MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Miners and military create refugees

Published by MAC on 2012-05-08
Source: Statements, Mindanews, PDI, Business Mirror (2012-05-02)

Displaced indigenous peoples' leaders and human rights activists from Mindanao have been in Manila to condemn the military actions that forced them from their homes.

As their testimony noted, many were driven out to make way for large-scale developments, including mining.

Sharon Liguyon, wife of slain indigenous leader, Jimmy Liguyon, lamented: "Our lands are being taken away from us. Mining companies and the military brought fear and havoc in our communities ... we want peace in our communities, and we demand justice." (For more information on the murder of Jimmy Liguyon see: Mining abuses continue with no promised changes in the law)

Also in Mindanao,  a fact-finding mission travelled to Tampakan at the invitation of the indigenous B'laan, who recently erected barricades against the entry of the mining company controlled by Xstrata (see: Mining abuses continue with no promised changes in the law).

These actions led to a massive military build-up which local people are demanding be withdrawn from their communities. The deepening social divisions in the area, caused by the project, bring armed conflict ever nearer.

Another fact-finding mission - this time an International Solidarity Mission on Mining - has also reported widespread exploitation of workers in the Philippine mining industry.

However, it seems unlikely that any of these negative factors will influence the President's new Executive Order.

As previously reported (Filipino priest rewarded for his work on mining) the Order has been long delayed. However, the latest draft has now finally appeared.

The breadth of what it is trying to achieve has been expanded, but civil society groups - currently commenting on the draft - believe that, thanks to industry lobbying, it includes a number of retrograde steps.

It appears that most of the changes, requested by all parties, have been uneasily jumbled together in a mad legislative soup.

Whether anything more coherent will emerge is anyone's guess.

But it would be distinctly bizarre if a plan, aimed at rationalising a raft of potentially contradictory regulations, actually ends up adding to the general confusion.

Mining, Conflict and Death of IPs in Tampakan

Tampakan Forum Press Statement

30 April 2012

Digos City, Davao del Sur - Following the blocked entry of the church and human rights groups led fact-finding and solidarity mission to Bong Mal, Tampakan South Cotabato. Twenty seven (27) of the more than a thousand B'laan natives awaiting the arrival of the team in Bong Mal, managed to get past the barricades in Brgy. Kimlawis, Kiblawan Davao del Sur to meet the fact-finding team in Digos City last April 26, 2012.

Philippine indigenous peoples protest
Indigenous Peoples protest over mining & militarisation in the
Philippines. Photo: Bulatlat

Earlier, iron pipe barricades were set up by hand-held radio equipped pro-mining locals and scholarship grantees of SMI at Pulang Bato, Tampakan, the first gateway to Bong Mal, the actual site of the proposed 500 hectare-wide open-pit of the mining project. A woman who earlier identified herself as the barangay's bookkeeper restrained the barricaders on giving any more information.

In their traditional garbs and with faces still weary from the 3-hour road travel aboard hired motorcycles and lack of sleep the night before, men and women, Blaan elders, young mothers with their infants, middle-aged adults and adolescents laid down mats on the floor to squat on for the focus group discussion with the fact-finding team at the multi-purpose hall of the San Isidro Labrador Parish in this city.

In their native tongue, translated in Visayan and Filipino by local translators, the B'laans recounted stories and testimonies on the situation besetting their communities in the first quarter of this year, every now and then retracing past or earlier events related to the Tampakan mining project of Sagittarius Mines.

Diya Capion, an elder woman told the team of her anguish and pain of having lost her sons since her family staunchly opposed the mining's entry into their once peaceful communities. One has been imprisoned and the other three sons declared by the military as outlaws and fugitives. Life has never been the same to her and her family since then. She along with the other fellow B'laans have witnessed and fallen victims to physical and psychological violence wrought upon them by military elements who destroyed houses, crops and makeshift warehouse where they keep their farm produce in the course of a man hunt operation against one of her sons, Daguil Capion.

" Takot na kami pumunta ng kagubatan para manguha ng pagkain namin simula nuong pinagbawalan na ang mga lalaki pumunta doon (we don't go to the forest anymore to fetch food since it has been prohibited) " said one of the younger men who is somehow able to express in Filipino. "Takot kami lalo na sa nakita namin na kapag tutol ka sa mina, yung mga sundalo ng 27th IB na lumalakad sa gilid-gilid para mag patrol, manghuhuli at ma-charge kami na NPA (we are afraid because if we are caught by the 27th IB soldiers on foot patrol, they can arrest us and just charge us as NPA/rebels) " , he added in broken Filipino.

One of the women, holding back tears, lamented the injustice that she and her family suffered. She questioned the fact that her husband who became wanted by the military, and was subsequently captured was still killed last December 5, 2011 during an operation as claimed by the military. She said that images of her helpless husband still haunt her to this date.

Another B'laan woman narrated that last January 13, in search of her now fugitive husband who she said was one of those who actively barricaded against the mining project, police personnel raided her small abode, divested them of their few belongings such as cooking pots and pillows, terrorized her children when in their presence, the police threatened to arrest her, should she refuse to reveal her husband's whereabouts.

Still other stories freely came out; burial grounds of a young man's parents accidentally ran over by a bulldozer while undertaking road widening, razed houses and farms as a result of road expansion activities, SMI and the military prohibiting people to construct new huts or abodes and imposing curfew in the community, male members of the community were not allowed to go to the forests to gather food, hunt and farm and women have to seek the permission of the military who assigns time limit when they go to the forests to perform tasks and roles which the men are already unable to do because of the imposed restraints.

