Philippines: The President finally publishes, but arguments continue...
At last, after all the waiting, the Executive Order (EO) on mining has been released by the Office of the President in the Philippines (see: Philippines: Executive disorder - the wait continues...). The full EO can be read here.
|Protestors march to the Presidential Palace denouncing
Aquino's mining EO - Photo by Jhun Dantes / bulatlat.com
As predicted, the Order has been greeted with cries of protest, mostly from environmental and peoples' organisations. The mining industry, and foreign chambers of trade, have given it general approval.
The main complaint is that little real change will likely come out of the EO, and Catholic Bishops and NGOs are battling to promote an alternative mining bill in Congress as a real solution.
Meanwhile, anti-mining activists suffer on the ground, and attacks by the Communist New Peoples Army continue in far-off Mindanao.
The EO had promised to settle arguments around local governments which have been passing anti-mining ordinances. But it doesn't look likely to produce anything conclusive.
The most controversial such debate centres on Xstrata's Tampakan project.
Now, the UK-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines has written to the Prime Minister of Great Britain questioning the UK government's support for the project.
After all the antics, Mining EO still puts PH future in peril
Kalikasan PNE press release
9 July 2012
Environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment immediately mounted today a protest action to assail the Aquino government's announcement of its long-anticipated new executive order (EO) on mining. The EO that is almost a year in the making was criticized for still maintaining pro-foreign and large-scale mining provisions and lacking substance in terms of environmental protection and people's welfare. This is despite the lobbying and demands of mining-affected communities and environmental groups to change the content EO in favor of communities and the environment.
"Pres. Aquino himself delayed the signing of the Mining EO time and time again supposedly for its problematic language, but its latest rhetoric seems to not have changed at all. It still promotes the unconstitutional overriding of local environment codes that prohibit destructive mining operations in their area.. It contents itself with a piecemeal increase in mining administrative fees instead of collecting our rightful shares from taxes and revenues. How does this conserve and ensure the wise utilization of our mineral resources?. Does this mean that Aquino is now comfortable with the EO's language that still puts our future in peril?" said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
The Mining EO contained provisions completely disenfranchising legitimate small-scale miners particularly in Nickel operations. It also validated all existing mining contracts, agreements and concessions prior to the signing of the EO.
"The Mining EO is in fact a failure in the making as no genuine and sincere consultation was ever made with the affected communities and environmental defenders. Now it comes out, it cracks down on subsistence small-scale miners in favor of foreign and large-scale mining operations. On the other hand, it validated all 1.1 million hectares of existing mining applications and operations including all contentious projects with track records of ecological destruction, human rights violations and community dislocation. We have the proposal of constituting the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, but representation of communities and environment and civil society organizations are marginally represented. Where is the democracy in this?" asked Bautista.
The EO also continues to reiterate the harmonization of national and local mining laws and regulations. This proposition has already met the challenge of at least 40 local governments that have implemented different measures of regulations and bans on mining activity.
"The harmonization, while softened in the EO, does not only still undermine the authority of local governments, but also the primacy of other national environmental laws. The Mining EO will prioritize the pro-foreign mining provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 whenever destructive and pollutive mining operations are legally disputed. Provisions on the expansion of mineral reservations are still in place, which prioritizes mining over other land uses that would threaten communities and other critical ecosystems within mining tenements," asserted Bautista.
Bautista furthered that "Aquino's EO proves that the government still misses the point on what the core problems of the mining industry are. It continues to ignore the necessity to replace the mining law with stringent policies on environmental regulation, greater state role and advancement of the people's welfare as espoused in the People's Mining Bill already pending in Congress."
The People's Mining Bill is a progressive legislation on mining that pushes the reorientation of the mining industry towards local industrialization and development while putting a prime on the environment and people's welfare. It is currently consolidated with other mining bills into the 2012 Philippine Mineral Resources Act.
"The Filipino people have continued to defend our land, life and environment from the entry of mining plunderers. And rightly so, as the Mining EO offers nothing new to curb the people's suffering from economic dislocation, human rights violations, pollution and ecological destruction that irresponsible miners continue to exact upon them," said Bautista.
Kalikasan PNE alongside other environment and militant groups are preparing to legally challenge the Mining EO in anticipation of its onerous provisions. They also pledged to intensify protests against mining plunder and liberalization on Aquino's SONA, where the Mining EO is expected to be pronounced by Aquino as a major accomplishment.
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator - Kalikasan PNE | 0922 844 9787
KALIKASAN PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756;
Aquino ally welcomes mining EO, but indigenous people unhappy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9 July 2012
Philippine Environment Secretary Ramon Paje gestures while explaining the government's new policy governing the mining industry at the Malacañang Palace in Manila on Monday, July 9, 2012. The government said it would not approve new mining permits until Congress passed a bill increasing royalties on the industry as part of the new rules. AFP PHOTO/Jay DIRECTO
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines - Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., chair of the House committee on national cultural communities, welcomed President Benigno Aquino III's new executive order on mining, Executive Order 79, on Monday, because it identified indigenous Filipinos as a stakeholder in the mining sector.
Section 13 of the order, which establishes "a one-stop shop for all mining applications and procedures," states that "no Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), Joint Venture Agreement (JVA), or Co-Production Agreement (CPA) shall be approved without the FPIC (free, prior and informed consent) of the concerned IPs and compliance with the social acceptability requirement of the communities affected."
Baguilat said he was "glad" that Malacañang issued an official recognition of the FPIC as a requirement for pursuing mining. "But let's put more safeguards on the one-stop shop, which could be turned into an instant processing machine if local stakeholders were not vigilant," he said.
Baguilat had campaigned for rationalized guidelines in enforcing government's FPIC certificates, which all developers, including the mining sector, have been required to obtain from indigenous Filipino communities before they can operate in ancestral domain areas.
But in Baguio City, advocates for indigenous peoples rights expressed dissatisfaction with EO 79.
Beverly Longid, president of the party-list group Katribu, said the directive offered "no considerations for IP rights," when the President's order asserted national laws over local measures that banned open pit mines or which defined their territory's environmental code.
Longid said aside from specific provisions benefiting IPs, many of these local laws shielded IP communities from the impact of large-scale mining.
Baguilat said no executive order could make up for what he described as the "flawed Mining Act of 1995," so lawmakers "are still asking Malacañang to endorse the proposed Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012 (House Bill 5473), which would rectify the flaws of the 1995 law."
In Nueva Ecija, Abi Aguilar, policy advocacy officer of the National Network of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Organizations, said they would still oppose large-scale mining projects in ancestral domains.
"In essence, we want fair revenue sharing, guaranteed environmental protection and that the rights of indigenous peoples are always upheld," Aguilar said.
In Pampanga, Gov. Lilia Pineda said she has not signed a petition by governors to challenge EO 79.
While she has not read the executive order, Pineda said the Pampanga government has always followed and would always follow national mining laws in regulating the quarry industry from which the province drew P510 million in fees and taxes as of June. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Anselmo Roque and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
Palace EO won't cure ills of the Mining Act of 1995!
Kalikasan Partylist supports bishops' drive vs mining EO
Kalikasan Partylist Press Release
9 July 2012
Kalikasan Partylist today expressed its support for the move of Catholic bishops calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the new mining executive order (EO) to be publicly released later today by Malacanang.
Members of Kalikasan Partylist this afternoon joined other groups in a protest action in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Main Office in Quezon City, held parallel to the Palace's announcement of the mining EO.
"The Palace EO will not cure the chronic ills of Republic Act 7942 or the controversial Mining Act of 1995. At best, it is a band-aid solution to the already festering, rotting and gaping wounds caused by the liberalization of the Philippine mining industry. At worst, it engages in greenwashing to justify more profit-taking by foreign and large-scale miners," said Frances Quimpo, Secretary-General of Kalikasan Partylist.
"In exchange for a few concessions and government shares, the EO will allow corporations more unhampered access to the country's vast mineral wealth. It will allow the wholesale export of finite supplies of minerals that could have otherwise been used for building national industries. It will subvert local decisions of communities and LGUs to not allow mining in their municipalities. It will not change the orientation of mining liberalization, which has resulted in the massive environmental destruction, human rights violations, and community displacement," Quimpo said.
"Rather than support and develop the domestic small-scale mining (SSM) industry - which provides the bulk of jobs for poor Filipinos in the mining industry-the EO seems to be more interested in letting foreign large-scale players take over. It seems to be tightening the reins on SSMs to give way for more foreign and large-scale mining," she added.
Kalikasan Partylist also decried the lack of transparency and thorough consultations over the EO.
"Only the Chamber of Mines seems to have been informed and consulted beforehand as to its contents. In fact, they seem to be the only ones happily looking forward to the release of this EO, while many important stakeholders - including mining-affected communities, local government units, environmental groups and indigenous peoples - are justly outraged at the lack of consultations and the short-sighted scope of the provisions released piecemeal," she said.
"It seems that large mining firms are now scrambling to exploit more areas in the wake of the EO. In fact, foreign-owned Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is already asking Malacanang to overturn the DENR's rejection of its permit, which would exploit the largest copper-gold reserve in Southeast Asia spanning 10,000 hectares in the four agricultural and fisheries provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani," Quimpo added.
"The Palace has repeatedly boasted that the new EO will stand the test of the Constitution even if it is questioned before the Supreme Court, without making public its full contents. Today, as the Judicial Bar Council makes public the line-up of nominees for the next Chief Justice (CJ), we urge the public to be vigilant over how the next Supreme Court CJ will handle the issue of the mining EO," she said.
Contact: Lisa Ito-Tapang, Public Information Officer at 09178179955.
Address: # 26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
Facebook: Kalikasan Partylist
EO orders moratorium on new mining deals
By Daxim L. Lucas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines-Malacañang unveiled its long awaited policy on the mining industry on Monday, imposing a moratorium on the granting of new permits pending legislation to raise the government's share from mining operations, but also trying to control the traditionally hard to regulate small-scale mining sector.
In a nod to anti-mining groups, the executive order signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. for the President, also sets out guidelines for areas that would be closed to mining applications, including "critical areas, island ecosystems and impact areas of mining as determined by current and existing mapping technologies" that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources may identify.
Other areas where mining would be banned are tourism development areas as identified in the National Tourism Development Plan, prime agricultural land and fishing sanctuaries identified by the Department of Agriculture, in additional to those already protected under the 1995 Mining Act and the National Integrated Protected Areas System.
