MAC: Mines and Communities

Indigenous Filipinos re-affirm call to repeal Mining Act

Published by MAC on 2011-04-04
Source: Manila Times, Mindanews, GMANews.tv, statement (2011-03-28)

As always, much is happening on the mining fronts of the Philippines.

A national meeting of indigenous peoples has promoted an agenda which includes repeal of the existing notorious Mining Act.

Yet another of the country's provinces, Albay (site of the notorious Rapu Rapu mine), is now calling for introduction of an anti-mining measure.

It  also seems that South Cotabato, home to Xstrata's proposed Tampakan mine, will finally implement an ordinance banning open-pit mining.

Meanwhile, several more people have died at the Tampakan site, although (as usual) there are conflicting accounts as to the identity of the alleged perpetrators.

IPs want repeal of Mining Act

By Thom F. Picana

Manila Times

26 March 2011

BAGUIO CITY: Some 56 indigenous people's (IPs) groups and tribes nationwide wanted to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and correct some provisions harsh not only to the environment but also the indigenous people living in a mining community.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat called for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of an appropriate mining law.

During the recent three-day national summit in Manila to affirm the national indigenous people's policy agenda, the delegates wanted a mining law that provides for the rational management of minerals and upholds the right of indigenous peoples, according to Santos Mero, deputy secretary-general of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA).

Mero, an Ibaloi from Itogon, Benguet, was among the delegates to the 2011 IP Summit. He represented more than 100 people's organizations in the Cordillera, home to several indigenous tribes and ethno-linguistic groups.

It was learned that there are three bills pending in Congress that push for the enactment of a new mining law. One of this is the People's Mining Bill filed by Bayan Muna party-list, Gabriela Women's party-list and supported by several congressmen as co-authors. Another is the Alternative Mining Bill filed by Akbayan party-list and co-authored by other congressmen.

Indigenous people, during the summit, were hoping that lawmakers who equally want to do away with the 1995 mining law-which allows 100% foreign ownership, among others-would come up with a consolidated mining policy, said Mero.

Kalipunan ng mga Mamamayang Katutubo ng Pilipinas (Kamp) or National Alliance of IPs in the Philippines has long been calling for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 said Joan Jaime, Kamp national coordinator.

Kamp said 38 of 65 mining priority areas are in the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples. Jaime cited in her presentation that five of six financial and technical assistance agreements (FTAA) covering some 102 thousand hectares are in IP territories.


Let's take indigenous peoples' rights seriously

Manila Times

28 March 2011

Do you take the plight of our tribal compatriots to heart? They who are formally referred to as IPs or indigenous peoples?

A measure of how most non-tribal Filipinos don't pay much attention to our IPs is the miserly space and airtime a very important recent event in the lives of our tribals got from national media.

This was the 2011 National Indigenous Peoples Summit on March 21 to 23. It was held at Innotech in Quezon City. This was the first-ever national IP summit in which about 150 tribal leaders from all over the archipelago held a conference to affirm what laws, presidential executive orders and government action they commonly desire.

The conference, of course, like other such meetings, came up with resolutions to express the summiteers' policy agenda and to commit themselves to work and fight for these desired laws and government actions beneficial to their communities.

The most important call our tribal compatriots made is the immediate suspension of two documents that have caused their human rights to be violated and the serenity and stability of their communities to be shattered. They asked for the suspension of all processing by government of "Free Prior and Informed Consent [FPIC]" documents and the issuance of "Certificates of Pre-conditions [CP]."

No mining or dam-building project can begin unless the corporations or government agencies behind the project have obtained the FPIC. The document is supposed to guarantee that the indigenous community affected has freely given its prior consent and that the community members had been clearly told about the project and they understand what the consequences of the project are to them. But IP communities claim that many of these gigantic projects, costing billions, are merrily built despite their vigorous opposition because these projects are invasions of their homelands, drive out of their ancestral domain and kill their livelihood as farmers and fishermen.

This resolution puts in writing in the name of the tribal communities the recommendation-fought for by Haribon, Alyansa Tigil Mina, some church-based and -backed organizations, and other environmental protection groups-for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and its replacement with alternative mining bills.

These alternative mining measures will ensure that our country's mineral resources are extracted more safely, without causing tribal communities to lose their livelihood and their culture and traditions.

The summit called on government to declare a moratorium on large-scale mining and to strictly regulate small-scale mining. This gives support to those provincial governments that have taken it upon themselves to pass local laws limiting or halting open pit mining and other mining-industry practices.

