MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Executive disorder - the wait continues...

Published by MAC on 2012-07-03
Source: Rappler, Philippine Star, Inquirer, statements (2012-06-29)

The ongoing saga, surrounding the long-delayed Presidential Executive Order on mining continues to - well, 'go on' (See: Philippines: Mining abuses continue with no promised changes in the law). Despite a flurry of press stories predicting its imminent arrival, at the time of writing nothing has yet appeared.

Nonetheless, enough details have been leaked to give a flavour of what can be expected. And a number of actors aren't happy. Probably at the top of that list are the provincial governors, opposed to any attempt by the President to assert the superiority of mining over local ordinances.

As most commentators point out, such legal disputes can really be settled only by the courts, so this attempt to please the mining companies seems superfluous (and may itself lead to such court action).

The key clash over such ordinances relates to Xstrata's Tampakan project (See: Another blow for Xstrata's Tampakan project). To the outrage of pupils, one local major submitted their school attendance sheets to the government, masquerading as support for the mine.

There has been yet more violence associated with the project. Recent shootings include the killing of a security guard, employed ultimately by British security firm G4S.

Although these incidents are mainly down to local indigenous B'laan, fighting against the project in the only way left to them, it bodes ill for an escalation of militarism and violence against the community as a whole. There is also talk of a tribal war brewing if relocations take place.

The local church and NGOs have been trying to broker negotiations to calm the situation (on the back of a fact-finding mission that will shortly publish its report).

The company has finally agreed to stop operations in the contentious area.

But it still fails to acknowledge that its Environmental Compliance Certificate has not been issued, and it should therefore not be pushing forward with surveying communities for relocation.

Go to the courts, PNoy tells those against mining EO

Rappler.com

25 June 2012

MANILA, Philippines - The executive order (EO) on mining upholds the primacy of national laws over local ordinances and anyone who wants to challenge this may go to the appropriate courts, President Aquino said on Monday, June 25.

Aquino made this statement in reaction to reports quoting Albay Governor Joey Salceda as saying some 40 governors plan to question the much-awaited EO because of a provision that disregards their autonomy in enacting their own ordinances in favor of national laws.

"The Constitution I think is very, very clear on that. First, their ordinance-making powers are limited... More than that, all of it has to be, there's a clause there, consistent with national laws. We are not a federated government. We are a republican unitary government," he said.

Albay is one of the provinces that have a mining-free policy. Its governor, Salceda, is a partymate of Aquino and one of the staunchest critics of mining.

Salceda was quoted in reports as saying at least 40 governors who have signed anti-mining ordinances plan to question the mining EO once it is signed by the President.

The EO contains a provision called "Principle No. 4" or "Agenda No. 4" which reiterates the primacy of national laws over local ordinances, according to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

Aquino said he doesn't believe Salceda takes the same position as the other governors.

"I don't think Joey Salceda would come up with a statement that says the opposite -- that a municipal ordinance or a provincial ordinance takes precedence over a national law."

"But if they feel that their rights have been trampled upon, by all means, they can go to the appropriate courts."

Mining companies are particularly against the banning of open-pit mining in some provinces such as Cotabato, where the $6-billion copper-gold Tampakan project of global firm Xstrata Plc is. They said these run counter to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Aquino's EO, which was supposed to have been released Friday, June 22, aims to harmonize national and local policies and strike a balance between the interests of mining companies and environment advocates.

Aquino earlier said he wants the country's share in mineral resources in the form of taxes raised, and mining to be banned in tourist destinations and agricultural lands.

Aquino hasn't signed the EO because of last-minute changes to the draft.

"I haven't signed it yet. We have talked to so many stakeholders regarding the contents of it. There is still some language I am not comfortable with," he said. - Rappler.com


Paje: Nat'l mining laws have primacy

By Dino Balabo

The Philippine Star

24 June 2012

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines - Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje reiterated the primacy of national laws over anti-mining ordinances passed by 40 provinces in response to the proposed new mining executive order that will be signed by the President.

Paje, however, said the ordinances would remain until rendered illegal by the national government agency.

This developed as Albay Gov. Joey Salceda reiterated his opposition to mining in the country, saying it was a mistake. Cause-oriented groups allege that mining is a way for international companies to plunder the country's natural resources.

"We stick to the primacy of the national law over local ordinances," Paje told journalists participating in the environmental investigative reporting fellowship conducted by the Washington-based International Women's Media Foundation.

Paje, however, said the anti-mining ordinances passed recently by 40 provinces would remain until declared illegal.

He said it would require a competent agency to render such ordinances illegal.

The ordinances were passed in response to the new executive order (EO) that is still to be signed by President Aquino.