The cornerstone mining policy of the Aquino administration comes after months of acrimonious debate between mining advocates and anti-mining activists and frenetic lobbying by both sides to gain the Palace's favor.
Mining advocates, led by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, argue that the country's large mineral reserves are a potent tool for pushing economic development, especially when mined responsibly. However, critics of the industry have often expressed skepticism over mining firms' ability to adhere to "responsible mining" tenets and point to the environmental degradation around mining sites.
The details of the mining EO released Monday show the document is not likely to end the debate for and against mining.
For one, it is silent on exactly how much the government wants to receive as a share of revenues from mining firms, leaving it up to Congress to pass laws that would dictate the revenue sharing scheme.
Despite the ban on the issuance of new mining permits pending the revenue sharing laws, the EO says, however, that the DENR may continue to issue exploration permits to parties who will then have first crack at developing the mines once regulators approve the mining agreements.
The new EO sets a thorough review of existing mining operations and a "cleansing" of so-called "non-moving mining rights holders" to be implemented by a multi-stakeholder team, led by the DENR.
The EO also mandates the DENR to review all existing mining contracts and agreements "for possible renegotiation of the terms and conditions of the same, which shall in all cases be mutually acceptable to the government and the mining contractor."
In a bid to further raise the state's share of revenue from mining activities, the EO also mandates the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to, henceforth, award all future mining permits to proponents via competitive bidding.
Finally, Malacañang also mandates the creation of a Mining Industry Coordinating Council to be composed of the Cabinet clusters in charge of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, and Economic Development.
The council will also have, as additional members, the secretary of justice, the chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and the president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.
Bishops start drive vs mining EO
By Gil Cabacungan, Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9 July 2012
The President is set to announce his administration's new mining policy Monday but the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has already started a signature campaign calling for a moratorium on its implementation.
The CBCP started gathering signatures from its members over the weekend to also push for the urgent passage of an alternative mining law even as Malacañang appealed to all to "hold off any comment" until the new mining policy is released and digested.
The Palace said President Benigno Aquino's newly signed executive order (EO) spelling out his administration's mining policy would be released Monday.
But Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), launched the signature campaign to stop the implementation of the EO during a three-day plenary assembly of Catholic bishops that will be concluded Monday.
Pabillo presented to some 100 bishops assembled at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila a position paper calling for the repeal of the current mining policy, the passage of an Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) by Congress, and the declaration of a moratorium on the implementation of President Aquino's new EO while the bill is going through the legislative process.
Nassa executive secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez, recently awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his anti-mining advocacy, on Sunday said the passage of a new mining law has become more urgent with Mr. Aquino's signing of the EO on mining.
"There is a need to push for this AMMB because that EO is not the solution to our problem. The Chamber of Mines is rejoicing already-an indicator that this EO actually favors mining companies," he told reporters in an interview.
The AMMB, which its proponents hope will be passed as the Philippine Minerals Resources Act of 2012, stresses the need for fair revenue sharing, environmental protection and the safeguard of human rights.
The mining bill, now being deliberated by a technical working group of the House natural resources committee, is a consolidated version of three House bills (HB 206, 3763 and 4315) and several minor mining-related bills in Congress. A Senate version of the bill has already been filed in February.
Gariguez said Nassa was confident that the signature campaign and its position on the matter would be supported by the bishops, who had called in 2006 for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995.
Gariguez said Nassa, the Church hierarchy's social arm, will eventually submit their position paper to the President, Senate and the House of Representatives.
"We will use this to convince our senators and congressmen to support the [AMMB] because if the President's EO is also a failure and this administration will also favor the mining companies, then we have no hope left," he said.
The new mining policy is expected to increase government profit from the industry, which has seen a high demand for mineral resources. The EO is also anticipated to exclude more areas from mining to protect the environment.
"Our problem in our mining policy cannot be cured by a mere EO because that's just palliative. That's not enough...there's a need to overhaul our mining policy," stressed Gariguez.
Palace appeals to public
Malacañang on Sunday appealed to the public to hold their opinions on the EO on mining in check until it is disclosed Monday.
"Let's just wait a little more time and we will be presenting the mining EO," said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview.
"Perhaps it would be better to hold off any comments before seeing the actual EO and seeing what the provisions are," said Valte amid the early criticisms from Church leaders.
"It aims to give a more comprehensive policy on mining in the country, particularly on the problem of small-scale mining."
Local execs to sue
The bishops are not the first or only prominent group challenging the mining EO. Earlier, local government executives threatened to contest it before the Supreme Court.
Governor Joey Salceda of Albay had said some 40 governors would go to court to question the much-awaited mining policy, fearing that the measure would "destroy the countryside" that municipal legislation was protecting.
The issue is whether President Aquino can impose national policies that set aside local ordinances.
The President had responded by saying he welcomed a legal challenge, insisting that national laws had primacy over local legislation.
Advocates to take Philippines president to task on mining policy, new law
by N.J. Viehland
10 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines - Advocates of responsible mining, including bishops, are not relying solely on a recent executive order issued by President Benigno Aquino III to reform the mining industry in the Philippines.
Even before Aquino issued his Executive Order No. 79 on Monday afternoon, 72 of the 98 members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines threw their support behind a petition from advocates of responsible mining titled, "A Call for the Passage of Alternative Minerals Management Bill."
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, shows reporters the petition signed by 72 Philippines bishops calling for approval of a new mining law. (N.J. Viehland)Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, shows reporters the petition signed by 72 Philippines bishops calling for approval of a new mining law. (N.J. Viehland)The bishops' council president, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, told a press conference after the bishops' July 7-9 biannual plenary assembly in Manila that he could not comment on the executive order before it was released, but bishops support the clamor for new legislation because they say the Mining Act of 1995 is flawed.
Aquino's office released the executive order later that afternoon after months of intense debate among mining companies, environmentalists, local groups and church officials.
Change in law "beyond the micro-policy initiatives" is needed "to recommend the promulgation of a national law that prioritizes ecological protection and promotes environmental justice, principle of stewardship and the common good," reads the petition signed by Palma, other bishops and opponents of mining.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, national director of the bishops' National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, expressed concern for mining destruction, noting that many mining sites are located over large tracts of land in environmentally fragile forest areas. He told reporters at the press conference that local people bear the effects of mining, from which they hardly benefit.
The Philippines has an estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral resources, reports an investment book published by Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
However, the industry's average contribution to Philippines Gross Domestic Product from 2000-2009 was only reportedly 1.3 percent, and its average share of total employment in the same period was below 1 percent. Metallic mining was contributing less than 3 percent on average to total exports in the nine-year span, and only 3.7 percent in 2010.
Mining companies reportedly contributed only 7.6 percent of the total production value through total government taxes, fees and royalties from 1997 to 2010.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. in the announcement on the executive order Monday said Aquino's new order aims to harmonize mining policies and regulations in the country and make players in the mining industry more transparent and accountable.
The executive order expands areas closed to mining to include 78 tourism sites, farms, marine sanctuaries and island ecosystems in response to the public clamor to protect the environment from mining.
Petition co-signer Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (the Stop Mining Alliance), said Tuesday that the group was "not surprised" by the executive order. He said his alliance had received a draft a week earlier that contained 95 percent of points his alliance proposed for inclusion in Aquino's order.
He told NCR at the forum in Manila that the executive order included eight of 11 points his group proposed. Those excluded involved a moratorium the group wanted Aquino to declare on mining in special cases that have already been documented.
"The Commission on Human Rights had said it has evidence that Oceana Gold violated human rights of indigenous peoples and communities in Nueva Vizcaya, and it officially recommended to the president to revoke the mining contract of Oceana Gold," Garganera said. "But this was not acted on."
Garganera's group also expected the executive order to halt expansion of TVI Operations in Zamboanga while resolving the conflict with ancestral domains, local government and TVI's expansion plan.
Garganera said he wondered why mining operations were allowed despite a recent fish kill in Lake Bito, allegedly caused by mining operations. Other high-profile, well-documented cases include the Surigao del Sur and Agusan cases. None of these cases will be affected by this new executive order.
Nonetheless, Garganera credited the government's attempt to institute reforms, citing its commitment to review all mining contracts: "We will engage [the Department of Environment and Natural Resources] to review mining contracts. We will provide lawyers, economists, and we will provide scientists to review those 33 mining contracts already awarded and not affected by the ban."
He also noted government's commitment to enroll in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the global transparency initiative for mining. "We have 10 members in our alliance whose expertise is exactly that area - transparency and fiscal regime," Garganera said.
Some mining companies expressed relief over the executive order. However, others' optimism quickly faded because of uncertainty of government plans to raise royalty rates.
Aquino's new mining EO draws more flak from green groups
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines-Environmentalists on Wednesday slammed President Aquino's new mining order, saying it is virtually a caveat to local officials and communities not to pass ordinances banning mining.
Executive Order No. 79's provision declaring that local government units conform to the national government's policy on mining drew more flak from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils).
"What the provision intends to do is to prevent other LGUs from following the footsteps of numerous other LGUs that have issued local legislation and already stood up against minerals extraction in their respective territories, and protected the welfare of their people,'' Gerry Arrances, the group's program officer, said in a statement.
In effect, the administration was sending a strong message that it would pursue "its promotion of mineral extraction and its business-as-usual framework, thus continuing wanton destruction of our communities and the environment," Arrances said.
By issuing EO 79, Aquino sought to institutionalize reforms in the mining sector and provide guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the use of mineral resources.
Its section 12, which provides that local ordinances should be consistent with the Constitution and national laws, has stirred some controversy, among other provisions.
It says that LGUs should confine themselves to the imposition of "reasonable limitations" on mining activities within their jurisdiction, and these should be consistent with national laws and regulations.
Arrances said the national government didn't need to spell this out in EO 79 because LGUs were aware of this when they enacted ordinances banning mining.
After all, by passing such ordinances, the LGUs were only exercising police power and upholding general welfare and their constituents' right to a "balanced and healthful ecology'' and the well-being of its local territories and ecosystems, he said.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the Alyansa Tigil Mina, conceded that the mining order introduced reforms, such as the identification of mining-free zones, increased transparency and a system for review and monitoring of mining contracts.
These reforms, however, were overshadowed by the provision that all contracts, agreements and concessions approved prior to the order were considered valid and binding, he said.
