Philippines: 'Defending the Dignity of Life, Securing our Future'Published by MAC on 2012-01-31
Source: Mindanews, Sun Star, Inquirer, Bulatlat (2012-01-28)
A conference on mining in Davao in the Philippines, organised by the Ateneo School of Government, has just recently concluded with the "Mindanao Declaration: Defending the Dignity of Life, Securing our Future".
The national Chamber of Mines was critical of the conference, and speakers at the conference, including Mines and Communities' editor Catherine Coumans
The conference focused on the near-by Tampakan project, but there is also news updating our other most recent story on Intex Resource in Mindoro (see: Philippines: No Local Government Consent, No Mining).
Despite a clear message from the government that this project cannot proceed without local support, and the fact this is clearly missing, Intex still appears to be trying to finalise a deal to effectively off-load the project to a Chinese company MCC8 Group.
One wonders what due diligence these potential investors have done? They could do worse than look at a book, recently published by opponents of the project, which only reinforces the widespread concerns over the project (see below).
A number of concerned Canadian citizens have been travelling across the Philippines on a fact-finding mission.
They raised their concerns over the link between militarisation and mining (and in their case specifically Canadian mining companies).
A statement from communities in Batangas reinforces this point as they attack the secret decision of the provincial government to support the bizarrely named Canadian outfit, Crazy Horse.
Mindanao Declaration: repeal Mining Act, enact new law, declare moratorium
By Carolyn O. Arguillas
28 January 2012
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 January) - The two-day International Conference on Mining in Mindanao ended Friday with calls to repeal the 1995 Mining Act, enact a pro-Filipino, pro-environment alternative mining law and declare a mining moratorium.
The "Mindanao Declaration: Defending the Dignity of Life, Securing our Future" called for the "promotion of sustainable, responsible and equitable management and utilization of our natural resources, toward the conservation and protection of the environment and rehabilitation of mined areas,"
It also called for the repeal of RA 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 and the revocation of Executive Order 270-A issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the revitalization of the mining industry, for being "anti-Filipino, anti-environment and violative of human rights."
The Declaration also called for the enactment of the consolidated alternative Minerals Management Bill pending in the House of Representatives and an "immediate mining moratorium and suspension and cancellation, if applicable, of all mining operations, licenses and applications, while the relevant mining policies are being reviewed; and concerned government agencies be held accountable."
The Declaration was issued on the same day the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) caused the publication of a one-page advertisement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the exclusion of its representatives in the conference.
"It has become clear that the International Conference on Mining in Mindanao was organized with the end in view of stopping mining all over the country," COMP said.
COMP said it expected conference organizers to "echo the call of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) for a blanket moratorium on mining based on a report described by former ADDU President Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ, as ‘ivory tower theorizing on the mining industry.'"
The COMP advertisement also criticized conference speakers Dr. Catherin Coumans, Dr. Robert Goodland and Mr. Clive Wicks, describing them as "staunch opposition" to mining in the Philippines and that their works are "based on perfunctory visits to mine sites in the country and on extensive consultation with anti-mining organizations - without due diligence and verification with firms these speakers have accused of wrongdoings."
It noted that Goodland was given the chance to talk about the environmental and social impacts of Sagittarius Mines, Inc.'s (SMI) Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato but Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora turned down "repeated requests "to allow SMI's request to present its Enviromental Impact Assessment findings.
But COMP, the Coalition for Responsible Mining in Mindanao (Coremin) and the Mindanao Business Council, were not without an audience on Thursday. They held a media forum from 3, to 5 p.m. at the University of Southeastern Philippines while the international conference was going on at the ADDU, to deliver the same message contained in Friday's one-page advertisement.
David vs Goliath
The COMP's full-page ad lamented that ADDU , like ASOG, "is hosting a mining conference without the mining industry."
The international conference was organized by ADDU and the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines which represents 1,345 Catholic member-schools nationwide.
Asked during the open forum Friday morning on what he thought of COMP's one-page advertisement, Tabora said, "I think we will just thank SMI for calling attention to this conference."
"If it is David and Goliath, recall that David won. We are an academic institution. No one outside academe has the right to determine our academic agenda. We operate in academic freedom. As far as the reason why we did not invite them, I told them several times we wanted to have a meeting where we can listen and dialogue with each other. We wanted to avail of the expertise of foreign experts," he explained.
At the press conference on Thursday noon, Tabora admitted SMI sent him letters asking to be invited but "I have told them over and over again (that) for this conference, you are not invited. I think it is part of academic freedom to be able to pursue truth on our own agenda and I don't think it has to be dictated by outside people."
