Philippines:"Mining for the people" is still some way offPublished by MAC on 2011-09-06
Source: Business Mirror, PNA, Nordis, statement
Parliamentarians in the Philippines are reviewing a number of pieces of alternative mining legislation, filed on behalf of various political parties and coalitions.
Protection of the environment and the need for sustainable development feature high in concerns raised within these bills.
Yet the abuse of indigenous peoples' rights by the mining industry remains a constant concern.
Following complaints raised on World Indigenous Peoples Day (see Philippines Indigenous Peoples celebrate ... but still some way to go), this issue has been raised by both congressmen and even an industry representative (although his particular concerns have more to do with impacts on the industry, not the people).
The arguments over who will head the government's mining department (the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources) rumbles on, with the ratification of the incumbent Secretary, Ramon Paje, being blocked again.
The Bishop who has been opposing the Tampakan project has also weighed in, adding his voice to the opposition.
Meanwhile, communities in the north of Luzon continue resisting the mining of magnetite black sands from their beaches and river-beds.
Solon Urges Mining Sector To Respect IPs' Rights
22 August 2011
SURIGAO CITY (PNA) -- A Surigao del Norte lawmaker has called on the mining sector to respect the rights of millions of indigenous peoples (IPs) living near the mining areas of the country as provided for in the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA).
Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate Jr. (1st District-Surigao del Norte) made the call in a strongly-worded statement before the country's top operators and officials of various mining companies during the conclusion of the 1st Caraga Mining Symposium and Safety Competition in this city on Saturday.
Romarate said there is now an ongoing congressional inquiry on the alleged violations of the rights of IPs and the lost of millions of pesos in royalty fees intended to them.
"We are conducting congressional investigation in this regard in all the mining hubs in the country, and we will not hesitate to file cases against those who will take advantage of our IPs in the payment of royalties and in securing Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)," the lawmaker said.
Without mentioning any mining company, the second district congressman said that some mining companies are operating without the benefit of FPIC as mandated by Republic Act No. 8371 or the IPRA Law of 1997.
Section 59 of R.A. 8371 provides that "all departments and other government agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from issuing, renewing, or granting any concession, license of lease, or entering into any production-sharing agreement, without prior certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain."
The law further provides that no certificate shall be issued by the National Commission for Indigenous People's (NCIP) without the concerned FPIC, Romarate stressed.
In Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga Region) alone, there are more than 600,000 IP's population located in the hinterlands of Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
The lawmaker challenged the mining sector to craft up guidelines which will promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of mining communities.
"The heart of every mining operation is its social development and management programs and is not only corporate profits and handsome return of investments. It is about exploration of the potentials of a community and translating them into livelihood, tax revenues, business opportunities, community infrastructures and above all basic social programs for the host communities," he stressed. (PNA)
‘Govt must set clear mining policy on IP ancestral domain'
By Jonathan L. Mayuga
25 August 2011
BENJAMIN Philipp G. Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines, on Thursday urged the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to set a clear- cut policy in accepting applications, processing and awarding of the ancestral domain rights to indigenous peoples' (IPs) groups.
The issue of free, prior and informed consent of IPs, he said, is becoming a problem both for mining companies and the government, and is preventing the industry from developing to its full potential.
Romualdez said that as the prices of metals are going up, some groups are taking advantage of the IPs' ancestral domain rights and are actually giving IPs a bad name.
Speaking during a forum organized by the BusinessMirror, DWIZ and the Philippine Graphics magazine in Makati City, Romualdez said the NCIP should also set a deadline for applications for ancestral domain rights that will be accepted by the NCIP, noting that applications are flooding the NCIP, apparently by some groups and individuals eyeing to partake of the benefits of mining ancestral domain rights.
He said the NCIP should also be clear on its definition of "Indigenous Peoples," noting that groups and individuals are now claiming to be IPs and applying for ancestral domain rights in lands being eyed for mining.
He said the NCIP should also come up with a guideline that determines the extent or the presence of IPs in lands to be granted ancestral domain rights.
