Philippines: Anniversary knocked while President delays reformsPublished by MAC on 2012-03-14
Source: Statement, Manila Times, Philippine Star, Inquirer
The debate on mining continues to dominate the Philippine media (see our previous story: Philippines: Indigenous peoples point the way on mining).
As the first article below points out, there has been a 'flurry' of activities to coincide with the anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act, which has also collided with the on-going lobbying of the President over the much heralded, and now much delayed, Executive Order on mining.
These activities include a number of conferences which have produced statements, as well as a number of demonstrations. The conferences were organised by different Churches, and their support groups, as well as different political groupings. The Catholic Church has once again been particularly strident in declaring the link between mining and poverty.
There was also a national debate between so called 'pro' and 'anti' mining advocates, which led to a great deal of simplified coverage, but also picked up on the theme of mining and poverty.
It is this worry that is at the heart of much indigenous opposition to specific projects.
Local B'laan leaders talk of the harassment brought upon them by their opposition to Xstrata's Tampakan project. In the Cordillera the Save Mankayan movement continues to barricade the expansion of Goldfields.
Finally, the groups opposing Intex's nickel project in Mindoro have hit back at the company for dismissing the criticisms of the Norwegian National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.
Promestheus Bound, By Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.
1 March 2012
There is a flurry of activities all over the country towards the weekend as we mark the anniversary of the signing of RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 on March 3. Last Tuesday, a Luzon Conference on Mining and the Ecology was held at the University of Santo Tomas. The conference was organized by the Luzon Coalition for Ecology, the Save Palawan Movement and the University of Santo Tomas.
|Indigenous protest on mining in the Philippines.
Source: KAMP, Bulatlat
On the weekend before that, a similar conference was held in Iloilo at the Rose Memorial Auditorium of the Central Philippines University in Jaro. Last January, an International Conference on Mining in Mindanao was also held in Davao. Church groups under the Ecumenical Bishops Forum also had their regional discussions in Bicol, Zambales and Cebu early this year to tackle their response to current mining practices in the country.
Capping these conferences is the Third National People's Mining Conference being held today and tomorrow (March 1 and 2) at Tagaytay. Organized by Kalikasan PNE, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils), Stewards of Creation and the Defend Patrimony! Alliance, the conference brings together more than 200 organizations and formations to consolidate the people's experiences with mining-affected communities, formulate national and local campaign strategies, and tackle emerging issues and legislative measures related to mining.
The conference will be capped by a joint multisectoral action in Mendiola to bring attention to the issues to Malacanang. Already, the North Luzon network Amianan Salakniban and other groups went down to Metro Manila last Tuesday with a protest caravan denouncing destructive large-scale and magnetite mining across Luzon. Together with Kalikasan PNE and other grassroots activists from Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon they picketed the offices of the Chamber of Mines and other mining corporations in the country.
These conferences and mass actions have several common calls: a moratorium on mining in the country, to scrap the current Philippine Mining Act and to pursue a genuine pro-environment and pro-people mining policy in the country.
The Aquino government earlier floated a draft executive order on mining that would increase the government share in revenues and to address some issues on the issuances of permits and environmental compliance. The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, the Joint Foreign Chambers, and the Philippine Mining Exploration Association recently criticized the leaked draft executive order's proposed addition of additional no-mining zones and higher taxes and government share from mining.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, author of the People's Mining Bill (HB 4315) and bill on Mining Zones (HB 4726), expressed doubt that President Aquino's executive order would not be able to go beyond the defects of the Mining Act of 1995 in terms of lopsided benefits to foreign owned and backed mining firms, lack of environmental safeguards and the disempowerment of local communities.
The executive order is expected to, among others, introduce competitive bidding for mining rights, impose a wider ban on mining in some areas, as well as a new provision on increased economic valuations on projects before they are approved.
Noting that one of the biggest problem in the current Mining Act is the export-oriented nature of mining in the country, Casiño authored the People's Mining Bill which seeks to reorient the mining industry framework towards domestic economic development, environmental safety and community welfare. Among its key provisions are centralized and strategic planning for mining in the country, the reorientation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as a scientific research institution under the DENR for exploration activities to identify strategic mineral resources, the creation of Multi-Sectoral Mineral Councils for designated mining areas and stronger and stricter provisions ensuring environmental sustainability, access to justice, and protection of human rights for affected communities. HB 4315 or the People's Mining Bill, is one of the alternative mining bills filed in Congress.
We should be worried of the possible increase in social and environmental impacts as a result of intensified mining liberalization. The Philippine mining industry is on track to collect $1.44 billion worth of investments by the third quarter of 2011 and is targeting to collect $1.22 billion more this year. Without a clear plan of building downstream mining industries for local industrialization and reorienting the mining industry for domestic production, this lodestone of mineral wealth will become fool's gold for our country. We will just be squandering these minerals if we continue on this path of allowing foreign plunder of our resources.
The government should be worried since the impacts of this export-oriented mining policy is seen in all fronts: in the environment, in the economy and in human rights. It should not wait for the issue to become full blown and should take steps towards siding for domestic industrialization and stop mining liberalization once and for all.
Dr. Giovanni A. Tapang is the chairperson of Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.
Visyayan People's Declatation on Mining and the Ecology
Scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995,
Enact the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2011!
WE, the PARTICIPANTS to the 1st Visayan Conference on Mining and Ecology, representing various organizations of farmers, indigenous people communities, women, urban poor, workers, service workers, students, professionals, the church, media, and business from the many islands of Visayas, conscious of our right to a balanced and healthy ecology in the spirit of precautionary principle and inter generational responsibility are deeply concerned.
Our economy is based on agriculture, forestry, fishery--both fresh water and marine--and expanding tourism, which all require adequate and unpolluted sources of water. Because of this, we are deeply concerned that there is an onslaught of commercial mining applications and operations in the region, all driven by profit and greed.
Panay is the Philippines' second biggest rice producer. Add to this the fact that the mangoes of Guimaras have earned international distinction due to its unique taste and texture. As such, damage to our farmlands will bear huge adverse effect not only to the people of Panay but, more importantly, to the FOOD SECURITY of the entire country!
Mining operations in the Visayas region are causing large scale destruction of our forests, which is affecting our rivers, streams, and aquifers, carrying with them pollution, silt which flow into the sea thus posing an extremely grave threat to our marine resources and to the livelihood of people belonging to our coastal communities.
Our shallow seas are vital fishing and breeding grounds, which are easily damaged by pollution from the mines. The Visayan Sea is one of the richest areas in terms of marine resources. This is why Estancia has been recognized as the Alaska of the Phillippines which is also why. Several areas in the region such as the Tanon Strait, Danajon Double Barrier Reef, Sibuyan Sea, and Guiuan protected seascape and landscape among others, are also rich in marine resources,
The Visayas region is home to some of the world's finest tourism destinations. In fact, Boracay Island has been distinguished as the world's second best beach, and Asia's No.1 overall for the second straight year.
Mining companies, in collusion with government institutions and forces, wittingly or unwittingly, have committed human rights violations, dividing and exploiting and displacing indigenous people from their ancestral domains.
We claim our right to clean sources of water, clean air and sustainable livelihood. Mining is putting all these under threat.