"We sincerely believe that DENR does not have the people, the expertise, the resources and the equipment to effectively enforce this EO, and so the policy is misleading as it gives a false sense of comfort that from now on, ‘all will be well," he added.
ATM also said any increase in the revenue share of the government from the mining industry would be irrelevant given the industry's negative impacts on the communities and environment.
"These are the reasons why we need a new mining law, and not only rely on this EO,'' Garganera said.
Anabelle Plantilla, chief operating officer of Haribon Foundation, said the EO was proof that the government recognized the flawed policy in the mining industry.
"The proof of the pie is in the eating. We have documented on how the Mining Act created a big rift in the protection of the environment and then we have another policy that yet again has weak provisions on the conservation of our forest and ecosystem. Do we need to eat this pie again?" she said.
Mining order welcomed, but moratorium a worry
Business World online
11 July 2012
TWO BUSINESS GROUPS yesterday broadly welcomed the current administration's clarification of its mining policy through Executive Order No. 79, but voiced their concern over the moratorium on approving new mineral agreements.
The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) and the Makati Business Club (MBC) issued separate statements supporting the government's "responsible mining" framework, noting it is a "step in the right direction".
"While the implementation detail for the EO is still to be elaborated... this new mining policy has the potential to advance the objective of delivering a more favorable Philippine investment environment and direction for responsible mining;" JFC said.
The same group welcomed the government's commitment to honor existing contracts, ensure that renegotiation of existing deals will be done only with the agreement of the affected contractor, enforce environmental laws, and fast-track applications for permits, among other points.
While it also welcomed the policy that provincial ordinances should conform with national government policies, regulations and decisions, JFC urged the government "to make resolution of this long-running issue a major priority."
"The JFC awaits clearer advice from the government as to how it plans to implement this very important test of investor confidence;" the statement read.
The controversy involving South Cotabato's two-year-old ban on open-pit mining which threatens Sagittarius Mines Inc.'s $5.9-billion copper-gold extraction project in Tampakan municipality is widely seen as a litmus test of government's ability to balance the interests of luring much-needed foreign investment on the one hand as well as respecting local government prerogatives and protecting the environment on the other.
But JFC expressed its clearest concern over EO 79's section 4, which states that while the government will continue to issue exploration permits, those for mineral agreements will have to wait until a legislation rationalizing revenue-sharing takes effect.
"The JFC sees such a decoupling (of exploration from mineral agreements) as a deterrent to investment;" the statement read.
"The EO states that those with exploration permits will have the first option to develop, should an economic deposit be discovered;" it noted.
"The JFC is of the view that no mining company can be expected to spend extremely large amounts of money on exploration without certainty, the grant of a mining title and without first knowing the fiscal regime."
MBC similarly lauded "the government's clear designation of ‘no-go' zones for mining, the renewed drive for improved sharing of revenues, and the emphasis on the primacy of national laws over local ordinances."
But it also expressed concern over the moratorium on new mineral agreements pending passage of legislation rationalizing revenue-sharing. "While we understand that there may be good reasons for this moratorium, we strongly suggest that this be accompanied by the President's certification of the draft bill as urgent and by expeditious action by our legislators for its passage within 2012 in order to avoid slowdowns to investment inflows that are crucial to the country's aim for inclusive economic growth;" MBC said.
It also urged government to finalize a map that clearly identifies boundaries of zones not open to mining as well as to incorporate into national policy global best practices on environmental standards and revenue-sharing.
Bishops urge gov't to stop Chinese mining firm from destroying rice field
By Jocelyn R. Uy, Kristine Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' social arm has urged the government to assert its right not only over the disputed (Scarborough) Shoal but also over some of the country's vast rice fields that have been converted into mining sites by Chinese and other foreign firms.
In a recent forum, Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, highlighted the sorry state of Lake Bito in MacArthur, Leyte, where mining operations and sand dredging by the Chinese firm Nicua Mining Corp. destroyed the rice fields and twice caused fish kills in the lake.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje acknowledged the Lake Bito problem and confirmed that the company had been investigated and fined for its lapses. But he said his "hands were tied" because the company had been granted a Mineral Processing Sharing Agreement by the previous administration in 2008. He said a new mining policy would be the solution to the problem.
Gariguez, who was awarded in April the Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco, California, for his advocacy against mining, went on a two-day solidarity mission together with newly installed Palo Archbishop John Du and some priests to the Lake Bito area some two weeks ago.
Following the visit, the priest reported that the water supply in the vast agricultural land in the area and the nearby village had dried up due to the non-stop extraction of magnetite sand for export to China.
Magnetite, or magnetic iron ore crystals, are used in electronic parts and other products.
"While the government is busy fighting for our sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese are gradually claiming our lands bigger than the shoal," the priest told reporters in an interview.
"The government should also protect our rice fields from these foreign mining companies," said Gariguez.
Gariguez noted no immediate rehabilitation was taking place in the mining area, which had been "illegally converted from ricefields."
He urged the DENR to investigate the situation at Lake Bito.
From March to May, at least two fish kills occurred at the lake. He said the Chinese firm was fined by the DENR a measly P50,000 after it was found to have contaminated the lake.
Fishpen operators in Leyte are not content with the DENR's action, demanding that the company pay them for their lost fish harvests when mine wastes slipped into the lake on May 12 and 15.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried but was unable to contact engineer Elmer Ragas, Nicua project manager.
Paje said the DENR could not revoke the company's contract granted by the Arroyo administration. It could only charge it with environmental violations.
He said he would be amenable to an investigation of the Lake Bito mining site. "I agree with that," he said, although he admitted he was not familiar with the complaints against the mining firm.
Paje also admitted that the mining activity has been affecting "prime agricultural land." The National Irrigation Authority had made investments in the area affected by the Nicua mining company, he added.
"The cure for this is the new mining policy," he said.
Under the Aquino administration's proposed mining directive, extractive operations are barred from eco-tourism areas and prime crop lands. The Chinese firm would also be mandated to follow strict international standards on mining safety and environmental protection.
President Aquino was supposed to sign the new mining policy, which sets new regulations for the mining industry, two weeks ago. But the signing has been delayed over opposition from local government executives who are asserting their own power to grant mining permits and penalize violators.
According to Reynaldo Barra, officer in charge of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) pollution and control division, Nicua paid its fine on June 13.
Barra said an investigation conducted by his office showed that "there was indeed a back flow of waste water coming from them (Nicua), which entered Lake Bito."
Jesus Cabias, head of the Lake Bito Fisherfolk Association, said their group was dissatisfied with the penalty.
"It was only the EMB that received the fine. What about us fishermen affected by their operations? We are also seeking compensation from them," he said in a text message.
Ragas responded earlier this month, saying the firm paid the fine in compliance with the country's environment regulations. "We're just following an order from EMB," he had said.
Bishops, legislators join forces to advance new mining bill
7 July 2012
MANILA - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and a number of lawmakers in the country supported the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) being pushed by multi-sectoral movement SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.
On Thursday, about 50 bishops and two congressmen representing the support of some 40 solons discussed the strategies they will employ to ensure that AMMB will be passed as the Philippine Minerals Resources Act of 2012.
Both the members of the Catholic Church and House of Representatives discussed the issue in a national forum held at the Plenary Hall of Pope Pius Catholic Center in UN Avenue, Manila.
"We cannot deny how mining has negatively affected the situation of the poor in our country; the farmers, fisher folks, indigenous people; everyday, we are confronted with the reality that it has to be changed," said Bishop Broderick Pabillo CBCP-NASSA National Director in a statement.
The AMMB is now being deliberated by the Technical Working Group of the Natural Resources (NatRes) Committee of the 15th Congress. The AMMB is a consolidated version of House Bills 206, 3763, 4315 and several mining-related minor bills in the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 3126 filed last February 15, 2012 by Senator Sergio Osmeña III, is the AMMB's senate version.
"While we are still not sure about the status of the executive order on mining, that policy will only provide short-term resolution to our situation. What we need is a rationalize policy that will have sustainable and positive impact to generations ahead," said the Manila Auxiliary bishop.
For his part, Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, vice-chairperson of the NatRes Committee, and chairperson of the Committee on National Cultural Communities or IPs, said that the proposed mining bill is undergoing refinements but its call for fair revenue sharing, environmental protection and safeguard of human rights, including Indigenous People's rights, will always be the foundation of the revised policy.
He noted that more than 50% of the current mining areas in the country straddle on ancestral land domain of the IP communities.
"This bill is about the people, for the people and by the people. We really need more support for this. We are thankful that CBCP is with us in this advocacy," Baguilat added.
Meanwhile, SOS-Yamang Bayan Network lauds the development in the campaign for the new mining bill and called the partnership together with the thousand strong forces in the mining affected communities as a match "made-in-heaven" against open- pit mining.
"This is a positive development towards reorganizing and reorienting the country's minerals industry. We are happy to see these two strong forces in our society work together and agree on one cause. This only shows the scale of problems caused by mining that almost everybody is alarmed and calling for an urgent resolution," said Gerry Arances, AMMB Coordinator of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK). LRC is the lead convener of SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.
At the same time, Alyansa Tigil Mina said that the forum would ensure that all the people who work for and support the bill, understand its call and conditions.
"Our purpose is to encourage more groups and individuals to pressure the government and concede that the Mining Act of 1995 was a big failure and should be repealed, immediately," said Jaybee Garganera, the group's national coordinator.
The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples' alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill. (PNA)
Position Paper signed by 72 bishops in support of the passage of Alternative Minerals Management Bill
10 June 2012
The Bishops, together with the civil society and mining-affected communities, call for:
· the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of an alternative law on mining and environment protection.
· the promulgation of Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) that prioritizes ecological protection and promotes environmental justice, principles of stewardship and of the common good.
· a mining moratorium to put a stop to the destructive plunder of our natural resources by the mining corporations, while the legislative process for an alternative mining law is still being pursued.
A CALL FOR THE PASSAGE OF ALTERNATIVE MINERALS MANAGEMENT BILL (AMMB)
Mining or extractive industry, more often than not, as experienced in the Philippines, can be destructive to communities and the environment. The scale of mining operation normally involves large tracks of land, mostly located in the environmentally fragile forest-ecosystems. With the government's policy direction of liberalizing the mining industry, applications of the transnational corporations came pouring in, targeting mineral rich area mostly located in the mountainous part of the country inhabited by the indigenous communities. Even the agricultural, tourism, biodiversity, and watershed areas are not spared.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines took the position that "the promised economic benefits of mining by these transnational corporations are outweighed by the dislocation of communities especially among our indigenous brothers and sisters, the risks to health and livelihood and massive environmental damage." (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006).
