

As we said, Wicks the Wicked is an economic saboteur and Ateneo’s Fr. Tabora, if he wants Filipinos to remain poor like Wicks, is in the right company.

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