The summit did not just urge the government to stop issuing FPICs. The 56 tribes represented by the 150 delegates reasonably asked for the guidelines for the issuances to be revised so that they could live peacefully in their own domain and continue living according to their traditional culture.

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples

The government has a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). It is the principal government body tasked to implement the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act. The summit asked for a law that would establish a formal mechanism to ensure that the IPs be given a voice in choosing who should be appointed members of the Commission.

The Philippine indigenous peoples have different cultures and traditions. The summit asked for a review of all the programs of the government to deliver basic social services, particularly those dispensed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The aim of the review is to make sure that the cultural and tribal distinctions are observed by the DSWD.

Government officials, UN Development Program and European Union representatives attended the summit.

Commendably, Chairman Roque Agton of the NCIP told the participants that he agreed there was a need to amend the FPIC guidelines. He also said the Commission welcomed tribes and IP organizations to make inputs to the revised guidelines. He also declared that the NCIP was pledged to be transparent. He said the Commission was also going to make the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Land and Domain and the disposition of royalty payments subject to more rigorous conditions favorable to the IPs.

The undersecretary representing the Department of Agrarian Reform, Ms. Rosalina Bistoyo, said that DAR would makes sure no ancestral domain titles are violated whenever DAR issues land to the landless.

IPs' involvement in the peace process

An important demand of the IPs is for them to be involved in the peace negotiations of the government with the communist rebels and with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said President Aquino had the concerns of the IPs at heart. She said he was personally making sure the NCIP was doing its work to promote the tribal peoples' welfare.

She also reminded the summit that in fact the IPs were represented in the Philippine government's panel of negotiators by two tribal leaders. For talks with the MILF, the IP voice is Vice-Mayor Ramon A. Piang Sr. of the Teduray tribe in Upi, in Maguindanao province. For negotiations with the National Democratic Front, the IP voice is Ednar Gempesaw Dayanghirang from the Mandaya tribe of Davao Oriental province.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro B. Baguilat Jr. was a prominent participant in the summit. He said he would bring to Congress the laws the summit resolved to be fought for and use his office as a congressman to make the leadership of Congress as well as Malacañang pay more attention to the indigenous peoples.

The UNDP and EU representatives pledged their continuing support of the development of Philippine IPs.

We congratulate the summit organizers. The Times will support all moves to help promote the social and economic development of our tribal compatriots.


SUMMIT RESOLUTION URGING THE GOVERNMENT TO ADOPT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES POLICY AGENDA AND ACTION PLAN

2011 National Indigenous Peoples Summit

Whereas, the indigenous peoples' rights may be summarized in their right to self determination, embodied in Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and as expressed in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as the right to ancestral lands and domains, social justice and human rights, cultural integrity, and self-determination and self-governance;

Whereas, a century has passed since the enunciation of the Doctrine on Native Title which provides that "ancestral lands, since time immemorial, are private lands and have never been public". The doctrine has formed part of the Philippine legal system.

Whereas, the genuine recognition and respect on the indigenous peoples right to ancestral domain and self-determination is yet to be seen;

Whereas, the indigenous peoples are historically marginalized and deprived of social services such as education, health, electrical facilities, water and infrastructure by the government;

Whereas, the Philippine government implements laws and policies for development, such as mining, energy projects and plantations in ancestral territories that do not correspond to the needs and situations of the indigenous communities;

Whereas, these development projects cause negative impacts on affected communities, such as environmental destruction, physical and economic displacement, and other conflict; and poses to eliminate the rights of indigenous peoples to own, control, utilize, manage and develop their lands according to their self-determined time and method.

Whereas, the immense influx of development projects in ancestral territories is attended by heavy militarization, and making the communities more vulnerable to human rights abuses;

Whereas, the governments' neglect to provide the indigenous peoples with basic social services pushes the indigenous people to poverty;

Whereas, the neglect and poverty has pushed the indigenous people to collectively protect, promote and assert their basic social-economic, political and cultural rights in various political level and forms;

Whereas, the indigenous peoples movement to assert their right and to protect the ancestral domain, against the unequal government policy and foreign interest, is perceived as threat to the present social status quo;

Whereas, with the resumption of peace talks between the NDF and GPH; and MILF and GPH, the indigenous peoples assert on both parties the collective right and aspiration of the indigenous peoples;

Whereas, the recognition of rights of the indigenous peoples should be tackled and taken as one of the major agenda in the peace talks;

Whereas, on various dates in 2010 and in anticipation of the new administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, indigenous peoples' organizations and communities throughout the country, with the support of other civil society organizations have come up with an indigenous peoples agenda to present to this new administration.

