Justice to all human rights victims and anti-mining martyrs!Published by MAC on 2010-09-27
Source: Sun Star, Intercontinental Cry, statements
Philippine activists stage week long protests in Manila
Last week saw several protests around large-scale mining in the Philippines. The focus was on the new President and the endemic violence being meted out to anti-mining campaigners. The list of environmental martyrs is upsettingly long, and growing.
Disconcertingly, the Philippine Army is now talking of offering its assistance to mining companies on the island of Palawan.
Although the army is focusing on off-shore oil drilling, local leaders in communities affected by hard rock mining are also rightly worried.
Questions are being raised, following MacroAsia's announcement that it has been given environmental permission for its mine on Palawan, even though not all the necessary clearances appear to have been issued.
Justice to all human rights victims and anti-mining martyrs!
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center Press Release
14 September 2010
Resisting communities, advocates and activists troop the first day of the Mining Conference 2010 organized by the Chamber of Mines in Manila Hotel, Manila today to demand justice to all human rights violations and mining-related extra-judicial killings.
Aside from the negative environmental and social impacts that communities have to bear due to mining, a list of martyrs in the struggle against mining is growing fast.
According to Judy Pasimio, Executive Director of LRC-KsK, "When we held an action last year during the Mining Conference 2009 in front of Sofitel Hotel in Manila, we were still with our colleague Gensun Agustin, who came from Cagayan. Today, he is no longer with us as he was brutally killed early this year."
The killing of Gensun Agustin adds to the list of anti-mining activists who have cold-bloodedly executed because of their convictions in protecting their communities and environment. The list includes Sibuyan Councilor Armin Marin who was gunned down by a mining company security guard in 2007 while leading a rally of Sibuyanons, Eliezer "Boy" Billanes who opposed the Tampakan Gold-Copper project of Xstrata, Conrado Buenaflor of Buguey, Cagayan who was gunned down in front of his house, and Ricardo Ganad of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro who as President of the Association of Barangay Captains advocated against the Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources.
"These are not isolated, unrelated and coincidental cases. These are individuals whom we have known and worked with in the struggle against mining and they have been killed one by one as the government continues to promote mining by opening up lands for mineral extraction and facilitating entry of corporations despite clear opposition by communities, civil society and local government units." Pasimio adds.
The Chamber of Mines Philippines through the Mining Conference 2010 will showcase ‘best practices' and ‘exemplary' initiatives of mining companies, as well as lunch its manual on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), its latest attempt to define and operationalize "responsibile mining".
"Is this what CSR and ‘responsible mining' mean? If we map-out these killings, it will only lead us to the conclusion that almost every mining affected community all over the country already have martyrs, not to mention the numerous human rights violations and environmental degradation that they are also bearing. When will this stop? When all the kilometer post all over the country will be replaced by monuments of environmental martyrs?" Pasimio asserts.
"This has to stop immediately. We call on the new administration of P-Noy to heed the call for justice to all mining-related human rights violations and extrajudicial killings, and uphold the protection and fulfilment of human rights that millions of Filipinos have entrusted upon his leadership. Walang puwang sa matuwid na daan paglapastangan sa karapatang pantao, lalu na ang karapatang mabuhay." Pasimio concludes.
For more information please contact Judy Pasimio, LRC-KsK, at +632 928-1372
Church and religious light candles and prayers for extra-judicial killings
ATM Press Release
15 September 2010
Groups say irresponsible mining accountable for these killings
Manila - About a hundred religious people and mining activists from the Catholic Church and mining-affected communities held a prayer service yesterday, honoring victims and martyrs of anti-mining struggles, in front of the Manila Hotel. The event coincided with the opening of an International Conference on Mining, hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, being held at the hotel.