They also cited that SMI notices were posted in their houses last march 21, setting march 22 as cut-off period for them to enlist in something that is totally incomprehensible for them as many of the B'laans couldn't write and read and had to rely on others to explain and translate to them in their native language the information in the posted notices which were in Bisayan.

"They beat up, hurt and kill our men then outlaw those who hide away or stand up against them, threaten our women and children,control and limit our movements, access to our communal resources, prohibits our natural way of life" the mother of the now fugitive sons bemoaned.

It also disturbed them that attempts to bring these problems to the attention of their village chieftain only to be told that they have no rights anymore over their lands as it is public domain anyway. This, they say is totally an unacceptable explanation since Bong Mal is their ancestral domain, and it is a common known fact.

As aggrieved parties, they reiterated that they are not even after payment or indemnification anymore. They just want SMI out from their ancestral domains. An elder man said " if other communities wants SMI in their area, let them and we will respect that, but the mining company should not force their mining operations in communities who doesn't want them, such as Bong Mal."

Most of the gathered B'laans agreed to the thoughts expressed by several of them that the present conflict and rift between and among B'laan communities and clans caused by the mining issue can be resolved if only they will be left by themselves to settle and bridge the divide based on their customary laws and beliefs. "This is not possible as long as 7 military detachments with soldiers telling us that we are crazy not to accept SMI in our lonely place they say, are in our midst and SMI personnel meddles and worst, employ deceptions and manipulations to fan even more the conflict that they created in the first place," said an elder B'laan man.

A teenage B'laan girl who was silent and was just listening intently for the most part of the exchanges opened up in a chant-like tone about her fears and feelings on the present situation that befell her community and her people. " There's not many of us B'laans anymore left in this world, If SMI will really force its way and its mining operations in our community , it is like vanishing half of our race us B'laans, because by their doing, we are made to fight and turn against each other. It is the children like us who will suffer the most and I fear this will all lead to pangayao (tribal war) if they will not stop" the young B'laan uttered in native vernacular.

Most of those in the group were in unison in agreeing to an elder woman ventilating that they are being driven away from their ancestral lands. " They are forcing mining on us and sending us away. But we have nowhere else to go. Not in the resettlement area where they want us relocated. When our lands are taken from us, and us, plucked away from our land, it is tantamount to death for us B'laans."

Meanwhile, Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable said that in the 3 years that he has followed the developments related to the Tampakan mining issue , it was only after having personally listened to the stories of the B'laans gathered that day in the diocese's auspices that he came to understand the social impacts of the mining project to the natives of the area, "which goes beyond claims of economic benefits by the mining company, the local and national government units supporting and aggressively pushing for it. The rights of the Indigenous people should be respected and protected not risked " the bishop added.

Tampakan Forum had already pointed out last year in its critic of SMI's Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) document submitted to the Environmental Bureau of Management (EMB) for review that mitigation in the form of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) fails to appreciate the unique cultural identity of the B'laan, and merely enumerates standard social development interventions . The ESIA fail to understand and truly take into account the interplay between the Blaans, their culture, knowledge and interaction with their environment is critical.

The Tampakan project is set to dislocate an estimated 2,600 families or 4,000 individuals , mostly or 3,000 B'laans in the mines development site that straddles 3 overlapping CADTS (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles ) and 1 CADC (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Certificate) belonging to the B'laan communities covering about 74% or 7,095 of the 10,000 hectares of the proposed mine site.

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 and IUCN CESP-SEAPRISE.

Contact Persons:
Fr. Gillarme Joy Pelino - (083) 2283793
Atty. Mario E. Maderazo - (02) 3534287, (mobile) 09228501873

The Secretariat
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
2nd Floor, No. 8 Cordillera St. Cor. Ramirez St.
Barangay Doña Aurora
1113 Quezon City , Philippines
Tel. No. (02) 353- 4287
Fax. No. (02) 353- 4396
www.2003pmp.org


Stop the Divide, let the B'laans Decide

Tampakan Forum Press Statement

28 April 2012

The Fact-Finding/Solidarity Mission organized by Social Action Center of Marbel and the Tampakan Forum in coordination with the Dioceses of Kidapawan and Digos is calling on the PNoy Administration to immediately resolve the brewing conflict among the B'laan tribe in view of the rift created by the aggressive push of SMI to pursue its mining project in Tampakan despite the denial of SMI's application for Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

The fact-finding mission that we conducted last 25-26 April 2012, have indicated the following:

The foregoing, clearly indicate the absence of the appropriate and adequate consultation process on how the mining-related activities of SMI is being conducted. People whether for or against the mining project are caught in between and their confusion and anxiety for fear of the unknown make them vulnerable to resolve their problem on their terms. The military presence even will not help if their presence is on the pretext of maintaining peace and order. The B'laans who are against the mining project have expressed their willingness to resolve their differences based on their customs and tradition with those groups who are supporting the mining project. They are willing to dialogue with each other but without the presence of any third party, the government and much more SMI.

Based on our initial findings, we recommend the following:
1. Total pull-out of the seven (7) military detachment in the communities
2. Enforce a definite moratorium on all SMI activities in the area
3. Recognize and respect the customary laws of the B'laan on conflict resolution
4. Undertake a meaningful FPIC in the mining-affected areas
5. Ensure transparency and accountability of tribal chieftains, SMI and local government unit in dealing with the members of their communities

The Fact-Finding/Solidarity Mission is composed of the Tampakan Forum members , Philippine Human Rights (PhilRights) Center, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phil .- National Secretariat for Social Action,Justice and Peace ( CBCP-NASSA), Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI), Task Force Detainees of the Phil (TFDP), Radyo Veritas and the Commission on Human Rights.

