Philippines: Getting away with murder
Once again our update on mining in the Philippines is dominated by social conflict and human rights abuses.
The case against Mario Kingo, for murdering environmental activist Councilor Armin Marin while on an anti-mining mission in October 2007, has concluded (see: Philippines update).
In a decision that outrages other activists, Kingo has been handed down only a three-year sentence. This closely follows on the hacking to death of an anti-mining activist in Eastern Samar.
|So this is not murder? Source: Justice to Armin|
In north eastern Mindanao, the Mamanwa Indigenous Peoples are once again locked in a struggle with a mining company, this time Shen Zhou Mining Group. It is clear there is internal discord in the local leadership, which is exacerbated - if not caused - by the mining company.
Nearby, in Agusan del Sur, local communities have been displaced by army counter-insurgency operations, that are accused of being fronts for mining companies.
Further south, in Davao, a list of violations related to the mining industry has been published by concerned church and activist groups, among them the murder of environmental advocate, Fred Trangia.
Elsewhere, a mining company has been ordered to compensate fisherfolk affected by a fish kill in Lake Bito, MacArthur town, Leyte.
The Supreme Court has also issued a writ of kalikasan (nature) against companies involved in magnetite, or black sand, mining along the coastal areas of Ilocos.
Against this background, the mining industry has been lobbying (unsuccessfully) to have the revised guidelines on Free and Prior Informed Consent suspended, claiming they are too onerous.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also waded into the on-going debate on mining law reform, advising the abolition of income tax holidays for mining companies, and a single royalty tax of seven percent.
Three years for killing green activist - Not enough!
Case is over with no justice, laments Marin family and supporters
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) press release
25 May 2012
Sibuyan, Romblon - Councilor Armin Marin, a staunch environmental activist in Sibuyan, Romblon and at that time, a member of the municipal legislative council of San Fernando town, was shot dead on October 3, 2007 while leading a picket of hundreds of anti-mining advocates. After five years of investigations and court hearings, Mario Kingo, the man accused of killing Marin, only received a three-year sentence.
Killed but no murder
Last May 23, 2012 in Magdiwang, Romblon, Executive Judge Ramiro R. Geronimo acquitted Mario Kingo from murder charges but was found guilty of criminal negligence and imprudence. The court ruling gave bearing on statements that the grappling of the gun between Marin and Kingo led to the incident.
In his verdict, Judge Geronimo promulgated that there was no substantial evidence to establish the intent to commit such crime.
Grapple for Justice
"The verdict had been served but not justice," said Domingo Marin, father of Armin and president of Sibuyanon's Against Mining. "We were upset upon hearing the decision. At this time, we don't know what to do. We didn't just lose the case; it also feels like that we have lost our hope. Justice is nowhere to be found in this country" Domingo lamented.
On the other hand, Rodilisa Marin, wife of Armin was completely devastated by the decision. "I really expected that the punishment would be more than just that. He was killed, killed helplessly."
Few hours after the verdict was announced, people in Sibuyan showed grave disappointment and poured out their comments on various online portals. On Facebook, supporters of Armin Marin questioned the decision. "On what ground (Judge) Ramiro Geronimo came up with that sentence, another insult to the injury for the victim? Geronimo should go back to law school, he seems to miss on a lot of things when it comes to making the call for justice," said Romeo Sosbreno, facebook user.
A new Facebook page was also created to again call for justice for Armin Marin. The page, Justice to Armin, save Sibuyan (and Romblon Province), posted the actual photo of Marin during the time he was shot with blood bursting from his mouth.
Environmental groups and Human Rights Advocates were also dismayed on the court ruling.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina said that the killing of Armin was also a crime committed to the people of Sibuyan. "Hundred of protesters saw what happened, how Kingo grab Armin's shirt, dragged him to his lap and shot him on the mouth. The promulgation is like telling the people that they are lying and what they saw did not happen."
"But there is a bigger contentions on this," said Garganera. "How it could be just ‘grappling' of the gun, when Armin was shot in his mouth and the bullet went through the back of his head. It was ridiculously laughable; you grapple and put the gun in your mouth?"
Meanwhile, Fr. Edu Gariguez, 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee and the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) said that the promulgation sends a bad signal for other activist that putting their lives into the line is tantamount only to a three-year imprisonment of the murderer.
"Let us not forget the subject of protest of Armin and the people on Sibuyan. They want the Sibuyan Nickel Development Properties Corporation to pull out their mining project and make Sibuyan Island a mining-free zone," Gariguez said.
The period Marin was killed, he was the president of the Parish Pastoral Council of Barangay Espana Roman Catholic community.
He also added that the religious community condemns the continuing impunity in the killings of human rights and environmental defenders, as in the recent cases of Francisco Canayong in Eastern Samar, Jimmy Liguyon and Margarito Cabal in Bukidnon". Gariguez also called on the Philippine government that it must do what it can to stop the harassment and extra judicial killings committed against environmentalists and human rights defenders.
Gariguez asked: "People are crying out loud for justice - for Armin Marin and the Sibuyan Island - will it ever be heard? People risked their lives for the environment and no justice to be served. Ganun na lang ba yun?" (ATM)
For more information:
Fr Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA Executive Secretary, 09198005595
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator - 09277617602
Edel Garingan, ATM Media and Communication Officer - 09228918972
Rodney Galicha, ATM Site of Struggle Coordinator - 09052850700
Environmentalist killed, 3 Samar Bishops cry for justice
By Alicia F. Nicart
Philippines Information Agency
17 May 2012
BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar - Francisco Canayong of Salcedo was hacked to death May 1, while he was on his way home of said town.
As an active member of the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD), Canayong supported and advocated for the protection of the environment particularly against the mining operation in Salcedo and in other parts of Eastern Samar.
In a Pastoral letter, the three Samar Bishops, Most Reverend Crispin Varquez (Borongan), Most Reverend Isabelo Abarquez (Calbayog), and Most Reverend Trance (Catarman) expressed their regret on the death of Canayong who worked for the cause of the many and of the environment.
The letter said that Canayong lived and died being poor but he was rich in principle which he did not give up, up to his last breath. "Many times he had been bribed in favor of the mining operation in Salcedo, but he never accepted, not even a single cent. Because he did not accept a single bribe, he received death threats but despite these, he continued to advocate against mining, until death came to him while on board his tricycle - a group of unidentified men intercepted and hacked him several times until he died," the letter read.