Whereas, these activities were genuine consultations with different indigenous communities and groups throughout the country to determine their most pressing issues and priorities, with regard to the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples

Whereas, a National IP Summit, attended by 140 indigenous peoples from 56 ethno linguistic groups from all over the country was held on March 21-23, 2011 at the Pearl Hall, SEAMEO INNOTECH, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City and adopted a Common Indigenous Peoples Policy agenda.

Therefore, we call on the Aquino administration and both Houses of the Philippine Congress to support and immediately act on the National IP Summit Policy Agenda and Action Plan.

On Respect ofIndigenous Peoples' Right to Self-determination

1. Suspend the processing of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and issuance of Certificate of Pre-conditions (CPs) for projects that require FPIC. Immediately assess the implementation of the FPIC Guidelines and revise the guidelines in accordance with the recommendations from indigenous peoples expressed in the assessment;

2. Revise the Omnibus Rules on Delineation and Recognition of Ancestral Domains and Lands of 2008 and the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) Guidelines and Manual of Operations using an Indigenous Peoples perspective;

3. Push for the immediate implementation of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Administrative Order No. 01-2009, reiterated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in its Memorandum Circular No. 2010-119, on Mandatory Representation in Local Legislative and Development Councils;

4. Respect, recognize and strengthen Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices(IKSPs) by providing support for Indigenous peoples who would like to document their IKSPs for the purpose of protection, highlighting traditional forest management, health / medicine, agriculture, and community rules and penalties.

On IPRA and NCIP

1. Establish a mechanism in the form of an Indigenous Peoples-led search committee to give effect to a transparent and participatory selection and appointments process of NCIP Commissioners and Officials;

2. Reject the Indigenous Peoples Master Plan (IPMAP) at its current form for having failed to truly observe a participatory and consultative process in the drafting of the master plan;

3. Provide an effective mechanism (Indigenous Peoples Task Force) that would ensure participation of Indigenous peoples in monitoring, assessing and evaluating the implementation IPRA.

On the Delivery of Basic Social Services to Communities

1. Review all programs on basic social services (particularly 4 Ps program of DSWD) with consideration to ethnicity variables and ensure easy access and cultural appropriateness;

2. Review, enhance and implement the National Policy Framework for Indigenous Peoples Education of 2010 of Department of Education (DepEd);

3. Enforce identification, delineation and protection of watersheds and install potable water systems in all Indigenous Peoples communities;

4. Promote sustainable agriculture anchored on indigenous agricultural systems;

5. Provide livelihood support such as irrigation, farm to market roads, farm tools, implements and animals, sustainable and community controlled energy support;

6. Provide access to free health services and support indigenous health care systems;

7. Ensure the conduct of a participatory review aligning the policies of various government agencies involving education and culture (e.g. DSWD, DepEdD, CHED, TESDA, DOST, LCC, NCCA, NCIP) to ensure that education policies and programs for Indigenous peoples are anchored on indigenous education systems and the right to self-determination.

On Protection from Development Aggression, Human Rights Violations and Militarization

1. Repeal Mining Act of 1995 and support the passage of alternative mining bills that provide for the rational management of minerals and upholds theright of indigenous peoples;

2. Respect mining moratorium issuances consistentwith local government autonomy.

3. Declare a moratorium on large-scale mining and strictly regulate Small Scale Mining;

4. Prohibit the use of state forces in the implementation and operation of mining projects;

5. Stop militarization of Indigenous Peoples communities and ensure justice and indemnification for the victims of human rights violations including Indigenous Peoples women and children.

On Recognition of the Role of Indigenous Peoples in Peace Processes

1. Implement the provisions of Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) especially pertaining to the rights of Indigenous Peoples;

2. Ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are clearly recognized/stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER);

3. Ensure the effective consultation and participation of Indigenous Peoples in the peace talks between GPH-NDFP and GPH-MILF and create appropriate mechanism for Indigenous Peoples that will forward their concerns to the Government of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front;

4. Support the conduct of a Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Peace Summit and similar initiatives of Indigenous Peoples;

5. Support efforts to develop capacities of Indigenous peoples to document HR violations, in submitting complaints to the appropriate agency and mechanism in the call/search for justice.


Albay bans future mining activities

By Mar S. Arguelles

Inquirer Southern Luzon

27 March 2011

LEGAZPI CITY-Mining companies eager to lay their hands on Albay's rich mineral resources will now face stiff opposition from the provincial government.