For his part, Salceda said mining in the country is a mistake, especially the sharing of benefits where mining companies supposedly enjoy an unequal distribution of wealth.

He said the mining company in Rapu-Rapu had earned at least P7.7 billion but only paid the government P700 million.

Even worse is the share of the local government. Salceda said Albay only received P3.4 million from Rapu-Rapu.

"There is a concern for intergenerational benefits, but how can the next generations benefit from the mining if (local governments) are getting too little share," he said.

Malacañang, on the other hand, said the pending EO on mining needed more revisions and its issuance would take a little more time.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said Paje and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. had another meeting to discuss the EO.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said they were advised that minor revisions were to be done on the EO.

She said there were no more contentious issues, only that the President wanted "very minor revisions."

Valte said the mining industry and the public would have to wait "a little bit more" for the EO to be released.

After several months of consultations, Aquino has yet to sign an EO that would spell out the country's mining policy.

Aquino said the EO would have a provision imposing more stringent regulations on small-scale mining.

The EO also seeks to implement more strictly the "Minahan ng Bayan" or small-scale mine sites where extraction of gold, silver and chromite would be allowed.

Aquino said one outstanding issue that he hoped would be resolved before Friday was whether the EO would suffice in determining the acceptable revenue-sharing formula between the government and mining firms.

"Do we need legislation to do this? Right now total taxes will not reach 10 percent of the total revenues of mining firms. The basis to impose higher fees and royalties is still being fleshed out," Aquino said.

He said he was also inclined to keep a provision banning mining operations in 78 ecotourism areas.

A mining council is also being proposed in the EO, Ochoa said earlier, and that it would harmonize national and local laws.

Ochoa said the mining council would be formed to study how revenue sharing would be fixed, among others.

The government has been saying that mining companies must share more revenues as they only give two percent at present compared to up to 35 percent in other countries.

Ochoa declined to elaborate on the mining council pending the approval of the new mining policy by the Chief Executive.

Ochoa said thorough consultations with all the stakeholders and other processes involved in the drafting of the proposal had been fulfilled.

He expressed hope that the recommended EO would be able to harmonize the conflicts in the mining policies of the national and local governments.

"There are mechanisms in the proposal that are on the way forward, as this proposed EO hopes to strike a balance between supposedly conflicting interests of the mining industry and the environment, among others," Ochoa said.

Ochoa said the proposed EO made an attempt to harmonize the seemingly conflicting laws, rules and regulations, particularly national laws and local laws.

"Hopefully, with that we will be able to put some order in approving and in handling mining applications," he said.

Ochoa said there were some suggestions in the proposed EO, which was based on the resolution of the economic and climate change clusters, for Congress to pass appropriate laws to further strengthen the mining industry without compromising the preservation and protection of the environment.

"There are things we cannot cover in the EO and can only be achieved through legislation," he said.

Aquino earlier sought a comprehensive review of the existing mining policies and the state of the mining industry vis-à-vis environmental degradation, safety issues, and dislocation of indigenous peoples. - With Aurea Calica


Aquino's mining policy is unconstitutional

By Dan Gatmaytan

InterAksyon.com

25 June 2012

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje recently commented on the new mining executive order expected to be signed by President Aquino. In a statement to the press, Paje said that the new policy would reiterate the "primacy of national law" over anti-mining ordinances.

Paje added that the ordinances would remain until rendered illegal by a "national government agency."

Paje's statements echo those made by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, which were made in 2010. Robredo made similar statements in response to South Cotabato's resistance to mining. He opined that the province did not have the power to ban open-pit mining and should instead review its Environmental Code that prohibited such mining method.

In a Memorandum Circular dated November 9, 2010, Robredo directed the provincial government of South Cotabato to review its Environmental Code. According to the Memorandum Circular, "[i]n view thereof, you are hereby enjoined to cause the immediate suspension of the implementation of said ordinance pending its review."

Secretaries Paje and Robredo make statements that are arguably inconsistent with law.

There is no law that prevents local governments from imposing additional strictures to safeguard the environment so long as it does not contradict an express provision of law. The Mining Act of 1995 does not prevent local governments from banning open-pit mining or from adopting measures that protect the environment. The efforts of South Cotabato to ban open-pit mining may be justified as police power measures under the Local Government Code. It is true that local ordinances must be consistent with the Constitution and national laws, but if a course of action is not prohibited by a national law it can certainly be adopted by an ordinance.