Tampakan Forum is a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue convened by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) in collaboration with Social Action Marbel, AlyansaTigil 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 and IUCN CESP-SEAPRISE.

Contact Persons:
Fr. Gillarme Joy Pelino - (083) 2283793
Atty. Mario E. Maderazo - (02) 3534287, (mobile) 09228501873

The Secretariat
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
2nd Floor, No. 8 Cordillera St. Cor. Ramirez St.
Barangay Doña Aurora
1113 Quezon City , Philippines
Tel. No. (02) 353- 4287
Fax. No. (02) 353- 4396
www.2003pmp.org


Fact-finding mission blocked from entering Sagittarius mine site

By Bong S. Sarmiento

Mindanews

26 April 2012

TAMPAKAN, South Cotabato - Members of a multi-sectoral fact-finding mission who trooped to the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. on Wednesday to check alleged military abuses in the area were blocked by groups supposedly supportive of the mining project.

At least three roadblocks were set up in the towns of Tampakan and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur to prevent the fact-finding mission from going to their destination, Rene Pamplona, advocacy officer of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, said.

He said they are planning to proceed tomorrow (Thursday), with the help Diocese of Digos, to Bong Mal through Kiblawan town.

Bong Mal can be accessed through the towns of Tampakan and Kiblawan, about three hours apart using the General Santos City- Davao City highway.

"The fact-finding team will go to the tribal communities directly affected by the Tampakan project to find out firsthand the real situation there," he said earlier today.

But even if the group could not go to Bong Mal, they can still gather testimonies as several residents have decided to descend from the mountains to talk with the fact-finding team, he said.

Those who went down were expected to reach the lowland this (Wednesday) evening, Pamplona said.

He said the two-day mission also seeks to gather evidence that the mining firm "does not respect lawful orders."

An estimated 1,000 tribal members were expected to gather in the mines development site to call on Sagittarius Mines to abandon its project during the fact-finding mission, he said.

Pamplona said there have been complaints from tribal community members that the company, in cahoots with the military, has been allegedly curtailing their religious and cultural practices.

The fact-finding mission came days after militant groups tried but failed to reach the mines development site for a solidarity mission with the tribesmen opposing the Tampakan project.

Last Sunday, militant groups returned after they claimed that two vehicles blocked their way towards the mountains here. They blamed the company and the military for the blockade.

John B. Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines corporate communications manager, said that the company is "committed to open and transparent engagement.

"A commitment to ethical behavior guides SMI's approach to how it responds to actions by stakeholders and how it conducts its business," he said.

Arnaldo said that SMI has always conducted its business "through genuine partnerships by working ethically, responsibly, openly and with others."

SMI will continue to talk openly with stakeholders about its plans. This includes engaging in facts-based, reasoned discussions with those opposed to the Tampakan Project in the spirit of transparency, he said.

Lt. Col. Alexis Noel C. Bravo, 27th Infantry Battalion commander, said earlier that soldiers have been deployed in the mines development site due to the security threats posed by the communist New People's Army.

The military official denied that soldiers were deployed there to protect and advance the interest of Sagittarius Mines.

Since last month, members of the B'laan tribe opposing the mining project have set up barricades in various portions within the tenement of Sagittarius Mines.

The move was triggered by the plan of the mining firm to relocate them from the mines development site.

The blockades were set up Bong Mal, the boundary between Tampakan and Kiblawan that serves as crucial artery for the mining firm to move around the mines development site.

Before the barricades were put up, there have been indications from some tribal communities in Bong Mal that the mining firm should abandon its venture, despite the project's touted economic benefits for the residents like jobs, education, health and other basic social services.

Last year, disgruntled tribal members resorted to violence in dismay over the firm's continued operation in the area. They ambushed workers of a construction firm hired by company resulting in the death of three persons.

Pamplona also said the fact-finding mission will seek to establish that Sagittarius Mines "has been violating" the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Last January, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued an order denying the company's application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the Tampakan project.

Paje cited the open-pit mining ban imposed by the provincial government of South Cotabato in denying the firm's ECC application.

Paje's order also directed the mining company to refrain from doing any activities in the area it has applied for.

Sagittarius Mines eventually filed a motion for reconsideration but the Environment department has yet to issue a decision.

Pamplona said the mining firm still has operations in the mines development site even with the DENR order.

The fact-finding mission was composed of representatives from at least three Catholic dioceses in Mindanao, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., the Alyansa Tigil Mina, Legal Rights Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth-Philippines, and the Philippine Human Rights Information Center, among others.

The group also invited representatives from the Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, members of Philippine and foreign workers' groups will also start today a week-long fact-finding mission on mining-related issues in the Caraga Region.

Foreign delegates coming from labor groups in South Korea, United States, Belgium, Australia, Japan and Germany will join their counterparts from the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines, integrated Philippine Electronics Network (iPEN) and other local groups.

The mission in Caraga will look into the mining methods being used by transnational companies and find ways to protect communities and workers "from the destruction engendered by mining operations."

The mission will also assess the impact of mining operations on employment, environment, and work conditions in the mine sites.

Caraga Region comprises the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island. (Bong Sarmiento with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews


Tampakan mine: Digging for the long haul

By Edwin Espejo

The Rappler

28 April 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), the Philippine unit of global miner Xstrata Plc, can't seem to find a way around a provincial ordinance that virtually shut down its proposed $5.9-billion copper-gold Tampakan project in South Cotabato.

