Struggles over mining law revision in the PhilippinesPublished by MAC on 2012-02-14
Source: Business Mirror, Manila Standard, Mindanews et al
Justice remains elusive for slain environmentalist.
The Office of the Philippine President is finalising an Executive Order (EO) which will aim to clarify many of the recent conflicts over mining.
A draft has been leaked to the press by the Chamber of Mines and a full-scale propaganda offensive by the industry is under-way to influence the President. Those who are concerned about the impacts of mining are also rallying to ensure that any new legislation will as best as possible protect the environment and the rights of communities.
Meanwhile, other events proved the need for such affirmative action. Indigenous Igorots in the Cordillera continue to blockade the entry of Gold Fields into their community, asserting that they have not given the necessary consent.
The Mamanwa of eastern Mindanao are likewise claiming their right to give their consent in negotiations with small-scale miners. The Department of the Environment has also initially upheld complaints that mines close to the Mamanwa have been polluting the environment. These mines were earlier attacked by the New Peoples Army over such accusations. See: Large-scale mining operations in the Philippines attacked
Finally, human rights organisations have been commemorating the murder of environmental advocate and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega. See: Two anti-mining advocates shot in the Philippines.
One year on, and still there is little sign of justice being done...
International organisations respond to Chamber of Mines and Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Statement on behalf of MiningWatch Canada, Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks) and the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines
13 February 2012
We are writing, as concerned international organisations, in response to press adverts and statements by the mining industry and their supporters regarding the ‘leaked' draft Executive Order on mining (apparently titled "Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines, and for Other Purposes).
The Chamber of Mines (COMP) and associated advocates, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), are pressuring the Office of the President with unsubstantiated accusations that the proposed changes "will drive away future investments in the industry and imperil existing projects"i and that it "would unduly delay all on-going projects, stop short all exploration activities, as well as the issuance of new mining permits."ii
This seems to be more of the same alarmist rhetoric that has been recycled by these organizations on a number of occasions over the years. The industry claims it is for responsible mining, and yet when measures are proposed that would ensure responsible mining the cries go up that they are unfair and uncompetitive.
It is worth looking at some of the objections raised. One article notes "there is a proposal to increase taxes on the extractive industries ... large-scale miners feel it will make the country uncompetitive in the race to get top-grade mining investors."iii In reality, many countries receive, or are negotiating, a far greater return in revenues from mining than the Philippines receives. And, as was made very clear at the recent International Conference on Mining in Mindanao in presentations by representatives from Revenue Watch and the Tax Justice Network, the Philippines stands out in global comparisons for having extremely low taxes and royalties from mining.iv The same news article argues that the real foot-print of the industry is limited, yet the experience of large-scale mining in the Cordillera, as elsewhere, is that river ecosystems and agriculture have been damaged in provinces far away from specific mining locations.
Another news article criticises the body advising on the EO for being made up of environmentalists, such as the Department of the Environment!v Given the DENR is currently the department with ultimate responsibility for deciding on mining leases (already complicated by its dual functions in promoting mining as well as protecting the environment), it is absurd to criticise it as an 'environmentalist', and anti-industry body. Addressing the conflicting functions of the DENR is essential separating the authority responsible for monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws and making it independent from the authority that issues mining licenses.
The same news article complains about an idea allegedly in the draft EO called TEV - or "total economic valuation." It states that a total cost or benefit evaluation for a mining project is a bad idea, especially as other countries don't have such a policy. This is not true. In fact, the Canadian government has developed a similar tool to evaluate the value of ecological goods and services of Canada's ecosystems in order to provide the government with the necessary "balanced information in their decision-making process with the true costs of development or conservation."vi The United Nations is also engaged in a three year project to measure the 'Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity'. The United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment and the United Nations Environmental Programme Financial Initiative also acknowledge that for sustainable development environment costs have to be internalized.vii Conducting these analyses in the Philippines would expose the true cost to the Filipino people of the current and planned mining operations across large expanses of their vulnerable and bio-diverse natural resource rich archipelago. A TEV is absolutely essential in such a context, and must be complimented by a policy which considers the long term total social, environmental and cultural cumulative impacts and ensures that adequate returns are guaranteed for the Filipino people and the risks to their continued well-being are minimized. Without such policy reform, the term 'responsible mining' in the Philippines will continue to be a myth.