Led by the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (JPICC-AMRSP) and the Seminarian Network, the gathering was organized to pray for the souls of the mining martyrs who were killed while challenging the entry or large-scale mining operations in their areas. These heroes include former Councilor Armin Marin from San Fernando, Sibuyan Island in Romblon, Ricardo Ganad, ABC Chairperson from Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, Eliezer ‘Boy" Billones of South Cotabato, Gensun Agustin of Cagayan Province, Fernando Sarmiento from Compostella Valley, and Samson Rivera, from Oriental Mindoro. Large-print photos of the martyrs were presented by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), co-organizer of the event.
Fr. Archie Casey, Co-Chair of the JPICC-AMRSP, said that the mining industry should no longer be considered as a priority economic policy, and asserted that that there can never be such a thing as sustainable and green mining, "Mining has killed a lot of people. It has affected many communities and we have seen this in the many tragedies that occurred in mining sites in the Philippines. Today we pray for the souls of the lives taken by mining, as we also seek for President Aquino's action upon this issue."
Fr. Edu Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-NASSA) added that, "we are gathered not to rally against mining companies but to pray for the many lives the irresponsible mining industry has taken. Several years back, we already condemned the killings and grave effects of mining to indigenous peoples, and the degradation of the environment." The Catholic Church has maintained a strong position opposing large-scale mining in the Philippines.
Supporters called on President Aquino to revoke EO 270-A, or the revitalization of mining policy of the government, to give justice to these killings. "We fear that the mining policy left by the Arroyo administration has held the Philippines hostage to international investors, we hope that the PNoy administration will change this," said ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61
Fr. Archie Casey, JPICC-AMRSP Co-Chairperson, (0907) 409.66.49
Fr. Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA Executive Secretary, (0919) 800.55.95
List of Environmental Workers and Activists killed, missing and assassinated from January 2001 to September 2010
1. Nicanor Delos Santos
2. Manuela Albarillo
3. Expedito Albarillo
4. Roger Fernando
5. Erwin Bacarra
6. Ramon Ternida
7. Fr. Allan Caparro
8. Joel Pelayo
9. Rodel Abraham
10. Romy Sanchez
11. Rev. Raul Domingo
12. Napoleon Pornasdoro
13. Joey Estriber
14. Jose Doton
15. Noli Capulong
16. Marcus Bangit
17. Rogelio Lagaro
18. Eladio Dasi-an
19. Rei Mon Guran
20. Orlando Rivera
21. Victor Olayvar
22. Atty. Gil Gujol
23. Nilo Arado
24. Audy Anchangco
25. Arman Marin
26. Fernando Sarmiento
27. Eliezer ‘Boy' Billanes
28. Samson Rivera
29. Ricardo Ganad
30. Gensun Agustin
Billanes Eliezer ‘Boy'
Caparro Fr. Allan
Delos Santos Nicanor
Domingo Rev. Raul
Gujol Atty. Gil
Guran Rei Mon
Killed: 27 (21 anti mining, 3 anti-large dam, 1 dumpsite, 1 logging, 1 coal power)
Enforced Disappearance: 2 (1 anti mining, 1 anti-large dam)
Attempted Murder: 1 (anti-mining)
Sources: ATM, Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment, (data gathered from the reports of Kalikasan-PNE organizational members and allies)
Amnesty International urges government - Deliver Justice to victims of extrajudicial executions in mining communities
Amnesty International Philippines Public Statement
14 September 2010
Amnesty International Philippines (AIPh) express concern over the absence of justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings, especially those who were asserting their rights to participate in decision making regarding mining operations and explorations in the country. This reflects a failure on the part of the government to fulfill its obligation under national and international law to protect the right to life of every individual, including indigenous peoples, within its jurisdiction. Amid reports of ineffective investigations and with the failure of the state to provide effective witness protection program, perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. The right to remedy is a right of anyone to get redress of their grievances, yet even those whose lives were cut short are deprived of justice.
The Chamber of Mines Mining Conference and Exhibit 2010 is being held at Manila Hotel from September 14-16, 2010 and this is an opportune time for us to urge President Aquino to ensure that perpetrators of extrajudicial executions of people who opposed mining be brought to justice. We again reiterate our recommendation to the President to establish a presidential commission that will review all reported cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances during the last decade, with the aim of enabling speedy prosecution of cases with enough evidence, or reopening of investigations for cases whose progress is stalled due to lack of effective investigation.