There are no signs that the Provincial Board is going to amend, scrap or even relent to a review of a ban on open-pit mining, the method that SMI will use in Tampakan.

With SMI also hesitant to go to court to question the ban, the company may just have to push back its target of starting commercial mine operations by 2016.

The ban is not SMI's only problem. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environment Management Bureau rejected its application for an environment clearance certificate (ECC), although it is now on appeal.

SMI, partly owned by Australian miner Indophil Resources NL, will have to re-apply and go through another tedious process of obtaining the clearance if its appeal is likewise rejected.

One can always argue that SMI had a hand in the recent resolution passed by host town Tampakan supporting the mining project.

And only the naive will say SMI was not involved in frustrating separate successive attempts by two fact-finding teams to reach Bong Mal where the indigenous Blaan tribe has vowed to resist the company.

While those who blocked the church-backed mission this week and the one organized by the Left the week before to commemorate Earth Day were members of the Tribal Councils -- which support SMI -- one also cannot be faulted if these anti-mining activists will accuse SMI of coopting the tribal leaders in exchange of promised job and other business opportunities.

Most of the tribal chieftains in the host communities that will be affected by the mining operations have been recipient of grants, favors and even contracts to supply manpower. They have been given luxury vehicles and have been constantly bombarded with all glowing promises by company community organizers.

But the resistance put up by some tribal leaders has some valid points and real concerns.

For one, SMI recently announced it will no longer include residents and tribal community members in the proposed relocation plan raising the possibility that those who will not relocate will be forcibly evicted. SMI itself has announced that as many as 4,000 families will have to be relocated away from the village centers of Folu Bato (not Pula Bato), Danlag, Tablu and Bong Mal, all in Tampakan. Also probably not explained is that these residents will no longer be allowed inside the almost 4,000-hectare mining area site and who knows how many more hectares for SMI's buffer zones.

Tribal opposition has also evolved into spontaneous armed resistance with a group of armed Blaan men owning responsibility to a recent ambush that killed three drill men under contract with SMI.

Of course, Wednesday's attacked by communist guerillas at a military detachment in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat is another grim reminder that SMI, while welcomed by some, is also despised and hated by others.

SMI will have its hands full in addressing concerns from communities and residents that are against tis operations. It will also have to answer issues on the environment and the fragile ecology of the mining area.

There is no easy way in for the company. - Rappler.com


Indigenous peoples and environmental activists protest military bombing in Mindanao

Kalikasan Partylist press release

25 April 2012

QUEZON CITY - Indigenous people's leaders and human rights activists from Mindanao protested in front of the main office of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today in condemnation of the ongoing bombing and combat operations by military forces in their mining-affected communities.

The protesters noted that the aggressive entry and expansion of large-scale and foreign mining corporations in the CARAGA, Southern and Northern Mindanao Regions have caused widespread militarization and human rights violations in the mining-affected communities. The government allowed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) military forces to be deployed as investment defense forces (IDFs) and Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) units hired as private security by mining corporations.

"Our rights were violated as we were forcibly evacuated from our homes and communities. The military says that their operations are meant to drive away rebels from our lands, but it is in fact our indigenous people brothers and sisters that are being driven away for the entry of large-scale mining in our lands," said Genasque Enriquez, secretary general of Kahugpong sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO), a CARAGA-wide organization of Lumad indigenous peoples.

The forced evacuation of the Lumad-Mamanwa people was due to indiscriminate bombing, strafing and airstrikes at Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte by the 402nd brigade of the 4th infantry division. Last February 28, 58 families started to evacuate, which has swelled to 158 or 800 individuals including children by March 14, 2012. The mountain ranges of Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur are notably rich in gold deposits. Corporations such as the Minimax Gold Exploration and SR Mining Inc., have mining interests in these areas.

"Our lands are being taken away from us. Mining companies and the military brought fear and havoc in our communities. Our family and relatives are being harassed and killed for voicing out their opposition. We want peace in our communities, and we demand justice. Mining companies must stop their operation and pull out from our lands," said Sharon Liguyon, wife of slain indigenous leader Jimmy Liguyon of San Fernando, Bukidnon who was a staunch anti-mining activist. He was killed by unidentified assassins last March 5, 2012.

"We are deeply concerned of the situation of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao and various other mining-affected areas in the Philippines because of AFP's mining security and other military operations. Human rights violations and killings are rampant where there are large-scale mining projects and corresponding strong opposition from the communities. From 2011 to present nine (9) anti-mining activists have already been killed under the Aquino administration," added Mr. Leon Dulce, spokeperson of green party group Kalikasan Partylist.

"The authorities particularly the Congress and Senate should immediately investigate this situation. Militarization and bombing is becoming part of the modus operandi in forcing the entry and operation of large-scale mining projects into rural areas," ended Dulce.###

Below: Demand Letter of Internally Displaced Persons on Mining

Reference: Leon Dulce, Spokesperson - Kalikasan Partylist 0917 562 6824

Kalikasan Partylist is a progressive green political party. For inquiries, contact Lisa Ito, Public Information Officer at 0917.817.9955

-----

To: Sec. Ramon Jesus P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned of the situation of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao and various other mining-affected areas in the Philippines, have noted the growing trend of displaced lives and livelihood due to the militarization and attrition brought by aggressive mining expansion.

The violence and human rights violations from the militarization caused by combat operations, bombing, hamletting, massacres, extrajudicial killings, strafing, destruction of properties and threats by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are escalating. This is seen to systematically stem from the current administration's series of counter-insurgency plans from the infamous Oplan Bantay Laya of the Arroyo regime up to the present Oplan Bayanihan of Benigno Aquino III. Primarily targeted in these plans are the civilian population in so-called "NPA-infested areas" as well as progressive and patriotic leaders and activists.