The Chamber of Mines has resorted to full page adverts in response to the EO boasting of the purported economic benefits of mining. Yet, these economic benefits are a complete fiction when considered in the Philippine context. What the Philippines has experienced, (and will experience in a much more dramatic manner in the future if the industry is allowed to dictate the terms of engagement), is instead, major economic, social, cultural and environmental costs as evidenced by the fact that:-
- mining is the only economic sector in the country in which the poverty incidence, including income poverty, has risen over the last decadeviii while being the sector with by far the biggest social and environmental footprint;ix
- the current legislative framework results in minimal actual return to the Philippine Economy given that it is based principally on raw material export, excessively generous tax incentives and a policy which provides for the effective transfer of ownership of mineral resources to 100% foreign owned corporations who are allowed to repatriate their profits;x
- mining as it is currently pursued leads to massive lost opportunity costs as a result of its destructive effect on the country's bountiful natural resource base which, if protected, will provide sustainable income from agriculture, fisheries and tourism;
- mining on the scale currently envisaged in the Philippines is inconsistent with the Department of Agriculture target to make the country self-sufficient in rice by 2013, and the requirement to feed a population of 130 million people by 2030. This can't be achieved if open cast mines are allowed in water catchments such as Tampakan in South Cotabato;
- human costs are associated with environmental disasters triggered as a result of irresponsible mining in Mindanao and throughout the country;
there have been serious violations of the civil and political, economic, social and cultural, human rights and environmental rights by the mining industry in the Philippines of local and indigenous communities which have been recognized and condemned by UN human rights and OECD monitoring bodies;xi
- there are significant and very long term costs associated with the post-mining phase that have yet to be adequately addressed such as guaranteeing that the mining industry is obliged to clean up and make safe all of the existing and future mining waste which poses inter-generational threats to the environment, sustainable livelihoods and human rights';xii
- mining is proposed on a massive scale (hundreds of mining tenements covering vast portions of the country) in the Philippines. This threatens the enjoyment of constitutional rights not just of local and indigenous communities, but of all Filipinos, both of this and future generations, to a balanced and healthful ecology including their rights to life, food, water and to the natural resources necessary to guarantee their continued survival and development.
In conclusion it would appear that the Office of the President is attempting in this EO to imbue some meaning into the hallow words ‘responsible mining' by seeking to ensure that mining does not violate the principles of sustainable development. The response of the industry is simply to cry foul. The present and future generations of the Philippines deserve better.
i. Businessmen Slam 'Anti-Mining' Policies, Business Mirror, 6 February 2012
ii. Draft Order Imperils Mining Sector, Manila Standard, 6 February 2012
iii. Clearing Mining Issues, Philippine Star, 8 February 2012
iv. Davao hosts int'l conference on mining in Mindanao, Mindanews, 23 January 2012
v. Nose Barrage, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 February 2012
vi. Canwest News Service May 25, 2010, http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Feds+price+Canada+nature/3065309/story.html ; See also - Government of Canada. http://www.ec.gc.ca/envirozine/default.asp?lang=en&n=B31D9D94-1; The Ecological and Economic Foundations in Environment and Development Economics, http://www.teebweb.org/EcologicalandEconomicFoundations/tabid/1018/Default.aspx; http://www.euractiv.com/sustainability/nterview-pavan-news-308155
vii. Universal Ownership Why environmental externalities matter to institutional investors UNPRI UNEP Trucost (2010) http://www.unpri.org/files/6728_ES_report_environmental_externalities.pdf
viii. Multidimensional Poverty in the Philippines: New Measures, Evidence, and Policy Implications Arsenio M. Balisacan1 Revised Report: 8 October 2011 - http://www.undp.org.ph/Downloads/knowledge_products/poverty/20111019%20-%20MPI%20Docs/Multidimensional%20Poverty-09oct2011.pdf
ix. 2007 Report of the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Business and Human Rights E/CN.4/2006/97 22 February 2006 ‘The extractive sector is unique because no other sector has as enormous and as intrusive a social and environmental footprint' - http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/papers/JGR%20Interim%20Report%20to%20the%20UN.pdf
x. 1995 Mining Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations
xi. UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Early Warning Urgent Action Procedure letters to the Philippine Government in relation to abuses of the rights of the Subanon of Mt Canatuan in the context of TVI Pacific Mining Project; http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/early-warning.htm OECD National Contact Point Statement in relation to Intex Resource Mindoro Nickel Project; http://www.piplinks.org/intex-resources-found-breach-international-guidelines see also recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights to the Philippines and UN Committee on Human Rights in relation to violations of human rights in the context of mining in the Philippines
xii. It is estimated that there are in the region of 800 abandoned mines in the Philippines see C Doyle, C Wicks, F Nally Mining in the Philippines Concerns and Conflicts available at http://www.eccr.org.uk/module-htmlpages-display-pid-52.html
Indigenous peoples wary over new mining policy
1 February 2012
Indigenous peoples' organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) criticized President Bengino Aquino's actions in a meeting of foreign chambers of commerce last Thursday, 26 January 2012.