Local governments are allowed to add requirements before businesses otherwise satisfying national laws can operate at the local level. In Newsound Broadcasting Network Inc. v. Dy (G.R. Nos. 170270 & 179411, April 2, 2009.), the Supreme Court held that:

Nothing in national law exempts media entities that also operate as businesses such as newspapers and broadcast stations such as petitioners from being required to obtain permits or licenses from local governments in the same manner as other businesses are expected to do so. While this may lead to some concern that requiring media entities to secure licenses or permits from local government units infringes on the constitutional right to a free press, we see no concern so long as such requirement has been duly ordained through local legislation and content-neutral in character, i.e., applicable to all other similarly situated businesses.

In another case, the Supreme Court recognized the power of local government units to prevent the operation of drug stores authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to operate. In that case (Gordon v. Verdiano II, G.R. No. L-55230, November 8, 1988.), the Court held that (then) Mayor Richard Gordon could not disallow the operation of a drugstore after it was allowed to operate by the FDA. "However," the Court continued, "it was competent for the petitioner (Gordon) to suspend Mayor's Permit No. 1955 for the transfer of the Olongapo City Drug Store in violation of the permit."

In other words, while the applicant has complied with the pertinent national laws and policies,

this fact alone will not signify compliance with the particular conditions laid down by the local authorities like zoning, building, health, sanitation, and safety regulations, and other municipal ordinances enacted under the general welfare clause. This compliance still has to be ascertained by the mayor if the permit is to be issued by his office. Should he find that the local requirements have not been observed, the mayor must then, in the exercise of his own authority under the charter, refuse to grant the permit sought.

What is more curious is that both Cabinet secretaries refer to the executive power to declare these ordinances illegal. The President does not have the power of control over local government officials, only the power of supervision. Supervision means overseeing the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter (Hebron v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-9124, July 28, 1958.). The President's authority is limited to seeing to it that rules are followed and laws are faithfully executed. "The President may only point out that rules have not been followed but the President cannot lay down the rules, neither does he have the discretion to modify or replace the rules." (The Province of Negros Occidental v. Commissioners, G.R. No. 182574, September 28, 2010).

Robredo's actions and Paje's statement suggest that the President has the power to declare ordinances unconstitutional. The President cannot declare ordinances as unconstitutional as that power is reserved by the Constitution to the courts.

If Paje's statements are accurate, the new mining policy may face serious challenges in our courts.

Dan Gatmaytan is an Associate Professor in the University of the Philippines College of Law.


Aquino says mining EO out by June 22

By Rappler.com

20 June 2012

MANILA, Philippines - The much-awaited executive order on the government's mining policy may be out by Friday, June 22.

In a press briefing in Davao City on Wednesday, June 20, President Aquino said he is hoping to release the mining E.O. within the week, or after some details, especially on the revenues received by the government, are fine-tuned.

"The basis to impose higher fees or royalties, etc, is also being fleshed out," he told reporters after he attended the ARMM Convention on Local Governance.

He reiterated his previous concern about the economic, legal and environmental issues that hound the industry. He said the part on revenue sharing will determine if legislation is needed to ensure a better share for the government.

"Presently, it's about 2% (of income taxes paid), if my memory serves me right. The total taxes involved will not even reach 10% of what they are making from the extraction of our resources. That's not fair. We get less than 10% (from the mining companies), but we [pay] 100% in case there's a problem," he said, referring to the difference between the economic returns and costs.

He also reiterated the 78 placed designated as eco-tourism areas where mining cannot take place, as well as designate the "minahan ng bayan" areas where small scale miners can operate.

He said small scale miners will be subjected to more regulation under the new mining policy.

President Aquino himself sought for the comprehensive review of the government's mining policy and the industry's environmental and economic impacts. He was also concerned with safety issues and the dislocation of indigenous peoples.

On Tuesday, June 19, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said the final draft of the EO has been submitted for President Aquino's approval.

In a statement, Ochoa described the proposed EO as an effort to "strike a balance between interests or supposedly conflicting interests between the mining industry and the environment, among others."

Ochoa said the proposed mining policy, if approved, will harmonize conflicting policies on mining. This is a critical issue. Conflictling national and local policies have resulted in various problems in the industry.

"Hopefully, we will be able to put some order in approving and in handling mining applications," Ochoa said.

The mining EO was supposed to be issued last February but mining companies asked to get more involved in the crafting of the mining policy. - Rappler.com


Palace testing the waters on the mining EO

A ploy to prevent looming public outrage?

Kalikasan Partylist Press Release

27 June 2012

Kalikasan Partylist today expressed apprehension over the content of the draft Executive Order (EO) on the mining industry that has yet to be released by the Palace.