We hereby call for:
A moratorium not only in the processing and approval of mining applications, but in all large-scale mining projects and operations until an alternative policy on exploration, development, and use of mineral resources, that is pro-Filipino, pro-people, pro-environment, and pro food has been enacted and developed;
The scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Mining Revitalization Program and the enactment of the Philippine Mineral Resources Act.
We demand that the agricultural, forestry and fishery resources of the Visayan Region be conserved for generations to come!
God has blessed the Visayan Region with rich natural resources, and we the Visayan People will not allow these resources to be ravaged by selfishness, greed and political machinations.
Mr. President, hear our plea. We are making a stand for our people. The time is now.
APPROVED BY the participants to the 1st Visayan Conference on Mining and the Ecology, this 25th day of February 2012, at the Rose Memorial Auditorium, Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Balanced mining policies vowed
The Philippine Star
4 March 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The government will come out with balanced mining policies that take into consideration the inputs of all concerned sectors, Malacañang said yesterday.
"We all saw that passions were running very high and it shows us how complicated the mining issue is," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, referring to a conference Friday that was attended by the mining stakeholders.
Valte said the government "recognizes the pro-mining, anti-mining (advocates), businessmen, environmentalists and those in the middle" of the issue.
"There are a lot of stakeholders that are weighing in, there are a lot of interests... points of view. The government has to take all of those into consideration and come up with a policy that is fair to all. That's why we go back and continue the consultations," Valte said.
On Thursday, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said President Aquino wanted business in the Philippines to be more efficient and easier for investors.
Purisima, however, said this time, the government would want to get the best from mining in terms of revenues and benefits to communities.
"The mining industry is one of the areas that can increase the economic growth of the country. Unfortunately in the past, the way the laws were implemented, it was not a true win-win situation where the government actually was not able to get its fair share from mining activities," he said.
Purisima said the total collection from the mining industry amounted to just a little over P2 billion last year.
"Our total revenue was over how much? P1.2 trillion. So when you look at that and, at the same time, the impact to the communities that host it and the environment adjacent to it, you really have to ask yourself whether the way we're implementing it is what we describe as a responsible way of harnessing the wealth of the country. We are looking at various models, alternatives in the hope that this can be done so that all the interests of the different sectors are addressed," Purisima said.
"I believe that with better governance that President Aquino is trying to put in place, we will have more predictable rules; we will have rules that will be implemented based on merit; and we will have a court system that is more reliable, that is more transparent and that people can trust that the rules of the game won't be changed in midstream," Purisima said.
He said the thrust of the changes were for new ventures to start and not the existing ones.
"I believe, at least from where we sit at the Department of Finance, existing operations and contracts will have to be honored and respected. But beyond the existing mining operations, there are so many mining opportunities in the country," he said.
Purisima noted the efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel over a thousand mining permits for various violations endangering the environment.
"The Philippines wants to attract the real mining operators who are going to put to bed their capital, their management expertise and their technology in developing the mineral resources of the country," he said.
If mineral rights could be auctioned in Canada and the United States, "how come it's not possible in the Philippines?" he asked.
"In other countries they actually auction these rights. They auction telecommunications frequencies and various other franchises. I believe that, you know, we should do that so that we can generate more resources to invest in infrastructure, schools, hospitals; invest in better government, better institutions; invest in a better environment. So... and that's why we're looking at best practices around the world to see what we can copy," he said.
In moving forward, Purisima said the environment would be better as mining companies look at potential areas for exploration.
"Obviously they look at those that have historical track record of mineral resources of which the Philippines is considered the fifth most mineralized country in the world based on a United Nations study. They will also look at the stability of government and laws that, you know, cover that area and how well-defined they are," he said.
"And since our effort is to make sure that we define this better, we implement this better, and that we clarify various rules that were vague and were conflicting, then after this process, I believe that the regulatory environment will be better for mining investors," he added.
Purisima said the government would have better and balanced mining policies for incoming investors despite the delays in the issuance of an executive order to delineate them.
"The Philippines is a country that's blessed with mineral wealth. And it's very important that in harnessing this mineral wealth, we do it in a responsible manner that will not only benefit the mining entities that actually participate but also the communities where the mines are in the country in general. It is important that the policy, the environment is one that is conducive to our responsible mining," Purisima said in a press briefing after a meeting with President Aquino and Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Haruhiko Kuroda in Malacañang last Thursday.
Review of mining policies
In reviewing the country's mining policies, Purisima said the President emphasized the need to "make sure that we consult all the stakeholders."
"Unfortunately the consultation process took longer than planned. So we're going through that process right now and sooner hopefully than later, we'll come out with a new summary of how we're going to implement the current mining rules," Purisima said.
Management Association of the Philippines president Ed Francisco, who also attended the ADB meeting with businessman Washington Sycip, said the private sector "believes in responsible mining" in general despite its earlier opposition to a draft EO that they got hold of.
Purisima also noted that mining policies abroad were also being reviewed.
"Australia which is a very big mining natural resources-driven economy has recently imposed not only a carbon tax but also a mineral rents tax in the belief that these mineral resources should benefit the country. We're watching this from afar. We're also looking at developments in other leading mining localities and we'll consider all of this in crafting a way forward," Purisima said.
Critics, however, argued that mining considerably affected the country's environment and exploitation of the poor.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, said mining begets poverty.
"It has something to do with the poor because mining makes more people poor. I'm sure those who are engaged in mining, they did not come to help the poor. They have come to get the resources of the country and if there is any help for the poor it's very minimal," he said.
Pabillo said the Aquino administration should step up and control the business groups who are benefiting from mining operations here.
"The problem is (that) the government is not capable of monitoring it," he said.
Pabillo also hoped that the government would look at the beauty of the land, untouched by mining.
"Why don't you see the lands that can be productive? Once you get the minerals it's already destroyed," Pabillo said.
"These untapped mining resources are not only for us. It's for all the Filipinos and for the incoming generations. It is not just that we destroy that (natural resources) and leave nothing for the incoming generations," he added.
Pabillo said the CBCP has long been asking the government to issue a mining moratorium and review of mining laws in the country.
Environment groups also urged the recall of the mining liberalization policy of the government.
"Seventeen years after the enactment of the Mining Act, over a million hectares of our lands were owned and plundered by foreign mining corporations, conflicts and violence proliferated in mining affected-communities, and our environment was devastated and polluted," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
"We call for a moratorium on mining applications and operations on all foreign, large-scale, magnetite and offshore mining transnational corporations. This must stand until we are able to put in place a pro-people, pro-environment mining law," he said. - Aurea Calica, Evelyn Macairan, Rhodina Villanueva
Monsod asks DA, indigenous peoples to join next mining forum
By Butch Fernandez and Jennifer Ng
3 March 2012
FUTURE discussions on the impact of mining on the economy should also include the possible effect of mining activities on food production areas and on the indigenous peoples.
Manila Electric Co. consultant Lawyer Christian S. Monsod pushed for the participation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in a second forum where mining companies and anti-mining groups will again get-together to thresh out mining issues.
Monsod, who is also an advocate of the Save Palawan Movement, also urged organizers to include the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in the next forum so concerns of indigenous peoples could also be tackled.