According to Romualdez, the requirement of securing free, prior and informed consent is a very long process, assuring that the rights of people in communities, particularly IPs, are protected under the Philippine Mining Law.
However, he said the NCIP should come up with a clear-cut policy on awarding ancestral domain rights.
"The question is how? What is the real process of determining this [if the IPs' claiming of their ancestral domain rights is legitimate]. It is raising a lot of questions. I really urge the NCIP to get to the bottom of this so that legitimate IPs get the protection," he said.
There should be an agreement between the communities and the local government before an exploration takes place during which no displacement of people living in the area should take place, Romualdez said.
"These people have rights to these areas and the mining companies and the local governments should work out for any relocation that may take place," he said.
Romualdez noted that some mining companies in collusion with local governments are causing the displacement of communities and IPs.
He said sometimes, it takes about 10 years before the actual extraction of minerals take place under normal circumstances, wherein mining companies, LGUs and the national government through the NCIP make sure that no displacement of people occur without the free, prior and informed consent of those affected by mining activities.
Displacement, he said, only happens when mining is done illegally by a miner whether it is a company, a group or an individual, or when there's conflict between two groups of IPs claiming ancestral domain rights over a certain land.
The Chamber of Mines, he said, deplores the displacement of legitimate IPs with ancestral domain rights in mining areas. "We deplore this kind of activities," he said.
According to Romualdez, when the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was signed, it was estimated that only 8 percent of the country's total land area would be affected. Today, he said, applications for ancestral domain rights cover 28 percent of the country's total land area, roughly covering 8.4 million hectares.
Romualdez said mining could not be done "anywhere" and by "anybody," noting that it should be done in mineral-rich areas by companies or people with technical and financial capability only after the commercial quantity of the minerals has been verified to be economically feasible.
Sponsorship Speech on People's Mining Bill (House Bill 4315)
By Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, Co-Author, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives
24 August 2011
The Philippines is a country replete with abundant natural resources that are key to developing a self-reliant and progressive national economy. Despite its relatively small area, the Philippines is one of the world's richly endowed countries in terms of mineral resources. To illustrate, today's press release in the Congress website tells us that an unclassified cable from the US Embassy in Manila showed that based on US assessment, "the Philippines may have untapped minerals worth worth between US$840 bill and US$1 trillion" in Mindanao.
According to the DENR 2012 budget presentation, the Philippines has 7.2 million hectares of forest or 24% of the country's land area. About 8 million hectares of forest lands or 26 percent of land area are now degraded. It will take 340 years to reforest the Philippines. A century ago, we had more than 70% forest cover in the country. What happened in the past 100 years? We exported our precious timber, we allowed legal loggers to cut down our trees for economic reasons, we failed to stop illegal logging.
Ngayong ubos na ang mga kagubatan, ang target naman ngayon ay ang ilalim ng bundok, our mineral wealth. The same reasons for allowing the widespread logging in the country are now used to justify the extraction and export of our mineral wealth. Para raw sa kaunlaran. Para raw pakinabangan ng mahihirap. [Raw materials will make the poor wealthy]
But the crucial question: Yumaman ba ang Pilipinas? Sino ang nakinabang? [If the Philippines is wealthy? Who will be benefit?]
A most basic contradiction in Philippine society is that many Filipinos are poor despite our country's wealth, owing to the fact that our resources are exploited largely by a select few. Such contradiction is especially evident in our domestic mining industry. The industry that in an ideal society can help spur genuine economic growth and people's welfare, however, has almost become the exclusive realm of foreign companies and has even destroyed lives.
Mining is being revitalized under a system that favors only the few rich and big MNCs. They extract the mineral wealth in our countryside, they export these raw minerals, the minerals are then processed in other countries, and then they are traded to the Philippines na mas mataas ang presyo. Sa atin galing ang mineral wealth, pero ibebenta sa atin ng mas mahal. Under this set-up, mining doesn't serve our national development agenda.
It has been sixteen years since the passage of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995. The law that supposedly regulates the mining industry, however, has become a tool to further liberalize foreign access and control in every aspect of the domestic mining industry, including exploration, development and utilization.