"Malacanang seems to be testing the waters in its dilly-dallying over the EO's release. Is this a ploy to condition the public's minds to accept the bad or controversial provisions in this EO?" asked Frances Quimpo Secretary-General of Kalikasan Partylist.

Earlier reports quoted Malacanang as saying that the EO would be signed last week. The full contents of this draft EO have yet to be broadly discussed, despite opposition from environmental advocates, Church groups, and more than 40 provincial governors, Quimpo asserted.

"Only the Chamber of Mines - those who stand to profit immensely from the mining industry - seem to have any inkling of what the EO contains and are in fact the only ones eagerly awaiting its promulgation. In contrast, most affected communities, green groups, indigenous peoples and even local governments around the country are being kept in the dark about the EO's final contents," Quimpo.

Quimpo challenged the Palace to publicly and broadly release the draft for all stakeholders to read before President Aquino signs it. "The Palace unfairly dismisses critiques and expressions of opposition to the mining EO as mere ‘speculation' yet keeps the full draft shrouded in secrecy," she said.

Media reports have so far revealed that the mining EO proposes to have national laws prevail over local laws with regards to small-scale mining, introduce a new category of "medium-scale" mining, identify areas where mining should be prohibited, and propose more fiscal revenue measures.

"Offhand, these proposals are not enough," Quimpo said, reacting to the reports. "The proposal to have national laws prevail over local governments will pave the way for more conflict and unrestricted environmental destruction and in fact there are already legal opinions saying that this is unconstitutional. The new category of "medium-scale mining" must be subjected to through review and scrutiny, at the very least. And if the country is to truly benefit from the industry, it must go beyond getting more money and revenue from mining and instead reorient mining to support the development of national industries and downstream processing," she explained.

"The "no mining" zones should be explicitly identified and should also take into account what local communities want," she added. Civil society organizations have last year filed proposed House Bills, such as HB 4315 or the People's Mining Bill, identifying areas where mining should not commence and proposing a more thorough process of public consultation. The consolidate bill is currently being discussed in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Contact: Lisa Ito, Public Information Officer at 09178179955.

Kalikasan Partylist
Address: # 26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
Website: www.kalikasanpartylist.org
Email: kalikasanpartylist.pid@gmail.com
Facebook: Kalikasan Partylist
Twitter: @KalikasanParty
Telephone: +632.434.3173


Mining directive: Palace urged to consider lives of indigenous people

Philippine Daily Inquirer

28 June 2012

MANILA, Philippines - House committee on natural cultural communities chairman Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat on Thursday urged President Benigno Aquino III to consider the lives of indigenous people as Malacañang finalizes its mining executive order.

Although he admitted that he was for the mining EO, Baguilat said that the government should always take into consideration how indigenous people view mining activities in the country as they were the ones primarily affected by such operations.

He urged the government to observe the activities of large mining companies, some of which may be masquerading as small-scale mining firms in order to lower their tax contributions.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, along with several other governors, challenged to take the new mining policy to the Supreme Court, saying that it would work against countryside and local governments.

Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara and Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone meanwhile urged the Malacañang to ensure that the new mining policy "harmonizes" national laws and local ordinances to ensure that there are no legal conflicts.

Malacañang has earlier stated that the mining EO sought to strike a balance among conflicting interests and has assured that mining operations will not be allowed in prime agricultural lands, and ecotourism and religious sites. Karen Boncocan, INQUIRER.net


Host areas to benefit from mining gains

By Macon Ramos-Araneta

Manila Standard

16 June 2012

Communities that host mining operations should be the first to benefit from the economic gains generated by the mining industry, Vice President Jejomar Binay said.

Mining goes beyond economic considerations. It is above all, a social justice issue. Communities that host mining operations should be granted opportunities like education, health care, clean water, and power as a bare minimum, Binay said in a speech at the Philippine Society of Mining Engineers' Convention in Davao City.

He also cited mining's vast economic potential, saying that the Philippines has about 9 million hectares of potential mining land with only 1.4 million hectares being covered by mining permits.

There are billions of tons of metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits buried within the Philippine soil, Binay said. "This is the strange contradiction that we live in-so many look for food and decent living above ground-while so much wealth lies literally beneath our feet."

Binay also acknowledged the impact of mining on the environment as he urged the stakeholders to apply every measure and technology to ensure that the impact on the environment is managed and that proper rehabilitation is undertaken.

He said "we cannot forever look at these riches as taboo and refuse to touch them, but neither can be we wasteful and careless in its consumption".

He said that the government is drafting a mining policy statement that seeks to increase the government's share in mining revenues.

As this developed, a Mines bureau official expressed concern on the growing anti-mining sentiment among local government units not to mention the civil society.