Bishops Varquez, Abarquez, and Trance thus call for justice for the untimely demise of one SIPPAD supporter, as they also urge the kind-hearted and those who also believe in what Canayong died for, not to be disheartened but be inspired instead by the sacrifice he offered.
Mining operation in Eastern Samar is a big issue. At present, a number of government moves are underway to regulate mining or even put an end to it.
SIPPAD is a church-based non-government organization which runs in partnership with key government agencies for the cause of peace, progress, and development of the three Samar provinces, Eastern, Northern and Western Samar. (PIA 8, Eastern Samar/aen).
Mamanwas want mining firm out of Surigao
By Vanessa L. Almeda
12 May 2012
CAGDIANAO, Claver, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/11 May) - Mamanwas vowed to continue barricading the mining site of Shen Zhou Mining Group Corporation here until the company shuts down and leaves port.
Vilma Coter, a Mamanwa representative told MindaNews on the same day that they won't budge despite the reported payment of royalty fees on Thursday amounting to P11 million.
In an interview Wednesday, Datu Renante Buklas said the issue is not about the royalty fees but the cease and desist order of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issued on January 12, 2012 against Shen Zhou mining.
"Unless the rights of our tribe are not respected we won't leave," Buklas said in Cebuano, adding they were perplexed why the local NCIP has not acted on the order until now but instead told them that the company will still operate because it legally holds a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement or MPSA.
He said the royalty fees are not an issue because "this is the obligation of the Shen Zhou."
On Tuesday, members of the 132nd Regional Public Safety Company (RPSC), Task Force Taganito, soldiers, militiamen, company guards and private security guards stormed the mining site and dismantled makeshift tents and barricades set up by the Mamanwas.
The presence of the group, according to Shen Zhou corporate secretary Jacqueline de Leon was "the decision of the crisis committee" as the company is facing an "ongoing dispute."
She assured that the company is exercising full restraint in handling the situation and that "there is no harassment. In fact, kami nga ang hindi makaigib nang tubig at hindi makapasok sa site kasi pinigilan nila (we are the ones who could not fetch water nor enter the site)."
Saying the company is willing to pay the Mamanwas, she showed reporters DBP account no. 0850-027398-030 in the names of Shen Zhou Mining Group Corp. and NCIP TF (Trust Fund). The passbook showed that the first deposit was made on January 6, 2011 in the amount of P1.697 million. The last deposit was dated May 5, 2012 in the amount of P7.947 million.
The Mamanwas started their barricade on May 2, last week.
De Leon said there have been several negotiations that took place in the past showing the firm's intent to settle "whatever issues" the Mamanwas have raised including the reported "boundary dispute" between Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. Such dispute also caused a dispute between a Manobo leader named Kumander Jack and Buklas.
But Buklas said this is a non-issue as the claimant of the land being disputed is covered under the group's CADT-048. He said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) refers to the same document, which means his group's claim is legitimate.
The tribal chieftain said the issues should not be muddled since it is the Mamanwas' right as owners of the ancestral land to exercise control over it.
"They will pay but they will have to get out," he said.
MGB regional director Alilo Ensomo told Mindanews his office has not received the supposed cease and desist order from the NCIP and so could not act on it.
The process, he said, would have been that the line agencies concerned should have addressed its decision to MGB Manila or for that matter the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which issued the mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), which is the permit to operate.
Ensomo said he was only furnished a copy of the letter addressed to MGB Director Leo Jasareno.
"I can only issue a cease and desist and stop the operations of a mining company if there is imminent danger to lives and properties, (and) unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary," he said.
Ensomo said he even brokered a "preliminary meeting" with Buklas and his lawyer, NCIP Surigao del Norte and the mining company on Friday, May 4, which was held at the NCIP provincial office in Surigao City.
A meeting planned on Tuesday was scuttled when Buklas and another tribal chieftain Datu Alicio Patac snubbed the invitation.
The scuttled talks could have preceded the arrival of government troops on Tuesday afternoon at the mine site together with NCIP officials, and reportedly Claver local officials.
Claver's chief of police Senior Inspector Christopherson Cauilan said Mayor Rosemarie Mira-Gokiangkee formed a municipal crisis management committee to settle the tension in the area.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gokiangkee met with another tribal chieftain, Bae Joan Hukman of CADT 048 and Coter. In a text message, Coter said the talks still boiled down to telling them to accept the royalty payment and then leave the area.
Coter said the talk still reached a stalemate with them sticking to their call for Shen Zhou to stop operating and leave port.
Rorok Buklas, a council member of the Taganito claimants who led the barricade at the dike going to the causeway of the mine site, said at least a hundred armed men are deployed around it.
"They even put up shields to prevent us from entering," he said in Cebuano.
Buklas also said on Wednesday morning that police allegedly pointed a gun at his companions when they tried to stop them from going towards a barricade set up at one of the roads inside the mine site.
Cauilan, who was there at the interview, promised to investigate any of his men who will commit violations against the Mamanwas. The group has filed a report on the incident at the municipal police station.
On January 12, 2012, the NCIP En Banc ordered Shen Zhou Mining to cease and desist from operating after finding that the certificate of precondition (CP) issued by the regional NCIP is "void and invalid" as it was signed by only one NCIP commissioner.
A CP is issued upon obtaining the Free and Informed Prior Consent (FPIC) from the indigenous community where the mining applicant or contractor will operate.
It is also one of the requisites for the issuance of an Environmental Clearance Certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)
Mamanwas bicker over division of royalty fee from mining firm
By Vanessa L. Almeda
17 May 2012
SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/16 May) - A disagreement among Mamanwas over how to divide up the royalty payment from a mining firm has remained unresolved.
Shen Zhou Mining Group Corporation (SMGC) had deposited the P11-million royalty fee for the Lumads on May 10 yet. But the amount had not been withdrawn as of Tuesday afternoon due to the failure of four signatories of the Mamanwas' bank accounts to sign the withdrawal slip.
SMGC operates in parts of Claver and Gigaquit towns in Surigao del Norte covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) 048 held by the Mamanwas.