He said this does not mean they would not engage the miners themselves, but not in this conference.
"Personally, I see that the mining establishment really has an agenda and often the agenda militates against people coming into deeper understanding of issues involved and this is what we we wanted to provide: an opportunity for them to listen to experts who have taken great pains to know the issues," Tabora told the Thursday press conference.
Tabora told the participants Friday morning, that in the Philippines, mining firms are "not at a loss. Their opinions are heard. They can pull out full page ads very, very easily. Most of our people do not have this ability."
He said the conference is an opportunity for like-minded people "to be able in friendship and in shared commitment, to listen to our friends from the other side of the world. .. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing unethical about that."
"So we certainly will give them (mining firms) an opportunity within the next 50 years to listen to them,". Tabora said, adding, "we really know what they are about. They are about destroying our environment, hurting our people, rivers, streams, killing our forest. It is very clear what they are all about."
The two-page "Mindanao Declaration" noted that the current state of the mining industry is "driven by corporate greed and the existing policy framework" promoted by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and inherited by President Benigno Simeon Aquino.
It cited, among other issues, that the harsh effects of mining on water systems, biodiversity, air, land and island ecosystems "lead to environmental destructions and disasters aggravating the impacts of hydro-meteorological hazards and threatening agriculture and food security;" that mining firms in collaboration with some government agencies have been "grossly violating human rights of communities and advocates through threats, extra-judicial killings, Investment Defense Force, mining militias, fabricating ‘free, prior and informed consents,' dividing and exploiting indigenous peoples communities and perpetuating other acts degrading human dignity."
It added that small-scale miners and workers "have been blamed for various environmental disasters by COMP in favor of large mining companies," even as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and other agencies "failed to fulfill its mandate to provide technical and, when displaced, extend immediate sustainable economic assistance."
The Declaration also noted the increasing number of local government units that are "standing up to oppose mining in their respective jurisdictions" but are hardly recognized by the national government and mining companies.
It invoked the "constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology in the spirit of precautionary principle and inter-generational responsibility." (Carolyn O.Arguillas/MindaNews)
Ceap calls on government to declare moratorium on mining
By Charles Raymond A. Maxey
Sun Star Davao
19 January 2012
THE Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (Ceap) and Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) called on government to declare a moratorium on mining activities in country pending review of RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
This developed as anti-mining advocates intensified their campaign against mining operations in the country with the staging of the 2012 International Conference on Mining in Mindanao at the Finster Hall of AdDU Jacinto campus on January 26 to 27. The two-day caucus is being organized by Ceap and AdDU.
Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ., president of AdDU and chair of Ceap advocacy commission, viewed mining operations as harmful and destructive to the people and environment, and described RA 7942 as flawed and that it needs review.
He said the present law favors big companies and even foreigners who have the financial capability to invest in mining in the country to the consternation of the Filipino people.
"All of us have to be informed of our rights to mineral in this country. We have to learn how bad these laws are," Fr. Tabora said during the regular I-Speak forum at the City Hall conference room Thursday.
Tabora said the coming conference, which has "Mina para sa Nasudnong Interes sa Katawhang Pilipino" as its theme, aims to update participants on the present mining operations in Mindanao and its impacts "while strengthening the networking among people's organizations and NGOs doing work on mining and help ensure that continuing information and education activities on mining are sustained."
"Primarily, we thought of holding the conference to promote greater participation in dialogue and exchange among the peoples of Mindanao affected by mining. We want to understand the appropriations of mining in Mindanao both large scale and small scale," Fr. Tabora said in a statement.
The symposium sessions will focus on the issues of "Business and Economics of Mining, Envriomental Impacts, Human Rights, International Standards and State of Play in the Philippines." Organizers said the topics were carefully picked to reflect the realities in Mindanao.
The speakers for the conference include Catherine Coumans, Ph.D., research coordinator of MiningWatch Canada who has done extensive works on mining in the Philippines and on international framework on responsible mining.
Other speakers are Andrew Bauer, economic analyst for Revenue Watch Institute; Atty. Marivic Leomen, co-founder of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc; Steve Blodgett, consultant on mining environmental issues; and former congresswoman Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.
Fr. Tabora said the recent disaster in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, which claimed lives of many small-scale miners, was a grim reminder of how devastating mining operations can cause to human beings and environment. This is the reason why the AdDU president is strongly opposing the Saggitarius Mines Incorporated's proposed US$5.9-billion Tampakan Mine Project in South Cotabato.