Mines bureau director Leo Jasareno told the Philippine mining forum at Shangri_La Hotel in Makati City that the industry is hurting from anti-mining sentiment and even local government units have begun passing ordinances that limit if not totally ban the conduct of mining in the provinces.

Those that have passed laws considered as anti-mining include Romblon, Antique, Zamboanga Sibubay, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Samar, Marinduque, South Cotabato, Bukidnon, La Union, Negros Occidental and Capiz. With Eric Apolonio, Othel Campos


Firm suspends mining after ambush

Philippine Daily Inquirer

29 June 2012

DIGOS CITY-Xstrata's Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) has suspended its activities in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, following yet another ambush this week, which was also blamed on armed B'laan natives.

"As part of a precautionary measure all our activities within the project area have been temporarily suspended until further notice," John Arnaldo, SMI communications chief, said.

The decision was arrived at to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, he explained.

Arnaldo said the police and military were trying to map out security perimeters in the hinterland villages of Kiblawan, where SMI operates.

SMI has been building several infrastructure facilities in Kiblawan, particularly in Bong Mal and Kimlawis villages in support of its mining project in nearby Tampakan, South Cotabato.

On Tuesday, suspected armed B'laan natives led by the Capion brothers Dagil, Kitara and Batas ambushed another convoy of vehicles associated with SMI.

Davao del Sur police director Senior Supt. Ronaldo Llanera said PO1 Yolly Jean Singkolan was hit in the leg when "bandits," the police's term for the armed B'laan natives, fired on the convoy as it was passing by Bongmal.

"The policemen were able to fire back prompting the bandits to withdraw toward the hinterlands," he said.

Llanera said two high-powered firearms were recovered by pursuing authorities.

The same group was also responsible for last week's ambush on a patrol car of the Kiblawan police, which killed SMI security consultant retired Supt. Villamendo Hectin and wounded three others, he said.

Llanera said the police had indeed hunted down the B'laan natives but it was difficult to find them considering that the area is infested by the New People's Army.

Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante said SMI was caught in the middle of a tribal war.

But the National Democratic Front (NDF) said the attacks were tied to the opposition of the B'laans to SMI's presence. A sister of the Capion brothers had confirmed the NDF's statement.

Rita Dialang said her brothers were making a "sacrifice in defense of the tribe's ancestral land and in defense of our way of life."

"Forest, to us, is like a vast market. We get everything we need out there. It is our hunting ground, our drugstore, our farmland and our sanctuary. Destroy the forest and you also destroy our lives," she said.

Dialang also said soldiers backing up the SMI have been abusive, which have fueled more the hatred against the mining company.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Dicoce of Marbel said he and the prelates of Kidapawan and Digos have called on President Aquino to take action and stop the violence in the mining area.

He said an investigation on the B'laans' claims of abuses should also be investigated.

"Malacañang should order an investigation into the alleged abuses by the military and the mining company in the mining area," Gutierrez said.

Dialang said the attacks would not end until SMI pulls out of the B'laan ancestral domain.

In Opol, Misamis Oriental, Higaonon tribal leaders said violence would likely erupt in areas where the rights of the indigenous communities were ignored because of the government's preference for mining investors.

"If it is the policy of the President to tolerate mining operations that use heavy equipment, then our communities will be dead," Datu Mampinohan Norberto Puasan said.

Datu Andreo Dableo said unless the government protects the indigenous peoples, chaos would always occur in mining areas.

There are also several large-scale mining activities in Misamis Oriental, which Higaonon natives have been opposing. Aquiles Zonio, Orlando Dinoy and Tito Fiel, Inquirer Mindanao


Policeman, civilian slain in Philippines mine site ambush

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

21 June 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - A policeman and a civilian were killed and two members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) were wounded when a group of armed men reportedly led by Daguil Capion mounted an ambush Wednesday in Sitio Maklak, Kimlawis in Kiblawan town of Davao del Sur in the Philippines.

Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, commanding officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion based in Tupi, South Cotabato said the slain policemen and his companion were fetching water from a nearby well when an undetermined number of gunmen fired on them.

Responding Cafgu elements were also ambushed a couple of hours later which led to the wounding of two members, according Lt. Col. Bravo.

Bravo said Capion has been tagged for four other killings related to the continuing exploration activities of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI).

Combined elements of the Philippine military and the police are now in pursuit of Capion and his followers.

In March last year, Capion claimed responsibility in the death of three contractors of SMI whom he blamed for ignoring demands to respect their rights to their ancestral lands.

Bravo however said Capion turned into banditry after he was denied employment in SMI.