"Aquino acted like a kid amongst bullies in a schoolyard," Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said. "But instead of lunch money, he gave away national economy and patrimony without a fight."
Aquino promised investors of a new mining policy to be drawn up in mid-February after complaints of ‘inconsistencies' in the country's mining policies. Aquino said the new mining policy will be ‘clear-cut' in response to investors' unfavorable comments on the extractive industry.
"Aquino was quick to assure investors that their interests are secure, notwithstanding the growing opposition against destructive, large-scale mining in the country," Malayao said. "It shows Aquino has no real interest in the protection of people's rights and the environment."
Investors are ‘confused' over the Philippines' current mining policy, according to Julian Payne, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Canadian mining company, TVI Resources Ltd have mining investments in Zamboanga Peninsula, and recently battled local government unit in Zamboanga del Norte after they enacted an open-mining ban in the province.
"We could imagine an even more liberalized mining policy that will attempt to mute mining-affected people and leave local government disempowered from opposing projects they deem unbeneficial for their constituents. Apparently, resistance from affected communities, environmentalists, and local government units have been cutting mining corporations' profits," Malayao said.
KAMP says that the government is already very lenient with mining investors, and even an eager promoter of investments on our mineral lands. "The only thing that is preventing mining corporations of laying waste on our mineral resources is the people. We fear that the mining policy conjured up by the Aquino administration will attack the people's assertion for their rights to land, and to national patrimony," Malayao said.
However, KAMP says the new mining policy will not come unchallenged. "Mining has taken a beating lately, with the protests and other forms of opposition from concerned groups. We are sure that Aquino's mining policy, as with other anti-people policies that preceded it, will be met by the resistance of the people." Malayao ended. #
Piya Macliing Malayao, 0917-363-1576
Aquino urged to freeze mining activities for 2 years
Max V. de Leon
9 February 2012
A civic group has asked President Aquino to suspend all mining activities in the country for at least two years to allow time for the issuance and implementation of a "rational mining policy" that will correct the "relaxed regulatory and permitting procedures to entice investors to come in at the expense of local autonomy, environmental and ecological balance, asset reform, and human rights."
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), said President Aquino should not cower under the pressure of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Mindanao Business Council, and other private sector groups that have already voiced opposition to a still unissued executive order (EO) that they believe will be anti-mining.
"Contrary to the negative reaction of key players in the mining industry, we believe that a new executive order should be able to address pressing issues on the environment, especially now with the increased impacts of climate change and disasters experienced in the country," Garganera said.
Earlier, the Chamber of Mines and other business groups have warned Malacañang against proceeding with the issuance and implementation of a draft EO titled "Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines therefor, and For Other Purposes."
"We do not believe that any government policy should be labeled as ‘anti-mining' simply because it does not favor the mining industry. We would like to pursue a rational mining policy that addresses the many problems raised since the aggressive promotion of mining in the Philippines," Garganera said.