"Why the project must be opposed is due to the grave environmental damage the project will inflict on the concerned provinces, seriously affecting the life and long-term welfare of the affected communities," Fr. Tabora said.
Earlier, SMI's proposed project suffered a major blow after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied its application for an environmental compliance certificate.Ceap is a national association of Catholic educational institutions in the Philippines that was founded in 1941. Its 1,252 members include universities and colleges offering academic and continuing education program that are at par with foreign schools in the USA and Europe.
The Ateneo de Davao University is a premiere Filipino, Catholic and Jesuit university founded by the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus in 1948.
Prelates, eco groups launch book vs mining
By Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
24 January 2012
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and environmental groups have found a new tool to ramp up their fight against big-time mining in the country which its proponents see as the answer to poverty but which detractors like the CBCP insist would destroy the environment.
A book, "Mindoro Campaign: Protecting Island Ecology, Defending People's Rights," was launched Monday by the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) and environmental groups Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin) and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
The 158-page book chronicles the continuing struggle of the people of Mindoro against mining on the island. It is also a collection of studies on the island's critical ecosystems, including the threat posed by mining on food security.
The CBCP and the environmental groups said they hoped the book would motivate others to fight against mining.
At the launch in Intramuros, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo underscored the importance of the book "because it would record and remind us of the struggle of others against mining."
"It would spread the good news of the people's struggle even if it is quite difficult because we are up against big money, foreign businesses and sometimes the policies of our own government," said Pabillo.
"But if the people continue to struggle [against mining], I'm sure the Lord will be with us," he said.
Reacting to the book, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said it would continue to reach out to the stakeholders to bridge the information gap and correct misconceptions brought about by the concerted campaign against legitimate large-scale mining.
"COMP will sustain its advocacy for responsible mining, which is possible and actually happening all over the country. Our members will abide by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and related laws and continue to support President Benigno Aquino III's thrust to attract investments, to generate employment and to help alleviate poverty even as we strive to protect the environment in stages of our exploration and mining activities," COMP said in a statement.
COMP also said that mining companies were here for the long term as long as they continued to enjoy the support of the government and their host communities.
The book launch came on the heels of reports that Intex Resources had signed a memorandum of understanding with MCC8 Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned engineering and construction firm, to build the country's first refined nickel processing plant.
Church officials and antimining groups on Monday expressed their opposition to the nickel project. With a report from Riza Olchondra
Mindoro nickel project opposed
23 January 2012
MANILA - Filipino environment groups, backed by the Catholic Church, have expressed concern over the operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project.
The groups said Intex Resources announced on January 18 in Oslo Stock Exchange that it entered into a memorandum of understanding with the MCC8 Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned engineering and construction firm to impel the operation of the nickel project.
Andy Whitmore, of the Philippine Indigenous People Links, is questioning the incessant campaigns of Intex Resources for the MNP as both national and international investigations have raised serious concerns about the project.
"They shouldn't be putting out releases seeking to boost investment in the project until they were able to provide answers in the investigation conducted by the Norwegian Contact Point," Whitmore said, referring to the investigation of the Norwegian National Contact Point disclosing that Intex violated certain provisions of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; from the questionable acquisition of Free, Prior, Informed Consent to the inconceivable Environment Impact Assessment that they failed to present to the local authorities.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, said: "Both the OECD and the local investigation team have produced conclusive evidences that the Mindoro Nickel Project is unacceptable to the host communities. It is the height of corporate irresponsibility that Intex is rushing the sale of the project, and washing its hands of accountability."
"The consortium that speaks of green mining concept is still far from reality thus will not impede in our call for Intex to pull out the project and just respect the local ordinance filed in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro."
Jon Sarmiento, of Alyansa Laban sa Mina, said the investment is on high risk, adding "the MNP does not have social acceptability and they are just wasting their time and resources campaigning for the project. Mindoreño will remain vigilant over this matter. We will protect our remaining forest and will not allow anyone, even big companies to extract the minerals underneath... the forest on itself is our wealth."
In 2009, the Environmental Compliance Certificate for Intex had been revoked after local protest and a hunger strike was done against the project.
Commissioner Dionisia Banua, of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples, ensured that despite the current partnership NCIP will ensure that the FPIC will be served and implemented with integrity.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, reaffirmed their stand that the government mining policy is like "selling our lands to foreign investors with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty."
"We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by the Trans-national corporations," Gariguez said.