Capion, a member of the Blaan tribe that is hosting several mining camps of SMI, claimed to have 20 fully armed followers.

On Sunday, a security guard of SMI was also slain in Sitio Lafla also in Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan.

Kimlawis lies near the boundary of Tampakan town in South Cotabato.

SMI's mineral development site still covers 20,000 hectares of forested and agricultural lands which straddles the quad boundaries of Tampakan, Kiblawan, Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat and Malungon in Sarangani.

Its main mine site however is located in Barangay Tablu in Tampakan.

The June 18 slaying came less than a month after another security guard was wounded in another shooting incident.

Nobody claimed responsibility over the shooting incidents involving the SMI security guards, however.


Security guard killed in Tampakan mines site

By Bong S. Sarmiento

Mindanews

19 June 2012

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/18 June) - A security guard for the Tampakan copper-gold project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. was killed in a gun attack, a company official confirmed on Monday.

The security guard's killing came less than a month after the shooting of another security guard within the mines development site that resulted to his injury last May 22.

John Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines Mines external communications and media relations manager, did not identify the security guard killed at around 10 a.m. last Sunday in Sitio Lafla in Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

"I confirm that a security guard employed by our security service provider Catena was fatally shot by an unidentified individual," he said in an e-mailed statement.

"We are deeply saddened by this incident and [had] extend[ed] our condolences to the victim's family," he added.

Arnaldo gave no further details, saying the Kiblawan police have been advised of the incident and their investigation is underway.

A source said a disgruntled resident killed the victim allegedly due to Sagittarius Mines' continued conduct of a survey or consultation in their community.

In January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources rejected the application of Sagittarius Mines to secure an environmental compliance certificate for the Tampakan copper-gold project.

The mining company has appealed the decision but the DENR maintained its position.

The Environment department thrashed the ECC due to the open-pit ban imposed by the South Cotabato provincial government.

Juan Miguel Cuna, national director of the Environmental Management Bureau, an attached DENR agency, had advised Sagittarius Mines to "refrain from undertaking any development activity in the areas mentioned in the application for ECC until the same is issued in your favor, including permits from concerned government agencies."

Arnaldo insisted the mining company is not violating the ECC order, given their activity that apparently led to the tragic incident involving the dead security guard.

"The ECC denial [order] only prevents construction-related activities. It does not include consultation-related activities," he said in a text message.

Datu Tungko Saikol, EMB Region 12 director, also said the ECC denial issued to Sagittarius Mines covers only construction-related activities.

Sagittarius Mines has identified security as a key issue in the Tampakan project, touted as the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia.

In the 77-page 2011 Sustainability Report launched here late last month, Peter Forrestal, Sagittarius Mines president, noted that the company faced significant security challenges last year.

He cited the deadly ambush of three employees of a supplier company in March and the killing of SMI superintendent Cris Bual in September. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)


Philippines students cry foul over alleged ‘support' for mining project

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

21 June 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, PHILIPPINES - High school students at the Tampakan National High School are up in arms after school attendance sheets found their way into documents submitted by the local government unit to Philippines President Benigno Aquino III and other government agencies, masquerading as petitions of support for the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

The attendance sheets were reportedly attached to the resolution passed by the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) endorsing the mining project.

Several students however told a local television station that the documents where their names and signature appeared were in fact school attendance sheets and not petitions of support for the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), holder of the Tampakan Copper and Gold project.

School principal Maria Fe Cantor told ABS-CBN that the inclusion of the attendance signature was "an honest mistake."

Cantor declined to face the camera but said she inadvertently submitted the attendance sheet instead of the list of high school scholars of SMI who are receiving monthly stipends from the company.

A source from SMI who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to issue a statement said the town council endorsement was purely the initiative of Tampakan Mayor Leonardo Escobillo after the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier denied the application of SMI for environmental clearance certificate (ECC).

Escobillo earlier said that "several sectors in Tampakan wanted a reconsideration of the DENR decision."

In denying the ECC application of SMI, DENR cited an existing provincial ordinance which bans open-pit mining in South Cotabato.

The proposed SMI mine site is in forested area near Tampakan town and is surrounded by protected and watershed areas.

Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala earlier wrote DENR to stop the project if it will threaten agricultural production.

"If it [Tampakan project] will affect agricultural production, what we have been saying is that we're on the side of the farmers," Alcala said.

The Diocese of Marbel, one of the strongest critics and oppositions to the project, earlier claimed the Tampakan project will affect close to 5,000 hectares of rice lands in the South Cotabato, the region's top rice producer.

The US$5.9 billion mining project is expected to generate billions in taxes and royalty fees and will have a life span of up to 25 years.