Experience would tell us that mining liberalization plainly promotes and implements destructive irresponsible mining. As such, the liberalization of the mining industry did not only reinforce economic disadvantages but it also spawned environmental catastrophes that destroyed and endangered the lives of Filipinos.
Perhaps each one of you can vividly recall the Marcopper mining disaster in 1996 which left the Boac river biologically dead. It is touted as one of the country's worst industrial accidents to date.
Or the more recent Rapu-rapu mine accident in 2005 which caused one of the country's worst mining-related fish kills, crossing over from Albay Gulf to Sorsogon Bay.
Other phenomenon related to mining operations in local communities, such as land subsidence, acid mine drainage, and landslides, have been documented with increasing frequency over the past years. The damage done to the country's mountainous, agricultural, and aquatic ecosystems has been immense.
What we need to establish is a mining industry that is based on the principles of social justice, respect for people's rights and welfare, environmental conservation, defense of national sovereignty and patrimony, national industrialization and agricultural modernization. A strategically-oriented and consultative system for planning, implementing and monitoring Philippine mining projects should also be in place. Mining is a fundamental component for attaining national industrialization and it should support the country's agricultural industry.
This is what House Bill 4315 aims to achieve.
Among the main features of the bill are:
- The establishment of a centralized and strategic planning of the Philippine mining industry through the crafting and implementation of a National Industrialization Program and a National Mining Plan.
- The reorientation of the the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as a scientific research institution under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with exclusive right to conduct exploration activities and identify strategic mineral resources needed for the country's development.
- The creation of Multi-Sectoral Mineral Councils for designated mining areas, composed of representatives from the government, stakeholder groups, and affected communities, which will approve and monitor the conduct of mining activities in the area.
- Upholding the rights and welfare of Philippine mining industry workers, indigenous peoples, and local communities.
- The provision of appropriate support and protection to Filipino corporations and professional science and technology workers to increase their participation in the industry.
- The prohibition of the controversial Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements stipulated in RA 7942, whose constitutionality was questioned before the Supreme Court.
- Stronger and stricter provisions ensuring environmental sustainability, access to justice, and protection of human rights for affected communities.
We want a mining industry that is oriented towards serving our country's people and needs. We want to utilize our finite mineral resources that will achieve agricultural modernization and the building of heavy industries in the Philippines.
I am confident that the People's Mining Bill will correct the errors of the current Mining Act because the latter is a product of years and years of theory and practice of those at the ground level, environmental advocacy groups who understand not only the need to protect the environment, but to reorient the utilization of our natural resources towards genuine economic growth, growth for the majority, not only for the few.
National Situation Of Indigenous Peoples: A Historic-Legal Perspective And Ways Forward
Privileged Speech by Congressman Brawner Baguilat, Teddy Jr., Representative of Ifugao, Lone District
9 August 2011
We are here today to celebrate the 17th International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples and the Kick Off Event of the 3 Months Campaign on Indigenous Peoples Rights and Empowerment with the rights and issues of Indigenous Women at the core of events by showcasing and advancing their rights, protecting their vulnerabilities and paying tribute to their contributions to society as strong-willed, diligent and enduring guardians of the environment, bearers of cultural integrity and heritage, and movers of history.
At present, there are approximately 14 million indigenous peoples in the country who come from 110 indigenous groups, the bulk (or 60%) of which are from Mindanao. In the Cordillera and Region 1 of Northern Luzon are the Bagos, Kankanaeys, Bontoks, Ibalois, Kalingas, Tingguians, Isnegs and Ifugaos. It is the Ifugao tribe to which this humble representation belongs. In the North-Eastern and Central Luzon area and Island Groups are Aetas, Mangyans, Palaw'ans and Tagbanuas while those of Lumad Mindanao are the Manobos, Bagobos, Subanens, Mansakas, Higaonon and Tedurays, among many others.
