MAC/20: Mines and Communities

President Aquino called to action on mining

Published by MAC on 2010-10-25
Source: Pacific Scoop, Manila Standard & others

It has been a busy time for mining activists in the Philippines.

As President Nonoy Aquino reached his first 100 days in office, civil society groups - especially those comprised of indigenous peoples - criticised his actions (or lack of them) on mining issues.

They note the human rights problems caused by the industry, including displacement - and to the environment. As a result, a congressional resolution has been tabled calling for a moratorium on large-scale mining.

In response to numerous criticisms, the newly-appointed chair of the government's National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has promised to revoke questionable free prior and informed consent (FPIC) certificates.

If this promise is kept, it may end up causing more problems for mining companies than provincial ordinances banning mining.

Advocacy groups disillusioned over Aquino's lack of action over mining review

By Katie Marriner

Pacific Scoop

18 October 2010

The Philippines Mining Act has caused controversy since its inception in 1995, attracting protest from Catholic church groups, human rights organisations and trade unions. With the election of President "Noy Noy" Aquino in July, hopes that the mining policy would be reviewed and the rich biodiversity of the Filipino environment preserved have proved elusive.

The election of President Benigno Aquino brought hope to many people in the Philippines who trusted he would deliver them down his "right path".

Now, after almost three months in office, groups from around the Philippines are beginning to grow disillusioned with the lack of action Aquino has taken on the national mining policy promising a review of the controversial 1995 Mining Act.

Aquino's predecessor, President Gloria Arroyo attempted to revive the Filipino economy with the Mining Act, a piece of legislation that effectively gave foreign mining companies extensive power to exploit the Philippine's natural resources.

Dealing with a largely untapped reserve of minerals, the Arroyo administration passed the Act despite opposition from church groups and local and international environmental and human rights organisations.

Under the Act, multinational mining companies from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom began mining in the Philippines.

The impacts of these large-scale mining projects in the Philippines have been devastating for indigenous cultures and the environment.

A member of the Auckland Philippine Society, Luke Coxon, recalls the effects of Typhoon Nina in the mining town of Itogon in Benguet province.

Landslide destruction

The effect of the typhoon was exacerbated by the fact that the mine had not been backfilled resulting in a landslide that destroyed 51 houses and caused 71 families to be evacuated.

"The typhoon came in and houses collapsed," Coxon says.

Other disasters have occurred due to large-scale mining in fragile environmental areas, such as the Colalo disaster in 1999.

A whole mountain collapsed resulting in loss of lives and obliteration of communities proving that the area should never have been developed in the first place.

Following Arroyo's Mining Act, her administration passed Executive Order 270-A in 2004.

The Order outlined a framework for reviving the mining industry in the Philippines under a premise of sustainable practices and responsible mining procedures.

It was another attempt to give the Filipino economy the boost that it needed.

However, the order was not received with rapturous applause.

Foreign investors

Anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina said the underlying goal of the Order was the promotion of large-scale mining through foreign investors.

They also said the National Minerals Action Plan (NMAP), a plan devised under the Order, followed the intention of the government to exploit the country's rich mineral resources at any cost.

However, it seems the government may be prepared to make moves towards responsible mining with the introduction of the Writ of Kalikasan in April this year.

The Writ was approved by the Supreme Court of the Philippines and outlined the Rules of Procedure for environmental cases that appear before the court.

The Writ entitles the court to issue an environmental protection order to protect an area that may have been subject to environmental harm.

Further, in July of this year the provincial government of South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in the area.

One project was managed by Sagittarius Mining Inc which is a joint venture between Xstrata Copper, a global multi-national mining company and Indophil Resources NL, an Australian mining company.

Human rights infringed

At a basic level, the occupation of large-scale mining projects in the Philippines infringes the basic human rights of the indigenous communities inhabiting the areas near the mines.

The secretary of the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, Murray Horton, says human rights abuses are compounded by the culture of impunity in the Philippines.

Because large-scale mining is endorsed by the government, any opposition to mining activities puts activists in danger.

"Anyone who opposes mining companies is quite likely to end up dead," Horton says.

"The military is sent in regularly to protect mining companies. If you oppose the status quo in the Philippines then that sort of sets you up for death."

As a member of the Promotion of Church Peoples Response in Manila from 2004 to 2009, Amie Maga says many of her compatriots faced danger in their crusade to change the mining policy.

"We were particularly concerned with the militarisation in the mining affected communities," Maga says.

"There is a pattern that wherever there are mining applications there would be extensive military deployment and our leaders would be harassed and even killed."