The country faces more and more environmental problems because of the government's liberal policies on extractive operations - "The government mining policy is offering our lands to foreigners with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty. We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by mining Trans-National Corporations (TNCs)" (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006).
The Mining Act of 1995, which lays down the policy for the government's near-fanatical campaign to attract foreign investors to invest in mining distorts the goal of genuine development. By single-mindedly pursuing the entry of foreign investments, it failed to weigh the greater consideration in the equation - the human and ecosystems well-being, the human rights of the indigenous peoples and the local communities, food security, local autonomy and the ecological integrity of our country.
Together with experts and other civil society organizations, the Church recognized that the flaw is in the government policy framework which regards the natural resources as something to be exploited unlimitedly rather than a crucial reserve to be sustained and protected in order to sustain the ecological balance and sustainability for all.
As in its previous pastoral statement, we appeal to change the government's mining policy and we reiterate the call for the repeal of Mining Act of 1995 on the premise that: "the Mining Act destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people's right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people's health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas" (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006).
The Church, together with the civil society advocates and mining affected communities, call for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of an alternative law on mining and environment protection. We see the need to go beyond the micro-policy initiatives and torecommend for a promulgation of national law that prioritizes ecological protection and promotes environmental justice, principles of stewardship and of the common good.
The Church supports the call for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), which offers a far more sustainable approach to utilization and protection of our country's natural resources.
Recognizing, however, the long duration of legislative procedures, the Church joins the local communities and the civil society in calling for a mining moratorium to put a stop to the destructive plunder of our natural resources by the mining corporations. The large- scale mining operations, under the guise of development, promise to bring the much-needed foreign investment to the detriment of the environment and the welfare of our people.
We believe that environment should never be sacrificed - that "an economy respectful of the environment will not have the maximization of profit as its only objective, because environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations . . . The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces."(John Paul II, Encyclical Letter CentesimusAnnus, 40: AAS 83 (1991), 843).
We pursue our advocacy for a sustainable ecology because it is part of our Christian responsibility. With the late Pope John Paul II, we believe that "Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith" (The Ecological Crisis No. 15, Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace).
Philippine Gov't reminded to respect local ordinances on mining
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) statement
3 July 2012
Manila - Government must in fact recognize local ordinances that uphold biodiversity conservation and promote human rights especially of the Indigenous Peoples, instead of threatening them with the primacy of national policies, said Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) reacting on the much-delayed Executive Order on Mining.
"It is already frustrating that instead of receiving support for trying to protect the remaining forest, water and coastal resources in the country, local government units with this kind of ordinances are being challenged in court battle by big mining companies - and now, by the government?" said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
ATM feared that the said provision in the proposed EO can be used by the government to manipulate mining situations and assert projects despite strong opposition from the local leaders and the communities.
"We are talking significant ordinances here that speak good issues such as sustainable use of resources, protection of the environment in relation to climate-change mitigation and adaptation and more importantly disaster-risk reduction - why would you challenge that?" Garganera added.
The EO on mining drew ires from local leaders and civil society groups after Environment Secretary Ramon Paje announced that in the proposed policy national legislation will be asserted over local anti-mining ordinances.
"So, who really is the boss now?" asked Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee.
Gariguez also mentioned that the President needs to be reminded of his pronouncement that the Filipino people are his boss. "As part of the Filipino community we support ordinances that defend our ecology, food, livelihood and human rights. He should adhere to the valid call of his boss"
"The local government code is a manifestation of the democracy in the country, and an indicator of that is the power vested to local leaders in making decisions on their jurisdiction. To have an executive order that overpowers such provision and seems unequivocal is attracting a martial-law in spirit," Gariguez added.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.
IP groups slam new mining EO
By Adela Wayas
15 July 2012
QUEZON CITY - While the Chamber of Mines welcomes the new mining policy, affected indigenous peoples vow to resist policies that threaten their land and culture. They called the Executive Order 79 a rehash of the Mining Act of 1995 that allures foreign companies to extract resources from their ancestral lands.
Indigenous groups, environmental activists, advocates and members of the church held a picket in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources after the new mining policy was signed by President Benigno Aquino III. The groups staged a protest rally on Monday, July 10, at the Mendiola bridge, slamming the said EO.
Piya Macliing Malayao, a Bontoc and spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp), said thousands of indigenous peoples are affected by this piece of policy. "It is mainly our ancestral lands that are being traded off in these mining deals," she said. She added that mining is the largest threat to the indigenous peoples' survival.
Kamp is a national alliance of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
The indigenous peoples in the country defy the new mining policy and vow to continue the struggle until their rights to their own ancestral territories and self-determination are recognized by the state.
Mining plunder affirmation
The new mining policy, according to the Katribu Partylist, fails to recognize the clamor of different sectors to nationalize the country's mineral industry. Kakay Tolentino, also an IP of the Dumagat tribe and spokesperson of Katribu, emphasized that the executive order only continues to implement liberalized and destructive mining operations in the country.
"This new mining policy provides no substantive changes to the present liberalized mining industry," Tolentino claimed. She called the EO palliative -offering sugar-coated solutions that do not really address the ills brought about by liberalized mining. More importantly, it fails to protect the country's national patrimony, sovereignty and real development as it only serves the interest of big foreign corporations.
Though stated that "no new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect," the EO will not affect the thousands of mining applications already filed before its enactment. It further states that the DENR may continue to grant and issue Exploration permits under existing laws. Those who are granted permits shall be given the right of first option to develop and utilize minerals in their respective exploration area.
Even the proposal to increase government revenue from mining will be subjected to legislation. According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, they expect a powerful lobby of the Chamber of Mines to go full swing to stop any legislation that will be detrimental to the profits of the big mining firms.
The group said everything in the new EO plays to reaffirm the anti-people and pro-imperialist policies under the Mining Act of 1995.
Moreover, the creation of a One-stop shop for all mining applications and procedures is a proof that the government is not satisfied in trading off ancestral lands to a mining industry geared for foreign firms. Tyrone Beyer, Policy Advocacy Officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples' Rights, said the EO is giving more power to DENR in verifying minerals in the areas open to mining.
Though the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is mentioned, he said that the IPs and communities affected must be vigilant to how the EO is going to be implemented and used by the government and concerning agencies like DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and others.
Beyer said IPs have strong opposition to destructive mining and projects entering their territories, yet mining firms and other companies are still granted certificates from DENR, NCIP, MGB and even local government units. "The IPs are being deceived and disregarded in the FPIC process, some of them are harassed or killed. And these result to forced displacements and evacuations, erosion of culture and food insecurity," he pointed out.
"There is no respect to the IPs own governance. The indigenous communities arrive at collective decisions but these agencies and mining corporations encroaching their territories disregard the customary laws of the IPs. And when the decision is not favorable to the project, militarization comes in, further violating indigenous peoples rights. Even state instruments, such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, are being ignored," Beyer explained. He said these problems are not being addressed in the EO.
According to the data of KAMP, there are around 507 approved mining applications that cover 1,027,358 hectares of Philippine land. An estimated 60% of all these applications cover ancestral territories.
The Northern experience
Northern Luzon is known for its large mineral reserves in both upland and coastal areas, discovered since the 19th century when Spanish conquistadores started declaring its mountains inalienable and subjected them for drilling. The entry of the American conquerors spurred the entry of foreign mining companies in the country, drilling off the mountains of Cordillera for minerals, mining it for centuries leaving the control of the industry in the hands of foreign magnates such as Lepanto and Philex Mines.
Meanwhile, this mining industry for the past decades only left millions of natives of Northern Luzon suffering from the adverse effects of ecologically-unsound mining practices, in both the upland areas which serve as their headwaters and the coastal areas that are shelters to fisher folks.
According to Bantay Amianan, the million farmers working in vast land areas that provide the country with 36% rice produce, 26% corn and 65% vegetables are being endangered to lose the fertility of their land and the waterways that irrigate their farmlands having been contaminated by mining by-products that coursed into streams and rivers. Bantay Amianan is an alliance of organizations and individuals based in Metro Manila, who advocate for the protection and preservation of the natural resources in Northern Luzon, in opposition to the rampant plunder of foreign mining companies in the region.
The alliance said the experience of the people of Northern Luzon in mining should serve as a challenge not to allow destructive projects that endanger the environment. They said the government must put an end to all mining operations in the country.
Ria Teves of the Project Development Institute said "as an archipelago (Philippines), mining is not suited for our very limited geographic space, aside from the fact that even the smallest space is occupied by our people, with a population of almost 95 million." She emphasized that the revenue sharing scheme in the EO is also highly controversial.
Peoples Mining Bill
The wide opposition of the people against the mining EO only shows the need to reorient the mining law in the Philippines. A legislative bill, titled the Peoples Mining Bill, is now being consolidated with other positive mining measures in Congress.
"Obviously, EO 79 that actually favors big players, will rattle every sector in the mining industry - most especially environmentalists, small-scale miners, people's organizations and local government units. It is only right that we push the legislative mill to come up with a new mining law since the E.O. does not veer away from the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7492)," Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said .
Cong. Casiño is the main author of House Bill 4315 or the Peoples mining Bill. Fellow legislators Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), Raymond Palatino (Kabataan), Luzviminda Ilagan, and Emmi De Jesus (Gabriela), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Salvador Cabaluna III (1-Care), Pedro Pancho (Bulacan), Herminia Roman (Bataan), Cesar Jalosjos (Zamboanga Del Norte), and Erico Aumentado (Bohol) are Co-Authors.
"The said bill will repeal R.A. 7492, Presidential Decree 463, Presidential Decree 512, and all other pro-foreign mining issuances in the country. We will also mandate greater shares for the government (10 percent) and indigenous peoples royalty (10 percent) from the gross revenue from mining under a National Industrialization Plan that Aquino government has yet to draft. It also respects and will aid small-scale miners on the long-term. This is what is not in E.O 79," Casiño said.