On Tuesday afternoon, seven tribal chieftains belonging to the "indirectly affected" beneficiaries of CADT 048 and several of their members went to the National Commission on Indigenous People's (NCIP) provincial office here for word from the four tribal chieftains who did not sign the withdrawal slip.
On December 5 last year, 18 leaders of CADT 048 passed a resolution that 30% of the royalty fee shall be allotted for the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan or ADSDPP.
The remaining 70% will then be divided as follows: 10% will be allotted for the honorarium of the 18 tribal communities; 90% will then be divided again into a 40-60% sharing where 40% will be go to the directly affected communities and the 60% to the 16 "indirectly affected" ones.
Datu Emiliano Gedi, tribal chieftain of Katikuyan, Barangay Camam-onan in Gigaguit town said that two of the signatories, Vilma Coter and Bae Joan Hukman, promised to return to the NCIP office at about 3pm on Monday.
But he declined to comment why Coter and Hukman failed to return and if they refused to sign the withdrawal slip.
NCIP sources who requested anonymity said Coter texted that she was still in a hospital while Hukman said she will still talk to the two other signatories, Datu Enrico Olise and Datu Ferdinand Lebrigo.
Coter did not reply to a text message from MindaNews.
Mamanwas who had gathered at the NCIP office said Coter's group told them she will sign the withdrawal slip if they will agree that the amount for the ADSDPP would instead be divided equally among the CADT communities.
The Mamanwas also alleged that Coter's group asked the tribal chieftains to "donate" an undisclosed amount from their royalty share allegedly to defray the expenses during the barricade held at the mine site of SMGC on May 2.
However, the tribal officials at the NCIP office said they would rather wait for a final decision by their group before issuing comments.
NCIP acting provincial officer Randy R. Rosas said his office will issue an official statement after they see the December 5, 2011 resolution of the CADT holders.
The Mamanwas of CADT-048 in the past got embroiled in a controversy over the handling of millions in royalty fees they were supposed to get from Taganito Mining Corporation.
The controversy led to a congressional inquiry in January 2011 and the suspension of NCIP regional director Jose Jake Dumagan and NCIP provincial officer Vicente Baldoza in July last year.
On Friday, MindaNews learned from NCIP provincial legal officer Mark Bernal that as of May 10, SMGC had deposited P11 million in four Metrobank accounts of the Mamanwas.
On May 2, Mamanwas mostly from Urbiztondo and Taganito in Claver barricaded the mine site of Shen Zhou mining for its alleged failure to pay them their royalty fees.
The Mamanwas also called for the stoppage of the firm's mining operations based on the cease and desist order issued by the NCIP En Banc on January 12.
Shen Zhou corporate secretary Jacqueline de Leon said the company can only respond to the order once they receive the writ of execution. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)
Rights group slams aerial bombardments and human rights violations in Trento, Agusan del Sur
Karapatan Press Release
11 May 2012
Davao City --- KARAPATAN-Southern Mindanao slams massive military operations with indiscriminate aerial bombardments jointly launched by the 10th and 4th Infantry Division of Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) in Sitio Upper New Visayas, Brgy. New Visayas, Municipality of Trento, Agusan del Sur Province which resulted to forcible displacement, hamletting, and other human rights violations against the farmers and civilian residents.
"Victims narrate the horror as they flee from their homes amidst aerial bombings and ground operations conducted by the 25th and 75th Infantry Battalions. This grand military action reveals the brutal costs of militarism hiding beneath the peace and development façade of Oplan Bayanihan," " said Rev. Jurie Jaime, spokesperson of KARAPATAN Southern Mindanao.
He added, "Up to now, communities in the boundary of the mining - targeted towns of Monkayo and Trento are blanketed with fear as the AFP and mining corporations are hell bent on clearing the area for Oz Metals Exploration Corporation and Monkayo Consolidated Mining Corporation (MCMC) partly-owned by Mayor Junjun Brillantes (Monkayo, ComVal Province) which is financed by Yinyi (Taiwanese mineral exploration).
KARAPATAN-SMR sent a Quick reaction Team (QRT) on May 8 to investigate the incident and facilitate the concerns of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). The rights group's initial report confirmed that there are 83 families, amounting to 397 individuals including children from Sitio Upper New Visayas and Sitio Maitom of Brgy. New Visayas forcibly fled their homes after 7 occasions of indiscriminate aerial bombings and heavy ground operations led by the military on the morning of May 7.
"Even in the evacuation center, military men in civilian clothes led by Col. Benavides of the 75th IB, accompanying the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the distribution of relief goods, posed threats on the evacuees," said Jaime.
KARAPATAN added that a civilian 16-year-old-boy "Jessie" (name withheld), was also wounded on his left thigh during the military operations. 4th Infantry Division alongside with Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia's EASTMINCOM of the Armed Forces of the Philippines once again paraded the wounded child and branded him as New People's Army (NPA) Child Warrior. Jessie was instructed by his father on the morning of May 7 in Sitio Upper New Visayas to gather some woods for their makeshift hut which they will use in time for the "Araw ng Trento". Moments later, the military conducted combat heavy operations, indiscriminately fired and bombed the forested portion of the community.
"The entire community including our family left our place because of fear. All I thought that my son Jessie managed to evacuate himself and that we would reunite at the evacuation site, but he was declared missing all day long. Until the evening of May 8, I was so surprised when my son arrived at the evacuation site but his left thigh was already wounded. But before I could reach him so that we can send him to the nearest hospital, the military men seized him and accused my son as NPA member. They arrested my son and brought him to the headquarters of 4th ID in Cagayan de Oro City. What we demand right now is for the military to release my son and we will have him treated to a civilian hospital," lamented Melchor Malimbasao, 54, father of Jessie.
One pregnant woman and another who just gave birth complained of heavy bleeding after escaping from the military operations in Upper New Visayas. Evacuees also complained that 25th IB elements ransacked their stores and slaughtered their livestock.
"We are greatly alarmed by the plight of those who are within the hamletted area of Upper New Visayas. The military should vacate the civilian communities to allow the residents, especially the women and children, to recover from the trauma. The 10th ID and 4th ID are culpable for violating international humanitarian laws for using civilian communities as launching pads of their war and endangering civilian lives," said Jaime.