Extra-judicial killings

"Some of our partner church workers were at the forefront of the campaign against mining and have been victims of extra-judicial killings," she says.

Luke Coxon also says the military connection with the mines is extremely evident.

He says unions are frequently accused of being associated with the New People's Army, a communist insurgent group who are in opposition to the government.

Because of this unions are under constant threat from the military.

Bearing more of the brunt than protesters, however, are the indigenous communities who are uplifted while mining projects take over their homes.

Horton says indigenous communities are regularly "trampled on" by projects steered by overseas investors.

"Whether the project is mining or forestry or building a dam it quite frequently encroaches into areas where indigenous people live," he says.

"If they try to make a fuss they get the sharp end of the stick."

Indigenous struggle

However, the indigenous people are dedicated to fighting for their land.

Maga says she drew much of her inspiration to fight for change from indigenous communities who would not give up.

One such community prayed to a sacred mountain to keep them safe from being hit by epidemics.

When the community were targeted by a mining company they prayed to the mountain and they believe that that is reason that they were saved from exploitation.

They were firm in their resolve to defend the mountain for the sake of generations to come.

Maga says the Mining Act does not protect indigenous communities from invasion by foreign companies.

"Foreign companies are allowed 100 per cent control of the land even though it is inhabited by indigenous people," she says.

Leaders bribed

"They pretend there has been some consultation but of course they disregard the community. In some cases they bribe the leaders."

Advocates are also campaigning for the mining policy to change to protect the fragile environment in the Philippines which is richly bio diverse.

Many of the mining companies do not return the land to its original state after they have finished their projects.

"The people and the environment lose so much from the companies," Maga says.

"Once they extract the mine the land is just left. There is no serious effort to compensate the people for the losses they have experienced."

Rivers and water supplies are also contaminated when tailings dams burst, leaking toxic chemicals into waterways that are used by communities.

The 1996 Marcopper disaster proved the extent of damage a mining accident could have on the environment.

Mine tailings

One of the worst mining disasters the Philippines has ever seen, more than 1.6million cubic metres of mine tailings from the Marcopper mine in Marinduque were swept through 27 km of the Boac River.

As well as killing neighbouring crops and vegetables; fish, freshwater shellfish and pigs were also killed decimating food supplies to local communities.

The communities also suffered.

"There were people with great weeping sores on their legs and kids with brain damage from the drinking the water," Murray Horton says.

Despite the vast amounts of campaigning to change the mining policy, there have not yet been any declarations from President Aquino that the Mining Act will be reviewed.

Many people believe that because Aquino inherited so much debt from the Arroyo administration that the Philippines government are once again relying on foreign investments to minimise their deficit.

Church groups call

Amie Maga says repealing the Mining Act has always been the call of the church groups and environmental groups.

In a July letter to President Aquino, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Bishop Nereo Odchimar of Tandag called natural resource management in the Philippines to be changed.

"Our bias for the use of our resources should be for Filipinos and not for foreigners," Bishop Odchimar said.

"We are calling for the abrogation of the Mining Act of 1995 that does not adequately protect the interest of our people and the country's natural resources."

The CBCP also called for existing mining contracts to be made public so that the application could be made more transparent.

A spokesperson for the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines says the chamber supports mining in the Philippines but only if it is of an "acceptable standard".

"Our committee members do support responsible large-scale mining," the spokesperson says.

"So long as the mining complies with law and they pay their taxes."

Katie Marriner is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

Arroyo's foreign mining projects continue to displace communities and destroy environment under P-Noy, say environmental groups

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

11 October 2010

Environmental groups presented the result of the environmental investigative missions (EIM) which probed the dangers and effects to communities by foreign mining projects in the country. Scientists and representatives from different sectoral groups visited the mining-affected communities of Tampakan Gold Mining Project in the provinces of Davao Del Sur and Sultan Kudarat, on August 26-28 and magnetite mining operations in Cagayan province on September 10-12, 2010.

The groups found out that destructive mining projects approved by the Arroyo administration continue to wreak havoc and disunity in the communities in the time of the newly elected president who promised to be different from its predecessor.

"Our findings in the mining-affected communities in Cagayan, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat contradict the pronouncement of President Aquino during his 100-days report that local communities are the ones which will decide if mining project will be allowed. Actually during the first 100-days of PNoy, these mining projects were supported or allowed by the national government in spite of the strong opposition from the communities," said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the main organizers of the EIM.