Meanwhile, Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat , chairperson of the Committee on National Cultural Communities (NCC), also called for the urgent passage of a mining law to correct the flaws in the Mining Act of 1995. "While the latest EO on mining seeks to implement reforms, it will not be enough because it is still based on the flawed Mining Act of 1995,"stressed Baguilat. Cong. Baguilat is also pushing for an alternative mining bill in the Lower House that seeks to increase liability and accountability on mining firms in case of environmental disasters and institutionalizes the ban on mining in areas mentioned in the new mining EO.
The Peoples Mining Bill is as well supported by the different churches in the country. # nordis.net
Philippines: New Mining Executive Order Palliative Say Indigenous People
Katribu Party list statement
10 July 2012
Indigenous peoples under the KATRIBU Partylist, are disappointed over the new Executive Order on Mining issued today by the President. According to Ms. Kakay Tolentino, a dumagat spokesperson of the group, "the new mining E.O provides no substantive changes to the present liberalized mining industry."
The new E.O fails to recognize the clamor of different sectors to nationalize the country's mineral industry. It continues to implement the liberalized and destructive mining operations in our country allowed by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. It fails protect our country's national patrimony, sovereignty and real economic development over the interest of the big foreign business.
Large mining companies presently operating in our country will just continue their plunder and will not be affected by the EO. No wonder that the Chamber of Mines is complacent with the new mining bill.
The moratorium on mining applications is a palliative measure and does not need to be praised. With congress and the Supreme Court under Aquino's control, the administration can easily railroad the enactment of the new revenue scheme on mining and lift the moratorium according to their whims.
The new executive order focuses mainly on increase of revenues and fails to recognize the rights of the indigenous people over their ancestral land. This will not help the indigenous people realize their rights to ancestral land. It will continue to favor the interest of large foreign mining companies over the interest of the indigenous people as well the people in the countryside. Liberalized mining will continue to devastate our sacred lands, sow division and disunity among our tribes and worsen our poverty situation.
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) cannot and will not ensure that there will be "responsible mining" in our country. It will only serve as a clearing house tasks to make the mining projects look acceptable to the community. We should be warned as this will become a toothless council capable of nothing but to go with the interests of the mining industry. The council will be useless as long as its members are promoters of liberalized mining such as the DENR and NCIP.
We would like to reiterate that we have to urgently reorient the current mining law. As long as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is in place, no executive order will stop the people for clamoring for a nationalized and pro-people mining industry. As long as we continue to implement liberalized mining in our country, the indigenous people together with the different sectors will continue their call for a more responsible, progressive and people oriented mining industry.
Farmers, fisherfolks file petition for Envi Protection Order against mining in MacArthur Leyte
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
3 July 2012
MacArthur, Leyte-Farmers and fisher folks in Leyte went to court and filed an application for Temporary Environmental Protection Order (EPO) to stop the mining operation of Nicua Corporation in prime agricultural lands of Villa Imelda and adjacent barangays in MacArthur Leyte.
The plaintiffs led by Jesus Cabias, president of Unahin Lagi Natin ang Diyos - Bito Lake Fisherfolks Association (UNLAD-BLFA) and supported by Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), assert their right to a healthy and safe environment against the destructive effects of mining in their farmlands and lake.
"Water is life and must be saved as all costs. Allowing mining to continue here will affect not only our primary source of water and livelihood but also the future generations," said Cabias.
Two weeks ago, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that contamination from oil and grease from the mining operations is one of the causes of the massive fish kill in Lake Bito.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) added, "Together with the Archdiocese of Palo and Alyansa Tigil Mina, we visited this area and found that the impacts of mining there are terrible and devastating. We call on the national offices to act on this, at the same time we hope that the Regional Trial Court can immediately hear our petition and issue a temporary environmental protection order to stop Nicua mining corporation from operating in the area."
Cabias added, "Our problem is that the mining operation is encroaching in prime agricultural lands-we are talking about irrigated lands that were not even legally converted for otherPurposes. Their activities threaten our food security, right to clean water, and livelihood."
The 30-page petition has been filed this morning at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 in Abuyog, Leyte but is yet to be given a case number by the RTC Judge next week.
Meanwhile, ELAC Lawyer Atty. Ronnan Reposar is firm that an EPO should really be issued against the mining company and should be implemented immediately. He said, "There are clear violations here, not only that the mining operation in MacArthur violated the constitutional rights of the people to environment, health, life and property, the same has likewise violated other laws protecting our natural resources - the mining company is situated and directly affecting prime and irrigated agricultural lands and the water resources. This is a clear threat to LIFE of both the present and future generation"
Environmental Protection Order or Temporary Environmental Protection Order (EPO/TEPO) are injunction orders under the new Environmental Rules of Court that directs or enjoins "any person or government agency to perform or desist from performing an act in order to protect, preserve or rehabilitate the environment." This gives immediate relief on environmental issues.
"We do not understand why this company was even allowed to mine here-they are converting prime agricultural lands into mine sites that will render the lands useless afterwards," stated Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Environmentalists becoming an endangered species *
Kalikasan Special Release
4 July 2012
Willem Geertman, a Dutch missionary and NGO worker, was shot dead in front of his office in San Fernando, Pampanga on the second of July, 2012. Geertman was the executive director of the humanitarian organization Alay Bayan Luson Inc. (ABI) that responded to underserved communities affected by disasters and environmental degradation. Geertman was a very active advocate against large-scale mining and logging and for forest protection in Aurora, Pampanga and Zambales.
His bereaved colleagues can see no other motivation for his murder than his commitment and determination to defend the people and our environment.
From the mass activists engaged in deep-seated ecological problems such as mining and deforestation, to the seemingly benign professions of biodiversity conservation, no ecological defender seems to be safe from various HRVs aimed at derailing public opposition to destructive development projects. Indeed, the Philippines' veritable trove of natural resources has been the driving motive for massive extraction for profit, to the detriment not only of the balance in our ecology, but likewise to the people's rights as well.
A Decade of Impunity towards Ecologists
The numbers in red are staggering: From 2001 up to 2012, a total of 58 environmental advocates have fallen victim to various human rights violations. Under the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a total of 36 environmental defenders were murdered, along with two (2) reported cases of enforced disappearances and two (2) cases of frustrated murder.
The spike of annual HRV cases reported rose to 18 cases from 2005-2006, coinciding with the peak of Arroyo's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan I.
The decrease of cases over the next couple of years coincided with the reinvigorated mass campaigns of activists and rights advocates against the killings. This in turn gained international scrutiny through the report of United Nations special rapporteur Phillip Alston that lambasted state agencies for perpetuating impunity towards thousands of Filipino citizens. However, the Arroyo decade ended with the rising trend of cases with the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya II from 2007-2011.
Aquino's Pathway paved in Blood
The promise of reforms under the "Tuwid na Daan" banner of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, far from delivering swift justice to the families of HRV victims and promoting a humanitarian regime, only served to perpetuate impunity. 17 cases of politically-motivated killings and one case of abduction and torture have already been recorded under Aquino, including the high-profile cases of Palawan environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega and world-renowned botanist Leonard Co.
There is no wonder why human rights violations towards environmental defenders persist: the same old policies of the Arroyo regime on protecting investments remain in place under the Aquino administration. The government continued to deploy Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and other army units under the Investment Defense Forces, in mines and other sites of development aggression, whose forces are linked to the murder of the Italian missionary and anti-mining leader Fr. Pops Tentorio, among others.
Aquino has also under-prioritized the resolution of HRV cases through the justice system. It was reported that minimal resources were allocated for the team pursuing the Reyes brothers, suspected masterminds of the killing of Dr. Ortega. The resolution of these cases is also further delayed by the snail's pace at which the Department of Justice operates. In fact, not a single case has been resolved since 2001.
Apex of Killings in Mining and Mindanao
The aggressive expansion of the mining industry is seen as a major driver of HRVs towards environmental defenders. Of the 58 HRV cases documented since 2001, 46 cases involved anti-mining activists or 79 percent of the total recorded. This excludes harassments and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) violations.
Five cases involved anti-large dam advocates, one coal-fired power plant activist, six anti-logging activists, one anti-landfill campaigner and four conservation advocates. Some individuals were involved in various advocacies such as Fred Trangia, a biodiversity conservationist and barangay leader who was also a staunch opponent of mining interests in Mainit, Compostela Valley.
Majority of the HRVs during the Arroyo regime occurred after their declaration in 2004 the revitalization of the mining industry through the Mining Act of 1995 and other mining policies. The same trend persists under Aquino, with 14 of the 18 cases of HRVs, majority of which are killings, exacted upon mining activists.
While most HRVs occurred in militarized areas such as Cagayan Valley, Mindoro, Leyte, Palawan, Southern Tagalog, and Bicol, majority of the cases especially under Aquino occurred in Mindanao. Ten cases were documented in Zamboanga, Surigao del Sur, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, and are largely attributed to Mindanao being the most mineral-rich region in the Philippines as well as most active in opposition to mining expansion.
A Harassment Offensive
It was observed during the institutionalization of Oplan Bayanihan in 2011 that a renewed strategy of harassments towards social and environmental activists seems to be part of its implementation. In 2011, at least eight cases of harassments were recorded, including the vilification of Geobelyn Lopez, secretary-general of Madia-as Ecological Movement, and Hope Hervilla, head of the Visayan Coalition for the Ecology as NPA rebels. Belen Galleto of the Save Pantukan Alliance in Compostela Valley also received death threats.
Violations worsened going into 2012, with three students of the UP Diliman College of Social Work and Community Development who were engaged in field work with Aeta communities opposed to mining in Pampanga being physically and psychologically harassed by elements of the Philippine Army last January.
As a testament to its being the epicenter of HRVs towards ecologists, at least seven community and church leaders leading environmental campaigns in Mindanao reported the continuation of long-standing harassment directed towards them by military agents, including Galleto, Sr. Stella Matutina, a Benedictine nun, and Fr. Peter Geremia, a fellow Italian missionary of Fr. Tentorio. Nine Journalists and two human rights advocates were also harassed by SCAA units hired by mining corporation TVIRD when they tried to verify reports on the ground of impending demolition of houses near their exploration site. The latest cases are Gold Star Daily journalists in Cagayan de Oro harassed by large-scale illegal logging entities.
Institutions such as the Assumption College of Davao, who support the Justice for Fr. Pops Movement, are also threatened by no other than AFP general Leopoldo Galon. The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and community teachers from the Fr. Pops Foundation are likewise threatened institutions by military occupations of their schools and communities which they use as detachments.