We are also deeply concerned about the plight of individuals, mostly indigenous peoples, whose sources and means of subsistence are taken over and destroyed by large corporations, including mining companies. Indigenous Peoples groups are only demanding for their rights as enshrined in the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples Rights (UNDRIP) and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of the Philippines when they fall prey to different forms of human rights violations, from displacement to extra judicial killings. In most cases, communities have not been consulted regarding development projects for their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), they remain invisible and voiceless in decision-making that greatly affect their lives, ancestral domains and most importantly, their cultural heritage.
Amnesty International firmly believes that actions of the local government that deprive the indigenous peoples of information about development projects and decisions that are made without the participation of the affected communities are wrong and unacceptable. These actions of the government that violate the rights of peoples to
information and to partake in decisions affecting their lives must be stopped. Indigenous peoples in remote communities deserve the same respect and equal rights as those who live in the towns and cities.
We also raise concerns over shortcomings of government agencies to prevent arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention, impunity for human rights violations, unfair trials, and torture and ill-treatment made by either the local police or private armies of big companies mostly engaged in mining and logging activities or dam development. Amnesty International asserts that the human rights of indigenous peoples must not be traded-off for economic growth and alleged benefits from development projects. The government's attitudes and actions that disempower already marginalized community must end now. It is in direct violation of the Philippines' international obligations under the UNDRIP to which it is a signatory.
Amnesty International calls for a new approach, grounded in the genuine respect for traditional culture and with human rights principles at its core, to tackle the complex subject of ancestral domains vis-à-vis development programs and policies, including the mining industry. We call on President Aquino, to order the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DEMR), to develop an integrated approach that places all human rights - not merely some human rights - at the center of their projects which will ensure that all human rights of marginalized communities especially the indigenous peoples are respected and protected.
Amnesty International demands that governments, big corporations and others who have power must listen to the voices of the marginalized communities especially those living in poverty. The principle of equality of rights cannot be compromised. Active participation of everyone involved for immediate and long term solutions to problems must be made locally and nationally.
Aurora Corazon A. Parong
Amnesty International Philippines
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates joins Alyansa Tigil Mina
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Statement
16 September 2010
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates joins Alyansa Tigil Mina today in marching against irresponsible mining in the last day of the International Mining Conference in Manila.
"Under the pretense of development, multi-national mining companies have subjected communities to exploitative conditions. They have created havoc in the once peaceful existence of Filipinos and the national resources in the countryside. Many have fallen victim under this pretense and have perished due to the rejection of large-scale mining operations." Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA said.
"Multinational mining companies are committing multiple human rights abuses including the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples. President Aquino must act against these abuses and start by revoking Ms. Arroyo's E.O. 270-A which exacerbated human rights violations." de Mesa added.
De Mesa concluded, "PNOY must ensure a policy alternative to large-scale mining and take positive measures to protect the environment, the victims of killings and other aggression of mining companies, the mining-affected communities and the indigenous peoples as recommended by the United Nations Committee on the Economic and Social Cultural Rights."
In November 10, 2008, human rights and peoples organizations in the Philippines have submitted an alternative report on the economic and socio-cultural state of the Philippines during the United Nations Committee on the Economic and Social Cultural Rights (UN-CESCR) committee review of the country.
The UN CESCR under Sec. 16 of the concluding observations urges the Philippine government to fully implement the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) by ensuring the effective enjoyment by indigenous peoples of their rights to ancestral domains, lands and natural resources, and excluding development aggression especially mining, carried out on indigenous territories.
Sponsored by the Chamber of Mines, Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) and World Expos and Concepts, the International Mining Conference - Mining Philippines 2010 started in Sept 14 and will end today. Global mining companies such as BHP, Xstrata, Rio Tinto, Vale, Anglo-american, TVI and OceanaGold is expected to participate in the conference.