Mining proponents clashed with environmentalists on Friday's forum, with each side claiming to have the right position.
Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, meanwhile, underscored the necessity of finding holistic solutions to issues that surround the Philippine mining sector.
According to Angara, a recent study conducted by the state think tank the Philippine Institute for Development Studies revealed that the country stands to gain more economic benefit from mining by focusing on value-addition, particularly in terms of downstream processing and manufacturing activities.
"However, the report also shows that the sector is faced with issues well beyond questions of returns to investment," said Angara. "We can't limit ourselves to just looking at how much monetary gain can be made. Further studies must take into consideration regarding the social and environmental impacts of mining, and do so, in a meaningful way."
Environmentalists have been expressing their concern over the adverse impact of mining activities on farmlands. The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), for one, noted that mining operations involve huge demand and use of water. This, said ATM, could reduce the volume of water available for irrigation.
Mining executives, led by Philex Mining Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Manuel V. Pangilinan and anti-mining groups led by Save Palawan Movement advocate and ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. Managing Director Regina Paz L. Lopez debated on the merits and demerits of mining.
Lopez charged that mining does irreparable harm on the flora and fauna in a particular area but mining executives countered that mining operations can be sustainable as evidenced by their respective companies conducting business in their mining concessions.
She also charged that large-scale miners are not doing enough to uplift the lives of people in their areas of operation and that they merely abandon the mines after exhausting the life of the mines.
CMP Director Gerard Brimo, for his part, said the criticisms and claims are unfounded as big miners conduct their operations in accordance with the Mining Law which requires them to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Philex, for one, supported education, built schools, hospitals, homes, and free education until high school, said Pangilinan.
Peter Wallace, chairman and president of the Wallace Business Forum, said in his presentation that instead of a total ban on mining, the government should encourage mining operations that "do the least damage, support the local community and will commit to rehabilitate the land at the end of the life of the mine."
Earlier, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) with the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association Inc. expressed concerns about a pending executive order (EO) on key reforms in the mining sector.
In reply, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured that the EO will be "workable" for all the stakeholders concerned.
Recently, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said that Malacañang has deferred the issuance of any new mining policy, in light of further consultations with stakeholders.
"Mines have made countries like Canada, Australia and South Africa prosperous, but have also impoverished many countries in South America and Africa," said Angara, speaking to attendees at the recent Presentation of Innovation Cluster Master Plans.
"So there is really social and cultural animosity to these-and that's perhaps a big part of the problem in our being unable open our mines to create jobs and employment," added the veteran lawmaker, who is also chairman of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (Comste). "In other words, while we're going to need a lot of experts in mining, metallurgy, chemistry and environmental science, we're also going to need as many social scientists as well."
He noted that Comste has been pushing for the roll-out of innovation clusters among government, the academe and industry to conduct R&D for technology solutions to the country's most pressing issues.
Around P70 million has been appropriated under the 2012 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) for the establishment of an innovation cluster in Responsible Mining Technologies.
During the presentation, Angara suggested that the master plan for the said innovation cluster include more studies in the sociocultural and environmental effects of mining.
He said, "A very important dimension of this initiative is its cultural impact. All the more should the different stakeholders be involved-from government agencies to researchers in our SUC's, from the heads of mining companies to the leaders of affected communities."
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), in a statement, said the local mining sector has failed miserably to deliver its promise of economic progress and development in a national scale.
Industry figures aggregated by MGB from 2000 to 2009 reveal that, on the average, the mining industry has merely accounted for no more than 0.91 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).
"Up to 2005, mining and quarrying accounted for less than one percent-from 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent-of Philippine GDP," notes Margarita Gomez, an economist at Revenue Watch and coordinator of Bantay-Kita-Action for Economic Reforms, in her 2010 study entitled Transparency Issues in the Philippine Mining Industry: Toward Tax Justice. "From 2005 onward, the mining industry's contribution increased to one percent and above. To date, its greatest input to the country's GDP has been 1.4 percent in 2007."
In contrast, agriculture, fishery and forestry-industries that have all been recognized as key sectors in the Philippine economy despite being constantly under the threat from mining-accounted for 16.5 percent of the total GDP on the second quarter of 2009 alone.
Immediate issuance of rational mining policy is necessary
By Anabelle E. Plantilla
3 March 2012
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a national anti-mining coalition, responds to Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) and Mindanao Business Council's (MBC) negative reaction to an alleged "leaked" draft Executive Order (EO) on the mining policy. The alliance reiterated the need for a rational mining policy that addresses environmental, social, economic and governance issues associated with mining.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina believes 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.
In the past days, media has tackled a "leaked" draft EO entitled "Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines Therefor, and For Other Purposes" where COMP and MBC declared the death of the mining industry if signed and implemented. Although ATM has not seen this "leaked" document it hopes that the Minerals Policy Review Group did their homework and considered the problems on deforestation and environmental protection, local government opposition to mining, and transparency and accountability. Likewise, ATM does not believe that any government policy should be labeled as "anti-mining" simply because it does not favor the mining industry. Rather, a rational mining policy that addresses the many problems raised since the aggressive promotion of mining in the Philippines should be pursued.
ATM's position paper called on President PNoy to revoke Executive Order 270-A (signed in 2004) or the Revitalization of the Mining Industry. Some issues raised in the submission include the impacts of large-scale mining on asset reform gains, impairment on the rights of indigenous peoples, risks to our environment and natural resources, weakening of local autonomy and weak regulatory and governance mechanisms on the industry. There is also a need to address the social issues and human rights violations experienced in mining-hosted communities.
Minerals have a very important role to play in our national industrialization and development efforts. But large-scale mineral extraction has to be weighed carefully with the adverse impacts that it brings. A high-ranking DENR official once said to me that the footprint of mining areas is quite small, not even 10 percent of the total national territory. But he forgot to figure in the influence area of these mining sites such as the rivers that travel kilometers ferrying mine waste and in the process poisoning the water bodies and the people who come in contact with them. These polluted water bodies will rob us of the food that our farmers will produce and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of people dependent on farming.
Eventually, these rivers disgorge the poison into our oceans spreading their claws of destruction further to our few remaining productive coral reefs and other coastal resources and to the communities that rely on these.
When natural disasters strike us, the damage is multiplied a hundredfold.
And let us not forget that these mine sites are usually located in potential conflict areas that are mostly ancestral lands. Human rights are violated and indigenous culture is lost because of the divisive moves made by some mining companies.
The new mining policy should reflect our aspirations as a country that recognizes our and the future generation's right to benefit from the fruits of our natural heritage. And that means we should not sell ourselves short.
Mining Breeds Poverty, Says CBCP Official
By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
3 March 2012
MANILA, Philippines - An official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared Saturday that mining makes more people poor. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), issued the statement in reply to the claim made by a mining advocate during a Mining Summit last Friday in Makati
City that mining is not the enemy but poverty. "It has something to do with the poor because mining makes more people poor," he told reporters in an interview in a gathering in Manila.
"I'm sure those who engage in mining, they have not come to help the poor. They have come to get the resources of the country, and if there is any help for the poor, it's very minimal," added Pabillo.
The CBCP official said business does not come to help the poor, but rather to get profit.