"We have a bigger call to this government, refrain from promoting the minerals industry, and promote the rights of the Filipino people. Repeal the mining act of 1995, and pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill that secures all these rights and prioritizes environmental protection and food security over mineral resources," he added.
Green groups hit Norwegian mining firm's partnership with China corporation
Philippine Daily Inquirer
26 January 2012
MANILA, Philippines-Environmentalist groups censured a Norwegian mining firm for forging a partnership with a Chinese investors to pursue its Mindoro Nickel Project even as its mining project on Mindoro Island has been found replete with violations.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) accused Norway's Intex Resouces of "corporate irresponsibility" when it entered into a memorandum of understanding with the MCC8 Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned engineering and construction firm, to pursue the operation of the nickel project.
Under the MOU, MCC8 will be granted a Project Management Contract (PMC) and will form a consortium to undertake project finance, identify a project operator, evaluate EPCM contract options, structure off-take, and complete the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for a staged project construction.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM, "It is the height of corporate irresponsibility that Intex is rushing the sale of the project, and washing its hands of accountability."
He said that an investigation conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed several violations committed by Intex.
"Both the OECD and the local investigation team have produced conclusive evidences that the Mindoro Nickel Project is unacceptable to the host communities," he said, adding that "the consortium that speaks of green mining concept is still far from reality thus will not impede in our call for Intex to pull out the project and just respect the local ordinance filed in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro."
Both Oriental and Occidental Mindoro provinces have imposed a 25-year moratorium against large-scale mining.
Intex announced last January 18 in Oslo Stock Exchange that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the MCC8.
Andy Whitmore of the Philippine Indigenous People Links (PipLinks) questioned the "incessant campaigns" of Intex for the mining project as both national and international investigations have raised serious concerns about the project.
"They shouldn't be putting out releases seeking to boost investment in the project until they were able to provide answers in the investigation conducted by the Norwegian Contact Point," Whitmore said referring to the investigation of the Norwegian National Contact Point disclosing that Intex violated certain provisions of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; from the questionable acquisition of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) to the unconceivable Environment Impact Assessment that they failed to present to the local authorities.
"This investment is on high risk!" said Jon Sarmiento of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN). "The MNP does not have social acceptability; they are just wasting their time and resources campaigning for the project. Mindoreño will remain vigilant over this matter. We will protect our remaining forest and will not allow anyone, even big companies to extract the minerals underneath... the forest on itself is our wealth."
In 2009, the Environmental Compliance Certificate for Intex was revoked following a hunger strike by local leaders and indigenous people in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources national headquarters in Quezon City.
Commissioner Dionisia Banua of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples gave assurances that despite the current partnership, the NCIP will ensure that the FPIC will be served and implemented with integrity.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, said that the government mining policy is like selling our lands to foreign investors with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty.
"We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by the Trans-national corporations." Gariguez explained.
Garganera added: "We have a bigger call to this government, refrain from promoting the minerals industry, and promote the rights of the Filipino people. Repeal the mining act of 1995, and pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill that secures all these rights and prioritizes environmental protection and food security over mineral resources."
Visiting Canadian church leaders link destructive mining to militarization, rights violations
By Marya Salamat
19 January 2012
The Rev. Marie-Claud Manga, pastor at Saint-Jean-sur-Richeliu, told the Philippine press in Manila that they would engage the general council of the United Church of Christ in Canada to bring these mining-related human rights violations to the Canadian Parliament.
MANILA - "It is clear to us, people are afraid- with a good cause - of mining," Rev. Dir. Bill Phipps, former head of UCCP Canada, said at a press conference last week. A retired minister and "lawyer in previous life," he and his team of UCCP church members had just concluded a 10-day mission, dubbed as Beaconsfield Initiative, to the mining areas and mining-affected communities of the Cordillera. During their visit, they lived with, observed closely and talked to people from "all levels of society."
The Cordillera region is one of the most heavily mined and deforested sites in the Philippines. Despite numerous reported occurrences of land subsidence and erosion that could be traced to years of digging and mining, a bigger chunk of the region has been covered by mining and exploration permits under the renewed push for mining liberalization by the Aquino government.
Rev. Phipps lives in Calgary, the so-called energy center of Canada. He has seen for himself the effects of extractive mining to communities, especially to indigenous peoples. He joined the UCCP's Beaconsfield Initiative to the Philippines that also looked into how Canadian mining companies, which often claim they are "going green," are truly operating. When they return to Canada, he promised to disseminate their findings to their church members and fellow citizens of Canada and to push for changes in the way the Canadian mining companies do business and treat the mining-affected communities.