Jaime added, "With only barely a month and with the questionable promotion of Eastern Mindanao Command chief, Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, has clearly illustrated the blatant costs of Oplan Bayanihan. Which under his leadership translates to classic militarism of the rural communities marked with full - scale war operations, completely disregarding civilian lives and human rights laws for corporate benefit."
Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people's organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people's rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.
A Humanitarian Appeal Amidst the Military Siege & Escalating Human Rights Violations & Curtailment of Freedom in Davao
"to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.. (Micah 6:8, quoted by murdered Fr Pops Tentorio in his last will and testament )
Warmest Solidarity Greetings!
We are writing to give you an update on the current human rights situation in Davao region and neighboring towns. We wish to solicit your support as we face the systematic attacks of the military and foreign mining aggression in Davao region and other Mindanao provinces as the Aquino government trudges on its "righteous path."
The current military deployment in Davao has reached an alarming number of 21 military battalions under the 10th Infantry Division (and some units under the 4th Infantry Division) under the command of Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Segovia who is culpable for the massive arrest, illegal detention and torture of health workers known as the Morong 43.
With this, Davao is now the most militarized region in the country.
The militarization of the civilian communities under the framework of Oplan Bayanihan, borrowed and religiously applied based from the United States Counter Insurgency Guide, has been sowing terror in civilian communities, against lumads and farmers, as well as on the church workers, human rights and environmental defenders.
Almost all barangays in Compostela Valley Province, Gulf Town areas in Davao Oriental, other upland villages in Davao Del Sur and neighboring regions such as Agusan, Surigao and Bukidnon and North Cotobato. Civilians are being recruited and are being armed under the Barangay Defense System or Baganis (for the lumads.)
The aggression of large scale and foreign mining projects which results to militarization has intensely escalated the conflict. Where the mines are, the soldiers are deployed for clearing operations and to protect these "vital" installations in accordance to President Aquino's publicly announced order to deploy "mining militias" in mining areas, enforced by law by the Presidential Order on Investment Defense Forces issued by former President Gloria Arroyo on February 2010.
Amidst all these, women and children bear the worst impacts ranging from severe physical injuries, trauma and health risks. Communities have been veiled with fear while lumads and farmers suffer from the violence of cyclical physical and economic displacement, trauma and physical harm.
Families, the core unit of our society, are torn apart as children lose their fathers or mothers who are either arrested and /or detained or are forced to relocate for safety.
Even those who work to defend the poor, the landless, and the subjugated are persecuted, strongly indicating the transgressions of the government on our fundamental rights and freedom that is supposed to be innate as birth right to every man and woman.
Despite that these rights are enshrined in the Constitution and upheld by numerous international covenants on human rights, the state of impunity continues ever harshly in Davao and Mindanao.
The following are some updates on the most recent cases of rights violations in Davao which have been collated from various sources:
1. Extrajudicial Killing (EJK) in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province
Fred Trangia, a local official here who is against the large scale mining operations in Nabunturan was gunned down on May 6, 2012.
2. EJK of environmentalist / broadcaster in Davao Oriental
Reports said that the victim identified as Nestor Libaton of dxHM-Mati was with a fellow broadcaster onboard a motorcycle when he was shot dead on May 8 at Tarragona, Davao Oriental.
3. EJK of anti - dam leader in Kibawe, Bukidnon
Margarito "Boy" J. Cabal was shot at his rented house in Purok 4-B Barangay Palma, Kibawe on May 9. He is a strong oppositor of the Pulangui Mega Dam which is being pushed by the Aquino government as the solution to an artificially created power crisis.
4. Gulf Town, Davao Oriental: A Military Garrison
Four towns, namely, Banay - banay, Lupon, Mati, San Isidro known as the gulf town areas of Davao Oriental Province are cordoned by more or less 1,000 troops under the 701st brigade notorious and known as the PALPARAN brigade.
The military, with their high powered rifles and intimidating number, sometimes reaching 30 to 100 in a certain barangay has encamped in barangay halls, clinics, gyms, chapels and right in the peoples' homes.
Through an alleged "census," the military conduct interrogations of community residents in which residents end up being harassed, intimidated and threatened.
Using the 4Ps program, a conditional cash transfer or dole - out program of the government, which is supposed to be implemented by the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the military mobilize "peace forums" where the residents are prohibited from joining "progressive" organizations.
Peoples' organizations are demonized and indeed, many organizations actively campaigning for the people's rights of welfare before have been paralyzed. Many leaders and human right workers in these towns have been forced to go on exile in other towns or are forced to stay quiet for fear of their lives.
Most alarming, many leaders and residents in So. Logdeck, Lupon fear of going out of their homes anymore, making them unable to attend to their farms and livestock. They sleep under the beds. They don't go to town. Once they got to leave secretly, they never return to their communities.
Mining operations here are those of AMCOR (formerly BHP BILLITON) as these areas contain the country's largest nickel deposit. SKYNIX, a Chinese - owned large scale mining operation, has a huge investment in these areas as it has acquired seven Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) in these areas.
5. Aerial Bombardments for Mining Operation
7 aerial bombardments and massive military operations led by composite units under the 4th ID and 10th ID last May 7 to 8 resulting to the displacement of 137 families ( some from the D'bbawon tribe and some Visayan in Pasian, Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province (ComVal) & Trento Agusan Del Sur.
A teenager, Jessie (not his real name), was injured during these military operations but was tagged / branded by the military as child soldier and is now held in a military camp in Cagayan De Oro City.
A solidarity mission led by KARAPATAN and the Exodus for Justice & Peace last May 17 to 18 verified these data. Alarmingly, the residents are suffering from intense trauma as revealed in the psychosocial therapy sessions held for both women and children.
Two (2) women ( 1 just gave birth and 1 pregnant) suffered from severe bleeding during the evacuation. (More data in Fact Finding Report of Duyog sa Panaw Trento and Pasian)
The mission confirmed the mining exploration in Pasian and Trento of Yinyi Mining and Oz Metals. The massive military operation here is a possible clearing operation for the more aggressive operation of Yinyi. (Refer to Yinyi website).