Governor Joey Salceda signed on Friday the provincial board resolution strongly opposing any future mining activity in the province.

Declaring a mining ban in Albay has become necessary because mining activities would "indubitably jeopardize the environment including depletion of the province's mineral and natural resources," said the resolution, passed by the provincial board on March 8 and authored by Board Member Arnold Embestero.

Salceda's signing of the antimining measure came on the heels of a report from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Bicol trumpeting the achievement of the mining sector in the region, including the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) operated in Rapu-Rapu town by a Korean-Malaysian-Filipino consortium.

The sector produced P11.4 billion worth of gold, silver, copper and cement last year and paid P782.6 million in taxes to the national government.

Salceda has lashed out at the gains that Bicol got from mining, saying the benefit was "a tiny gesture" compared to the billions of pesos worth of mineral resources extracted from the region.

He added that the gain from mining operations was artificial and merely bloated the region's Gross Value Added (GVA).

GVA measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector in the country. It is used to estimate Gross Domestic Product, a key indicator of the state of the economy.

He said only the mining giants benefited from the billions of pesos they earned because even with the almost P800 million in taxes they paid, the region was expected to get only P40 million, a measly 3 percent, in social fund from the national government.

"This report only makes me more angry, and more committed to oppose mining in Albay," Salceda said.

He lamented that the billions in pesos that the mining firms earned from their operations were never remitted to the Philippines.

"They paid taxes of P782 million where we have little share and have not received our share at all. There is that social fund of P41.71 million or only 3 percent. So graphically Lilliputian to the P11.7 billion of Gulliver," Salceda said.

If he had a say on the matter, he said he would stop mining operations to prevent disasters.

"As the leader of my province, I am so ashamed I could not stop this national imposition," said Salceda, referring to mining laws that grant the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the sole authority to approve large-scale mining.

MGB-Bicol director Reynulfo A. Juan last week said the MGB would welcome only new mining ventures that would operate responsibly.


South Cotabato to implement open-pit mining ban next week

By Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

24 March 2011

MANILA, Philippines-South Cotabato may finally implement by the end of March an ordinance that bans open pit mining in the mineral-rich province in southern Philippines.

The $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project straddles the municipality of Tampakan in South Cotabato, as well as Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat.

Provincial Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr. said in a phone interview that he signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the ordinance, also referred to as South Cotabato's environment code, on Thursday morning.

The IRR may be published by next week, by which time the provincial government can formally implement the open-pit ban and the other provisions of the ordinance.

"The environment code is not just about the open-pit mining ban. It also deals with quarrying and other activities which may affect our environment," Pingoy said.

He did acknowledge that the provision banning open-pit mining could impact mining investments in South Cotabato. One such project is the proposed Tampakan copper-gold mine, which could potentially contribute one percent of the country's gross domestic product, therefore boosting economic growth.

The open-pit ban could also disrupt various small-scale mining operations, as well as coal mining, where diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has ventured into.

"The reality is that while this ordinance was passed by the previous Sangguniang Panlalawigan and signed by the former governor, it is this administration which has to implement it since the IRR is out. Unless someone brings a case against the ordinance to court, or appeals to the Sanggunian to review the ordinance, it has to be implemented," Pingoy said.

Stakeholders, including private mining companies, chambers of commerce, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and even the national government, have expressed opposition to the open-pit mining ban, saying it could not supersede the Mining Act of 1995.

Late last year, the DENR was still optimistic that the issue on open-pit ban in South Cotabato might be settled between the provincial government and project proponent Sagittarius Mines, Inc.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje had said there was a "breakthrough" at the local level after SMI presented the water study during one of the consultation meetings with the South Cotabato government. "It (SMI) is positive they may resolve it at the local level," Paje said in an interview.

"The company was able to explain that there will be no scenario of water depletion. In fact, supply may even be enhanced once the water equipment has been installed," said Paje.

A ranking official from SMI had confirmed at the time that the Sangguniang Bayan had agreed to a series of new consultations.

The project is estimated to generate around $40 billion in revenue to the Philippine national economy over the life of the project.

The Tampakan project is said to be one of the largest untapped copper resources in Southeast Asia and is touted to bring in the largest foreign investment into the Philippines. It is a world-class 2.4-billion-ton resource containing 13.5 million metric tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold.

Subject to relevant government, community and company approvals, the Tampakan copper-gold project could become the largest mine in the Philippines and the fifth largest copper mine in the world by 2016.