This, Pabillo said, is the reason the government should control the interests of business for the sake of the common good.
"The problem is the government is not capable of monitoring it...Why don't you see the land that can be productive? Once you get the minerals, it's already destroyed," he said.
"These untapped mining resources are not only for us. It's for all the Filipinos and for the incoming generations. It is not just that we destroy that (natural resources), and leave nothing for the incoming generations," added Pabillo.
To recall, the CBCP has been repeatedly calling on the government for a mining moratorium and the amendment of the country's mining laws.
For his part, Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP-NASSA, said large-scale mining, which is being promoted by the Mining Act of 1995, poses bigger damage to the environment.
Meanwhile, calls to amend laws governing mining activities in the country piled up in the House of Representatives following a heated debate between business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and environmental advocate Gina Lopez in an open forum in Makati City on Friday night.
Kakai Tolentino, spokesperson of Katribu party-list group, urged lawmakers to repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which liberalized mining in the country and encouraged foreign investments in the industry.
"During the 17 years of the implementation of the Philippine Mining Act, all that the Philippines achieved was environmental destruction, violation of indigenous peoples' rights and relentless foreign plunder of our rich mineral resources," Tolentino said.
Tolentino urged allies of President Benigno S. Aquino III in Congress to amend government policies on mining as spelled out in the Philippine Mining Act since they are seen as subservient to foreign interests. Tolentino also called on the government to halt foreign mining operations and defend national resources from plunder.
Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan urged her colleagues who are in alliance with the President to amend the law, adding that such law failed to fulfill its promises of development, technology transfer and industrialization.
"Mining communities are poorer than ever. Many have become unemployed as mining firms offer very few jobs and many families are going hungry with agricultural lands and forests practically bulldozed and denuded," Ilagan said.
She claimed that mining and quarrying employment contributed an average of 0.43 percent to total annual employment while multinational mining firms enjoyed various tax perks with charges of measly 2 percent excise tax on metallic and non-metallic minerals in the last two decades.
A data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed that employment in the mining sector only grew by 1.17 percent annually from 1990 to 2008 as compared to the yearly growth in total employment in all industries of 2.53 percent during the same period.
Ilagan is one of the authors of the People's Mining Bill, which has been pending in the 15th Congress.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also called for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, saying the full-scale liberalization of the mining industry led to the destruction of natural resources and communities.
KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores also assailed mining industry leaders for displacing farmers and causing environment havoc to agricultural farmlands.
"The minerals extracted from our lands were only used for the benefit of big businesses like miners who also monopolize the telecom industry," Flores said in reaction to Pangilinan's claims during the Conference on Mining's Impact on the Philippine Economy and Ecology in Makati City on Friday.
Pangilinan, the chairman of Philex Mining, claimed that mining touches most aspects of our daily life, saying: "When you build your home, use your laptops, take your car to work or even protest against mining. Clearly, we cannot live without mining." (With a report from Rio Rose Ribaya)
Groups from Northern Luzon hold protest against mining corporations
By Ina Alleco R. Silvero
1 March 2012
Some 300 members of anti-irresponsible mining groups and residents from various provinces in Northern Luzon held a rally in front of the offices of well-know mining corporations in Manila earlier this week in protest against what they said are the countless rights violations these companies have been perpetuating as they implement their mining projects.
Northern Luzon is composed of the Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Cordillera regions where famous man-made and natural wonders can be found such as the Baguio rice terraces. Majority of residents come from marginalized sectors, among them peasants, fisher folk and indigenous peoples. Many of the mining projects that are posed for implementation are in the mountainous areas where the communities of several indigenous groups such as the Agta, Ilongot and Igorot have been established for centuries.
Led by Amianan, Salakniban! (Defend the North), Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and green group Kalikasan-PNE, the activists went around the capital and staged rallies in front of the offices of the Chamber of Mines, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation, Coolabah Mining Corporation, Red Earth Mining Corporation, and Lasseter Mining Corporation.
These firms are known to hold mining applications and hold operations in the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, and Pampanga.
According to KAMP, 243,605,696 hectares of land are currently covered by offshore magnetite mining applications in Ilocos alone. In the meantime, a shocking 60 percent of the total land area of the Cordilleras has already been compromised by mining applications and operations.
Large-scale and foreign dominated mining operations in the Philippines are seriously threatening the existence of many communities, especially those of indigenous peoples," Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said.
The group recently launched the Thousand Streamer Campaign, a streamer hanging protest against destructive large-scale mining. It said the Aquino government was being hypocritical when it said that it has been conducting campaigns to protect the environment when it has actually accelerated the entry of mining transnational corporations into the country.
The campaign coordinator of Bantay Amianan George Baya, in the meantime, slammed the Chamber of Mines and the Aquino administration for pushing numerous mining projects in Northern Luzon.
"These programs are clearly for profit and not for the genuine development of the communities and the country as a whole. Too many mining activities in Northern Luzon impact negatively on the region's ridge and reef ecosystems. If the situation worsens any further, it's not only the people of Northern Luzon who will be affected but those living in Metro Manila and Central Luzon as well. These regions also depend on the watershed and even food products from Northern Luzon," he said.
Bantay Amianan spokesman Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes pointed how the destructive effects of mining activities are being suffered by indigenous peoples.
"A century's worth of mining operations in the Cordillera particularly in Benguet brought about the destruction of ancestral lands and the economic and political displacement of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey people of the province. Magnetite or black sand mining is now posing a large threat to the marine ecosystems of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley. This will cause erosion of the sea floor and may damage coral reefs that serve as homes for fishes and other marine creatures. This will surely affect the livelihood of local fisher folk," he said.
The groups also called for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995. "The law practically surrendered the country's patrimony by offering so many incentives, privileges and guarantees to foreign investors: it allows them 100 percent ownership, 100 percent repatriation of capital and profits, easement rights, water rights, timber rights and tax incentives. As long as this law is being enforced, there is no place for people's rights in the mining industry," KAMP's Malayao said.
A draft of Aquino's mining policy was leaked to the media in mid-February. It was met with protests from various environmental groups and anti-irresponsible mining advocacy organizations.
Exercise political will against ecological destruction
For its part, the Kalikasan-PNE said the Aquino administration should exercise its political will on the unabated ecological destruction and resource plunder caused by Lepanto, Philex, Colossal and other large-scale and magnetite mining operations.
"The Aquino administration should stop taking in hook, line and sinker the brand of responsible mining exercised by these operations that exacerbate poverty, dislocate livelihoods and pollute ecosystems," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
The previous year saw the sudden surge of magnetite mining applications, despite massive opposition from communities to current operations. There are a total of 176 magnetite mining applications across the Philippines, and 158 of them are found in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
"We are literally selling Philippine soil dirt cheap to foreign-owned companies through magnetite mining. We saw its ill-effects during the course of an environmental investigation mission conducted with the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines in 2010. Communities experienced worsened flooding, eroded banks and coasts, and the drastic decrease of fisheries supply in some municipalities in Cagayan," lamented Bautista.
Meanwhile, environmental political party Kalikasan Partylist seconded growing criticism of large-scale mining operations in Northern Luzon for perpetuating what it called "the ugly standard" of large-scale mining practices.