Irresponsible miners hit by local groups
Gives mining industry a failing mark
16 September 2010
Manila - 300 protesters rallied in front of the Manila Hotel yesterday, demanding that irresponsible miners stay out of the Philippines. Declaring that mining has no space in the tuwid na daan (righteous path), the groups paraded graphic pictures of irresponsible mining practices, and gave the mining industry and the DENR failing marks on their attempt to drumbeat investor support large-scale mining projects in the country.
The groups paraded irresponsible mining practices such as destruction of environment, deception of indigenous peoples, weakening of local autonomy, lack of transparency and accountability and human rights violations. They also exposed a giant report card, giving red marks to failed models of responsible mining practices by the DENR.
The mobilization was a response of civil society against an international conference on mining, dubbed "Mining Philippines 2010", being held at the hotel, organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
Salvador Dimain, an Aeta chieftain from Cabangan Zambales, said that they traveled to Manila to air their disgust and frustration in the continuing destruction of their ancestral lands, because of large-scale mining operations. "Kinalimutan na nga nilang mag-paalam sa aming mga katutubo na may-ari ng lupa, sinira pa nila ang kagubatan, mga ilog at kabuhayan namin" (Not only did they disregard getting our permission for their operations, they also destroyed our forests, our rivers and our livelihoods), he said. "Kaya nananawagan kami kay Pangulong Noynoy na dapat ay itigil na ng kanyang administrasyon ang pag-mimina" (That is why we asking President Noynoy for his administration to stop large-scale mining), he concluded.
The current administration is still implementing the mining revitalization policy it inherited from the Arroyo regime, under EO 270-A, signed in April 2004.
Virginita Malaluan, a woman-farmer from Calatagan, Batangas, echoed the sentiment, fearing that aside from losing their farmlands from mining operations, the availability of food will be severely affected. "Takot kami na bukod sa mawawala ang lupang sinasaka naming, na ibinigay ng CARP, baka wala na rin kaming makain", she said. Malaluan is part of a local group, Task Force Baha-Talibayog in Batangas, opposing the entry of mining.
Meanwhile, an indigenous leader from Palawan assailed the DENR for approving a mining contract in the province, saying that this was illegal. Artiso Mandawa could not contain his emotion when he asked "Hindi nagbigay ng consent ang Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), bakit inaprub pa rin ng DENR ang ECC ng MacroAsia?" (The PCSD did not give its consent, so why did the DENR approve the ECC for MacroAsia?). MacroAsia will operate a nickel mine in more than 1,100 hectares in Brooke's Point, a town in Southern Palawan. Mandawa, spokesperson for the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan or NATRIPAL, claimed that they have maps that show the mining project will destroy centuries-old trees from their mossy forests.
In a statement, groups from Sibuyan Island in Romblon, begged the miners to spare their island from destruction. "Sibuyanons never entertained mining in the island. We know how rich our resources are and we also know for a fact that mining will destroy our biodiversity", said Rodne Galicha, Executive Director of Sibuyanon Island Sentinels League for the Environment (ISLE). "We have sought for the protection of our biodiversity from the beginning, and we cannot allow mining companies to kill our island and leave us with nothing but devastated forests and a land with nothing to continue our livelihood with", he added.
"PNoy must immediately revoke EO 270-A, in order to ensure that irresponsible mining does not continue its rampage", stated Fr. Archie Casey, from the religious network Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP). "The failing grades given here today, reflects the true nature of large-scale mining in the Philippines - it is unsustainable, it is irresponsible and it is dirty", he concluded. The Philippine Catholic Church has maintained a strong stand against mining in the country in the past years.
"At this point, we ask PNoy to listen to his boss who are gathered here today", said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), one of the co-organizers of the march. "The message is clear, Mr. President, large-scale mining has no place in your ‘tuwid na daan'", he concluded.
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The group is calling for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new mineral management law. They are also pushing for the revocation of EO 270-A and a moratorium on all large-scale mining applications and operations.