He said while the EO will alter the provisions of the Mining Act of 2005, the presidential issuance can at least improve or revise the implementing rules of the Mining Act, repeal inconsistent and disadvantageous provisions from earlier EOs like EO 270-A, and clarify and emphasize the implementation of already existing national laws, policies and regulations that are directly related to mining (e.g., Local Government Code on the roles of LGUs or IPRA and the need for genuine consent from indigenous peoples).
The EO, the group said, should create more mechanisms or venues for better coordination between government, mining industry and civil society on matters relating to mining, integrate new national laws and policies that were not yet enacted in 1995, like Climate Change Act or the Disaster-Risk Reduction (DRR) law, and streamline procedures and processes that need updating, specifically on permitting procedures, or monitoring and regulatory aspects of the mining operations or payments of taxes and royalties.
Garganera said with a moratorium on mining activities, the government will be able to review first the status of all mining projects and applications, and determine their compliance to national laws, and requirements.
"We have documented cases of at least 12 current mining projects and applications that have various issues and problems, most of them substantial. Unless and until the specific problems and issues for a particular mining project or application is addressed, then live projects and pending applications must be suspended. My personal estimate is that a two-year moratorium will be a good start to do the comprehensive review/study of all mining projects and applications," he said.
ATM, he said, is hoping that the Minerals Policy Review Group, which prepared the controversial draft EO, did its homework and considered the problems on deforestation and environmental protection, local government opposition to mining, and transparency and accountability.
The group, Garganera said, is not totally opposed to mining.
"We see the important role of minerals in our industrialization and national development efforts. What we are opposing, however, is the aggressive promotion of mining in the whole country, as embodied in EO 270-A of PGMA [Former President Gloria Arroyo], and this policy was inherited by P-Noy [President Aquino]. We disagree with the basic policy of EO 270-A, that the whole Philippines is open to large-scale mining operations, and that the regulatory and permitting procedures were relaxed to entice investors to come in," he said.
However, before mining activities are allowed to continue, the group said the following conditions must be met first:
· Resolution of pending cases at the DENR, CHR, NCIP and OP that implicate mining projects and their violations of specific national laws;
· Resolution of cases in RTCs or the Supreme Court, that relate to the writ of Kalikasan or the Temporary Environment Protection Order (Tepo) issued by courts against mining operations (e.g., Anislagan, Surigao del Norte, Marinduque, Zamboanga del Norte);
·Mining projects area able to complete their requirements, especially consent from LGUs and FPIC from indigenous peoples;
· We must first complete our forest delineation. We must clearly pin-point where are the remaining forests, the critical watersheds and the important biodiversity areas. Once these are completed, we must identify the "No-Go Zones" for mining;
· We must complete the national geo-hazard maps, overlay these with the existing mining tenement maps, and decide which areas cannot be opened for mining, simply because there are too many risks and vulnerabilities.
· We must subscribe to a transparency and accountability mechanism for the mining industry. Currently, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative is waiting for the government to enroll, and complete the titling and registration of ancestral domains of indigenous peoples. This way, we are sure who and where are the IPs that will be impacted by mining, and the mining industry will actually find it easier for them, since they now know who are the legitimate IP leaders they need to negotiate with, and where are the boundaries of these ancestral domains within their mining sites.
Draft order imperils mining sector
6 February 2012
Mining industry players, stakeholders, and other concerned sectors warned Malacanang against rushing a proposed executive order that will paralyze, if not kill the sector altogether.
They expressed deep apprehensions that the draft EO titled "Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines, and for Other Purposes" might serve as a virtual death sentence for the mining industry.
The sources also said that the draft EO, a copy of which was circulated in the media, would unduly delay all on-going projects, stop short all exploration activities, as well as the issuance of new mining permits.
The sector has allegedly suffered enough from the suspension of mining permit issuances by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Sources cited the case of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project which had invested $5.9 billion, but was still denied an Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Environment Department. Dexter A. See
Transformation potential from mining 'moderate'
9 February 2012
THE PHILIPPINES' transformation potential with regard to mining and socioeconomic development has been classified as "moderate" by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The WEF, in analyzing 30 mining economies, lumped the country with Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Colombia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Namibia, Pakistan and the United States as Tier 3 states.
It said these countries had "only moderate potential for transformation ... because they have limited mineral growth potential, already advanced socioeconomic development, or both".