Communities are forcibly evacuated from their homes because of the entry of mining transnational corporations (TNCs) and their partner local elites, who aim to exploit our mineral wealth by hook or by crook. The peasants and indigenous peoples are killed, illegally arrested, threatened and displaced from their homes, farmlands and ancestral domains by private armies and paramilitary units employed by mining TNCs. AFP battalions are deployed as investment defense forces (IDFs) and special CAFGU active auxiliary (SCAA) units further prescribed by the Aquino administration through OpBay.

These are some of the latest reports gathered by Karapatan on mining-affected IDPs:

1. The forced evacuation of the Lumad-Mamanwa people because of indiscriminate bombing, strafing and airstrikes at Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte by the 402nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. Last February 28, 58 families started to evacuate, which has swelled to 158 or 800 individuals including children by March 14, 2012.

The mountain ranges of Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur are notably rich in gold deposits. Corporations such as the Minimax Gold Exploration and SR Mining Inc., have mining interests in these areas, and the Lopez-owned First General Hydro Electric Corp., is currently engaged in mineral surveys at Agusan del Norte.

2. Almost 304 individuals from Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan, Compostela Valley started to evacuate from their homes on March 18, 2012 due to hamletting of their communities by the 71st infantry battalion. The AFP occupied their homes, subjected residents to interrogation, coercing them to admit, albeit under duress, that they are elements of the New People's Army (NPA) and engaged in other harassment and scare tactics.

Mining interests in this area include the Russell Mines & Minerals - St. Augustine Gold Copper in Brgy. Kingkin, Pantukan, and the Napnapan Mineral Resources.

3. Starting from January 8, 2012, up to 23 families or 112 individuals evacuated from Imbagtas, Sitio Poon, Nakabuklad, San Fernando, Bukidnon amidst the operations of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (8th IBPA). The families and community members of Datu

Jimmy Liguyon, a Lumad leader and anti-mining advocate, also fled after Liguyon received death threats from Aldy Salusad of the New Indigenous People's Army Reform (NIPAR) under the 8th IBPA last March 5. Liguyon was then killed on March 5, 2012 for refusing to sign, in his capacity as barangay captain, documents that will permit mining in their area.

These IDPs are removed from their homes to places with no secure livelihood and basic necessities for their families. Their properties, tools for production, crops and education were left in the process. A number of them went to evacuation centers, where they experience hunger, diseases, and psychological trauma due to their experiences, where the space is cramped and water, kitchen and toilet facilities are usually lacking. Women and children victims also fall victim to sexual abuse and other forms of human rights violations. The local government remains incapable of providing sufficient funds and human resources to manage the services that evacuees need, exacerbated by merciless corruption.

It is in this light that we urge your office to revoke the permits of mining operations that bring the peril of militarization in these communities. The claim of responsible mining should not only be limited to environmental protection, but should likewise ensure, first and foremost, respect for human rights and community welfare in the mining area.
We likewise urge you to be more stringent in ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of mining-affected communities to prevent the entry of mining security forces that are detrimental to the basic rights of our fellow Filipino citizens in these areas.

We, the Filipino people, will vigilantly await your response and action.

For the People and the Environment,

(Sgd.)
Clemente Bautista, Jr.
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment

(Sgd.)
Cristina Palabay
Spokesperson
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights

(Sgd.)
Frances Quimpo
Executive Director
Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines

(Sgd.)
Kakay Tolentino
Secretary General
Katribu Partylist

(Sgd.)
Natalie Pulvinar
Deputy Secretary General
Kalikasan Green Party of the Philippines


Surigao del Sur residents stage mining rallies: Bishop leads anti; Ex-Gov leads pro

Mindanews

29 April 2012

CANTILAN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/28 April) - Residents supporting and opposing mining in the province held separate rallies Saturday, the former led by Carrascal mayor and former Governor Vicente Pimentel, the latter led by Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar.

Odchimar, former president of the Catholic Bishop Church in the Philippines (CBCP) said he did not need to speak after seeing at least 4,000 residents from various towns gather in response to his and environmentalists' call for an "all-out protest" against mining and to take a stand for mother earth.

Thousands more of representatives from the church and from various sectors also participated s by forming a human chain along the national highway from Cantilan to Madrid town at around 8 a.m.

In Madrid, a program was held near the Carac-an River shortly before noon.

In Carrascal town, some 1,000 residents and mine workers from mining companies operating in Carrascal expressed their support for mining, in a rally led byPimentel.

Participants gathered on the sides of the national highway and were entertained by a band at around 10 a.m. The rally in Carrascal was held also before noon.

No to mining

Cantilan Mayor Genito Guardo said majority of his constituents are opposed to mining because the mining activities of Marc Ventures Mining Development Corporation has caused the degradation of their environment.

He said residents are in danger because their watershed has been affected by the ongoing mining operations which he said had no permit to operate.

He blamed the mining firm for aggravating the situation, citing, among others, an "unprecedented flooding" last year which destroyed thousands of hectares of farmlands.

Guardo said the mining firm has contributed nothing, "not even a single centavo" to the town's coffers.

He said Marc Ventures attempted to secure a permit for its nickel mining project and even tried to pay local taxes but he said the people of Cantilan do not need their taxes and their presence.

Retired Air Force Brig. General Charles Hotchkiss, now executive vice president of the family-owned Cantilan Bank, said mining operations do not just pollute the rivers and shorelines of Surigao del Sur but also ruin the life of the entire community.