For more information:
Salvador Dimain, Aeta Chieftain (0915) 487.18.20
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761 76 02 firstname.lastname@example.org
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61; email@example.com
Rodne Galicha, Exec. Dir., SAM/ISLE, (0905) 285.07.00; firstname.lastname@example.org
Artiso Mandawa, NATRIPAL (0928) 203.09.08 / (0905) 614.56.31; email@example.com
Groups seek ban of mining operations
Sun Star (Manila)
18 September 2010
SEVERAL groups called for the stoppage of mining activities as it failed to help in generating more employments in the countryside apart from endangering the environment and the indigenous peoples' rights.
Records showed only 35 percent ($2.1 billion out of $6 billion) of the targeted investments and 66 percent (158,000 employments) of the aimed job generation were achieved by the mining industry in the last five years.
Figures from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Bureau of Internal Revenue also showed that the sector's contribution to the economy only hovered between 1.4 to 1.6 percent from 2004 to 2009.
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said the sub-par gains in the mining sector were also reflected in revenues, where only P26 billion from the original P336-billion target was collected.
As this developed, Trade and Industry undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said the government eyed $1 billion in fresh investments this year out of the $13.5 billion target inflows by 2013.
"Mining is a very attractive investment area in the Philippines primarily because of the vast source of natural resource available in the country," he told reporters during the Mining Philippines 2010 Conference and Exhibition at the Manila Hotel.
Panlilio said at least $9 billion worth of mining investments were already lined up for registration with the Bureau of Investments.
These include the $5 billion investments of Sagittarius Mines Inc. for its Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato, the $2 billion gold and copper Didipio mines project of OceanaGold Corp. in Nueva Viscaya, and the $2 billion project of nickel mines of China's Jinchuan Group Ltd. in Surigao del Norte.
But the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRNRC) said big ticket mining projects cleared forests, flatten mountains, converted crop lands, diverted water resources, polluted rivers and displaced communities.
The alliance said the Ifugaos of Nueva Vizcaya were denied of due process when they were illegally demolished by Australian-based OceanaGold without court permission in 2008.
LRNRC said some local government units opposed the introduction of mining operations in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya, Matnog in Sorsogon, and Guimaras Island, among others.
"If P-Noy is really true to his mantra and direction of tuwid na daan, he should put into his action his promises during his presidential campaign, and stood by the will of the people-his boss," the alliance said.
With this, ATM urged President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to revoke the mining policies set out by his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The group also called for a moratorium on all large-scale mining applications and operations and the enactment of a new law on mineral management. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
Troubling Developments for the Island of Palawan
20 September 2010
Government agencies in the Philippines are continuing to ignore provincial and state regulations to protect foreign mining interests in the island Province of Palawan; and now, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) steps in to the fray, announcing plans give mining firms, including some Canadian companies, direct military support.
In a highly contentious move, last week the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) granted MacroAsia Corporation (MAC) an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) to finally begin mining operations in the Municipality of Brookes' Point on the island of Palawan.
According to Artiso Mandawa, chairman of the Ancestral Land/Domain Watch network (ALDAW), the DENR's decision was completely illegal. "In Palawan the law requires mining companies to secure first a clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) before applying for a ECC and -- as of now - MacroAsia has failed to do so," says Mandawa.
The DENR's decision was most likely an attempt to avoid any more delays to the mining project. As ALDAW explains in a recent press release, "less than two months ago, the indigenous peoples of Palawan and the local NGOs... succeeded in obtaining from the PCSD a deferment of [a clearance]... until a multi-partite team composed of PCSD technical staff, local government officials, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' representatives [could visit] the proposed area to investigate ALDAW's findings and the complaints raised" by NGOs and Indigenous Peoples.
Now it's as if the investigation isn't necessary; except, of course, for the fact that it's still required by law.