Corrupt practices are still being employed by the mining operators and opposition of local communities also remain unheard by the current administration.

"Results of our investigations show those foreign mining corporations and their local partners either deceive or forced the people to accept their mining projects. In Cagayan province, the opposition of several local government units at barangay and municipal level stated their opposition but the provincial government still allows mining to operate in their areas," said Bautista.

"In Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat, people were not informed of the negative impacts that the large-scale mining would bring to their livelihood and environment. The mining corporation promised the B'laan and peasant communities that large-scale mining will affect their forests, water sources and agricultural lands, but the company reports and an assessment of the proposed mining plan reveal otherwise ," said Finesa Cosico, of the scientist activist group AGHAM- Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.

The group reported that magnetite mining in the municipalities of Aparri, Lallo and Calamaniugan in Cagayan province have already caused flooding, decreased fish catch, and water pollution along the communities in Cagayan River. While there is a high probability that Tampakan gold mining project will negatively affect the water sources, agricultural land, and forests in Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat as well as the culture of the Indigenous peoples in the area.

Tampakan gold mining project is owned by the Swedish mining company Xstrata and Australian company Sagitarrius Mining Inc. In Cagayan, Chinese and Taiwanese mining companies like Shaitan Cagayan Sand and Gravel Corporation, San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd., and Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Corporation were given permits by the provincial government to operate.

According to the groups, recent moves of President Aquino demonstrate his bias towards the mining projects and its proponents. He has given orders and mediated to reverse the decision of the local governments to disallow mining in their jurisdictions.

On June 2, 2010, a stoppage order was issued by Mines Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Region 2 refraining San You Mining to continue its blacksand mining and processing operations along the Cagayan river. However, on July 7, 2010, a week after PNoy inauguration, MGB Region 2 lifted the stoppage order.

In June 28, former South Cotabato Governor Daisy Fuentes signed an Environment Code which bans open-pit mining method, a resolution that is blocking the operations of the Tampakan gold mining project. Gov. Fuentes said that she does not believe that the mining project would benefit the tribal mining communities, and it may even pollute and dry up major rivers in province. But on July 17, President Aquino instructed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje to intervene on the issue and talk to the South Cotabato provincial government. MGB in the region stated that the Environment Code violates the mining policy of the national government.

"The results of the EIM as well as the actions of President Aquino clearly reveals that the new administration is just continuing the anti-people and anti-environment mining policy and programs of the past Arroyo administration. President Aquino is gradually showing its true colors and demonstrating who his real boss is, that is the foreign mining corporations and not the Filipino people as he claimed. This is bad news for the communities but worse news for Mr. Aquino, as we vow to continue asserting our rights to a healthy environment and our patrimony," Mr. Bautista ended.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator Kalikasan PNE, 09228449787 or 9209099.

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle

Clemente Bautista
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

NCIP exec vows to annul FPICs deemed illegal

By Harley Palangchao

Baguio Midland Courier

3 October 2010

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairman, Atty. Roque Agton Jr., vowed that all questionable free prior and informed consent (FPIC) certificates will be revoked once proven to be illegally issued.

Agton said that deliberations on questionable FPIC certificates will start once President Benigno Aquino III has appointed four NCIP commissioners, which are vacant up to the present.

An indigenous person himself, Agton said that there were information that several indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities complained and continue to complain the alleged "shortcut" process in the issuance of FPIC by regional NCIP offices.

"The moment indigenous people questions the FPIC then there is a problem. But if the FPIC was subjected to the regular process and not done in shortcut then it could stand on its two legs even challenged in court," Agton said.

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) requires companies to secure FPIC from affected indigenous cultural communities and/or indigenous peoples before implementing projects.

In the Cordilleras, FPIC from indigenous peoples and/or indigenous cultural communities are crucial before the implementation of mining or exploration activities. FPIC is also needed in planned development of energy sources like geothermal project.

Locally, concerned indigenous peoples in Bakun alleged that the FPIC secured by mining proponent Royalco Mines is flawed while concerned residents of Palina in Kibungan, Benguet also questioned the earlier non-requirement for FPIC by Da Gama Minerals, Inc.

Agton, meanwhile, said that the NCIP will also work out the harmonization of IPRA with other laws and policy guidelines of other government agencies because these regulations are conflicting.

"Go for mining moratorium"

Baguilat pushes for review of mining, IP laws

By Alma B. Sinumlag

Northern Dispatch

4 October 2010

BAGUIO CITY - Congressman Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao who heads the house committee on National Cultural Communities (NCC) called for a moratorium on large scale mining in the entire Philippines.