The country segmentation was contained in an appendix to the WEF's 2011 report on its Responsible Mineral Development Initiative (RMDI), posted this week on its website.
Alex Wong, head of the WEF's Center for Business Engagement, explained that the Tier 3 classification was assigned as the mining sector's size relative to the economy was "relatively low" and the Philippines' human development index (HDI) a "medium".
Also factored into the classification was mineral resource value, which for the Philippines was also rated as "medium", Mr. Wong said in e-mails to BusinessWorld.
"For those countries with high future mining potential, and currently low score on the HDI, responsible mineral development has in particular the potential to contribute to the country's socioeconomic growth."
Tier 1 economies with the "highest potential" were identified as Angola, Bolivia, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mongolia, Peru, South Africa and Tanzania.
The Tier 2 countries, which have "high potential", were Brazil, Chile, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and the Russian Federation.
The WEF report comprised an update of the organization's RMDI initiative that was launched in 2010. It sought a deeper understanding of the challenges to using mineral resources as a means of driving socioeconomic development.
Six needed "building blocks", the WEF said, were identified:
• progressive capacity building and knowledge sharing;
• shared understanding of benefits, costs, risks and responsibilities related to mining;
• collaborative processes for stakeholder engagement throughout a mining project's life cycle;
• compliance, monitoring and enforcement; and
• early and comprehensive dispute management.
Practical actions and case studies were presented, though none involved the Philippines. Among the examples were Alcoa's establishment of a local development council in Brazil and Rio Tinto's publishing of its tax and royalty payments.
"A more detailed understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities in the Philippines would form the basis of which of the six building blocks would be most relevant," Mr. Wong said.
In a follow-up e-mail, he said: "Without knowing additional specific details of the Philippine situation, applying the recommendations in the report could help the Philippines have a larger mining industry ... or improve its Human Development Index."
Asked to comment, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Vice-President Rocky G. Dimaculangan said the "potential for mining sector growth will depend to a large extent on the outcome of the government's minerals development policy that is currently being crafted."
Leo L. Jasareno, Mines and Geosciences Bureau director, said: "The potential... will depend on the awareness of the people and government officials and how they accept mining. Right now, we can say our growth potential is just in the moderate level because there are sectors in society that oppose mining."
CBCP seeks review of laws on mining, logging
4 February 2012
Stressing the need to protect the environment, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines urged the government to review its policies on mining and logging.
The CBCP said these policies must be fine-tuned to prevent a repeat of environment-related tragedies that occurred in the last several weeks.
"We take the occasion to make an appeal particularly to the authorities concerned that our prayer and appeal is to make a serious revisit of many of our laws like our logging laws and practices as well as mining laws and development plans," said CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, in an article posted on the CBCP news site.
"The events that happened in the previous months should lead us to be truly serious about our mining and logging laws and the like," he added.
Several calamities devastated parts of the country in the last several months, including flash floods brought by tropical storm "Sendong" that killed at least 1,268 people.
In Mindanao, a landslide buried a mining community in Compostela Valley, killing more than 40 people.
Palma said that while natural disasters do happen, human negligence is also partly to blame for recent tragedies such as flooding and landslides.
"With many lamentable calamities, certainly there is the dimension of natural perspective... (but) very simple analysis show that there are human factors, which can be corrected with regards to mining, logging laws, especially with the implementation," said Palma.
The CBCP had appealed to the government to repeal the Mining Act and to end illegal logging in the country. - LBG, GMA News
Philippine mining laws, policies not clear and strong enough, says expert
By Germelina Lacorte, Judy Quiros and Tito Fiel
27 January 2012
DAVAO CITY, Philippines - An international environmental expert said mining companies get away with environmentally destructive practices in the Philippines because the country's laws and policies on mining are not clear or strong enough.
Clive Montgomery Wicks, vice chair of the commission on environmental, economic and social policy of the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), pointed to the conduct of environmental impact statement, or EIS, as one example of how mining companies can go around the law.
IUCN claims to be the world's oldest and largest global environmental network, with more than 1,000 governmental and non-governmental member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries, including the Philippines.