"Ironically enough the DENR, through the issuance of an ECC to MacroAsia, is not only bypassing legal procedures, but it is also infringing the Philippine Mining Act which prohibits mining in old growth or virgin forest, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness area, and other areas of outstanding environmental value. The DENR is also neglecting those international obligations to which the Philippine Government is obliged," ALDAW continues.
For instance, Palawan is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve; however, "the national government is violating the condition for which such prestigious award was granted. Not only MacroAsia operations, but also those of other mining companies in Palawan are contravening the provisions contained in well-know conventions ratified by the Philippine Government: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)], the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, etc." says Dr. Novellino, a UKC/CBCD researcher.
Those other companies, particularly the Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) and Lebach are posing equally serious threats to the Indigenous Peoples of Brookes' Point. "The latter has been given both SEP clearance by the PCSD and ECC by DENR over a total area of 5,839 hectares and, again, without the consent of the local communities. The local inhabitants are now questioning the authenticity of the so called Certificates of Precondition issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), in favor of Lebach," says ALDAW
The NCIP claims that the company's concession "does not overlap with the indigenous ancestral domain. This claim, of course, has been contradicted by both indigenous peoples and farmers who have now decided to file criminal and administrative cases against PCSD, DENR and NCIP. Even more worrying is the fact that large tracts of Lebach concession include cultivated land, as well as the farmers' and indigenous peoples' settlements. According to recent field information, the Lebach company is now harassing and intimidating local farmers by cutting their coconut palms. The final objective is to force peasants out of their land."
In spite of the law and in spite of the rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples on Palawan, "mining pressure on the Philippine Last Frontier is escalating, with DENR fast-tracking mining contracts at an alarming speed. For both indigenous organizations and NGOs, having to deal with the widespread corruption, and with the multitude of new and emerging mining companies, has become a very strenuous, uncertain and overwhelming task."
"For this reason," says Artiso Mandawa "we are now looking for a long-lasting and stable solution to this problem. Hence we are appealing to the newly elected president Noynoy Aquino to scrap the mining act and declare Palawan a mining-free province. The President has the power to reverse those policies that have brought much suffering to our people and to our precious environment".
The Militarization of Palawan
As if the task wasn't overwhelming enough, now the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has announced that it wants to provide direct military support to any foreign companies operating off the Island's coast.
According to a recent article on the Philippine Inquirer, the AFP--which is composed of the Philippine Army, Navy and Air Force--has said it wants to start working for foreign companies in exchange for "patrol boats, helicopters and other hardware" says the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Indigenous peoples' and farmers in Palawan are deeply concerned about the proposed offer, says ALDAW.
"[If a deal goes though, it] will place the IPs and farmers in a very vulnerable position and they would then become the victims of harassment and extrajudicial killing. "In other parts of the Philippines, members of indigenous communities, because of the abused, perpetrated by the militaries against their own communities, have joined forces with NPA (Maoist New People's Army). In most cases, this has complicated the situation rather than improved it, making the whole communities even more exposed to militarization and military abuses."
"[We want] to avoid, in all possible ways, that the IPs' and farmers resistance will be labelled by militaries as a form of 'terrorism' or as an insurgency movement."
An ALDAW spokesman adds, "Palawan is a natural paradise that has been sustainably managed by our local indigenous populations since time immemorial. Now we have learned that militaries could be deployed in our territory to protect those companies which could destroy, in less than a decade, what we have been conserving over thousands of years: the very resources from which we depend for our livelihood and cultural integrity. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was a major stumbling block in the fulfillment of people's rights. Now we hope that Noynoy Aquino will distinguish himself from his predecessor, by implementing effective measures against the impunity over human rights abuses that has so deeply pervaded the Armed Forces of the Philippines".
Fortunately, the AFPs offer hasn't been formalized yet. However, if the government's irrational obsession with mining Palawan is any indication, than it will only be a matter of time before they start working for the companies; protecting their hopes to turn Palawan into a mining wasteland.
Sign a Petition to Stop Mining in Palawan!