6. New Bataan: 5 Years under Military Control
New Bataan, ComVal, since 2008, this town has been subject to Reengineered Special Operations Team (RSOT) now called as the Peace & Development Teams (PDT)
A military camp is situated within the civilian community of Visayans and indigenous Mansakas. In violation of the Int'l Humanitarian laws, the military camp is tactically maintained to date to protect the mining operations of CADAN RESOURCES - a Canadian based mining company.
Small scale miners are complaining about CADAN resource's prohibition for them to pursue their small scale mining activities as CADAN claims that they OWN the entire 9000 has. mining claim in the 4 barangays of New Bataan, ComVal.
The traditional lumad leader has been replaced by pro-CADAN mining leader who is now seated as member of the Sangguniang Bayan.
7. Site of Anti US - Canada Mining Struggle Militarized
In Pantukan, ComVal, site of the biggest struggle of small scale miners, lumads and farmers against the open pit mining operations of
US - Canada's Russell Mines and Minerals, the 67th IB massively conducts mining operations. They have turned the chapel in Sitio Lumanggang (for one) as a military detachment.
After SSM leader Ricky Manrique was slain on May 13 last year during the peak of the struggle against the entry of foreign and large scale mining in Pantuka, political persecution and bribery continues to assail leaders and environmental defenders.
8. Political Persecution of Environmental & Human Right Defenders
-SR STELLA MATUTINA. OSB - based in Davao Oriental - vilified by the military - 67th IB anD 28th IB as an NPA
-FR. PETER GEREMIA, PIME - receiving death threats for his anti - mining stance and is pursuing justice for Fr Pops Tentorio
-WILSON DECINA - anti large scale mining leader from Mabini, Com Val - One Asia Resources -
-EMELINDA BALA - SSM leader, OPPOSITOR of US - CANADA'S - RUSSELL - ST AUGUSTINE
-SONNY BANGCAYAO - threatened, offered bribes by RUSSELL - ST AUGUSTINE
-DATU CANLAS - threatened,offered bribes, dispossessed of his trad'l leadership status as RUSSELL - ST AUGUSTINE and the
Nat'l Commisson on IP's anointed a pro-RUSSELL datu to take his place.
- BELLEN GALLETO - Leader Under Threat (Save Pantukan Movement). Oppositor of RUSSELL - ST AUGUSTINE.
-ASSUMPTION COLLEGE OF DAVAO - threatened with libel. AFP General Galon publicly announced to the media that if ACD does not put down the streamer hanging from their school which states: JUSTICE FOR FR POPS! STOP KILLING CHURCH LEADERS UNDER OPLAN BAYANIHAN, he will campaign among the parents to pull out their children from ACD.
9. Political Persecution and Filing of Trumped Up Charges Against 13 Land Rights Defenders in Davao Oriental
13 leaders actively demanding genuine agrarian reform and human rights in Davao Oriental have been filed with estafa and qualified theft by a certain landlord. With the military and police, as well as the landlord's cohorts in the Dept. of Agrarian Reform, the landlord has perpetrated grave human rights abuses against the 13 and their families. .
Warrants of arrest issued make them targets of detention. They are now seeking assistance of peoples' lawyers as they fight their cases in court and rally the rest of their fellow farmers and advocates to support their plight.
This is a clearly blatant systematic attack which falls within the Oplan Bayanihan framework of using legal means to demonize, weaken and dismantle organizations that are pushing for the democratic rights and human rights.
10. Community Teachers Under Threat
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Fr Pops Foundation teachers are under threat as military troops blatantly conduct military operations within the communities, occupy schools and use these as detachments.
"On March 11, the military called on the residents from Purok 8 Sitio Cadapa, Purok 9 Sitio Sapang Tin-aw, and Purok 10 Sitio Sapang Lubog to gather together for a meeting of the government's 4Ps program. The soldiers told them they were the beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) program. The meeting ended sometime after noon. After the 4P meeting, Sgt. Macalanda spoke to them. There were 15 residents from Sitio Sapang Lubog, while 17 from Sitio Sapang Tin-aw.
Also among the victims is pre-school teacher Maria Lou Lambo, 23, of the Sayong Edukasyon Pambata established by Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). Sgt. Macalanda, tried to make her admit that their school was built by the NPA. She argued that the school was built through the efforts of the village council and is recognized by the Department of Education." (KARAPATAN - SMR & Bulatlat, March 28, 2012)
11. Democracy Curtailed
Human rights workers from various organizations are being subject to surveillance, intimidation, and threats. Some have been seriously threatened.
Recently, protest actions timed on President Aquino's engagements in Davao, have been violently dispersed.
12. Militarizing Civilian Bureaucracy
Aquino's 4 P's (Pantawid Pilipino Pamilya Program) is being used by the military to use farmers,lumads for their propaganda war.
On May 15, the 28th IB gathered some 1000 farmers from Monkayo, ComVal and promised them that their cash allotment from the 4Ps program is ready for distribution.
The residents were surprised when they were instead given placards, asked to join a march rally which ended in a burning of a CPP - NPA flag.
This was seen on GMA 7. Reports of peoples orgs in Monkayo attest that the military was behind the deception of the people using the 4Ps.
Other testimonies of leaders and residents of other areas in Davao region complain of the military's use of the 4Ps program to hold "peace forums" where organizations like Anakbayan, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and other legal organizations and leaders like Fr Pops Tentorio and Sr Stella Matutina are being vilified and branded as NPA's.
So many more violations remain undocumented. The systematic curtailment of our freedoms and democratic rights go unabated. To all these, the response of the Commission of Human Rights, local government units and the Aquino administration was apathy and inaction.
- We enjoin all to support the legal and peoples' actions to rescue "Jessie" (not his real name) who is being detained by 4th ID in a military camp in Cagayan De Oro City as no child belongs to a military camp. We demand Jessie's immediate release and transfer to a civilian hospital and be reunited with his family. (Press Conference on May 21 at Kapihan sa SM Davao.)
- Duyog sa Panaw (Journey for Peace) will be launched on May 23 to 27 to verify inital complaints of HRVs in Davao Oriental. Medical and psychosocial therapy services are being organized. Funds are being raised. Volunteers are called to participate.
- File appropriate cases against the perpetrators of these HRVs in the courts and government agencies, while strengthening the peoples' actions such as mobilizations and other collective action to pressure the government to pull out the military troops and foreign mining operations in affected areas.
