MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippine tribe blocks delivery of mine equipment

Published by MAC on 2010-11-01
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, statements (2010-10-24)

Tribe blocks delivery of equipment to mine site in Zamboanga del Sur

By Ryan Rosauro

Inquirer Mindanao

24 October 2010

MIDSALIP, Zamboanga del Sur -- The Subanen tribe in this frontier town has achieved victory in its recent fight to prevent a mineral exploration activity in the Pinukis mountain range.

On Friday, the workers of Construction and Drilling Specialists Inc. (CDSI) have started pulling out their equipment from hinterland Guinabot village.

According to Jesus Catamco of the Alliance to Save the Integrity of Nature (ASIN), it would probably take until Sunday for the equipment to finally reach the barangay (village) road.

Equipment has been lying idle at a roadside in nearby Sigapod village.

The pullout came 16 days after the tribe, along with local environment activists, picketed the route towards the mining site to block the transporting of drilling equipment deep into the mix of old and second-growth forests of the Pinukis range.

Catamco related that on Thursday, he had a talk with Carlos Kho, CDSI general manager, informing the protesters about the company's desire to pull out from the areas.

Catamco said Kho was not expecting any community opposition to the mineral exploration activities but given the protests, CDSI decided to back off.

CDSI was commissioned by the Geotechniques and Minerals Inc. (GAMI) to do the mineral test drilling, Catamco added.

Last year, GAMI secured a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) with the national government over 592 hectares across Guinabot, Sigapod and Comarom villages.

The equipment CDSI has been pulling out includes a diamond drilling machine and about a dozen steel pipes. These were to be employed to drill for mineral samples, which would have been tested to determine the extent of the deposits in the mining area.

The first picket was staged on October 5 in Sigapod, two days after the equipment arrived; the second on October 9 in Guinabot.

Manuela Patinio, one of those who protested, said it took them nearly a week to block the equipment in Guinabot because they were at first clueless where these were transported through.

At the time, these were pulled out Friday, the equipment transported through Guinabot were only a kilometer away from the drill sites, said Patinio, citing information revealed to them by the machine operators themselves.

Patinio added that at the beginning of their picket, the protesters were told by Guinabot village chair Rodrigo Mansanades that GAMI had been able to secure a Supreme Court ruling favorable to mining operations in the area. Mansanades said GAMI informed him about the high court decision.

But Catamco debunked the claim, saying the high court had yet to act on its motion to reconsider their petition to have GAMI's mining rights revoked by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

ASIN has sought the revocation of the GAMI MPSA, along with another company, 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation, because of alleged irregularities in the process of obtaining the local people's consent for their respective projects.

Among others, ASIN points out that in the consent process, the Subanen tribe was not represented by its true traditional leaders.

As CDSI was transporting its equipment away from the drill sites, Catamco said the protesters were still around, "making sure the promise to pull out was not a ploy."

But Catamco himself admitted this was only a temporary victory. "We know they (GAMI) would device new ways to get around our strong opposition to their activities," he said.


Letter to President Aquino from Fr Frank Nally, over Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur

19 October 2010

Dear President Aquino,

Please note the report, Catholic Church supports local protests vs mining in Zamboanga del Sur, by Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao, 19 October 2010.
It is sad to note that after so much effort in 1987/1988 (a 5 month People Power Picket), following the example of your dear late mother, Cory, to stop the destruction of the tropical forest and biodiversity of the vital watersheds of Mount Pinukis in the Municipality of Midsalip, in the center of the Zamboanga peninsula, the people again have to resort to a picket to stop mineral exploration in 2010.

You would have hoped that the years of protest against the 8 exploration and mining tenements and continued dedicated efforts to preserve the integrity of the environment by the Church, farmers and indigenous peoples, that their efforts would be heeded.

However, they and their environment are continually sacrificed to satisfy the destructive greed of a few politicians. The efforts and actions of the church and peoples to combat corruption through the courts and their pleas and letters to the DENR-MGB, NCIP etc continue to be ignored by the Philippine government at all levels.
Hopefully, at last your government will show that there is a real commitment to the peoples welfare and the many international conventions the Philippine Government have inked to conserve the real treasures of the Philippines that provide and protect the livelihoods of the Filipino nation.

Please also see our reports especially Philippines - Mining or Food? and maps at http://philippinesminingorfood.blogspot.com/

May God bless your Presidency and the Philippines,

Sincerely,

Fr Frank Nally SSC
for Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP)
email: frankmurphynally@hotmail.com


Catholic Church supports local protests vs mining in Zamboanga del Sur

By Ryan Rosauro

Inquirer Mindanao

19 October 2010

MIDSALIP, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines - The Catholic Church has formally declared its full support behind an ongoing picket in two hinterland villages of this frontier town aimed to prevent a mineral exploration activity.

In a manifesto issued October 18, the Priests, Sisters and Lay (PSL) assembly of the diocese of Pagadian, which covers the entire mineral-rich Zamboanga del Sur province, described the effort to prevent the possible wide-scale destruction of the Pinukis mountain range as "a laudable display of stewardship of God's creation."

The manifesto was read by Paul Cabanting, parish priest of nearby Sominot town, during simple rites at the town public market on Monday, attended by lay leaders from various local ecclesiastical communities in Zamboanga del Sur.