"In another environmental investigation mission conducted by Kalikasan Partylist in Mt. Abo in Porac Pampanga, we found how the impending Pisumpan Copper Mines project owned by Chinese company Shuley Mines Inc. can potentially affect the area's biodiversity, water quality, and the culture of Aeta communities in the area," said Leon Dulce, lead convenor of Kalikasan Partylist.
Communities along the Abra River in northern Luzon have experienced fish kills, coral bleaching in their estuaries and massive siltation in their agricultural lands because of mine tailings spilling directly into the river or through other tributaries.
"Amid clear ecological degradation, the Aquino administration considers the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project operated by FCF Minerals in Nueva Vizcaya as one of its priority projects. An international study tour we conducted last year revealed the abuses of nature and human rights in Nueva Vizcaya related to the mining project. We believe scientific evidence and the concrete people's experience is sufficient basis for the regime to reverse these mining liberalization schemes founded in current mining laws. It is high time to repeal the onerous mining policy that is the Mining Act of 1995," Dulce said. (http://bulatlat.com)
Conference renews push for Peoples' Mining Bill
By Marya Salamat
2 March 2012
MANILA - "A hundred years after exporting our precious timber, have we become rich?" This is the question Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino threw to the participants of the 3rd Peoples Mining Conference happening until today in Tagaytay City.
The conference has drawn nearly 200 environmentalists from all over the Philippines who, in an earlier regional sharing of mining updates, have already detailed how, on the contrary, most ordinary citizens are becoming poorer and more miserable with every operation of huge mining corporations because of massive resource extraction in their midst.
Most lament how, for a pittance or nothing, they are left to contend with the damages to their sources of livelihood caused by denuded mountains and forests while huge corporations are repatriating billions of dollars in profits, Rep. Palatino, and earlier that day Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, were talking to an audience who is evidently already eager for an alternative law that would correct the disastrous Mining Act of 1995. In fact, the alternative mining policy coauthored by the progressive party list groups in Congress "is not just a proposal of the said partylist groups," said Palatino. House Bill 4315, or the Peoples Mining Bill, he said, "is a product of broad consultations in many regions, and through this, it embodies peoples' aspirations in how mining can benefit the people."
Mining, after all, is not inherently bad, as some conference delegates agreed. It is only when the mining policy, like the Mining Act of 1995, is geared for massive extraction and exporting for profits that mining becomes untenable.
Change in mining policy, change in economic policy
The Peoples Mining Bill requires the government to first lay down a plan for industrialization that would utilize the country's mineral wealth for the progress of its economic sectors. Compared to the Mining Act of 1995, which extracts and sells its mineral wealth based on the demand of the ‘chaotic' world market, at the least cost of production to huge mining companies, the Peoples' Mining Bill would rather see these mineral wealth put to processing in this country, serving its own need for raw materials in its own industries and economic sectors.
The basic requisite is that there should be an industrialization plan, said Palatino. But another basic that would change the way the government runs the economy is the shift from catering to the chaotic market economy to one that is centrally planned, to minimize wasteful and unnecessary digging out of precious minerals and for the judicious use of the country's mineral resources.
In the Philippines, most mineral resources lie under the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples groups, giving rise to questions of ownership and governance. Unlike the Mining Act of 1995, the Peoples Mining Bill vows to not drive away the indigenous peoples from their lands, which has been tantamount to killing them and tampering with their identity and culture.
According to Palatino, "real transparency" and not just a "flood of trivia" would be instituted once the Peoples Mining Bill becomes law. "We want information on how access is secured, if the Moros and the indigenous peoples were respected," in the process of getting their consent in extracting the wealth underneath their communities and sacred areas.
In stark contrast to the mining liberalization of the Mining Act of 1995, the Peoples Mining Bill practically declares the Philippines as a no-mining zone. It grants only exceptions and permits to conduct mining if the industrialization needs call for it and if the affected communities give their consent.
The provisions in the said mining bill are also in recognition of the trend that more and more local government units, acting on their constituents' demands, have lately been passing ordinances declaring a moratorium or ban on large-scale mining in their areas, especially the open pit type. "But they complain that the national government ignores these local ordinances in the Mining Act. The Philippine president has a big role in giving out mining permits," explained Palatino.
The "schizophrenic" character today of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), where the department tasked to protect the environment is issuing mining permits, would be treated in the Peoples Mining Bill. It will transform the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) into a scientific board. No more exploration permits would be granted. Instead, the MGB would be tasked to give the mining permits, following a transparent study of the minerals available.
A multisectoral mining council would be formed, said Palatino, to determine if parts of the Philippines would be opened for mining based on the consent of the community and the stringent requirements of the industrialization plan.
If passed into law, the Peoples Mining Bill would accept three types of mineral agreements: mineral production sharing agreements, co-production agreements and joint ventures. Joint ventures are limited to 500 to 700 hectares and from five to 15 years only.
"The Peoples Mining Bill recognizes mining as a legitimate industry, but we place stringent regulations on it due to experiences and the delicate state of the environment," said Palatino. This is why the bill would prohibit Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) and would require an environmental and social impact assessment. Its result would be the basis for approving proposed mining activities. Palatino hastened to clarify that a rejected application will no longer be entertained even if the applicant has changed the company name to deceive those opposed to its mining activities, as is the practice today.
Even the transport, sale and processing of mined products would be regulated. Noting how much of the country's coastal areas is being bled by magnetite mining, and how even politicians are entering the fray, the youth representative said that's because the requirements today are so simple and the equipment needed are not necessarily expensive.
In the mining activities that would b approved, Palatino said, "local knowhow" would be tapped, even as the government is expected to give support and encourage community-based programs that double their gains from mining, aside from royalties and fees.
"The Mining Act of 1995 is a very good law... if you were a foreign mining company," said Palatino. The current mining policy offers a dizzying array of tax holidays, which the Peoples Mining Bill would change. If there are foreign mining companies that will be allowed to operate under the Peoples Mining Act (after meeting all its requirements), they would be allowed to repatriate profits only for a year; they would be required to give the country its share from the mineral wealth, as well as compel them to truly give preference for Filipino labor especially the IPs; and they would be encouraged to use, as much as possible, indigenous goods, services and technology, as well as turn over all their facilities at the end of their approved mining activities.
The mining industry is an almost $1trillion industry, and "we want only a just share from it to uplift the area," said Palatino. "What is $1billion, for example, to the mining companies?" he asked, that is, if their proposed taxes and shares from mining were approved.
The problem is, bribing politicians is much cheaper for the mining companies, Palatino noted. A Philippine politician needs only P2 to 4 billion ($46.5 to $93 million) to run for the presidency, lawmakers and local politicians even less. This, he said, makes for a rougher passage for a proposed law like the Peoples Mining Bill.
Along with banning profit repatriation, the Peoples Mining Bill would also require full disclosure of profits by the mining companies.
Access to justice is also given attention in the Peoples Mining Bill, as the partylist lawmakers note the danger of President Aquino's decision to allow mining companies to hire paramilitary groups as security. "where mining is, there are human rights violations," said most delegates to the mining conference. (http://bulatlat.com)
Philippines: Tampakan Mining Project Cause Of Conflicts In B'laan Tribe - Communities Want SMI Out
By Alyansa Tigil Mina
25 February 2012
Peace and order situation in Malungon, Sarangani Province faces new threat as B'laan communities in different sitios and barangays contend over the Tampakan Mining Project of Sagittarius Mines Inc. which continues to undertake its activities in the tribe's homestead despite being denied of an Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last January 9.