- We appeal to international organizations, support institutions to write the Phil govt to make concrete action, independent investigation and to call for the pull out of military troops from the civilian communities.
- We are calling for support for the sanctuary and assistance to HR and ENVI defenders who need safehouses, security, and other security measures, legal assistance.
- We are calling for support and commitments of human rights groups and advocates to partake in an independent national fact finding mission and a congressional inquiry to investigate the escalating EJKs and HRVs in Davao and North Cotobato.
- We are calling on foreign missions to conduct solidarity missions, exposure tips and integration in Davao in concrete support to the Davaoenos and Mindanawons.
KUDOS TO ALL HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS!
AS WE FACE THIS IMPUNITY, WE REAFFIRM OUR COMMITMENT TO SERVE THE PEOPLE, AS WE LIVE AND DIE FOR PEACE BASED ON JUSTICE.
Bishop Modesto Villasanta
Exodus For Justice & Peace
Rev. Jurie Jaime
KARAPATAN Southern Mindanao
Dr. Jean Lindo
Children's Rehabilitation Center
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Southern Mindanao
PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao
BAYAN Southern Mindanao
JUSTICE FOR FR. POPS TENTORIO MOVEMENT
RURAL MISSIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES - Southern Mindanao
FRIENDS OF THE RURAL POOR - RMP
SOLIDARITY ACTION GROUP FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
PROMOTION OF CHURCH PEOPLES' RESPONSE
FREE VANESSA, FREE ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES MOVEMENT
GABRIELA - SMR
For further information, call Hanimay Suazo at 0919-9675059
Activists protest killing of biodiversity conservationist, 14th environmentalist killed under PNoy
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
17 May 2012
QUEZON CITY - Ecologists and activists today staged a condemnation rally at the Department of National Defense in response to the recent string of killings of environmental advocates. The latest case was of 60 year-old conservationist and community leader Frederick ‘Fred' Trangia of Barangay Mainit, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province, who was shot down last May 6 by two unidentified gunmen.
"We vehemently condemn the killing of Fred Trangia, a staunch protector of the Mainit National Park's biodiversity and natural resources from large-scale mining. Trangia is the 14th environmental activist noted to be killed under the Aquino administration, and 10th in the Mindanao region. The unabated killings and other human rights violations exacted on ecologists speaks of the Aquino government's path pursuing dirty and destructive projects paved with the deaths of those in opposition," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.
Trangia was the chair of the Bgy.Council Committee for the Environment, and the vice chair of the Mainit National Park Conservation Society. Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders have recorded 54 cases of human rights violations (HRVs) towards ecologists since 2001, with recent victims including anti-mining activists Fr. Pops Tentorio, tribal leader Jimmy Liguyon, and the latest killing of anti-dam activist Margarito Cabal last May 9, 2012.
"Mainit National Park is home to various flora and fauna, notably including the Philippine civet, the endemic Philippine turtle dove and the endangered Green-winged ground dove. It is also home to the popular Mainit Hot Springs. Trangia sought to protect these natural wonders from the attempted expansion of the Mineral Processing Zone in Mainit," said Bautista.
The barangay council enacted Resolution No. 12, Series of 2012, "A Resolution Vehemently Denying the Expansion of Mineral Processing Zone and Interposing Strong Objection of the New Application of Mr. Reynaldo Secuya's Intent to Put Up a Gold Processing Plant and the Request of Mr. Venerando A. Baisac for the Establishment of a Mineral Processing Plant both in their Property Located at Purok 1, Mainit, Nabunturan, Comval Province" last April 16, its latest move to oppose mining operations in the protected area.
"Aquino's counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan continues to systematically facilitate HRVs on environmental defenders. Mining investments continue to be protected by military and paramilitary forces, and cases of private security forces of mining operations harassing mining-affected communities have also been documented. We see no one else except the mining proponents to have motive to cause harm to Trangia," added Bautista.
"We recently observed the 18th month of the killing of another conservationist, famed taxonomist Leonard Co and his companions Julius Borromeo and Sofronio, who were victims of counter-insurgency operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during their conservation mission in Leyte. We call on all concerned citizens to add their voices to our resolute calls to bring justice to all environmental defenders, and to put a stop to the atrocious Oplan Bayanihan," Bautista said.
Reference: Clemente Bautista 09228449787
KALIKASAN PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756
Mining firm ordered to compensate Leyte lake fishers for stocks lost in fish kill
By Joey Gabieta
15 May 2012
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines-The Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Eastern Visayas has directed a mining company to pay for the losses of owners of fish pens and cages affected by a fish kill in Lake Bito, MacArthur town, Leyte last weekend.
Roger De Dios, MGB regional director, said he has ordered the management of the Nicua Mining Corp. to compensate the affected fish pen and fish cages owners for the fish kill incident caused by an oil leak traced to the mining firm.
In an interview Tuesday, De Dios said he had talked with Alex de Leo, Nicua executive vice president, to inform him about his order.
"I could really say that the fish kill incident last Saturday was due to mining operations as there were traces of oil (and grease) seen at the Lake Bito," De Dios said, adding that even the Nicua management had admitted this.
"That is why, I asked them to compensate all the affected fishermen of their losses due to the fish kill," he told the Inquirer.
He also directed the management to institute safety measures to prevent any re-occurrence of the oil and grease spill into the lake.
"We want the company to ensure that it will never happen again," De Dios said.
While De Dios could attribute the fish kill incident on May 12 to the oil spill from Nicua Mining Corp., he could not, however, say if the mining company also caused the first incident of fish kill last March 15.
De Dios said he would wait for the results of the investigation conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau, which took some water samples from Lake Bito to determine what caused the fish kill two months ago.
According to De Dios, they would consider as official only the EMB findings.
"The findings of the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) will only serve as a reference. It is the findings of the EMB which we consider as official as it is the agency which determines if certain company has violated any of our environmental laws," he pointed out.
The regional BFAR office has earlier said that based on their findings, the mining operations was one of the causes of the death of thousands of tilapia in Lake Bito.
Jesus Cabias, president of the Bito Lake Fisherfolk Association, welcomed the move of the EMB Eastern Visayas.
"I think it is a good news for us who are seeking justice due to this fish kill issue," Cabias said in a text message.