Employees of the bank joined Hotchkiss in the riverside rally. The Carac-an River, said Hotchkiss, feeds the 14 irrigation systems that provide water for the farmlands in Madrid and neighboring towns.

"Our environment is a gift from God, but creation is in pain because we can see the destruction imposed by man on it. It is very important for us to express how we feel in the protection of our environment, because God did not transfer ownership to us but transferred stewardship to us as caretakers of mother earth," said Fr. Elvis Petros.

Hotchkiss said he does not mind if mining firms and their allies do not avail of the services of the family-owned bank.

He said Marc Ventures used to transact in the bank but stopped because of the family's position on mining. His sister, Emma, is president of the Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, Lanuza (CCMCL) Baywatch Foundation which is very active in opposing mining operations in the area.

Hothckiss said their bank has been serving the area since 1980 and has been helping micro entrepreneurs, especially the farmers.

Mining, he said, is destroying their watershed and his bank's clients, many of them farmers, have been complaining on the effects of mining in their farmlands.

MindaNews sought the president of Marc Ventures for comment but he could not be reached.

Rosalina Montinegro, a Mamanwa tribe member from Cortes town, told MindaNews that even as there are no mining operations in their town, this doesn't mean that they are not affected. He said fellow Mamanwas in the affected areas can no longer gather firewood in their area and will therefore move to their area to gather wood and food.

Yes to mining

Carrascal Mayor Vincente Pimentel said mining is needed for his town to progress.

He told MindaNews that mining has contributed to the local coffers but did not say how much. He said the mining sector's contribution means more funds for education, livelihood, agriculture, infrastructure and other social services.

Pimentel said three large-scale mining firms are operating in this fourth class town: Carrascal Mining Corporation, Marc Ventures, and CTP Construction and Mining Corporation.

CTP stands for Clarence T. Pimentel, the mayor's elder brother who recently passed away.

Pimentel said that aside from paying taxes, these firms contribute some P70 million to the local government, at P6 per ton as environmental hazard pay.

He said the presence of minerals in his town is a gift from God that must be utilized for the advancement of the people.

Domalyn Calinawan, 30, of Barangay Adlay, Carrascal, Surigao del Sur said mining can help uplift their situation.

She said her husband, a former fisherman, is now a worker in one of the mining firms and can now afford to put food on the table.

She said she joined the rally because the income from mining has helped them raise their six children.

"Kon pangisda lang ang amo saligan, inday (ambot) kon mabuhi kami ini koman (karon)," [if we depended only on fishing, I don't know if we could survive]. she said.

Divided

Surigao del Sur has a long history of mining operations but remains among the poorest of the poor provinces.

In 2008, Mayor Pimentel, then Governor, criticized the Church whose representatives were present in a forum on Marc Ventures' nickel project, for its stand against mining.

"The Church wants the people to be poor so that people would constantly supplicate on them. We should not allow them to dictate to us. How will the anti-mining advocates solve unemployment?" Pimentel asked, adding in ten years, there will be no more poor people in Carrascal.

Bishop Odchimar had criticized as "bribery" the distribution of P90,000 per barangay captain cash benefits and other assistance including P20-M rehabilitation work of barangay roads and bridges allegedly given by Marc Ventures Mining while its application for environmental clearance was pending.

According to Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau then, the company was implementing its Social Development and Mining Plan.

Human chain

Participants to Saturday's anti-mining rally tried to form a human chain in the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmenand Lanuza (CarCanMadCarLan).

An hour later, vehicles from other parts of Surigao del Sur and from as far as Bislig City started arriving at the Carac-an Bridge for a concelebrated mass by the Bishop and parish priests in all 18 towns of Surigao del Sur.

Mayor Guardo said this was the biggest event and the first ever for residents of CarCanMadCarLan who are against mining and the destruction of their ecosystem.

"Since 1995, our town had stood in defiance against mining companies who tried to come in and establish their trade here. Sad to say, they are finding a different way to get inside our town. Now Marc Ventures has started its operation in Barangay Kabangahan part of this town without any business permit and mayor's permit," he said.

Guardo explained that even if they want to raid the area since it is illegal, they are exerting efforts to settle the problem to avert bloodshed.

"We are here to support the call for anti mining and the need for us to protect our environment. Our group consisting of almost 200 peoples started our trip at around 2 a.m just to get here on time. On our way, we also noticed other groups as we passed by other towns. It is heartwarming to be a part of such a huge activity," said Evic Peninsula of St. Thomas parish in Bislig City.

About a hundred police personnel from the consolidated police force of the towns representing CarCanMadCarLan were deployed to the riverside rally venue, supported by the Provincial Public Safety Battalion, complete with ambulances and fire trucks. (Roel Catoto and Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)


Exploitation of miners exposed

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

30 April 2012

MEMBERS of an international fact-finding mission on Monday reported "rampant contractualization, very low wages and violation of workers' rights" in large-scale mining areas in the Cordillera and Caraga regions.

A copy of the report of the International Solidarity Mission on Mining (ISMM) was submitted to Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, who vowed to start a congressional inquiry into the findings of the ISMM.

Large-scale mining companies, according to the ISMM, are earning as much as P36 million over two-days via the work of skilled Filipino miners who receive as low as P233 daily wage.

Mariano said the report would justify the passage of a proposed measure seeking a P125 across-the-board wage increase and the People's Mining bill, which would replace the Philippine Mining Act of 1995; the law allows foreign mining companies to operate large-scale mining in the Philippines.