"Hindi pa man sila nakakapagsimula madami na silang dinadalang problema dito sa lugar namin, nag-aaway-away ang mga magkakapatid at magkakamag-anak" lamented Robina Poblador, a Bae tribal leader of B'laans in Sitio Samlang. (They have not even started the project and yet they are already bringing many problems to our community, people are fighting with each other even though they are related by kinship).
Robina who is actively opposing the Tampakan project received allegations that she was the mastermind to the shooting incident of their barangay captain last December 2011. According to Robina, the barangay captain, who is also her cousin announced during last month's barangay general assembly that unlike before when he was kind, now he is set to kill people.
In February 20, 2012 Robina with the other five members of their community were requested to visit the office of the Municipal Mayor after they refused to participate in the barangay survey for a Community Based Monitoring System conducted last February 8 because they received reports that it was being commissioned by SMI. They were also confused about the purpose of the survey since there was already a census administered earlier in January this year.
In the community of T'Murok, Delia Malayon who is also against the Tampakan project is always in confrontation with SMI staff who try to pass through their community and refuses to sign in their logbook. "Ayaw nilang sumunod sa panuntunan namin. Kaya namin ginagawa yung pagpapasulat sa logbook kasi gusto namin malaman kung sino ang pumapasok sa lugar namin at kung ano din ang pakay nila sa amin. Ayaw naman nila kaming pakinggan, siyempre hindi namin sila papapasukin." (They do not want to follow our rules. We have a logbook because we want to know the people and their intentions in visiting our community. They do not listen to us and so we will not let them in).
Delia was harassed by a barangay official in Bulol Salo, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur who told her that there would be a warrant of arrest to be served for her grandfather who is a Sitio leader. But the official did not reveal the accounts of the warrant. Delia relates this as an example of coercion to make her change her mind and finally say yes to mining.
"Although Sitio Samlang and T'murok in Malungon are not directly covered by the mine site of the Tampakan project, SMI should also get consent from the said communities because they are being considered as relocation sites for the indigenous peoples in Bong Mal and other areas in the mountain," explained Rene Pamplona of the Diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato.
"What is happening in the B'laan communities in Sarangani also shows that mining is not just an economic concern. With its societal impact that is often destroying good relationships among people, whether it is intentional or not, calls for an attention from the authorities. If conflicts will remain unresolved, aggression will be intensified with people hurting or killing each other," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
Atty. Mario Maderazo, project officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Anti-Mining Campaign and lead convenor of the Tampakan Forum added, "We call on the DENR and other national government agencies to check on the reports of the communities. We know that under the law, SMI cannot proceed with any development activities since they were denied an ECC. Their continued presence and activities in the area is creating a situation of heightens the conflict in the communities."
An Environmental Compliance Certificate is a permit they need to secure before they can proceed to the development stage of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Project.
Garganera concluded, "With the Tampakan project creating clash in the community and threatening their safety, ATM stands firm on its position that the projects deserves not just a denial of its ECC but a total rejection of the project."
Tampakan Forum is a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue convened by the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. Anti-Mining Campaign (PMPI) in collaboration with Social Action Marbel, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS) and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines.
Groups hit Intex Resources response to OECD NCP Statement
By Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
4 March 2012
Groups were dismayed upon Intex Resources Inc. denial of proven allegations and findings of the Norwegian National Contact Point (NCP) that the company has failed to comply with OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.
"That is simply ridiculous that Intex would even claim the support of the people of Mindoro when we know that it was the people themselves who fought the struggle and opposed their mining project.
We believe that the years of investigation have allowed the Norwegian NCP to validate their findings," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Ayansa Tigil Mina.
Father Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action said that the church and people of Mindoro remained strong on its call to impede the project, "Obviously, Intex have closed ears on the result of NCP investigation and will continue to deceive even their own selves that the Mangyan communities in Mindoro will succumb to all their plans. We will keep on raising our voices that we do not want them to commence with this project, in fact they should have stopped already even before the revocation of their ECC."
"If Intex will not recognize NCP's investigation, P-Noy [President Bengino Aquino 3rd] however should listen to the voice of its people and uphold their rights to protect their environment and respect their decision to forbid mining in their own land," Father Edu added.
After the release of the final statement, Intex Resources entered into a memorandum of agreement with Chinese state-owned firm MCC8 but communities vow to fight against mining, whether they be Norwegian or Chinese, the people will never concede to development aggressions that will put their island and lives at risk.
"Intex should listen to what people want; they are the rightful owner of the land!" said Jon Sarmiento of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN).
"Intex has not received social acceptability from the people of Mindoro including the majority of the Indigenous Peoples community in the island. This is more than just a political reason as they say Intex should respect the regulations governing the utilization of its Ancestral Domains," added Sarmiento
At the international level, campaigners issued a statement reiterating, "The national investigation revealed additional irregularities in Intex's operations to those already identified by the NCP and recommended cancellation of its Environmental Clearance Certification on a series of technical grounds. It also raises issues with the lack of consent of the indigenous peoples and the fact that an Island wide moratorium on mining is in place rendering Intex's project illegal unless declared otherwise by the Philippine judiciary."
On January 23, ATM, CBCP-NASSA and ALAMIN launched a compendium of studies on the Mindoro struggle entitled "Mindoro Campaign: Protecting Island Ecology, Defending Peoples Rights."
Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) is a network of civil society organizations, Church and local government units in Oriental Mindoro established in 1999 to consolidate peoples opposition to the Mindoro Nickel Project.
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The organization is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of the Philippine Mineral Resources Act a.k.a. Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
Network of Civil Society Organizations bare 6-point policy considerations for PNoy's Executive Order on Mining
Philippine Misereor Partnership Press Release
6 March 2012
"Promulgate a new mining policy now". This was the call made by the Philippine Misereor Partnership at the close of its 3 day General Assembly held in Baguio City.
The General Assembly attended by almost 300 participants comprising non-government organizations leaders, bishops, priests, nuns and leaders of people's organizations and communities affected by mining operations made the call in anticipation of the new mining policy to be issued by President Aquino anytime this month .
Taking stock of the first hand experiences of its members and partner communities in mining affected areas in Rapu-rapu, Mindoro, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales in Luzon, Kabangkalan and San Carlos in Negros, Manicani and Homonhon in Samar in the Visayas region and Surigao del Sur, Tampakan, South Cotabato and ZAMPEN peninsula (Zambo del Sur , ZDN, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City) in Mindanao, PMPI called on President Aquino to rethink the current mining policy it has inherited from the previous administration "aggressively promoting mining as a key economic driver" the statement says.
"We should mine what we only need" declared PMPI in its 6-point mining policy agenda. The statement called on the PNoy Administration that "the economic argument for the aggressive promotion of mining is misplaced given its dismal contribution to our economy. We should identify strategic metals for our national development anchored on our agricultural development".