Speaking at a mining forum organized by non-governmental organizations here on Thursday, Wicks said that in the Philippines, an environmental compliance certificate, or ECC, is issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the basis of an EIS prepared by a company.
But studies have shown that mining companies do not identify the possible ill effects or dangers posed by mining operations in their EIS.
"In Philippine mining, most of the mining companies are not identifying the dangers or impact in the required Environmental Impact Statement as well as remedies to cushion the impact of said dangers," he said.
Wicks said this is not the case with respect to international standards, which require mining companies to identify dangers or impacts on the environment posed by their operations and to identify contingency or remedial measures the are to undertake, in what is called an environmental social impact assessment, or ESIA.
He said to correct the weakness in the law, the government should put in place a structure or one body that would specifically look into mining and strictly enforce responsible mining policies to avoid the bad impact of mining on the environment and people.
Elisea Gozun, presidential assistant for climate change, said at the same forum that the government will be announcing new mining policies in line with its economic development framework for sustainable development.
She said Malacañang has commissioned a study group, which included herself, to work on the new mining policies.
"The study result and the recommendation is not yet in full, and I could not yet divulge our recommendations, but rest assured it is in line with the economic development program of the country," Gozun said.
She admitted though that it was difficult for the study group to define responsible mining.
"The big challenge is how to translate responsible mining into reality. All mining companies have claims of being responsible miners, but issues and problems remain prevalent," Gozun said.
She said the Philippines has better mining laws compared with other countries but the problem is in the implementation and enforcement aspect.
Gold Fields picket enters 3rd week
By Ma. Elena Catajan
Sun Star Baguio
4 February 2012
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - There is no let-up in the picket against Gold Fields Philippines Inc. at the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation Far South East site.
Flora Belinan said the picket will not disperse until the company pulls out its drilling equipment from the site.
The picket has been ongoing for almost two weeks.
Meanwhile, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples still has to act on the temporary restraining order (TRO) against drilling activities in the area filed by lawyer Richard Kilaan.
Belinan said the unrest stems from an alleged lack of Free Prior and Informed Consent by Gold Fields to start drilling activities.
Kilaan said the request for a TRO was filed at the NCIP on the basis of a lack of a FPIC obtained by the LCMC's newest investor which is on the closing months of its due diligence stage.
Belinan said Madaymen residents protested since they are affected by the present drilling.
Previously, Gold Fields president Brett Mattison assured all negotiations made were pursuant to law.
The company is in its due diligence over the Far Southeast (FSE) deposit partly owned by Lepanto in the municipality of Mankayan in Benguet by reason of an option agreement entered into on September 20, 2010. Such agreement gave Gold Fields a minimum 18-month option period until the later part of March 2012 and when an FTAA is granted then Gold Fields may exercise its option to invest in the project.
Goldfileds is one of many new companies interested in the resources of the Cordilleran Mountains with Canadian company Solfotara (Kibungan and Bakun in Benguet; Abra), Columbus and Magellan in Bokod, Benguet, Olympus Pacific in Abra and Philippine Metals Canada in Tubo, Abra; Australian mine Royalco and Brazilian mine Vale both in Bakun, and the US company Malibato-Phelps Dodge in the provinces of Kalinga, Mountain Province and Abra. Vale is the world's largest producer of iron ore and a leading producer of nickel and copper.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 04, 2012.
Surigao small-scale miners face new roadblock; Mamanwas say their consent not sought
By Roel Catoto
5 February 2012
SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 Feb) - Members of the Mamanwa tribe said they may not allow the creation of a "Minahan ng Bayan" or People's Small-Scale Mining Area within their ancestral domain, claiming the planners did not seek their consent.
The Mamanwa tribe under the MAMASANSISU group, comprising 16 tribal communities, said the miners operating near the Parang-Parang watershed did not seek their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
MAMASANSISU leaders said the operations of Nagkahiusang Gagmay'ng Minero (Nagami), occupy a portion of their claimed ancestral domain but Nagami has not sought their FPIC.
In December 2011, Nagami applied for a Minahan Ng Bayan (People's Small Scale Mining Area) permit before the Provincial Regulatory Mining Board, covering 20 hectares in Barangays Mat-i and Mabini.