In his press conference on September 30 here, he also acknowledged the need to review and repeal several laws on mining and on indigenous peoples (IP) rights.

He said that the call for a moratorium on mining is incorporated in the agenda that he will be proposing to PNoy this October. According to him the agenda was formulated through several consultations with IP communities and groups all over the country to determine their most pressing issues and priorities.

Some of the IP groups involved were Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), Assisi Foundation of Davao, Kasama sa Kalikasan of Bukidnon, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Tebtebba Foundation, Koalis-yon ng mga Katutubong Samahan sa Pilipinas (KASAPI), and Legal Rights and National Resources Center.

Moreover, Baguilat said that there is a need to call for a mining moratorium in order to review government policies on mining that contradict the rights of IPs.

Baguilat said that there are several policies drafted for the IPs but unfortunately, they are not properly implemented. He raised the issue of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which according to him does not really serve its purpose.

He took the case of the FPIC process in Gambang, Bakun, Benguet as an example. "This is the first time I hear of three FPIC processes conducted in one barangay only. What I know is that, you only talk to one council of elders in one community," he said.

Baguilat also questioned the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) who chose the elders to represent the community of Gambang and eventually grant the consents.

"Did they really represent all the stake holders of the community? The thing is sometimes the state of economic need of the people in the community is exploited to get the consent to the FPIC." This, he reiterated, does not serve the purpose of securing a free prior and informed consent.

Furthermore, Baguilat said, in the conduct of FPIC, the facilitating agency should explain the effects of the application to the community as a whole in order to serve its purpose as an informed consent.

"Because mining is really a destructive industry not only to the environment but also with the psyche of the community, acquiring the FPIC should be conducted in all its stages in a proper manner," Baguilat added

"The FPIC supossedly was drafted in order to protect the ancestral domain of IPs but if the agency that is facilitating does not really serve the interest and welfare of IP then that's a thing to we should look into," he said.

With this, he said, there is a need to review and repeal the 2006 FPIC guidelines and enact rules and regulations that should conform to the rights of IP communities. Even the IPRA law he said will be reviewed.

Baguilat said that the NCC will soon conduct an investigation on what he referred to as questionable processing of FPIC in Gambang, Bakun. Part of the investigation he said will be dialogues with the community, NCIP, local government units (LGU) and representatives from the NCC.

Also, he added that they will subject all the mining exploration applications of the Royalco Philippines Inc. in the entire Philippines into an investigation.

Moreover, he told the media that the NCIP was formed in order to protect the general welfare of the IPs. He stressed that the said agency should really take a stand against mining and other destructive projects like dams and logging industries.

He even revealed that the agency does not have a good reputation among international funding agencies who are interested in IP projects.

Aside from the IPRA Law and the FPIC, the IP agenda also calls for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 because as Baguilat stated, some of the provisions in the mining act are contradictory to the rights of IPs.

On the other hand Baguilat stressed that before the review and repeal of the above mentioned laws, the first step to be taken is to call for the moratorium on large scale mining.

He cited as conflicting the conversion of ancestral lands and ancestral domains into certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) by the Department of Agrarian Reform and the issuance of free patent by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources over lands subject of CADTs or CALTs.

"The land left for indigenous peoples is scarce but you (government agencies) still want to get it from them," Agton said.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr, who is also chair of the Lower House Committee on Indigenous Peoples, said one remedy to mammoth of problems besetting the NCIP is to transfer the agency from the watch of the DENR to the Office of the President.

IPs dissatisfied with PNoy's inaction on IP agenda

By Adela Deyaen Wayas

Northern Dispatch

11 October 2010

BAGUIO CITY - Indigenous peoples groups here are not satisfied with the performance of President Benigno Aquino III in his first 100 days of holding office.

Abigail Bengwayan-Anongos, secretary general of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA), said no remarkable change was observed or made by PNoy on the issue of the indigenous peoples (IPs). She said concrete IP agendas were forwarded to the president but he has no effort or action to aid these urgent issues concerning IPs not only in the region but all over the country.

"Malacañang has made no effort to jump start correcting the historical injustice committed against the IPs in the Cordillera and in other parts of the country," Anongos said.

CPA with other IP groups submitted the IP Agenda to the President during the celebration of the International Day for the World's IPs in August this year.