"Sana ay manatiling tapat sa kanyang binitawang salita si Presidente Aquino- na tayong mga mamamayan , lalo na ang ordinaryong tao ay ang kanyang boss pagdating sa pagpapasya. Kaming mga Aeta ng Zambales at iba pang mga katutubong tribo ay nagnanais na sana ay mabigyan ng totoong puwang sa kanyang pamamahala ang aming kapakanan at kaunlaran. Yaon ay nasa agrikultura at wala sa mina." ( We are counting on President Aquino to stay faithful to what he said when he declared that we, the ordinary people are his boss when it comes to decisions he has to make. We, the Aetas of Zambales and other indigenous tribes would like to appeal to the President to value and truly consider our well-being and development. It is in agriculture and not in mining ) quipped Carlito "Ka Carling" Dumulot of the Zambales-based LAKAS-BIHAWO, an Aeta people's organization, and PMPI cluster point person for Central Luzon.
Apart from securing the national patrimony for the country's own development, PMPI highlighted the need to protect and respect the "no-go zones". It declared that "aside from the areas where mining should not be done under existing laws, no-go-zones for all forms of mining should also include the conflict areas, key-biodiversity areas, small-island ecosystem, and prime agricultural lands.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, PMPI Co-Convenor and Executive Secretary of CBCP-NASSA said, "as pointed out in these policy considerations, there is a need for greater accountability of mining corporations and access to justice of victims of corporate abuses. The respect, protect and remedy framework of the UN principle on business and human rights, to which the Philippine Government was one of the signatories is very clear on this."
The PMPI statement expounds, "We think that a concrete operational mechanism of this duty is to shift the burden of proof to mining companies whenever any rights abuses or damage to the environment occurs. The extraction of minerals is undoubtedly imbued with public interest as it affect the lives of people and the environment. Given the asymmetry of information between corporations and communities affected by its operation and the great imbalance in resources and capacity by which information can be accessed, the shifting of the burden of proof to the corporations is by itself a concrete application of capacitating the victims of HR abuses committed by or as a consequence of business operations"
"PMPI run the risk of being accused or labelled as anti-development because of its anti-mining campaign. We think though that the responsible mining being peddled by big mining companies borders only on stakeholder ship - that is a claim based on interest or stake. Stewardship goes beyond interest. It is a duty and recognition that we are caretakers of the Creation for the present and future generation", said Bishop Pabillo, PMPI Bishop Convenor and Chairman of the CBCP-ECSA-JP.
The statement also expressed "that responsible mining will not be possible in the present context due to regulatory capture, foreign ownership of mineral extraction, gross disregard for the FPIC process for the IPs, unchecked environmental crimes and disrespect for the socio-economic, cultural and political rights of mining-affected communities among others."
Ms. Myrna Llanes, Alternate Point Person of PMPI-Bicol claimed that to date they have yet to get justice and see the mining corporations responsible for the Rapu-Rapu mining disaster being made accountable to what she calls as "environmental crimes."
"For us the, the new mining policy in relation to the development of the mining industry should consider foremost the six points we have raised and agreed on as a network which is reflective of the views and stand of the mining affected communities and other stakeholders directly and indirectly affected by the mining issue and laws governing its conduct " mused Marilou Llavan, the new Chairperson of PMPI and Co-convenor for Visayas.
PMPI partners in Zamboanga Peninsula who had recently embarked on a multi stakeholder campaign for watershed protection and management cited that twenty one watersheds in the region are already under threat of destruction by mining applications and permits that have been massively granted to various mining companies which include TVIRD and Philex among the biggest. Citing an MGB data, Daniel Castillo, Executive director of the DIOPIM Commission on Mining Issues (DCMI) said , " Almost half of the region's total land area is already covered by 11 production sharing permits, 29 exploration permits and 2 Financial And Technical Assistance Agreements ( FTAA). Key biodiversity area such as Mt. Sugar Loaf, and major watershed such as Mt. Pinukis are exactly in the path of these mining applications and operations.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership is a network of 284 non-government organizations (NGOs), peoples organizations (POs) and Church groups in the Philippines together with Misereor - the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. Comprised of fifteen (15) regional clusters: Six (6) from Luzon, Four (4) from Visayas and five (5) from Mindanao., member organizations are present and are pro-actively working with the most marginalized communities in the Philippines for the promotion of social justice and development issues
Yolanda R. Esguerra
National Coordinator, PMPI
Atty. Mario E. Maderazo
Project Officer, Anti-Mining Campaign, PMPI
Promulgate a New Mining Policy Each One Can Call "mine"
(A PMPI Statement on the proposed Executive Order on Mining during its 4th General Assembly composed of 229 delegates representing 159 of its 284 member civil society organizations from the 15 regional clusters all over the Philippines, held at Teacher's Camp, Baguio City, last February 27-March 1, 2012 )
Promulgate a new mining policy now!
We have an unsettling anticipation for the new mining policy to be issued by PNoy administration. Of late there has been a round of media releases from different groups as to the content of the new mining policy. The development of the mining industry among others is one of the drivers for the present administration to rethink the mining policy that it inherited from the GMA administration which is the aggressive promotion of mining. For us the, the new mining policy in relation to the development of the mining industry should consider the following:
1. Mine only what we need for our national development
Time and again, we have repeatedly stressed that the economic argument for the aggressive promotion of mining is misplaced given its dismal contribution to our economy. We should identify strategic metals for our national development anchored on our agricultural development. Ever since, he minerals that have been mined and still being mined today are simply extracted by companies mostly foreign owned and shipped to home countries of such companies. We are left with damaged environment and toxic legacies like the Mariduque and Rapu-Rapu mining disasters. Our national patrimony should be defended and secured for our benefit. Agricultural development should be pursued and this should inform the strategic minerals that our country should produce.
2. Respect and protect "No-go-zones"
Aside from the areas where mining should not be done under existing laws, no-go-zones for all forms of mining should also include the conflict areas, key-biodiversity areas, small-island ecosystem, and prime agricultural lands. And even in areas where mining would be allowed, the FPIC process should be the minimum standard for its acceptance particularly for ancestral domain. Capacity-building of DENR and re-orientation of the MGB as a research agency and repository of information should be one of the directions in the changes in our mining policy.
3. Institutionalize and strengthen accountability of mining corporations and access to justice of victims of corporate abuses
Mining corporations should transact its business in accordance with the international principle of Business and Human Rights to which our country is one of the signatories. The business sector which include mining is mandated by the UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework to undertake due diligence before proceeding with its business operation and it should assume the responsibility of respecting the rights of people who will be potentially and will be actually affected by its operation. We think that a concrete operational mechanism of this duty is to shift the burden of proof to mining companies whenever any rights abuses or damage to the environment occurs. The extraction of minerals is undoubtedly imbued with public interest as it affect the lives of people and the environment. Given the asymmetry of information between corporations and communities affected by its operation and the great imbalance in resources and capacity by which information can be accessed, the shifting of the burden of proof to the corporations is by itself a concrete application of capacitating the victims of HR abuses committed by or as a consequence of business operations.
We support the rationalization of tax incentives and other freebies given to mining companies and exaction of transparency on all dealings of mining companies in generating and disposing its income including any benefits material or financial extended to LGUs and government agencies.