Datu German B. Tiambong, Mamasansisu head claimant, said they will not tell Nagami what to do but added that it was the latter's obligation to seek their consent.
Tiambong said mining in Parang-Parang, the source of potable water in Surigao City, started in the 1960s. He said they could not do anything to stop it because the Indigenous People's Rights Act or IPRA Law in 1997 and Mining Act of 1995 had not yet been enacted. These laws empowered IP groups to manage the natural resources within their own domain.
Mamasansisu leaders held a meeting on Monday at a local beach resort and discussed their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan, particularly with the current application of Nagami for a Minahan ng Bayan.
But some members of Mamasansisu who requested not to be named said they would rather mine their areas than give Nagami consent.
"Kami nalang magmina kay para mi naay panginabuhian sab total amo man sab na yutang kabilin," they said.
Nagami chair Ignacio M. Arevalo said in an interview that they will soon enter into a Memoradum of Agreement (MOA) and seek Mamasansisu's FPIC.
Arevalo said they hope their application for a minahan ng bayan will be granted so that they could operate legally in the area.
Arevalo acknowledged the presence of the Mamanwas but claimed that Mamasansisu has not complied with the requirements for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.
Officials headed by Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas and Environment and Secretary Ramon Paje earlier came up with a proposal to set up a Minahan ng Bayan near the protected watershed area b to at least "contain the waste from the mining activities."
Matugas, whose top priority is to provide livelihood for her constituents, said she can't allow mineworkers to lose their jobs.
On Wednesday, Engr. Noli Arreza, chair of the Provincial Board Mining Regulatory (PMRB) and Provincial Board Member Simeon Castrence, chair of the committee of environment, led an ocular inspection at the mining sites, along with representatives from other line agencies.
Datu Tiambong told reporters some of the mine workers in the area are not from the Surigao City but from Cabadbaran, Davao, Agusan and other neigboring areas.
"They are destroying our natural resources and they do not even pay taxes to the government because they are illegally operating in the area," he said.
Nagami'sArevalo said his members are all from Surigao City.
Arevalo said there are some mine workers who are not members of Nagami and has mining machineries somewhere in Placer, Surigao del Norte.
He said Tiambong is pointing to some small-scale miners operating in Placer.
"These miners who do not belong to us, are getting raw the material from their tunnels somewhere here and they process it in their machinery in Placer," Arevalos said.
Arevalo also denied that they are using harmful chemicals in processing gold.
The Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD), which serves the city's18,000 households, opposed the mining application of Nagami.
In a resolution dated December 16, 2011, SMWD's board of directors said mining operations near the 967-hactare watershed imperil the city's water supply, although the applicant-miners have been exploiting the area for gold for decades.
"The proposed tunnel mining and the watershed boundary are so close and could easily be encroached by tunneling the area within the watershed boundary which contains high grade ore as evidenced in the previous illegal mining activities.
Because mining uses logs to prop up their tunnels, SMWD officials are apprehensive that the mining activities could also denude the remaining forest cover in the watershed.
They also fear that chemicals and other hazardous substances used in processing will contaminate the environment and will surely affect the quality of our water."
"All the effluence, run off mine and mill waste carrying toxic materials will eventually find its course of Surigao River-the future water source of the city," the SMWD said.
The city has been experiencing water shortages despite the reforestation projects in the watershed.
Proclamation No. 63, signed in August 29, 1990 by former President Corazon C. Aquino, declared the Parang-Parang Watershed as a protected area. The area and its surrounding vicinities.
"SMWD cannot betray its mandate to protect the source of potable drinking water of Surigao City and its obligation to the future generation that will be deprived of their rights to a safe and potable drinking water," the resolution said. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)
Justice remains elusive for slain environmentalist
Jonathan Mayuga, Correspondent
24 January 2012
ONE year after he was murdered, justice continues to evade Palawan environmental advocate and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, environmental activists said, who blame President Aquino for his alleged silence on the spate of killings perpetrated against environmental defenders like Ortega.
The Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment joined the victim's family in commemorating the gruesome crime and condemned the delay in the prosecution of Ortega's killers and alleged mastermind.