Canada is a mining country, noted Phipps. He estimated that as much as 75-percent of mining companies operating abroad have Canadian stakes. Though mining is touted to help economic development, he said, "We need to do it in a way that respects human rights, the environment, the livelihood, culture and the future of the people" living in the areas to be mined.
Their findings from their 10-day mission in the Cordillera revealed some serious violations of human rights traceable to the operations of mining companies. Though the members of the Beaconsfield Initiative admitted that they might have gotten only a small part of the picture, compared to the whole impact of mining to the Filipino people, they sounded confident that the data and information they gathered from Cordillera are clear, focused and detailed after the days they spent listening, observing, and "trying to understand" the issues of mining and its repercussions, as experienced by "all levels of society," in the mining-affected areas of the Cordillera.
At least six Canadian mining companies have mining interests in the indigenous peoples' territories in Benguet and Abra. These companies include: Columbus/Magellan, Olympus Mining Company, Solfotara mining company, Pacific Metals Canada-Philippines, Adancex, and Canex.
Why destroy healthy communities?
On their own, communities including the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera are living freely and healthy in their ancestral domains, the members of the Beaconsfield Initiative reported. "They have their own sources of livelihood from indigenous farming, for example. The children live and laugh and play freely," noted Rev. Phipps. But all these are threatened by large-scale mining, he said.
"Mining will destroy land, natural resources, the people's way of life. It devastates communities.... Why destroy healthy communities just to send profits abroad?" Rev. Phipps asked. He said the same destruction of indigenous peoples' land has happened in the areas affected by mining in Canada. "People have rights to be afraid for their future," he said.
But in response to the peoples' fears and their resulting opposition to mining, the Philippine government has been deploying battalions of military into the mining-affected communities.
"Many people we've talked to reported the increased presence of military. The troops have embedded themselves in communities, in daycare centers, schools, village halls. They are sowing fear in the community," reported Connie Sorio, a Filipino resident of Canada who is also a member of the Beaconsfield Initiative from Kairos-Canada.
The recent approval of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the military's proposal to let the mining companies hire paramilitary groups to protect their operation has reportedly compounded the people's problems with militarization of their communities. In a talk with a military colonel during the mission, the Canadian UCCP members and their Filipino counterparts learned that the military has welcomed the presidential approval that would allow them to provide arms and trainings to paramilitary groups.
Sorio noted that the increased deployment of armed groups in mining-affected communities can only worsen the already "fragile issue in the Philippines of human rights violations."
One of the impacts of this militarization for mining has been the sowing of terror in communities and vilification of peoples' organizations and community leaders who resist mining, Sorio of Kairos reported.
During their mission, the Beaconsfield Initiative encountered a case of two citizens detained since September last year up to now without charges, "in total disrespect of the principle of the constitutionally-mandated right not to be detained without charges," they said in a letter addressed to President Aquino and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
"We are concerned about Mr Edward "Kiwet" Galao, 30, a farmer and resident of Concepcion village in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, and Mr Hilario Bantew, 42, resident of Mankayan, Benguet." Both came from the indigenous peoples group.
"It appears that they have both been illegally arrested by soldiers from the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, under PSI Simplicio Rabago," the Beaconsfield Initiative said. They found out that even if the AFP had filed a complaint of illegal possession of firearms against the two farmers, accusing them also of being members of the communist armed group New People's Army, the prosecutor has not acted on any of these and no formal charges have been filed.
The illegal detention of the said two members of the indigenous peoples in Cordillera is a "concrete example of how military and paramilitary action and the police infringe on the rights of ordinary citizens," said Rev. Patricia Lisson, a member of the Beaconsfield Initiative and director of St. Columba House in Montreal Presbytery.
Rev. Lisson asked why cases of illegal detention such as what they saw for themselves are still happening, when funds for the training of the Philippine military on respect of human rights had been given to the Philippine government. "We wonder if the money is being used for such training and, if they had been trained to respect human rights, we wonder if that's happening," said Lisson.
Protesting as a matter of responsibility, obligation
Some elders in the mining-affected communities of the Cordillera have impressed the members of the Beaconsfield Initiative when they told the Canadian church members' mission that "for the sake of the young generation, protesting (against the destruction of large-scale mining) is our responsibility."
"Resisting large-scale mining is like the elders' obligation," Sorio found out during their mission. "Mining is not bringing them development. On the contrary it is destroying their livelihood and food security," Sorio said.