4. Uphold stewardship over mineral resources through peoples' participation in management and decision-making
We are caretakers or stewards of the Creation. Large-scale mining as it is being done in the present context of regulatory capture, foreign ownership of mineral extraction, gross disregard for the FPIC process for the IPs, unchecked environmental crimes and disrespect for the socio-economic, cultural and political rights of mining-affected communities among others go against the very core of being a responsible steward. We have always risked of being accused as anti-development but we think the responsible mining being peddled by big mining companies borders only on stakeholdership- that is a claim based on interest or stake. Stewardship goes beyond interest. It is a duty and recognition that we are caretakers of the Creation for the present and future generation.
5. Explore and promote policies on Urban Mining or Metals Recycling.
Pressure to mine our mineral resources will be reduced if we consider urban mining. Reuse and recycling of minerals like copper, gold, aluminum among others will help reduce opening up new mines and thereby reduce also the release of other toxic waste to the environment. This will require a policy environment that will provide incentive and support to metal recycling. The Solid waste Management Act and the Basel Convention has laid the groundwork for waste management but a focused policy on metals recycling will have to formulated in order to support our claim for stewardship and management of our mineral resources.
6. Recognize and respect local autonomy
The open-pit ban contained in the Environment Code of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato and Zamboanga del Norte are just two examples of how local government units resist and defend the destructive impact of open-pit mining. The new mining policy should recognize the constitutional and statutory grant to LGUs to determine its development processes within the framework of national development. Section 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code should inform the new mining policy as these upholds the will of the communities and the LGUs in relation to any undertaking that will directly affect, mining operations included.
We reiterate our call for:
The repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of the Philippine Mineral Resources Bill;
Cancellation of all burdensome mining contracts after appropriate review and inventory;
Moratorium on all approval of new mining permits pending the issuance of the new mining policy.
Pending the repeal of the Mining Act 1995, promulgate a mining policy that protects our ownership and control over our mineral resources that will ensure the participation of the people and communities directly and indirectly affected by mining.
Stop mining, UCCP ministers tell govt
By Lito Rulona and Erwin Macarinas, Correspondents
Goldstar Daily News
3 March 2012
FORTY leaders of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines yesterday called on the government to immediately stop all mining operations in the country, calling it "blatantly unethical, unjust, and senseless." "Destructive mining," reads a UCCP statement, "causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself." The stand was adapted from the official stand of the Ecumenical Bishops' Forum by the UCCP leaders from Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanaos and Zamboangas.
The UCCP ministers called on the government to do the following:
• oppose all destructive mining operations, both locally or foreign-owned;
• scrap the Mining Act of 1995;
• effect an immediate moratorium on large-scale mining ;
• demilitarization of mining communities;
• fight for justice and integrity of "Creation"; and
• pass the HB 4315 or the Peoples' Mining Bill.
The stand was made at the conclusion of the three-day conference on mining and its effects in Barangay Iponan here. "For decades already, we have spent time providing awareness to our communities through basic ecology seminars, tree planting, etc. but why is it that disasters haven't been halted? Clearly, because while we promote environmental protection, the government's laws and policies allows the wanton destruction of the environment like the passing of Mining Act of 1995" said Bishop Melzar Labuntog, UCCP head for Northwestern Mindanao.
Data provided by Balsa Mindanao, a disaster response and environmentalist group, said that as of February 2011, there were 12 mining companies operating in Typhoon Sendong-battered areas of Region 10. Balsa Mindanao said exploration permits were also given to nine mining companies, covering over 42 thousand hectares in Bukidnon alone. There were also 51 other companies that applied for exploration permits in the same province.
Mining, according to the UCCP leaders, now threaten to result in more man-made disasters. They noted that mining activities have continued to operate in upLand areas of the city. Reads their joint statement: "It is lamentable that the national government equates trans-national corporations' mining with development, and is remiss in its duties in protecting the environment to the detriment of the people. It has been proven that the negative costs of mining operations far outweigh the gains." Bishop Labuntog said the liberalization of the mining industry in favor of the mining corporations would mean "more suffering and death, dislocation, displacement and ruin of the environment." He said a pro-active policy advocacy is needed because the government "never learned from the lessons of the past."
Meanwhile, Sr. Leah Ann Espina of the Religious of the Good Shepherd-Women Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation-Mindanao Network and the Sisters' Association in Mindanao (Samin), said she was disturbed over reports that those advocating against mining have been threatened or attacked. Espina said murdered missionary Catholic priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio had fought mining. "It is also quite appalling that more environmental advocates and defenders of farmers, laborers, indigenous peoples are victims of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings. But no amount of coercion, threat or intimidation can weaken a prophet's spirit," she said. Aldeem Yanez, a Balsa Mindanao coordinator, lauded the UCCP and other religious institutions for making a stand against mining. "We are glad to see the dramatic shift of focus happening now due to the concern of churches and organizations for the ecology," said Yanez. "We hope that in the next days, a broader ecumenical church- and interfaith-led collaboration would advance in support to the issue-based calls of the victims and survivors of Typhoon Sendong," he said.
Picket vs mining peaceful
Sun Star Baguio
24 February 2012
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - Cordillera police chief Benjamin Magalong said the ongoing picket against drilling activities of Goldfields Philippines is peaceful.
A Save Mankayan movement was mounted to stop mining expansion as well as drilling of Goldfields within the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation Far South East site.
In the movement, there are close to 400 members for the halt in underground expansion and exploration.
Magalong said there has been no police intervention needed so far as protesters are contained in the picket areas.
The police chief likewise said there have been no sightings of New People's Army members in the area.
Magalong said the presence of the Philippine Army's 503rd Brigade is a factor in the keeping the peace in the area despite the tri-boundary factor.
In the region, Abra and Kalinga are under constant police surveillance for violence and NPA sightings. (Ma. Elena Catajan)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 25, 2012.
Group heightens anti-mine advocacy
By Ma. Elena Catajan
Sun Star Baguio
22 February 2012
A MOVEMENT to save remaining water sources of Mankayan is on.
Marlo Pablo, chairman of the SAVE Mankayan movement, said the cause aimed to stop mining expansion in the area.
Pablo said the movement was formed February 18 comprising of over 400 members from the community.
There are four barangays involved in the movement aimed to salvage community water sources as well as protect the area from further mining practices.
The movement was born out of an ongoing picket in the Mankayan area over plans of Goldfields Philippines to set up within the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation Far South East site. The protest has been ongoing for almost a month now.
Lawyer for the movement, Richard Kilaan, sought a Temporary Restraining Order in a bid to halt drilling done by Goldfields; the case is under hearing procedures at the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).
Protesters argue there should be a Free Prior and Informed Consent obtained by the LCMC's newest investor.
At present, drilling stopped in the area but there has been no dialog between the company and those on picket.
Meanwhile in a similar campaign, the Katribu Partylist together with Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kampi), launched this week the Thousand Streamer Campaign to counter the "propaganda offensive" of the mining industry.
Kampi studies reveal more than sixty percent of the indigenous people's ancestral lands are covered by different mining application.
The group's aim is to increase awareness over the destructive effect of foreign large scale mining to the indigenous people and environment, among others.