SMI earlier planned to commence commercial operation in 2016 but will likely reset its production target following the denial of its ECC application amid strong resistance from the Catholic Church and other environment groups.

SMI is hoping a new mining policy promised by the government will reconcile existing national and local laws and allow the company to proceed with the project.

President Benigno Aquino III is set to sign an executive order Friday (June 21) defining the country's mining policies and directions.


SC issues writ of kalikasan against mining activities in Zambales

Mark Meruenas

GMA News

20 June 2012

The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a writ of kalikasan against companies, officials and government agencies directly and indirectly involved in the leveling of a mountain in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and converting the place into a seaport.

In a June 13 decision, the high court said it was issuing the writ against Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, Philippine Ports Authority general manager Juan Sta. Ana, LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI) president Lawrence Lenio and general manager Philip Floria, as well as provincial and regional police offices in the area.

The writ is a special remedy under Philippine law, which protects people's right to a healthy environment, and issued to compel violators to stop acts damaging the environment as well as restore and rehabilitate it.

The case stemmed from a 12-page petition filed by Agham Partylist Rep. Angelo B. Palmones last June 11.

Palmones alleged that the activities of LNL Archipelago-a Mandaluyong-based miner operating in Zambales-were destroying the natural barriers of the province from typhoons and floods. Residents were not consulted before the firm started working over the area, the lawmaker noted.

"LAMI is destroying and continues to destroy the environment by cutting mountain trees and leveling a mountain to the damage and detriment of the residents of Zambales without any of the concerned government agencies and officials stopping such illegal actions," Palmones said in his petition.

Trees in the area were reportedly being cut as LNL Archipelago tried to level the mountain and convert it into a seaport for shipping chromite-rich soil from the Philippines to China.

In a two-page notice of resolution signed by SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal and released to media on Wednesday, the high court said it was referring Palmones' case to the Court of Appeals.

"The court resolved to refer the case to the Court of Appeals for acceptance of the return of the writ and for hearing, reception of evidence and rendition of judgment," the high court said.

In his petition, Palmones said he and House committee on ecology chair Rep. Danilo Fernandez went to the mining site last April and were able to confirm what LNL Archipelago was doing to the environment.

When they arrived in the area, Palmones said heavily armed men confronted them.

Palmones said he already asked Paje to issue a cease and desist order against the company, but the DENR chief allegedly did not heed his request.

LNL Archipelago insisted and justified to residents that it was able to secure an environmental compliance certificate from the DENR and a construction permit construct from the Philippine Ports Authority.

Palmones, however, argued that the construction permit did not mean the mining firm can cut down trees or flatten the mountain. The lawmaker also insisted that an ECC was only a "planning tool" and not a permit. -VS, GMA News


Mines Bureau: Chinese miner Nicua may have caused fish-kill in Leyte

GMA Network

14 June 2012

Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno said Thursday that Nicua Mining Corporation, which is currently being investigated by the bureau for allegedly causing a fish-kill incident in Lake Bito in Leyte province as well as converting farmlands into a mining site without authorization, is a responsible miner and if it did cause the fish-kill, it may have done so accidentally.

"But nevertheless, the company has to answer for the disaster they may have caused," Jasareno added.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, or MGB, launched an investigation two weeks ago, the results of which are expected shortly.

"The Bureau is just waiting for the result of the investigation. If found guilty, the company will be held liable for damages and will be placed, possibly, under temporary suspension," Mines Bureau said Thursday.

Based on the initial assessment by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, domestic pollution, irresponsible aquaculture practices and oil and grease contamination from the mining operation are the factors that caused the fish-kill.

Nicua has been mining magnetite or black sand in the towns of MacArthur and Javier in Leyte since 2010. The company is the only large-scale magnetite miner in the Philippines with all its outputs exported to China. Magnetite is used for iron production.

The mining permit is under the name of Vincent Tan Tiong who has a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) with the Philippine government.


NCIP, mining firm heads to face Congress

By Ma. Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

29 June 2012

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Protests of Indigenous People has reached congressional ears.

Representative Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna party-list) filed a resolution to the Committee on National Cultural Communities to investigate mining project expansion of Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (Goldfields) and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) in Mankayan town.

The companies got the backing of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) despite the opposition of the indigenous peoples (IP) within the town.

Casiño also cited the conflict of interest posed by Goldfields Louis Pawid, Gold Fields regional manager and NCIP is Commissioner Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid.

"It should be interesting to note a possible de facto conflict of interest in the NCIP resolution favoring the mining firm," the lawmaker said.

The Goldfields regional manager is the stepson the of the NCIP commissioner.