Throughout history, we have protected our lands, culture and heritage through our own independent, institutions and processes. Over time, established systems of immemorial rules emerged from our way of life and natural wants. In a word, CUSTOM. It is through customs that we traditionally resolve questions of property rights, natural resource use, kinship and community membership. These rules were at first informal and flexible. But persistent practice led them towards political development that allowed informal practices to evolve into Customary Law. These were in turn interpreted, applied to specific cases and enforced by the entire community through its juridical leaders.
Ancestral lands and domains are likened to living beings under customary law. These are deemed by us, indigenous peoples, as life-giving, sacred and in turn, to be reciprocated with care and protection.
Today's indigenous peoples, like Mateo Cariño before them, continue to hold on to self-evident truths that "Land is Life" Voices from the ground could not be more poignant. An oft-repeated remark by a Kalinga Pangat, Macli-ing Dulag, had this to say: "You ask if we own the land... How can you own that which will outlive you? Only the race owns the land because only the race lives forever..."
IPRA LAW: Landmark Legislation, Landmark Failure?
The IPRA recognizes Indigenous Peoples inherent rights and customary laws governing property rights. It established mechanisms for ancestral domains to be titled and requires that Free and Prior Informed Consent of indigenous peoples be obtained for any development project that affect them.
However, it saddens to mention at this point, not only as Committee Chairman on cultural communities but as an indigenous person myself, that "the manner in which the IPRA law has been interpreted and implemented resulted in a failure to address past wrongs."
There is today intense demand by indigenous communities to evaluate and review the implementation of IPRA. Our indigenous peoples have reported persistent violations of their Free and Prior Informed Consent requirement, the hasty manner in the approval of mining explorations, deployment of the military as security force to mining and the unacceptably slow titling of their ancestral domains.
For the past months the committee on national cultural communities conducted several hearings inside and outside of congress. As of December 2010, 156 Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles were issued covering 4.2 million hectares. Of the 156, only 37 CADTs are registered representing 936,934.54 hectares. In other words, after nearly 14 years of IPRA, less than 1 million of the approximately 7.5M hectares or 12% have been registered.
In a study made to determine the number of years it takes to conduct titling, the process entails an average of 7 years. On the other hand, a policy requirement for a community to decide on Free and Prior Informed Consent takes only 55 days. This policy has contributed in the polarization of communities and leading to resistance. And the response is military deployment that oftentimes result in human rights violations. Again, I would like to inform this august body that this committee has taken steps to review the guidelines on FPIC together with Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Organizations taking into account genuine intent and true spirit of FPIC.
Present State of Indigenous Peoples
Just recently President Benigno Aquino Jr. delivered his 2nd State of the Nation Address, in general I am pleased with the achievements of the present administration but was disappointed that there was no mention at all on how the present administration will address the plight of indigenous peoples in the country who remain to be part of the most discriminated and marginalized sectors of the society.
Lack of social services, dispossession from our lands and resources in the name of development, disrespect to our right to self determination and to our lands, territories and resources with the manipulation of the Free Prior and Informed Consent among others.
Last March, in partnership with various civil society organizations we conducted the National Indigenous Peoples Summit to affirm the consolidated Indigenous Peoples Agenda. This summit was attended by 180 indigenous peoples from 56 indigenous groups. The following are the affirmed recommendations of that summit and some of them are already being acted on. I would still like to reiterate the recommendations though and call for the support of His Excellency Benigno Aquino Jr. and to the members of this august body to support and act on the following:
On the Right to Self-determination
1. Suspend the processing of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and immediately revise the FPIC Guidelines based on the recommendations of indigenous peoples;
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 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 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 the right of indigenous peoples;
2. Respect mining moratorium issuances consistent with 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.
• Legislative inquiry on the status of Philippine compliance on human rights commitments
The Philippines is party to many United Nations treaties which includes the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (ICEDAW), International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) among others. Compliance to all these treaties should be monitored to further enhance our national laws and policies.