And address your concerns to:
*Paje, Ramon J.P. DENR SECRETARY
*DENR Head Executive Assistant
*Honorable Governor of Palawan
Fax: 0063 (048) 433-2948
Army offers to help with troubles in paradise
The Filpino Post
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) plans to offer mining firms, including Canadian companies, private armies to protect their exploration interests in the Southeast Asian nation.
Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. said the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr. has ordered the new commander of the AFP Western Command (Wescom), Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban to look into the possibility of having such an arrangement with the many international companies operating off the island of Palawan.
The southern Philippines, some mining experts say, represents the largest unexploited stores of copper and gold in Southeast Asia.
But many mining projects have run into communist insurgency, environmentally-minded militants,Muslim rebels and tribal loyalties underscoring the high risks to foreign investors into the Philippines' underdeveloped, yet politically tumultuous, mining sector.
Mabanta noted the presence of international companies involved in oil exploration off Palawan and that the possibility of a tie-up on how to come up with a better security system other than using the AFP's organic resources and equipment.
But Mabanta said the proposal has yet to be formalized and what had been done so far were exploratory talks, according to reports in the Philippines.
Mining in Palawan has already ravaged forests, generated flooding and caused the siltation of rivers and farmland. It has also destroyed sacred sites of the Palawan Tribe in Philippines say anti-mining activists.
The military proposal has come under fire from the region's militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) which said the move would be grossly irresponsible and would further "institutionalize the mercenary, reactionary and anti-people character of the present military hierarchy and rank-and-file."
"The AFP proposal is like enlisting the personnel of military bureaucracy as paid agents and wholesale private goons of oil exploration giants currently extracting the country's oil resources in the name of super monopoly profits. It is like enrolling and enlisting the generals and the ordinary members of the AFP to the payrolls of these oil giants," Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
"Let us set the record straight. Since the escalation of offshore mining that started in 2005, the AFP has been providing security support and personnel to large-scale oil and gas hunt groups in the country, as if they are enlisted in the payroll of these destructive giants," Hicap said.
The group said the military had been on on-call and on aggressive mode everytime big oil exploration groups like the Japan Petroleum Exploration Corp. Ltd. (Japex) and Forum Exploration Canada (Forum) in charge of oil hunt in Tañon Strait asked for their support like security services and assistance again protest actions from local communities.
Pamalakaya noted that the AFP is also on call everytime NorAsia of Australia asked for their security assistance against protest from fishing communities. The Australian offshore group is mining the 445,000 hectare Cebu-Bohol Strait separating the island provinces of Cebu and Bohol.
The Philippines DoE has confirmed that over 20 firms had eyed energy exploration contracts in the country, specifically in nine areas offered by DoE for petroleum exploration, with an aggregate total of 71,357.3 square kilometers in Cagayan province, in Mindoro-Cuyo area, east Palawan, the Visayan basin, and the Agusan-Davao area in Mindanao.
One of the major flashpoints in Palawan is the plan to hunt for the treasure trove of untapped minerals lying underneath Mt Mantalingahan.
Palawan accounts for bulk of the country's reserves of nickel ore, valued at 300 billion U.S. dollars, official data show. But cashing on this is easier said than done, because it would involve compromising large areas of old- growth forests and the ecological benefits derived from them, reported the news agency, IPS.
Mantalingahan's importance as the home to a number of short-range endemic species, including the soft-furred mountain rat, which had not been seen in decades, and critically endangered species like the Palawan peacock pheasant and the Palawan cockatoo, has also been noted by the Alliance for Zero Extinction, an initiative of 52 multinational biodiversity organisations.
One group, the Palawan Youth Force, has embarked on a signature campaign on the social networking site Facebook to convince the Philippines' new president, Benigno Aquino III, to prevent new mining activity in Palawan province.
A lawyers' organisation, the Environmental Legal Assistance Centre, has hauled to court most provincial officials for endorsing a mining project in the Narra municipality, in alleged violation of a special national law protecting Palawan's remaining old-growth forests.