However, he said he give a figure as to exactly how many tilapia died on Saturday. During the first incident, Cabias said the fish kill affected more than 22,000 kilograms of fish worth P1.7 million.
By Marvyn N. Benaning
13 May 2012
MANILA, Philippines - Fishermen in Lake Bito, MacArthur, Leyte have slammed mining operations near the waterway for turning it into brown, thus endangering their livelihood.
They were amazed at the development, barely a week after the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) condemned the operations of Nicua Mines as threatening the economic life of the small fisherfolk maintaining tilapia cages in the lake.
The fishermen tagged Nicua as responsible for turning the clean waters of the lake into something akin to "3-in-1 coffee," insisting that when the company opened its settling pond, the silt and all the other compounds used by the mine swirled straight into the lake.
"We saw right in front of us how the mine waste muddled up our water. We were shocked. The water runs fast from the mining site to Pangunawan Creek to Lake Bito. The lake now looks dead," claimed Jesus Cabias, president of Unahin Lagi ang Diyos-Bito Lake Fisherfolk Association (UNLAD-BLFA).
What made the incident worse, fumed Cabias, was the fact that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) in Region-8 nearly cleared Nicua of any culpability for the fishkill in the same lake last month in spite of clear findings about the presence of oil and grease in the lake.
Following the fishskill that slaughtered more than 22 tons of tilapia, the community decided to block mining barges on April 30.
Provincial fisheries officer Jose Siervo said he will send an investigating team to look into the complaint of Cabias and UNLAD-BLFA members.
"Now, we no longer need any test. Just the mere sight of the lake is horrifying. They just have to come here, smell the water and feel it.
Court issues writ vs magnetite mining in Ilocos
Business World online
15 May 2012
THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has issued a writ of kalikasan (nature) directing mining firm Altamina Exploration and Resources, Inc., President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, and two others to reply to the petition filed by several lawmakers and local government officials seeking to stop the firm's mining activities in Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
Promulgated by the full court on May 8, the writ ordered respondents Altamina; Mr. Aquino, as successor of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., as successor of Leandro R. Mendoza; and Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje "to make a verified return of the Writ of Kalikasan... within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt hereof."
The high court issued the writ in favor of the petition for writ of kalikasan with temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) filed last May 4 by Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III; party-list representatives Teodoro A. Casiño (Bayan Muna), Raymond V. Palatino (Kabataan), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Luzviminda C. Ilagan (Gabriela) and Emerenciana A. de Jesus (Gabriela); and several local government officials and residents.
The petitioners asked the court for a TEPO, or a stay order, on Altamina's extraction of magnetite or black sand and other minerals in 9,588.24 hectares of land in the Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte, particularly in the municipalities of Santa Catalina and Vigan City.
They claimed that the mining operations "pose danger to the lives, health and property of the residents of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, particularly the municipalities of Santa and Santa Catalina and the city of Vigan."
The SC, however, did not issue a TEPO with the writ, but instead ordered that the case be referred to the Court of Appeals "for the acceptance of the return of the writ and for hearing, reception of evidence and rendition of judgment."
A return of the writ presents the respondent's counter-arguments to the petition as well as the witness affidavits, scientific studies and documentary evidence supporting the respondent's defense, based on the judiciary's Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
Magnetite or black sand is used to produce steel, toners for photocopying machines, micro-nutrient in fertilizers and high-density concrete.
In their complaint, the petitioners cited the 2009 and 2011 geological survey reports by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), which "had identified several barangays to be of moderate to severe risk of landslide and other emergencies related to erosion."
Claiming that the off- and on-shore mining in the coastal areas of the provinces will weaken the communities' defenses against tsunamis, the petitioners said that such activities would liquefy, or loosen up, the ground soil supporting the houses, thereby causing structure damage and higher flood risks.
Aside from environmental risks, the petition also pointed out that the Financial and Technical Assistance (FTAA), signed on June 29, 2010 by former executive secretary Leandro R. Mendoza, "was not signed by the president of the Philippines as required by the 1987 Constitution."
The petitioners also claimed that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau issued the FTAA to the mining company Altamina without consulting the local government units. This allegedly violated the "consultation and conference requirements of the 1991 Local Government Code."
As of yesterday, the MGB, the Office of the President and the Office of the Executive Secretary have yet to receive a copy of the writ.
Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said in a text message yesterday that Mr. Ochoa's office "will coordinate with DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) for the next step" once they get a copy of the writ.
In a separate development, Mr. Casiño filed a resolution at the House of Representatives calling for a congressional probe on illegal black sand mining operations on the shores of Pangasinan, Cagayan and other parts of Northern Luzon, according to a statement posted on the website of the House of Representatives on Monday.
House Resolution 2097 urged the House Committee on Natural Resources to conduct an inspection in those Northern Luzon provinces whose shorelines and ecosystems are currently being negatively affected by magnetite mining operations, the statement said.
Mr. Casiño claimed that there are Environment department and local government officials who permit the magnetite mining operations despite strong opposition from the affected municipalities' residents and the existing ban on sand mining based on Batas Pambansa 265, which prohibits gravel and sand extraction from beaches in the country.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Casiño said that as part of their probe, they will be inviting the companies conducting black sand mining operations in Pangasinan and Cagayan.
Among the companies that have been invited are Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures (now Xypher Builders, Inc.), Huaxia Mining and Trading Corp., and Massart Mineral Resources, Inc., Mr. Casiño said. -- Aubrey E. Barrameda
SC urged to stop Altamina's black sand mining in Ilocos, Pangasinan
Business World online
4 May 2012
LAWMAKERS HAVE asked the Supreme Court to stop the mining activities of Altamina Exploration and Resources, Inc. in the coastal areas of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan in a filing that also implicates President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.
In a petition for a writ of kalikasan, the complainants asked the high court to issue a temporary stay order on the extraction of magnetite sand and other minerals in 9,588.24 hectares of land in the two municipalities of Santa and Santa Catalina as well as in Vigan City.
The petition cited several city, municipal and barangay resolutions opposing and prohibiting the conduct of mining operations for black sand in those localities.