• Legislative inquiry on the performance review of the NCIP and the implementation of IPRA
• Legislative inquiry on the synergy and complementation of IPMAP with other plans and budgets of other agencies
• Legislative inquiry on the military's use of IP communities in armed conflicts (e.g. TF Gantangan)
• Legislative inquiry on compliance of Philippine Government on Program of Work on Article 8j of Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)
• House Resolution urging the President to revoke PP2282
• Establishing a Nationwide Scholarship Program for IPs
• Inclusion of Ethnic Origin in the National Survey of NSO
• Legislation amending the IPRA
I'll end my speech with a quote of the late Marcus Bangit, a known pangat of Kalinga:
"Until our right to self determination is recognized, the struggle will not end. If it means the sacrifice of our lives to achieve freedom, then so be it."
Cagayan folk oppose magnetite mining
By Alma B. Sinumlag
Northern Dispatch (Nordis)
28 August 2011
APARRI, Cagayan - Community dialogues in magnetite mining affected communities expressed strong opposition to foreign companies mining the Rio Grande de Cagayan and the beaches of the Babuyan channel. A documentation mission organized by Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Dayuhang Kontrol na Pagmimina last August 15-19 in the towns of Camalaniugan and Aparri noted the opposition of the people to foreign mining in their barangays. The documentation mission was participated in by Amihan (women peasant organization in Cagayan), KADUAMI (Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan), Kagimongan (peasant organization) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
In Allacapan, manganese mining is being done. The people have expressed alarm over the eroding riverbanks that caused scores of houses to be destroyed as well as infrastructures that were washed down the river during strong typhoons. Mothers expressed concern over their children's health as they breath in the dust blown into the atmosphere by the black sand mining operations.
People of Sapping and Dugo in Camalaniugan recounted that prior to the entry of magnetite mining by foreigners who were "kusipet ti matada" (chinky eyed), river bank erosion was a meter or so. But after the extraction activities, the communities even in higher grounds now experience flooding and the river is eating up the riverbanks several meters at a time inland. The Rio Grande de Cagayan is now a menace instead of an aid to agriculture and livelihood.
Mothers recounted that a radio is a must during the typhoon season and they always listen to weather bulletins to prepare for flooding. They said that even if no storm signal is raised over Cagayan if the rains are strong over Magat dam and Chico river, they have always evacuated as the dam releases water and Chico river overflows. They said the worst flooding they experienced was during the Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Juan where they were forced to live in their banca (Canoe) as water was slow to subside.
Fisherfolks whose livelihood depend on the river recount that the fish stock is now scarce. They attribute this to the murkiness of the water after the mining operations, so the fish migrate upstream where the waters are clearer. "Nalibeg ngaminen ti danum," they lament, so the fishes have no more breeding and feeding areas.
They recount stories of catching plentiful delectable ipon that was once abundant in the river. Or the magical ludong that is a gift of the Cagayan river to the people of the valley. They hardly see a ludong anymore.
Merci, a former barangay official of Dugo, narrated how the people clapped when a barge filled with magnetite of the "kusipet ti matada" grounded in a shallow part of the river. "Gungguna yo a ta taktakawen yo ti darat mi!" ("Serves you right for you are stealing our sands") the people shouted as the men on the barge were calling for aid. They celebrated the victory of the people of Jurisdiction, Lal-lo who evicted the boats and barges getting magnetite sand for illegally mining without permit.
When asked if the mining company or the local government unit informed them of the mining, they said no consultation happened. The officials had informed them that the river will be dredged but they were surprised when the boats and barges kept coming for more black sand. Many of them told the documentation team, "Basta lattan nga immay dagiti barko ken barge da. Agsubli-subli. No mapunno da, agsubli da manen." ("The big boats and barges just appeared. They fill the barges with black sand, leave, then come back.")
Many of the interviewees were once living in Felipe Tuzon across the river that evacuated to the centro and are now renting the lots where their houses stand from private individuals who were kind enough to provide them the space. At daytime, some of them go back to tend the fields that were not washed out in Felipe Tuzon to augment fishing that has now become scarce.
In Sapping, there is an ongoing riverbank rehabilitation project costing some P42 million for a 100 meter embankment. Lamented a mother, "If only that money were used to build schools and roads, we would be happier."