A Call to Protect Environmentalists
Embattled though environmental advocates may be, the struggle to protect the environment and its defenders is a commitment that thousands of Filipinos are willing to dedicate their lives to. The Ortega Family has continued not only in the pursuit of justice for Dr. Gerry, but in gathering more signatures for the No to Mining in Palawan campaign that Ortega helped found. In March 2011, the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED) was formed by various families and colleagues of victimized environmentalists to consolidate efforts in pursuing legal cases against perpetrators of HRVs.
The victims of harassment have resolutely carried on with their respective struggles against large-scale mining, large dams, massive deforestation and other environmentally destructive and pollutive industries. Sr. Matutina has subsequently filed charges against her harassers, the 28th and 67th infantry battalions, with the Commission on Human Rights. Green groups have aired their grievances to the United Nations Human Rights Council through a statement filed calling for the resolution of outstanding cases of HRVs towards ecologists, the stoppage of vilification of activists, and the dismantling of paramilitary forces and Oplan Bayanihan, among others.
Environmentalists are fast becoming an endangered species. The Aquino government has at present failed to assuage threats on the lives of environmental defenders, and must meet the efforts of environmental and rights advocates to uphold the democratic rights of ecologists halfway through if it genuinely intends to do so. For us who believed in the struggles of Willem Geertman and all the other environmental heroes, no better commendation for them can be offered but to steadfastly carry on their legacy.###
Leon Dulce is the campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, and a convener of the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders.
KALIKASAN PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756
* Note: We have decided to release this special report on the 2012 human rights situation for environmental advocates in the Philippines earlier than scheduled, on the occasion of the killing of Willem Geertman, an esteemed colleague from the disaster management organization Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. The data comes from the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment's documentation of cases since 2001 in its capacity as one of the convening organizations of the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders, a consolidation of efforts in pursuing legal cases against perpetrators of human rights violations (HRVs) towards environmental activists.
Another environmental activist assassinated! Aquino government inutile to stop impunity, says Kalikasan
Kalikasan PNE Press Release
3 July 2012
A Dutch environmental advocate based in the Philippines was killed this afternoon in front of his office in Sto. Domingo, Angeles City Pampanga. Willem Geertman is the executive director of Alay Bayan Inc. (ABI), a non-government organization that works on community-based and development-oriented responses in addressing the vulnerabilities stemming from poverty, powerlessness, environmental degradation and political abuse. Together with other environmental and civic organizations, Geertman and the ABI campaigned for disaster risk reduction and environmental concerns in Central Luzon.
"We strongly denounce the murder of Geertman, who was a very active advocate against large-scale mining in Pampanga and Zambales provinces. The military forces in the area should be immediately investigated as there are several complaints and records of them involved in human rights violations against anti-mining activists like Geertman," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
Geertman came to the Philippines as a Dutch missionary and later devoted his life in community development and NGO work in Central Luzon. He was actively involved in land rights and environmental protection issues and concerns in the region particularly forest protection in Aurora, Pampanga and Zambales against logging and mining. Geertman is the 17th environmental activist killed under the Aquino administration and 6th this year.
"The Aquino administration is inutile in stopping the impunity against environmental workers. The Aquino administration has a bloodier average record than the previous Arroyo administration. Worse, Pres. Aquino encourages killings and human rights violations among environmental activists by defending destructive projects like large-scale mining and commercial logging. The administration also gave orders to military and paramilitary forces to give protection and serve as security forces of mining and logging companies," Bautista said.
ABI, Kalikasan PNE and various human rights groups will immediately conduct this week a fact-finding mission on the incident.
PHILIPPINES: Two anti-mining activists face threats after the murder of their colleague
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Forwarded Urgent Appeal: AHRC-FUA-006-2012
4 July 2012
PHILIPPINES: Two anti-mining activists face threats after the murder of their colleague
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings; human rights defenders; threats and intimidation
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the threats on two anti-mining activists, Nenita Lacasa and Carolyn Borja of Eastern Samar, Visayas.
In their appeal, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a local human rights organization, reported that shots were fired at the houses of Lacasa and Borja on May 6 and May 23, 2012 respectively. One of those who fired at Lacasa's house was Mr. Terso Lopido, Field Operation Trustee of the Terrestrial Mining Corporation.
Prior to these shootings, on March 17, 2012, Lopido was overheard by Borja and Francisco Canayong, to have said that: "in his (Canayong) loud voice says that if the mining operation will be stop we must leave our home and never show up because he will kill us all." Canayong was murdered on May 1, 2012.
The full text of their testimony can be read here: Joint Affidavit of Francisco Canayong, Antonio Norte and Carolyn Borja.
For more details, contact the TFDP: National Center, 45 Saint Mary Street Cubao, Quezon City, the Philippines; (+63) 2 437 8054; 2 995 0246; (fax) 2 911 3643
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Urgent Action Urgent Action Urgent Action
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), writes to inform you about the harassment encountered by two (2) women, both are anti-mining advocates in barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar, Island of Visayas.
VICTIMs : 1. Nenita M. Lacasa, 62 years old, single
2. Carolyn R. Borja, 34 years old, married with 1 child
Two women, an anti-mining advocates experienced harassment on May 6, 2012 and May 23, 2012 respectively, at their house in Barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar. The harassment was allegedly perpetrated by Terso Lopido, the field operation trustee of the President of terrestrial Mining corporation and unidentified perpetrators wearing helmet.
According to Nenita Lacasa, on May 6 at about 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, she was inside their house when a pick-up color green with plate #WRJ442 arrived and parked in front of their house.
Then, she saw Mr. Terso Lopido, the field operation trustee of Terrestrial mining corporation alighted from the vehicle. The later without provocation fired warning shot once, it was aimed at the high portion of their house. Thereafter, several minutes the vehicle left. Her mother heard the gun fire and maybe due to fear, eventually died at 3:00 in the afternoon.
On May 11,2012 at about 4:00 in the morning during the wake of her mother, Nenita saw a man behind the banana tree near their house just standing. She also noticed a man standing at the barangay outpost adjacent to their house just standing and wearing helmet. Then, she saw a motorcycle with color black and red parked within the vicinity.
Nenita recalled that one (1) week before Mr. Francisco Canayong was killed (their former colleague who was stabbed on May 1,2012), there were some persons outside their house as if conducting surveillance on her. They were on board a pick-up color green with the same plate number she mentioned above and then posed for about thirty (30) minutes in front of their house. This was happened in several occasions.
Meanwhile, Carolyn Borja narrated that on May 23,2012 at about 11:00 o'clock in the evening, they were inside their house when she heard two (2) gun shots. Accordingly, she saw two (2) motorcycles arrived (color blue and red) with persons riding in tandem and wearing helmet. They immediately fired two gun shots aiming to their house and fled. Due to fear they hurriedly left their home for safety.
Prior to the harassment they encountered, on March 17,2012 Carolyn along with barangay councilor Antonio M. Norte and Francisco Canayong (who was killed on May 1,2012), executed an affidavit regarding the verbal threat they overheard from the conversation of Terso Lopido a.k.a "Baggie" a trustee of the President of Terrestrial Mining Corporation along with his companions.
They stated in their affidavit that they heard the latter talking about mining and even mentioning their names and their associations. Lopido uttered that, "if the mining operation will be stop they must leave their home and never show up because he will kill them". He further stated that if they will interfere with their incoming chromite ore shipment he will enter each of their houses and will kill them.
Last March 14 & 15,2011, Carolyn Borja together with Nenita Lacasa, joined the barricade along with her group and community members at the bridge in barangay Carapdapan to stop the illegal transporting of chromite ore by Terrestrial Mining corporation going to china.
Due to their action the mining company filed a civil case for Damages against her along with Canayong and 3 other officers of their group at the Regional trial Court (RTC) branch 139 in Makati City.
Carolyn is the President of Carapdapan Movement for Development Association, Inc (CAMADA), of which Nenita is also an officer. Both of them often times go along with each other in every activities and they were visibly identified as against the illegal mining operation in their barangay and other neighboring barangays in their town.
In September 2011, Carolyn R. Borja, Estanislao B. Catimon, Arturo M. Lacasa, Engr. Gil C. Lamasco and other leaders and members of their group filed complaints with the office of the Ombudsman for failure of the Local Government to intervene and stopped the illegal mining activities in their area.
As of this writing, the two victims are in sanctuary in an undisclosed place.
Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to:
1. Call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the harassment perpetrated against the victims.
2. To provide immediate protection of the victims and their families as mandated on the Declaration of Human Rights defenders.
3. To create task force for the immediate resolution of the case and brought perpetrators to justice.
RE: HARASSMENT PERPETRATED AGAINST TWO WOMEN, AN ANTI-MINING ADVOCATE IN BARANGAY CARAPDAPAN, SALCEDO, EASTERN SAMAR, VISAYAS ISLAND
Greetings of peace!
I am writing to express my grave concern regarding the harassment perpetrated against two women who are both anti-mining advocate, namely Nenita Lacasa and Carolyn Borja, resident of barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar.
I have known that Ms. Nenita Lacasa had undergone threat to her life on May 6,2012. She was inside their house when a pick-up color green with plate #WRJ442 arrived and parked in front. Then, she saw a man whom she identified as the field operation trustee of Terrestrial Mining Corporation alighted from the vehicle. The later without provocation fired warning shot once, it was aimed at the high portion of their house and thereafter several minutes the vehicle left. Her mother heard the gun fire and maybe due to fear, eventually died at 3:00 in the afternoon.
Nenita recalled that one (1) week before Mr. Francisco Canayong (their colleague who was killed on May 1,2012), there were some persons outside their house and allegedly conducted surveillance on her. They were on board a pick-up color green with the same plate number she mentioned above and then posed for about thirty (30) minutes in front of their house. This was happened in several occasions.
Meanwhile, I was also told that Carolyn Borja had encountered the same fate. On May 23,2012 at about 11:00 o'clock in the evening, her family were inside their house when she heard two (2) gun shots.
Accordingly, she saw two (2) motorcycles arrived (color blue and red) with persons riding in tandem and wearing helmet. They immediately fired two gun shots aiming to their house and fled. Due to fear they hurriedly left their home for safety.
These two women were deeply involved in some anti-mining activities in their barangay and even filed complaint together with their group at the office of the Ombudsman for failure of the Local Government to intervene and stopped the illegal mining activities in their area.