Members of the ISMM called for a moratorium on large-scale mining "until a technology is developed to maximize and process the extracted minerals locally."

Also, the ISMM said an in-depth research on the working conditions in large-scale mining companies was needed to "expose mining's astounding negative footprint to the country's environment and to the working class."

Jonathan Zwart, an Australian representing the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union told BusinessMirror the situation of miners at the Lepanto Mining Consolidated Corporation was "not good," considering the risks that they are being exposed to every day in exchange for their measly wages.

Zwart, one of the members of the ISMM team that visited the Lepanto mines in Mankayan Benguet, said miners receive very low wages and most of them are contractual workers who do not receive any benefit at all from the company.

"Miners have died because of accidents such as falling rocks, and toxic fumes. This is not good," he said. At Lepanto Mines, Zwat observed the miners suffered from poor ventilation, "although surprisingly, are allowed to smoke cigarettes," he said.

Also, Zwart said the on-going extraction of ores at Lepanto Mines was "very dangerous," as the company is now starting to extract soils from what is supposed to be the pillars that hold the roof of the tunnels.

The ISSM reported that out of the 1,400 employees of the Lepanto Mining Consolidated Corp., 800 are contractual workers. The minimum wage in the region is pegged at P255, which is barely half of the estimated P570 daily cost of living in the region.

In the Caraga region, Philsaga and Medusa Mining Corporations in Agusan del Sur employ only 700 regular workers out of its 4,000 workforce.

The ISMM also observed that mining companies in the Caraga region account for only 3 percent of Caraga's total employment.

In the three mines visited by ISMM, the members noted poor working condition of the miners. Mining companies, they noted, provide inadequate safety gears for their workers.

"They only provide boots and hard hats. Miners should be provided with a complete set of protective gear, including gloves and masks," Zwart said.

Chris Grayland, another member of the team, said mining companies in Australia are very strict when it comes to implementing safety measures. Apparently, mining companies lack the initiative to ensure the safety of its workers, he said, obviously referring to the Lepanto Mines.

Justine Bergerem from Belgium said mining companies employ various tactics-from bribing to harassing members of the communities-to force them to accept the mining operation.

The presence of soldiers acting as security guards for mining companies, she said, also failed to prevent human-rights violations committed against people in the communities in the mining areas, particularly women who are either raped, sexually molested, or are forced to engage in sex. These happened when mining operations started in the area, she said.

Kyeongmin Rim from South Korea noted the adverse impact of mining operations on the people and the environment, saying that since mining began in their area, hazardous chemicals from the mines have contaminated their water resources.

In its report, the ISMM said that by "simple ocular inspection," it could be deduced that large-scale mining evidently has caused environmental destruction in mangrove areas, fishing grounds and these places' natural landscape.


Revenue sharing still a sticky mining issue

By Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

30 April 2012

The government's six-point agenda on mining is on the table, and revenue sharing continues to be a sticky point.

Stakeholders, including miners, civil society groups (CSOs), and local government units (LGUs), have said they agree on the need for responsible mining to contribute more to the economy with minimal environmental risk. The question on to how the spoils will be divided remains, however.

The government presented its general statement and 6-point agenda to stakeholders on Thursday (large-scale miners in the morning and small-scale miners in the afternoon), and Friday (CSOs and LGUs).

Sources said the "complicated" discussions focused mainly on revenue sharing between the government and mining industry.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo L. Jasareno, who declined to comment on the discussions, said in a phone interview that the government was not able to wind up its consultations with large-scale miners.

During the meeting, hosted by the Makati Business Club, not all the agenda points were covered due to the "sheer number of topics," Jasareno said. As such, there will be another consultation, possibly this week.

Guillermo M. Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, said last Thursday's consultations with large-scale miners went smoothly, though time ran out on the discussions on mining revenue sharing and effective management of the sector. He said the steps being taken to put together the government's mining policy is one of the most "open-minded processes" in the country.

Luz is part of the study group of the Makati Business Club working on mining reforms.

The AIM is helping study and compare different revenue sharing arrangements, Luz said. This includes models in Chile and Peru, among other countries. Revenue management schemes-such as the so-called "super fund" of Timor Leste, considered to be one of the models of best practices-are also on the table, Luz said.

He said the International Monetary Fund is also expected to come up with a study.

A copy of the government policy statement presented to stakeholders highlighted a six-point agenda crafted to guide Malacañang's mining policy:

- Ensure responsible mining's contribution to the country's sustainable development, i.e., economic and social growth and environmental protection.

- Adopt international best practices to promote good governance integrity in the sector.

- Ensure the protection of the environment by adopting technically and scientifically sound and generally accepted methods, as well as indigenous best practices.

- Enforce the primacy of national laws over local issuances to harmonize laws, policies, and regulation.

- Ensure a fair, adequate and equitably shared economic benefit for the country and the people.

- Deliver efficient and effective management of the mining sector.

However, the policy statement containing the agenda, in its present form, does not directly address the issue of LGUs banning open pit mining despite the government's position that it is not prohibited under the Mining Act of 1995.


Conference on mining plunders to ink covenant against foreign mining aggression

Press Release

Davao Today

22 April 2012

Foreign mining aggression in the region escalates opposition among grass root communities. Peasant and lumad (indigenous people) leaders from various provinces in Davao gathered in today's Peoples' Conference on Mining Plunder and Resistance said the encroachment will lead to more internal displacement, landlessness, poverty and militarization.