Ortega's wife, Patty, and their four children led families and friends in remembering Ortega's killing in Palawan on Tuesday.
In a statement, Micaella Ortega, the victim's eldest daughter, expressed dismay over the alleged snail-paced progress of the case.
"Justice is too slow in the Philippines. It's been a year and amid overwhelming evidence, a case has yet to be filed against the mastermind in Daddy's killing," she was quoted as saying.
Criticizing the continued delay of the release of a resolution from the Department of Justice, Hustisya, an organization of victims of human rights violations, said they are disappointed that a strong case such as that of Ortega remains unsolved after 12 months.
"Not all cases have the same strong evidence against the mastermind and Ortega's killers. We have hoped that the evidence presented in Ortega's killing may speed up the resolution of the case. However, the snail-paced progress of the prosecution further perpetuates impunity because the perpetrators remain on the loose," Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra said.
At the DOJ preliminary investigation, the gunman and the other suspects involved have implicated former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes in Ortega's killing. In the first preliminary investigation, however, Reyes was not included in the respondents of the case. The family then appealed for a reinvestigation of the case, seeking to include Reyes.
"We need to prosecute criminals such as those implicated in the case of Dr. Ortega. They do not only kill environmental defenders. With their greed to further profit themselves at the expense of the environment, they destroy and kill more people." she said.
Apart from being involved in corruption issues in the province such as the misuse of Malampaya funds and his connection with former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Reyes is also known to promote mining in the province, which Ortega and the people of Palawan have strongly opposed.
"If the Aquino government can hasten the impeachment of a crony of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Supreme Court, it should by all means do the same in prosecuting all her other minions," Guevarra concluded.
"The Aquino government should exert an effort equal to their prosecution of Corona in bringing to justice the perpetrators of killings and other human rights violations on environmental advocates such as Dr. Gerry Ortega. One year after Ortega's assassination, the DOJ's hearings have persisted on a dawdling pace despite damning evidence on the accused mastermind, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes," Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said
"It is the height of hypocrisy when President Aquino is pushing for the conviction of Corona when Aquino's court, particularly the DOJ, has presently failed to stop the spate of killings of environmentalists under his term. Not one among the perpetrators of these killings has been put to justice," Bautista said.
Kalikasan Partylist chided Pres. Aquino's bad track record when it comes to crimes committed against environmental advocates. So far, at least 51 recorded human-rights violations on environmental advocates since 2001, including Ortega and nine others under the present government, have remained unaddressed, according to its convener, Leon Dulce.
"Even legislative support through House Resolution 863 that aimed to investigate the killing of Ortega filed by Bayan Muna representatives Teddy Casino and Neri Colmenares has hit a wall long ago. We have exhausted various legal means and procedures to pursue justice for Ortega but have gone nowhere in the face of the ever growing culture of impunity perpetrated by the Aquino administration," Dulce said.
Gov't probes Surigao mining firms
By Mike U. Crismundo
7 February 2012
BUTUAN CITY, Philippines - The Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) formed a task force to thoroughly investigate alleged violations committed by three large-scale mining companies that endangered the lives of villagers in Surigao del Norte province.
Initially, top officials of MGB led by Leo Jasareno, national director of MGB, along with journalists conducted air and ground inspections on Thursday in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte to look into the operations of mining firms in the said areas.
At least three large-scale mining firms based in Surigao del Norte, including two of the country's leading exporters of nickel ore, are facing investigation over alleged violations of environmental and health hazard laws.
The MGB chief identified the mining companies as Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC), Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC) and Claver Mining Corp., all based in Claver town, Surigao del Norte.
Director Jasareno said their investigation stemmed from the complaints of environmental groups and local officials about alleged siltation in coastal areas, pollution of water source, and health hazards in the communities where the mine companies operate.
TMC and PGMC are among the country's leading exporters of nickel ore to Japan, China and Australia.
"We found siltation along the coastal shores in Surigao del Norte," Jazareno said, adding "These will pose a serious threat on the environment and health to local communities".
The MGB chief said he will send multi-partite teams to ask the companies to explain their lapses. "If they failed to reasonably explain, then it would be a valid ground for closing down their operations," Jazareno said.