Although the mining companies pay taxes to the local government, such as the P1.4 million ($32.5 thousand) received by the town of Mankayan in Benguet in the past quarter, what the community is left with in exchange for that is far more costly. It includes the dangerous land subsidence and imbalanced ecosystem, said Sorio.
For members of the Beaconsfield Initiative, it is their "obligation" to bring back to Canada the findings of their mission. The Rev. Marie-Claud Manga, pastor at Saint-Jean-sur-Richeliu, told the Philippine press in Manila that they would engage the general council of the United Church of Christ in Canada, which happens to be the largest Protestant Church in Canada, to bring these mining-related human rights violations to the Canadian Parliament.
"With increased awareness of the impact of mining, particularly that of Canadian mining companies, the public can push their governments and the mining companies to be accountable and to ensure that mining is not aggravating the worsening human rights and environmental situation" said Sorio.
"This is a beautiful country," Rev Phipps said about the Philippines. "It is a land of beautiful people. We've been welcomed with fabulous hospitality, generosity. We hope this land will be preserved for the future generation," he added.
A few days after wrapping up their Cordillera field mission, Sorio and other members of the Beaconsfield Initiative are set to proceed to Mindanao.
"We are concerned about the (Canadian mining company) TVI's stance in response to people's clamor against their mining operations in the area - which TVI directly and blatantly ignores," Sorio said.
Christopher de Leon Ignored People's Clamor to Stop Large-Scale Mining Operations, Provincial Board Resolution 253, Enemy of the Environment!
Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL) release
24 January 2012
While the recent tragedy of Typhoon ‘Sendong' remains fresh on the memory of the nation, Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL), was extremely appalled to know that the Provincial Board of Batangas already approved and endorsed the development operation of destructive large-scale mining in the province.
Last week, Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL) received a letter from the office of Governor Vilma Santos-Recto inviting its members to a meeting to discuss mining in Batangas. Prior to this, BUKAL has learned from an online report published by CrazyHorse Limited, a Canadian Mining firm venturing in Gold-Exploration Project in Taysan, that it has already received endorsement and approval from the Provincial Board since last May 11, 2011 through Provincial Board Resolution 253.
Today, January 24, BUKAL formally acquired a copy of the resolution and is dismayed to know that the passage of said resolution happened while different institutions - e.g. churches, schools and communities - had already held a series of dialogues and lobbying to the Provincial Board, particularly to Board Member (BM) Christopher De Leon, as Head of the Provincial Environment Committee.
"We are disappointed with BM de Leon's hypocritical stand towards protecting the environment. On a Church-Leaders' Forum Dialogue last March 3, 2011, BM De Leon was represented by his Chief-of-Staff, who committed to study if they could include BUKAL's Call for Mining Moratorium in the draft of the Provincial Environment Code. A month before this, BUKAL have already raised concerns against large-scale mining in Batangas to BM De Leon, himself in one of our lobbying efforts," narrated Fr. Oliver Castor, BUKAL Head Convenor.
"Now, the Batangueño people should know, that he was primarily responsible for allowing Large-Scale Mining in Batangas, together with all members of the Provincial Board, who unanimously supported the said resolution and betrayed people's trust by ignoring our clamor to save Batangas from environmental destruction!" Fr. Castor added further.
Aside from BM De Leon, BUKAL also named BM Carlos Bolilia who sponsored the said resolution, BM Rowena Sombrano-Africa (co-sponsor) and all members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as liable to the people and the environment for such betrayal of the people's interest. The exception is BM Rosales of the 1st District who was on sick-leave when they passed Resolution 253.
Governor Vilma, Mining Agrees to Meet with Anti-Mining Advocates Tomorrow
In a meeting called by Governor Santos-Recto tomorrow, January 25 at 1:00pm in the Provincial Capitol, Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL) will challenge the Head of the Province to take the stand for the environment.
"After the Provincial Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Large-Scale Mining in the province, she has to take her stand now. Would she side with the people in the clamor to save Batangas, or would she be an enemy of the environment by siding with her colleagues' actions? Tomorrow, more than ever, is the moment the Batangueno people will know who she really serves..." added Fr. Castor.
From 12:30pm tomorrow, members of Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan, together with residents of mining affected areas and anti-mining advocates, shall hold a Rally to condemn Provincial Board Resolution 253 and Call on Governor Vilma Santos-Recto to Stop Mining in Batangas, and Revoke the said Resolution. A program will be held before the dialogue, and during the dialogue period to manifest the people's clamor against destructive mining in Batangas. #
Fr. Oliver Castor