Carolyn Borja also together with her colleague executed an affidavit concerning the verbal threat they overheard from Mr. Terso Lopido, the field operation trustee of the Terrestrial Mining Corporation.
Therefore, I am calling for a fair, impartial investigation to the Police for full protection of the victims. These two women should be afforded full protection of their rights as stated in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
I trust that you will act favorably. Thank you.
Please send your letters to:
1. His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street , San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000
Fax: +63 2 523 9548
Tel: + 63 2 521 1908
3. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
4. Police Director Nicanor Bartolome
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
5. Hon. Emilio Gonzalez
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military
And other Law Enforcement Offices
3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg.,
Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 926 8747
Tel: +63 2 926 9032
6. Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Palais Wilson
CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 (0) 22.917.90.06
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)
Murdered mining activist knew he and two others would be killed
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-120-2012
4 July 2012
PHILIPPINES: Murdered mining activist knew he and two others would be killed
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; human rights defenders; threats and intimidation
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has obtained further details that an activist who was murdered on May 1, 2012 for opposing illegal mining operation in Salcedo, Eastern Samar, knew of the plan that he and two others would be killed. The victim, Francisco Canayong; and his colleagues, Antonio Norte and Carolyn Borja, had themselves "heard with our own ears" that they would all be killed.
CASE DETAILS: (Based on the information provided by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Workers' Assistance Center Inc. (WAC))
As it is widely reported, Francisco "Mano Ansing" Canayong, (64), was stabbed to death on May 1, 2012 at 2:40pm along the national road in Naparaan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar. His body was seen lying face down about ten meters away from the motorcycle he was driving. He suffered stab wounds; two to his back and one to left chest. It was reported that he could have been dragged towards a nearby forest before he was killed as seen by the traces along the road.
Prior to Canayong's death, on March 19, 2012 he and two others, Antonio Norte, a member of the village council; and Carolyn Borja, a development worker, made a detailed testimony identifying the persons who had planned to kill them and for what reason. The extract of their joint testimony is below;
"2. That, we are known who support the campaign against illegal mining in the municipality of Salcedo and in the Province of Eastern Samar,
3. That, our endeavors to support the government's thrust towards economic enhancement through sustainable livelihood program and agricultural development particularly food security and the protection of our environment from being and continued abused by illegal mining activities and in exercising our constitutional rights our lives and all of our family members are in great danger
4. That, on 17 March 2012, around 9:00 o'clock in the morning while waiting the short tree planting program held in our Brgy. Plaza to be finish, Terso Lopido alyas "Baggie" a resident of Brgy. Napara-an Salcedo, Eastern Samar and employee and field operation trustee of Atty. Emelio S. Teng, president of Terrestrial Mining Corp and Elaxander Ecija Basijan, a resident of Poblacion Salcedo, Eastern Samar and security guard of terrestrial mining stockyard located at the port of Brgy. Carapdapan having a dialogue with Brgy. Chairman Alfredo O. Macatimpag, Ernesto O. Pagad mining contractor in the shed house in front of Wenefredo M. Duran residence Brgy. Carapdapan,
5. That, we heard with our own ears, that they are talking about mining and even mentioning our names and the associations. Terso Lopido in his loud voice says that if the mining operation will be stop we must leave our home and never show up because he will kill us all,
6. That, Terso Lopido, further says that if we interfere their incoming chromite ore shipment he will enter each of our house and kill us all,
7. That, Terso Lopido, further says that Antonio M. Norte has no gratitude after he was given support on the last election Antonio Norte lead the barricading group on the March 2011 loading and he is only waiting a good timing for Antonio M. Norte,
8. That, Terso Lopido, further says that is why he killed Jerry Barsana of Brgy. Caga-ut because the later tried to stop him on the hauling of their chromite ore from site their stockyard,
9. That, Terso Lopido, further says that he always carry his .45 caliber pistol and he will never hesitate to kill whoever tried to stop their mining operation for he will never be in prison only money is enough for his family victim,
10. That, Brgy. Chairman Alfredo O. Macatimag says the mining operation will never be disclosed its situation and status if not Engr. Almasco arrived in the Barangay because nobody knows and have no capacity whether the mining operation is legal or illegal"
Prior to the murder, threats
On March 14 and 15, 2011, Canayong, president of Barangay Integrated Upland Farmers Association of Salcedo (BIUFAS) at the time of his death; and members of his group and community barricaded a bridge in Barangay Carapdapan to stop the transport of Chromite ore by Terrestrial Mining Corporation heading for china. Canayong was also a member of the Carapdapan Land Owners Association (CLOA).
As a result, Canayong, Borja and three officers of their group were charged with civil damages at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 139 in Makati City.
In September 2011, Canayong, Borja, Estanislao Catimon, Arturo Lacasa, Engr. Gil Lamasco and other leaders and members of their group, filed an administrative complaint against the Local Government Unit (LGU) at the Office of the Ombudsman for failing to intervene and of stopping the illegal mining operation.
Canayong, as a community and sectoral leader, led the people's organization in actively supporting and advocating for peace and development particularly for protection of the environment. He was active in the local campaign against the illegal mining operation, not only in the municipality of Salcedo, but also in other parts of Eastern Samar. He was offered bribes to stop his advocacy, but rejected the offers.
Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting them to conduct an investigation into Canayong's murder and to ensure that his two other colleagues, Antonio Norte and Carolyn Borja, are given adequate protection.
The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for their appropriate intervention in this case.
To support this appeal, please click here:
Re: PHILIPPINES: Murdered mining activist knew he and two others would be killed
Name of the victim killed:
Francisco "Mano Ansing" Canayong (64) of Barangay (village) Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar. He was murdered on May 1, 2012
Names of victims threatened:
1. Antonio M. Norte, village council member of Barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar
2. Carolyn R. Borja, president of Carapdapan Movement for Development Association (CAMADA INC.).
The threats on Norte and Borja were explained in detail in their Joint Affidavit (testimony) executed on March 19, 2012 in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Place of incident: Barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar
Name of person who made the threat: Terso Lopido "Baggie", field operation trustee working for works for Atty. Emelio Teng, president of Terrestrial Mining Corp.
I am shocked to learn that Francisco Canayong, a local villager who strongly opposed the operation of illegal mining in his community, was murdered after executing a detailed testimony about a plan that he and two others, Antonio Norte and Carolyn Borja, would be killed if the mining operation would be stopped in the community.
Canayong was stabbed to death on May 1, 2012 at 2:40pm in Salcedo, Eastern Samar. His body was seen lying face down about ten meters away from the motorcycle he was driving. He suffered stab wounds; two to his back and one to his left chest. It was reported that he could have been dragged going to a nearby forest before he was killed as shown in the traces on the ground.
Prior to Canayong's death, I am fully aware that he and his two other colleagues, Norte and Borja, had already executed a detailed testimony dated March 19, 2012 that there had been plan that they would all be killed.
In their testimony, the three victims heard Terso Lopido "Baggie", field operation trustee, had quoted what he had said from what they heard: "in his loud voice says that if the mining operation will be stop we must leave our home and never show up because he will kill us all." Lopido works for Atty. Emelio Teng, president of Terrestrial Mining Corp.
The three further said that: "he always carry his .45 caliber pistol and he will never hesitate to kill whoever tried to stop their mining operation for he will never be in prison only money is enough for his family victim."
However, despite their revealing testimony, I am not aware of any security and protection having been offered or made available to any of them. In fact, after they executed their detailed statement, Canayong's murder was evidence that there was no protection of any sort at all. And even after Canayong's murder, I am not aware of any intervention from local authorities, particularly the police, neither to adequately investigate Canayong's murder nor to secure the safety of Norte and Borja.
In fact, the threats on Borja persisted. On May 23, 2012 at about 11pm, shots were fired at her house in Barangay Carapdapan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar. After the shooting, she saw two motorcycles outside with persons wearing helmets riding on them. Due to fear, they had to hurriedly leave their home for safety. Canayong's murder and the risk that Borja had to endure due to absence of adequate protection are condemnable.
I trust that you take immediate action on this matter.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
3. Director General Nicanor Bartolome
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
Asian Human Rights Commission
#701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon,
Tel: +(852) 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) 2698-6367
An easy call: IFC should quit MRL mining project
by Edel Garingan of Alyansa Tigil Mina
Bretton Woods update
3 July 2012
Quezon City, Philippines - Mining in the Philippines, just like in many other countries in the world, has faced countless protests and rejection from communities and civil society groups. For an industry that boasts multimillion dollar investments, it has been accused of barely contributing to the efforts of uplifting the lives of people in dire poverty. This consideration alone should have discouraged the International Finance Corporation (IFC, the World Bank's private sector arm) from investing in a mining project in the Philippine province of Agusan del Norte.
But there are more reasons for the IFC to pull out its equity investment of nearly $10 million in Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL), a mining company that has violated the rights and customary laws of the Mamanwa tribe dwelling in the target mine site. In September 2011, leaders of the affected indigenous community filed a complaint with the IFC's accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, which found it eligible for further assessment. The complainants claim MRL encroached their sacred grounds, watershed and burial sites without their knowledge. Under the Philippine Indigenous Peoples Right Act of 1997, any project that affects indigenous peoples and their ancestral domains should undergo consultations with the tribal community to get their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Should the community reject the project, this has to be respected. FPIC is also now part of the IFC performance standards (see Update 77).
In the same letter, the Mamanwa leaders reject MRL for causing division in their community (pro and anti-mining), affecting relationships among them. For Mae Capua, 22, a student and member of the Dinarawan Indigenous Peoples Organisation, growing up in her village she was always told to respect her elders and the environment. The community performed rituals, toiled on the farm and took care of the children together; through this they maintained good relationships in the tribe. That silent pace of contented life remained seemingly undisturbed until MRL pushed its operations on their ancestral domain. Pro-mining people in the community and some leaders in the local council now often have heated arguments with the anti-mining segment of the community, even though they belong to the same kinship group. For more than three years now, Mae and her parents and siblings have not been talking to some of their cousins and other relatives, whom they used to play and spend special occasions together with.