Anongos said that among the issues IPs asked to be addressed, as stipulated in the agenda they submitted to the president are concerns on their ancestral lands and the environment:

Laws and state policies that grossly violate indigenous peoples' rights such as the Mining Act of 1995, Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA), NIPAS Law, National Minerals Policy (NMP), Mining Action Plan (MAP); and,

The State's counter-insurgency policy Oplan Bantay Laya and the National Integrated Security Plan for Indigenous Peoples (NISP-IP); and luke-warm implementation of international agreements on indigenous peoples rights such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The IP groups also called for a stop to extrajudicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances (ED), widespread militarization and the blatant violations of their human rights.

They also asked for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and National Democratic Front and for the immediate surfacing of CPA founding member James Balao and the immediatele and unconditional release of the Morong 43.

Katribu Partylist on the other hand, rated PNoy's response to the issues and concern of IPs as poor.

"Aquino's performance is way below par," Katribu Partylist President Beverly Longid said in a press statement.

"In PNoy's first 100 day, he offered no significant change. President Noynoy's administration failed to address the immediate demands of the Indigenous Peoples," Longid added. She also said PNoy failed to initiate policy and institutional reforms needed to uplift the dismal state of the indigenous peoples.

Longid said that during the last election campaign, PNoy rallied on issues of professionalizing the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), reviewing all fraudulent titles and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued, providing social service and protection of IPs rights. However Longid explained that up to now no action was seen or initiated to fulfill these promises.

Katribu as an IP frontliner also raised the issue of failing to address extrajudicial killings, demilitarization and dismantling of the different paramilitary groups in IP communities. "No substantial action was done on the issue of the 139 EJK of indigenous people. He has not only failed to stop EJK but appears to be worse than GMA," said Longid.

Moreover Longid said that within the first 30 days of the PNoy's administration, 3 indigenous Dumagat from Montalban, Rizal were gunned down, raising the number of EJK victims among IPs from 139 to 142.

Different paramilitary groups, according to Longid, continue to run wild and wreak havoc and terror in IP communities. She said that in Mindanao, the Task Force Gantangan, Bagani Force, Bulif at Alamara continue to terrorize IPs and other communities.

Anongos told this reporter, the President must not be contented with a 71% satisfaction rate for his first 100 days and the satisfaction rates he would be getting in the future. She said that these do not correspond to the changes made on the plight of the poorest of the poor to which IPs are included.

Furthermore, Anongos reiterated that in his first 100 days major issues of human rights, justice and governance have not been answered and this she said is a major concern. "It is a major concern that under the President's first 100 days, these issues have not been responded to, even if he says that the people are his 'boss'".

Development in disguise?

Daily Mirror (Philippines)

10 October 2010

(Editor's Note) Last August, a lumad group called Kalumaran submitted its Indigenous People's (IP) Agenda to President Aquino, in commemoration of the International Day for Indigenous Peoples. It called for "the protection , defense, and development of ancestral lands and the environment." Among the issues the group want addressed are: large-scale mining operations, alleged militarization in the hinterlands, and the lack of social services made available to the lumad. Dulphing Ogan, Kalumaran's Secretary General, issued the following statement. It has been edited for brevity:

The first 100 days of Benigno Aquino III shows no significant change from his predecessor, notwithstanding the high ratings he got from his survey. As far as indigenous peoples in Mindanao are concerned, the same policies of mining and "development" plunder of ancestral lands and militarization continues.

Aquino's pronouncement of more foreign investments after his US trip shows that his administration's economic policy still leans towards opening our natural resources for the exploitation of multinationals.

Kalumaran believes this will lead to the further dwindling and destruction of the last frontier that is our ancestral lands, as this is being made open and vulnerable to exploitation by multinationals.

Aquino will continue the previous administration's Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP-IP) that facilitates the building of dams, conversion (of agricultural lands) to (mono-crop) plantations, and open-pit mining. These projects are being offered as development for the communities, but in reality these will only facilitate land grabbing and the environmental plunder of ancestral lands.

Consequently, militarization in the hinterlands will continue displacing lumad communities and worse, will eliminate lumad leaders resisting such plunder.

Mindanao lands are now ravaged by large-scale mining such as the Xstrata-owned venture in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Toronto Ventures in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; and massive land conversions for export-oriented plantations of jathropa, pineapple, and banana. Even the Liguasan Marsh in the Moro area of Cotabato is being explored for its potential for natural gas.

Unless Aquino makes a turnaround, we see little change in his presidency and will note his presidency with a failing mark. Along with this, will continue to solidify our ranks to call for the protection of our ancestral lands from plunder and militarization, and oppose anti-lumad policies for the protection of our national patrimony.

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