In encouraging participation in the protest, the PSL manifesto also urged that it be conducted in a peaceful manner.

The picket began on October 5 in Sigapod village, about two days after residents discovered the presence of test drill equipment waiting to be brought into the forests of Mt. Pinukis.

Another picket followed on October 9 in Guinabot village where another set of test drill equipment was also brought up into Mt. Pinukis.

According to Subanen women leader Manuelita Patinio, the Guinabot picket took several days to organize because they were at first clueless where the pieces of equipment were being transported.

The equipment are owned by the Construction and Drilling Specialists, Inc. (CDSI) based in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental, which was supposedly contracted by Geotechniques and Minerals Inc. (GAMI) to do the test drills.

GAMI's Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSA) with the national government was issued in 2009 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), covering some 592 hectares that include Mt. Pinukis, a critical watershed area.

Patinio said the Subanen community in the area and environmental protection groups have formed the "Alliance to Save the Integrity of Nature (ASIN)," and have questioned the granting of MPSA to GAMI.

She said GAMI showed bad faith when it started exploration activities in the area even if a case against the MPSA has been pending with the Supreme Court.

Since Monday, small groups of parishioners from other towns flocked to Sigapod and Guinabot villages to "lend our support and accompany the protesters in their struggle."

The protesters set up tents near the pathway where the equipment would be transported to block any movement. They are keeping rotational vigil so as not to lose sight of the equipment night and day.

The region comprising the dioceses of Dipolog, Ozamiz, Pagadian and Iligan and the prelature of Marawi known as the DOPIM has a standing committee that primarily campaigns on mining issues.

Paulino Alecha, a town resident, said the support of the Catholic Church has been crucial in bringing the protest action to greater heights.

Alecha recalled the church-backed 1987 picket against logging operations in the town that "ended in a victory for environmental protection."

"But of course, the primary force here would be the determined opposition of the local people," he said.


Statement to Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau from ASIN

12 October 2010

To whom it may concern:

We citizens of Midsalip, members of ASIN organization (Alliance to Save Integrity of Nature) wish to inform you that we strongly oppose the exploration of GAMI and Alpha Sibuco Investment mining companies in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur. GAMI have no moral or legal rights to begin operations for the following reasons:

a) The Supreme Court has not yet issued its finding on the Petition (Motion for Reconsideration) brought by citizens of Midsalip against the MGB and GAMI.

b) The TIMPOBIA (Timbaboy Pob. B. Irrigators' Association) whose irrigated lands cover more than 300 hectares and who will be directly impacted by the operations, were not consulted as is required by law and plan to picket the operations.

c) The "consent" of Subaanen leaders was achieved through bribery and fake promises and the silencing of those opposed to the operations. Beginning drilling operations will almost certainly cause a breakdown of law and order as those whose voices were silenced will oppose the drilling.

d) The Local Government Code Sec. 26 requires that all sectors concerned be consulted in the case of and project which will destroy the Ecological Balance. This consultation was not carried out.

e) The Bureau of Agriculture Research is in contact with Subaanens from Midsalip as they see Midsalip as a source of adlai seeds to be used in their research in their program to ensure food security for the Philippines. The lands of one of the farmers propagating these seeds will be directly affected. The destruction of ricelands, orchards, corn, cassava, root crops etc and above all the destruction of native seeds which will result from mining activities will have a detrimental affect or not just the residents of Zamboanga Peninsula but on the whole Philippines.

f) The GAMI area is part of Midsalip watershed which is recognized as a vital water conservation priority area. Open pit mining will destroy this vital resource.

g) Investments by NIA (National Irrigation Association) in irrigation, by the DENR in Reforestation will be directly impacted.

h) The mining area is adjacent to Mount Mediau an inactive volcano and a fault line passes near to the GAMI claim area. Induced seismicity in connection with ore mining has been reported for at least 100 years.

i) National and International experts strongly recommended that the Government respects the rights of the Subaanen people, protect the water catchment area, reforest the hills which were badly damaged by illegally logging, provide more irrigation channels and terracing on the slopes. Support fish farming, protect the key fish breeding grounds from pollution and over fishing and support micro power projects and local industries based on natural products.

We therefore request that in order to protect our rights to a healthful ecology and the rights of our children, and our children's children, not yet born, to clean air, fresh water and healthy food that you uphold the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and order the immediate cessation of the illegal mining activities of GAMI and Alpha Sibuco Investment and that you call a moratorium on all mining within this critical water catchment area.

Respectfully yours,

MR. FELIX UNABIA
ASIN Chairman

Copy Furnished:

Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III - Malacanang, Manila
DENR National Office - Manila
Department of Agriculture - Manila
CDSI Drilling Company - Cagayan de Oro City
Legal Rights and Natural Resource (LRC) - Cagayan de Oro City
CENRO - Pagadian City
NCIP National Office - Manila
NCIP - Regional and Provincial Offices, Pagadian City
Amnesty International - Pagadian City
ZAMSURMUSIPA - Pagadian City
Social Action - Pagadian City
EARTHLINKS - Pagadian City
Fr. Frank Nally - Justice and Peace - London
Inside Mindanao News
MENRO - Midsalip
Local Government Unit - Midsalip

Alliance to Save the Integrity of Nature
San Jose Parish 7021 Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur

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