Among the petitioners are Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, partylist representatives Teodoro A. Casino (Bayan Muna), Raymod V. Palatino (Kabataan), Antonio L. Tinio (ACT Teachers), Luzviminda C. Ilagan (Gabriela), Emerenciana A. de Jesus (Gabriela), and several local government officials and residents.
Aside from Altamina and President Aquino, other respondents tagged in the filing include Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., and Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje as successors of the previous administration.
The petitioners claimed the mining operations "pose danger to the lives, health and property of the residents of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, particularly the municipalities of Santa and Santa Catalina and the city of Vigan."
Saying that the off- and onshore mining in the coastal areas of the provinces will weaken the communities' defenses against tsunamis, the petitioners also claimed that such activities would liquify, or loosen up, the underground soil that support the houses and cause structure damage and higher flood risks.
Aside from environmental risks, the petition also pointed out that the Financial and Technical Assistance (FTAA) issued to Altamina and signed on June 29, 2010 by former Executive Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza, "was not signed by the president of the Philippines as required by the 1987 Constitution."
It also stated that the two exploration permits issued in the same year to Altamina for the extraction of magnetite sand and associated minerals in several municipalities in Ilocos Sur province, "did not comply with the consultation requirement of the 2010 Implementing Rules and Regulations of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act."
Further, the petitioners claimed, the approval of the FTAA and the two permits "did not comply with the consultation and conference requirements of the 1991 Local Government Code."
Mines and Geosciences Bureau allegedly issued the FTAA to the mining company Altamina without consulting the local government units.
Altamina along with the other respondents could not be immediately reached for comment. -- A.E. Barrameda
Palace rejects calls for suspending mining rules
21 May 2012
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday announced that the Palace rejected the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines' request to suspend the revised guidelines on Free and Prior Informed Consent as modified by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NICP).
Lacierda said that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. had met with the NCIP, to discuss the letter sent by the mines chamber. It was decided not to suspend or further change the revised FPIC guidelines.
According to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, the Free and Prior Informed Consent guidelines are "the consensus of all members of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language an process understandable to the community."
However, Lacierda emphasized that despite the revisions made "there had been no substantial change in the rules on FPIC."
"They are basically the same rules that have been in place even before. What they have done was to revise the guidelines and the guidelines amended the 2006 administrative order on FPIC," he said.
"The major objective of the guidelines is to close gaps to avoid any misinterpretation that may lead to unnecessary conflict of laws. The guidelines were not meant to impinge on the rights of various stakeholders of society but were issued to make all processes being undertaken by all offices of the NCIP and which should be more transparent and more adherent to the law," he said.
The Chamber of Mines, in its letter to the Office of the President, asked revised guidelines on FCIP be suspended or reconsidered, saying that it would weaken investor confidence in the country.
With the revised guidelines, which takes effect next June, the mines chamber said the country stands to lose investments of about $3.76 billion in gold, copper and nickel tenements.
As this developed, Lacierda said the executive order on the administration's mining policy is now "in the process of being finalized."
"The EO is forthcoming. They have consulted with the stakeholders in the process of finalizing the EO on mining. The mining industry has also been consulted. The various civil society organizations and civilian volunteer organizations have also been consulted," he added. -DVM/VS, GMA News
Abolish ITH For Mining - IMF
By Melody M. Aguiba
23 May 2012
MANILA, Philippines - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) aide memoire supports the abolition of income tax holiday for mining and a single royalty tax of seven percent.
Tax holidays are inappropriate for mining because the value of the mineral itself is the main factor for attracting investments, not the tax incentives. Tax holidays do not promote investments in new enterprises, the IMF April aide memoire said.
Given mining's low tax share as indicated by its lower share to government's total taxes compared to its share to gross domestic product (GDP), the Department of Finance-commissioned "Reform of the Fiscal Regimes for Mining and Petroleum" said a combined royalty and excise tax should be set at seven percent to ensure a higher and early revenue for the government.
But since high royalty can make the tax system uncompetitive for projects of low profitability, it proposed that companies should be allowed a tax credit against income tax for the amount of royalty paid in excess offive percent.
"The higher royalty with a credit can ensure greater revenue to LGUs (local government units) without making the fiscal regime uncompetitive," said the IMF. Allowing the royalty to be a credit against tax was recently adopted in Australia.
An outrightly high royalty secures government revenue upon a mine's production and is easy to regulate. But as it is based on total production without cost deductions, the IMF said royalties "raise the marginal cost of extracting minerals." A very high rate may discourage development of marginal deposits and may lead to early closure of productive mines.
The royalty and excise tax should become a single mineral royalty so that only one state agency should collect it. The present practice where the excise is collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the royalty by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau incurs extra costs for companies.
The seven percent royalty should also be prescribed for metallic minerals in the National Internal Revenue Code. At present, tax rules are set by the Omnibus Investment Code, Mining act, and other laws, the IMF said.
"Consolidating all domestic tax rules in the NIRC including royalty will increase transparency and simplify administration and compliance," it further said.
A progressive taxation system is endorsed by the aide-memoire through a profit-based instrument so that government may secure a share of the resource rent - the surplus value of the minerals less costs. This means that government's profit will increase as a company benefits from high prices of metals.
The most promising of such profit-based instrument, according to the report, is the cash-flow surcharge which will represent new additional government share (NAGS).
This is based on the taxable income before loss carryover of a company after adding back depreciation, interest, and other financing charges while deducting capital expenditure and regular corporate income tax.
There is an allowance for a company not to pay this NAGS while it may be in the cost recovery stage.
"If taxable income for purposes of the surcharge is negative in one year, the surcharge loss is carried forward to subsequent years so the surcharge would not be charged until the project has positive cash flow."
NAGS will lower government's share in less profitable projects.
A new fiscal regime for mining should be attractive to investors, or it won't be effective. A single taxation system should be implemented compared to the present system where three mining fiscal regimes exist causing distortions.
These are under the contracts FTAA (Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement, the MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement) outside of a mineral reservation (MR), and the MPSA inside an MR.
The report indicated that there are a number of incentives under the FTAA that "appear not to be authorized by law."
Significant among these concessions in the FTAA based on model agreements are exemptions from income tax, customs duties and fees on imported capital equipment, value-added tax on imported goods and services, withholding tax on interest payments on foreign loans, withholding tax on dividends to foreign stockholders, documentary stamp taxes, and capital gains tax.