"We want the voice of the farmers, the lumads to be heard. While the voice of the civil society is important, we should listen more to those whose daily subsistence depend on the resources directly found in the land. With every shift in the climate, every mining permit granted and mining militia deployed in mining areas, their plight and survival becomes more dismal," Francis Morales, secretary general of Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, said.

The conference aims to forge a Peoples' Covenant against Foreign Large-scale and Open-pit Mining, an agenda which the community leaders will forward to their respective towns and cities.

Organizers of the event are the Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, Kalikasan Party, Promotion of Church Peoples' Response and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in cooperation with other cause-oriented groups.

Armando Manial , spokesperson of Pasaka Confederation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Southern Mindanao said, "From the conference, we aim to gather the narratives of the lumads and the farmers about their collective history of their now threatened lands and the strategies they want to use to defend their rights amidst this influx and encroachment. The data will be used as basis for policy recommendation for local, national and international lobbying."

The conference highlights local case studies of grassroots from Paquibato, Davao City, Pantukan, Maco, Mabini, Monkayo, Compostela, New Bataan and Davao Del Sur - current sites of struggle against US-Canada's St. Augustine Mining Corp., Australia's One Asia Resources, Canada's Cadan Resources, China's Skynix Holdings and Taiwan- Joel Brillantes' Yeng Yi Corporation.

Panalipdan said more than one million hectares have been applied for by mining corporations in the region. It noted the increase of large-scale mining operations under the Aquino administration.

The group which has been calling for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is sour about the new mining policy of the Aquino government.

"Increased taxation does not make mining liberalization and foreign plunder right. Taxes and royalties cannot commensurate to the biodiversity and resource loss caused by mining TNCs. What we need is a bill like the Peoples' Mining Bill which sees to the nationalization of the mining industry and set the direction towards a genuine agrarian reform program for a more sustainable future," Morales said.

The two-day conference will peak with a Cultural Protest and Unity Torch Parade at the Freedom Park on April 21.

For reference:
FRANCIS MORALES
Secretary General
PANALIPDAN Southern Mindanao


Group slams mining, militarization

By Ma. Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

2 May 2012

KATRIBU national president Beverly Longid is backing groups in the Cordillera calling for a halt in mining in the mountains.

Longid said: "The havoc of rape and militarization in an indigenous community" is a direct result of mining operations of multinational companies.

During Cordillera Day celebrations, there were over 2,000 who joined protests against Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company and its partner Gold Fields.

"It is high time that Lepanto's operations stop after almost 70 years of raking profits at the cost of people's rights and environmental protection, to save lives and the affected communities from further destruction," Longid said.

Cordillera Day delegates went to the town center of Mankayan and proceeded to the barracks of the 86th IB where they demanded the military to bring out rape suspect Captain Danilo Lalin.

Longid said people are enraged by the militarization in Mankayan resulting in the recent rape of two minors. "This is strong evidence of the dangers of militarization in the community," she stressed.

Joining the protests were peasants, women, youth, elders, indigenous peoples and mine workers who strongly condemned mining companies policies as well as the effect they bring to the community.

The Cordillera People's Alliance is demanding a stop in mining operations and to revoke mining applications throughout the region.

With the call to halt mining comes the plea to pullout military troops from indigenous communities to put an end to human rights violations.

Cordillera Day activities this year were marked with protest actions, march-rallies, pickets with dialogues with local government officials. There were 7,500 people who participated in the celebrations.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 02, 2012.


Tribal people's agency gives South African mines go signal

Inquirer Northern Luzon

23 April 2012

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines-The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has allowed a South African mine venture to proceed with drilling operations on ancestral lands, after dismissing a January 27 petition for a writ of preliminary injunction filed by residents of Mankayan, Benguet.

In an April 4 resolution, NCIP Cordillera hearing officer Brain Masweng denied the request of residents belonging to the group, Te-eng di Mankayan, to stop the Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) from undertaking exploratory drilling in Barangay (village) Tabio.

FSGRI is a venture between Gold Fields Ltd., a South African firm and one of the world's biggest producers of gold, and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., which developed the Far Southeast gold mining project in Mankayan. Gold Fields acquired 40 percent of the Far Southeast gold project early this year and began drilling on January 3.

Residents have been divided over the project, particularly because it lies within Mankayan's ancestral domain, which is documented as Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title No. CAR-MAN 1208-094, the Te-eng di Mankayan said.

Jerome Campos, a resident of Sitio (settlement) Madaymen, said the firm negotiated with property owners but not the rest of the community.

Republic Act 8371 (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, or IPRA) defines an ancestral domain as a communally-owned tract of land and resources.

The NCIP resolution noted that some members of the Madaymen community had sold their lands to LCMC starting in 1960.

It said the proprietary rights of FSGRI are also protected by IPRA. Section 56 of the law said: "Property rights within ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon the effectivity of this act, shall be recognized and respected."

The NCIP resolution lifted a temporary restraining order it imposed on FSGRI on March 14.

Louis Pawid, Gold Fields regional manager, said drilling had not yet resumed. "As of now, the work area is silent. There is no movement yet. But we are elated [by] the decision of the NCIP," Pawid said on Saturday.

In a statement, FSGRI said it respected the legal process and waited until a decision was rendered. "We now request the concerned groups to likewise respect the decision of the court of the indigenous peoples," it said.

The Te-eng di Mankayan picketed the drilling site on January 23, due to fears that the operation would affect their water sources and soil stability.

FSGRI said the suspension of work had cost the firm $3,960 (P178,200) a day.

In its resolution, the NCIP ordered the FSGRI to file an initial amount of P500,000 as commitment bond that can be used to mitigate any adverse environmental impact of its drilling operations.-Desiree Caluza

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