The project could generate jobs for about 10,000 individuals during construction and over 2,000 permanent jobs once the mine is operational.

The Philippines aims to draw more than $13 billion in investments into the capital-intensive and politically charged mining sector by 2013.


‘Armed natives' kill 3 workers in SCotabato ambush - military

GMANews.tv

26 March 2011

Three workers from a construction firm in South Cotabato were killed Friday in an ambush by "armed natives", the military said in a belated report on Saturday.

Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division, identified two of the fatalities as Osia Pizana, a company driver, and Romel Vega, a helper, both employed by LVE Construction.

The identity of the third fatality was not immediately available as of posting time.

An initial investigation showed the three were part of a five-dump truck convoy of LVE Construction traveling on a road in Tampakan town.

The construction firm is owned by Tampakan mayor Leonardo Escobillo, Paniza added.

The 10th ID spokesman said the ambush site was "within the exploration area" of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI).

Paniza also clarified that the attackers were "armed natives" and not members of the New People's Army.

It was not clear from the report whether the attack on the LVE Construction convoy was related to the continuing protests by anti-mining advocates and indigenous communities against SMI operations in the area.

The South Cotabato government earlier imposed a ban on open-pit mining in the province, which directly affected the SMI plan to open a copper-gold project in the area by 2012. (See: Firm optimistic as mining ban review starts in SCotabato)-MDM/JV, GMA News


Construction firm belies Sagittarius Mines' claim

By Bong S. Sarmiento

Mindanews

27 March 2011

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/26 March) - An official of a construction firm belied on Saturday a claim by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) that they're not a contractor for the mining firm and that the three workers killed Friday afternoon in an ambush in Tampakan, South Cotabato, were "not SMI employees or contractors."

South Cotabato Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr. on Friday said those who were killed were workers of a construction company owned by Tampakan Mayor Leonardo Escobillo, who were working on a road project in the mountains leading towards the mines development site.

Unidentified armed men ambushed the convoy of dump trucks owned by LVE Construction, killing three workers and injuring another.

Later in the evening, John B. Arnaldo, SMI corporate communications manager, sent a text message stating, "We can confirm that the victims are not SMI employees or contractors."

On Saturday morning, Leonardo Escobillo, Jr., the mayor's son said their construction firm was contracted by SMI for the graveling of a road the company is maintaining to move around the mines development site.

The younger Escobillo said he suspects the armed men could be members of the New People's Army.

"If you have problems with our company or with SMI, then address it to us. Please spare our workers," he said in a radio interview.

Escobillo said the victims were regular employees of their construction firm.

1st Lt. Maria Jessica Leviste, civil military officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said 10 unidentified gunmen strafed a convoy of five dump trucks of the LVE Construction at around 1:30 p.m Thursday in Sitio Datalbiao, Barangay Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato. The village is part of SMI's mines development site.

She identified the slain workers as Osias Pizania,driver; and helpers Rommel Vega and Nelson Parasan.

Elmer Magdula was rushed to a hospital here for treatment.

Governor Pingoy had earlier said communist guerrillas could be behind the attack on the workers of the construction company.

Friday's ambush, although still to be verified if related to the Tampakan project of SMI, was among the several violent incidents in town since the company became active there several years ago.

Last month, a tribal chieftain, Tonio Binuhay, a staunch supporter of the Tampakan project, was shot dead, along with his pregnant wife.

On New Year's Day in 2008, the NPA rebels attacked the base camp of SMI in Barangay Tablu in Tampakan town.

The communist rebels burned the firm's administration office and several mining equipment worth at least P12 million. They also disarmed and took several firearms of the security guards then manning the base camp.

No one was hurt in the attack although the NPA rebels also managed to keep at bay government security forces manning an Army detachment some 500 meters away from the base camp.

Early in 2009, the communist guerrillas, as part also of its campaign against SMI, also attacked the police station of Tampakan town, resulting in the wounding of four people, three of them policemen.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has warned the mining company to brace for more violent attacks as punishment for "plundering and destroying the nation's patrimony."

According to a company study, the Tampakan project could yield an average life of mine annual production rate of 370,000 metric tons and 360,000 ounces of copper and gold, respectively. The initial life mine estimate for the Tampakan project was pegged at 17 years.

The Tampakan project is touted as the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia.

Based on its study, Sagittarius Mines will employ open-pit mining to extract the massive deposit, a method banned by the provincial government of South Cotabato. Several sectors have been pushing for an amendment to the prohibition. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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