Casiño is urging the Committee on National Cultural Communities headed by Representative Teodoro Baguilat to investigate "the arrogant mining project expansion of Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company."

IP groups have cried foul over the decision of the NCIP favoring South African mining company, Goldfields Philippines. Beverly Longid of Katribu party-list has tagged the decision as a manipulation and a human rights violation.

The cries of manipulation have been submitted to the United Nations for review.

Residents of Mankayan have organized into the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) to protect their remaining environs untouched by large-scale mining.

Casiño citeed "the SMM was organized by hundreds of residents who gathered at Madaymen, Mankayan, where Kankanaey residents have put up a barricade to prevent the drilling operations Gold Fields LCMC to this day."

He said the mining project lies within Mankayan's ancestral domain, which is documented as Certificate of Ancestral Domain.

"The Ipra (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) defines an ancestral domain as a communally owned tract of land and resources. But it appears that the mining firm negotiated with some property owners but not the rest of the community in skirting the FPIC requirement," he said.

Casiño is urging the committee to look into the issue when Congress resumes sessions in July.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 30, 2012.

 

Mankayan folk told to decide on mining

By Ma. Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

8 June 2012

BENGUET Governor Nestor Fongwan is asking Mankayan folk to decide on their future.

An independent decision on the issues of mining is what Fongwan wants from his people. "I want them to decide among themselves in determining their future."

Over 300 Mankayan folk trooped to the Provincial Capitol last week to have a dialog with the governor on the matter. Fongwan faced protestors saying: "The leaders should not politicize the matter."

Fongwan warned of the upcoming elections and advised people not to make the issues a political cause.

Fongwan said the people should keep in mind the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in deciding. "This is the strongest law that will protect them," he stressed.

The governor relayed to protesters as well as representatives from both mining companies opportunities they might gain and loose in a bid to help them make a sound choice.

In the issue the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process was suspended because of a seeming growing protest by town's folk as well as to give way to new guidelines in the process crafted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Fongwan said "they should now adhere to the FPIC process, for them to see the pro and con of the matter."


Impeachment of IP group leaders sought

By Ma. Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

6 June 2012

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Even indigenous peoples (IP) leaders can be impeached in this town of the Cordillera.

Over 600 members of the Indigenous Peoples Organization of Alang, Pokis, Sabian, Sta. Fe, Olibba and Loakan (IPO-APSSOL) are one in impeaching their present officers and elders.

In a resolution submitted to the National Commission on Indigenous People Monday afternoon, hundreds of signatures were requested for the revocation and termination of IPO-APSSOL president Adam Ventura, Felimon Aliado, Constancia Fernandez, Raymundo Tindaan and Saturnino Donongan as council of elders because of "total loss of trust and confidence."

All those who signed represent various clans and 15 sitios of the IPs belonging to the cultural communities of Alapang/Calipton, Alang/Bal-ao, Aguing/Torre, Bastian/ligay, Kimmabab, Camait, Binal-aw/Clifton, Agpay, Cabanosan, Camaring/Loakan, Pokis, Kedit/Sabian/Olibba, Mansumang/Gabsoab/Don-oy, Balayan, Peril and Liyang-Sta Fe.

The signatories sought to uphold the IPO-APAAOL as their legitimate organization and are also legitimate signatories to the Memorandum of Agreement for APSA 102 or MPSA 276 of Philex Mining Corporation.

The petitioners alleged that millions in royalties paid by Philex Mining were not properly audited since 2008 and only benefitted six of the 15 sitios in the agreement and a mere 11 clans.

The resolution stated: "From the year 2008 up to the present, the same council of Elders, Leaders and officers failed and continuously fail despite repeated demands to account for our royalties paid by Philex Mining Corporation."

The impeachment of officers has been sought on the grounds of "failure to account our millions of pesos royalties, and without need of mention of the abuses of authority, dishonesty, non-observance of fairness and transparency, and the flagrant violation of the By-Laws of our Organization."

The IP members also accused the leaders of bypassing rules of succession when the former president Rufo Gayaso resigned in 2011 and appointed Ventura a president to take his place without their consent.

Last week, the organization had a general assembly where members aired their concerns on actions of the officers. The decision to impeach came after the meeting.

Philex Mining Corporation already released over P200 million to the indigenous peoples group representing payments for royalties to be used for community development and other socio-economic programs.

The NCIP has since requested for an audit of the millions turned over to the IP group, when the group failed to do so, the IP body moved for the cancellation of the group.

At present, with the members acting to terminate the services of the leaders, they are hoping to halt the cancellation of their IP organization and proceed with a new election of leaders in a bid to clear matters and put into place benefits and royalties.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 06, 2012.

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