MRL has caused undue stress to the community not only for the conflict it has caused in the tribe, but also for the threat it poses to their livelihoods and the environment. Their watershed, farmlands and hunting grounds would have been taken away from them already in 2008, if they had not campaigned to halt the project that would have taken over 600 hectares of land in its initial two years of operation. MRL claimed that they had secured FPIC for the project during their first appraisal in 2008, and that it was even reconfirmed in May 2010. But Elyeterio Dakula Jr., tribal chieftain of the Mamanwas in the affected village, is definite that they were not informed in any way by MRL regarding the project. In this light, the IFC should terminate its support to MRL for not following their guidelines, and more than that, for ignoring the Philippine law concerning indigenous peoples.
With the adverse realities happening to the Mamanwa in Agusan del Norte, if the IFC would stand by its principle of only financing projects with no intent to do harm to the involved communities, it would be very easy for them to cancel its venture with MRL. There is no point of promising better lives to the community when in fact, even before the IFC funding for the project was approved in 2010, many were already suffering from the impact of MRL's mining activities.
4 abducted by suspected NPA rebels in mining firm raid
Philippine Daily Inquirer
5 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines-Four persons were allegedly abducted and several weapons were carted away after suspected New People's Army rebels who pretended to be members of the military raided a mining firm in Agusan del Sur before dawn Thursday, a Philippine National Police spokesman said.
Superintendent Martin Gamba, Caraga police spokesman said a still unidentified number of suspected rebels disguised themselves as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and conducted an "inspection" at Vivencio P. Ocite Mining Enterprise situated at Ridge Mt. Barangay Bayugan 3, Agusan del Sur around 5:30 a.m.
But at the course of the "inspection," the security guards on post were disarmed, and victims Christoper Ocite, operation manager and son of owner; Gani Altaya, assistant operation manager; Joel Jayuma, security guard; and a still unidentified engineer, were allegedly abducted.
The group, Gamba said, also carted away five shotguns and nine 45-caliber pistols as they escape using a gray Hilux pick up (ZMW 908), owned by Ocite, as their getaway vehicle.
He said the group went towards the east direction, adding that a pursuit operation was underway. With a report from Frances Mangosing
Right Honourable David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
3 July 2012
Dear Prime Minister,
Commendably, you have recently emphasised that UK-registered companies must act responsibly when working overseas. We also note that you received a visit from the President Ninoy Aquino of the Philippines, earlier this month. The President needs all the support that our Government can give him to tackle endemic corruption, massive environmental degradation, notorious human rights abuses, climate change impacts and poverty that are still taking place in his country despite all his efforts to stop them. Mining companies in particular have a historical and continuing reputation for causing environmental damage and contributing to human rights abuses in the Philippines in pursuit of lucrative profit. By working especially in conflict zones, miners have contributed to the murder of many human rights and environmental activists, including eleven of our colleagues who have been murdered in the last 5 years.
Frank Nally SSC, a missionary in the Philippines for several years, Dr Robert Goodland, the former Senior Environmental Advisor to the World Bank, and Clive Wicks, Conservation and Development Consultant, with other colleagues in the UK-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP-UK), have been assisting Philippine Churches and NGOs for the past six years to put mining onto a much more responsible basis while engaging the Philippine Government.
In 2006, Clare Short MP headed our fact-finding delegation to the Philippines where we visited mine sites with the Columban Fathers. We were invited by Peter Beckingham, the then UK Ambassador in Manila, to a meeting about mining, along with Philippine Government Secretaries (ministers) responsible for the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources and the President’s Minerals Development Council and the Chamber of Mines. Clare Short shared her insights on visiting rural communities and Indigenous Peoples affected by mining and summed up her experience by stating that she had “never seen anything as systematically destructive as the mining programme in the Philippines”. She was particularly concerned that many of the UK based mining companies were raising funds in the City of London for potentially disastrous projects. She was also critical of the use of UK World Bank funding to finance dangerous mining operations.
She challenged the Philippine Government to demonstrate that it will adhere to its own laws and international mining best practice by refusing mining applications which would damage the remaining tropical forests, endemic Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and marine ecosystems, water catchments, agriculture and fisheries and the millions of livelihoods that depend on healthy ecosystems. At the time human rights violations included extra-judicial killings were rampant, which remain a huge concern for Governments, national and international organisations including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Amnesty International.
One of the worst projects the delegation examined is the SMI – Xstrata-managed Tampakan Copper-Gold project in South Cotabato in Mindanao. It is situated in a conflict area where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against travel. Xstrata, a UK-registered company propose to create an 800 meter deep opencast mine in a critical water catchment for four agricultural provinces in an area of high seismic activity.
It is also an area where four militant groups are operating.
We agree with the Secretary (minister) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Administrator of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) who were not consulted and oppose this mine. We reviewed Xstrata’s own 3,000 page Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) which states (in an Annex) that “the Tampakan mine has a high potential for loss of life and high environmental damage if the facilities fail”, referring to the probability that the 2.1 km long 280 meter high tailings dam – which could contain up to 1.35 billion metric tons of toxic rock high in arsenic, plus millions of gallons of polluted water – will fail catastrophically at some stage. A tailings dam collapse will kill many people in this earthquake zone. The dams and a waste rock stack 300 meters high will sit forever in a vital water-catchment atop a mountain above six rivers supplying water to 4 provinces. This is at the heart of Central Mindanao’s bread basket. The dam sits on top of a complex network of fault lines and close to Mount Matutum, an active volcano.4 This mine , we believe, would never be permitted in the UK on environmental and health and safety grounds. Dr Goodland and Clive Wicks review ESIAs for Governments and NGOs. See attached 10 page review of Xstrata’s 3,000 page ESIA.
Recently the situation in Tampakan has deteriorated substantially. Local people, including Indigenous People and Security Guards employed by the UK’s G4S, through their subsidiary Catena Security, are involved and some have being killed recently. Mining companies should not impose themselves on communities using force either with their own Security agents and paramilitaries or enlisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Philippine National Police (PNP). Further, SMI-Xstrata are acting without a valid Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) which has been twice refused by the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources because of a Local Government ban on open-cast mining in South Cotabato.
Dr Goodland and Mr Wicks visited the UK Embassy in Manila in January this year expecting to find support for communities, as our reports and maps, including our “Philippines: Mining or Food?” were given to the Embassy in Manila in 2010. The maps were made with assistance from United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP – WCMC) in Cambridge. The UK Embassy in Manila, is fully aware of the serious dangers that mines, such as the Xstrata’s SMITampakan copper-gold mine, pose to the environment, biodiversity and peoples there. In the Tampakan project areas these include Muslims, Christians and several Indigenous communities of four agricultural provinces.
While Ambassador Stephen Lillie told us that his mandate from the FCO is to help UK business in the Philippines, we were shocked that Xstrata was included and supported by this general policy. In his blog, Ambassador Lillie states that “the London-listed Xstrata is an investor in the Tampakan mining project in Mindanao, potentially the largest ever foreign investment project in the Philippines”. He also states that “the national mining law has been commended as a model of international good practice for nurturing the industry while providing safeguards. But its provisions are sometimes thwarted by contradictory local regulations”.
The Ambassador fails to mention that the laws are not being enforced and there are virtually no safeguards being implemented. The Philippine Department for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has the contradictory role of being the mining promotion and regulatory agency and also has the task of environmental protection. Thus it is much more concerned with selling mining licenses than protecting the environment, enforcing environmental the laws and ensuring compliance of companies with human rights protocols. DENR’s own senior staff stated recently that they have neither the staff nor the finances to monitor and control large or small scale mining.
The Ambassador shows bias in questioning the right of Local Government to pass laws banning open pit mining to protect their environment, agricultural production and the human rights of their people as mandated by the Local Government Code. The reality is that some Local Governments are trying to enforce laws when the National Government fails to do so. The Provincial Government of South Cotabato, where the proposed site of the Xstrata mine is situated, has already banned open pit mining, including the Tampakan mine, but Xstrata-SMI is trying to have the ban lifted or deemed illegal. The Ambassador also blames small-scale miners for a lot of the mine pollution when the reality is that it was the large miners who have created the biggest disasters, such as in Marinduque island in 1996.
There are hundreds of abandoned large mines in the Philippines, most of which are causing environmental problems. The Ambassador places all the responsibility for ensuring that regulations are being obeyed on the Philippine Government and none on Her Majesty’s Government’s ability to influence its companies.
It is our experience that in other countries, notably Kenya and Burma, UK Ambassadors consistently call Governments to account and advocate respect for environmental laws and human rights.
The World Bank in Manila and ourselves have recommended that the DENR should be given the prime responsibility and financial capacity to enable it to enforce environmental laws and regulations while responsibility for mining, oil and gas licenses should be managed by a different Department with proper oversight and regard for other economic interests (agriculture, fisheries, eco-tourism) by other Government Departments and Civil Society. We have written to the President of the Philippines and briefed ministers and advisers about our support for civil society concerns on mining and specifically on the subject of the Tampakan mine and we have held meetings with Xstrata since 2007.
Xstrata-SMI, backed by the UK Ambassador, will set a terrible example for others including Chinese mining companies which are now beginning to invest and operate in the Philippines. If the Tampakan Mine is allowed no watercatchment or ecosystem will be safe!
We offer to brief your staff and the FCO regarding this project and mining issues in general in the Philippines. In addition, we request that your Office investigate our complaint about Ambassador Lillie in Manila regarding his support for a company that is likely to cause massive environmental damage and further human rights abuses. The Xstrata-SMI mine, should it proceed, will further exacerbate conflict, damage water supplies and most probably cause the loss of livelihoods for tens of thousands of poor farmers.
Frank Nally SSC Clive Wick Dr Robert Goodland
Chair WGMP-UK Member WGMP-UK Member of WGMP-UK
Conservation and Development Consultant Environmental and Economic Consultant
cc Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council
Rt Hon William Hague MP First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Foreign and
Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP Leader of the Labour Party
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP Secretary of State for International Development
Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Ivan Lewis MP Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Mary Creagh MP Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
H.E. Stephen Lille UK Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines
Encl. DRAFT Response to Xstrata/Indophil/SMI’s ESIA of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine Project in
Mindanao, Philippines (September 2011. Last updated 03 July 2012)
WGMP-UK Members : Cathal Doyle, Irish Centre For Human Rights; Frank Nally SSC, Columbans; Ellen Teague, Vocation for Justice, Columbans; Geoff Nettleton, PIPLinks; Andy Whitmore, PIPLinks; Clive Wicks, Conservation and Development Consultant; Dr Robert Goodland Environmental and Economic Consultant.