The people of Punta and Bisagu in Aparri face the same problems on a magnified scale since the sea and the river flood them. The fisherfolks reported the same problem of riverbank erosion and reduced fish catch. Most of them have ready floaters in case of flood. Typhoon Juan soaked the marshy homeland of the people of Bisagu for more than a week.
Some of them evacuated to as far as Bukuig, Allacapan since the water rose so high and they could not cross Cagayan River. They said their evacuation plans involved the women and children going first and the men staying behind to care for the animals that could not be evacuated and stay on their roofs. If the roofs are breached, then the men follow with the animals in the boats. This happened during Typhoon Pepeng and Juan.
The older people narrated that the elementary school they went to was about a kilometer to the river that was eaten up by the rising waters and erosion. Now the school is built deeper inside the barrio but even then the floodwaters still reach it up to the windows. A sandbank now exists in the mouth of the Rio Grande de Cagayan where they gather firewood washed by the river during floods. They fear the coming of the next storm and the next flood since they said the waters keep rising each year.
Shellfish that used to abound in the banks are now gone. They recounted getting kaggo, unnuk and many more from the sand but now these can hardly be found. Like in Camalaniugan, sometimes they take a day off from fishing since they are just wasting their money for gasoline for a measly two kilos catch unlike five years ago when they used to fish everyday and their boats were loaded.
In Punta, the former barangay officials told the team that a meeting by local officials was called to inform the people that a canned goods factory was going to be built in Punta. Much to their surprise no factory was built instead a steady flow of barges getting black sand is what they witnessed. The area remains an informal settlers abode with the threat of demolition always hanging over them. The succession of elected officials promised to give them relocation areas but since it is a vote-rich place they have remained, with eviction any time looming.
The magnetite mining site in Punta does not bear any signage. But the compound houses four backhoes working 24/7, several dump trucks filled with black sand, mounds and mounds of black sand and "reject" as the people call them, separator machines and a drilling machine that shakes the houses of the people when operating. The people in the vicinity could not open their doors and windows since the wind will blow the dust inside their homes. They said the last ship left about two weeks before the documentation team arrived.
They described the ships as having suction hoses reaching the bottom of the river and spewing the "rejects" through another pipe (agsusop diay maysa, agpuswak ti reject diay maysa) while the barges that have earlier been filled continue to load the ships. As soon as the ships are full, they leave Aparri to ports unknown while the barges stay to fill up.
The magnetite mining from the ships or from the beach has been going on since 2008. The mining site is just moved from barrio to barrio. The people have expressed alarm at the damage the mining is causing but local officials seem deaf to their pleas.
A minor victory was achieved by the people of Gonzaga, Cagayan when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a suspension of operations order against Lian Xing Phils. Stone Carving Co. Corp. and Huaxia Mining and Trading Corporation last April 29, 2011 for violating their contracts on magnetite mining. This, even as some leaders were charged with libel for airing the magnetite mining occuring in their areas.
The people on the river and the sea in Cagayan affected by magnetite mining continue with their opposition as they seek all means possible to preserve their fragile marine environment. # nordis.net
Bishop urges: Scrap mining law; sack DENR chief
By Dennis Carcamo
25 August 2011
MANILA, Philippines - A bishop has called on Congress to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 which has allowed the degradation and exploitation of natural resources and environment in the country.
Marbel bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said legislators should pass a law that really protects the mountains from being destroyed by several mining operations.
"Congressmen should draft a [new] law on environment and junk the Mining Act of 1995," Gutierrez told Church-run Radyo Veritas.
He also said that Environment Secretary Ramon Paje should immediately be replaced.
"Ako simula nang marinig ko at umupo si Paje sa DENR, I have been opposing Paje because he does not have the educational background. He does not know what is going on around, in the country specially in Mindanao. He does not know anything about violations here. There was a time I sent him pictures of Tampakan mining, walang nangyari, [nothing happened]" the bishop said.
Gutierrez is one of the bishops who has been opposing Paje's appointment to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.