MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Gold, Copper and Death

Published by MAC on 2012-11-05
Source: Statements, Sun Star, Gulf News, Rappler, Inquirer (2012-10-30)

The fall-out from the murder of family members of a tribal leader opposing Xstrata's Tampkan project continues (see: Philippines: Tampakan violence claims the lives of tribal woman and her children). A number of organisations have issued statements or written to the authorities, and the Commission on Human Rights has agreed to investigate. The whole situation seems to inch closer towards more explosive violence.

Protests at Xstrata offices about Tampakan killings
Protests at Xstrata offices about Tampakan killings.

Such killings are also being seen in the national context of continued violence against indigenous and environmental activists. In Caraga, the 'anti-mining' environmentalist Dr. Isidro Olan has survived a shooting incident. There has been on-line outrage after campaigner Esperlita Garcia was arrested for libel over objections to magnetite mining.

The arrest has done nothing to dampen opposition, and there have even been arrests of illegal magnetite miners. Whereas environmentalists have welcomed this in Zamboanga, the small-scale miners competing with TVI Pacific and their political protectors have been cleared away.

There are continuing reactions to the aftermath of Philex's tailings spill in the Cordillera, as similar concern is cast on other mines.

However, the Government apparently believes that the EITI - with its limited mandate around financial transparency - will be the magic solution to all such future problems.

Ironically, until the spill, Philex itself was the poster-boy for how trustworthy the industry had now become.

Gold, Copper and Death in Tampakan!

Stop the Killings! End the Violence!

It’s murder in cold blood!

Tampakan Forum statement

25 October 2012

We are appalled and deeply indignant of the killing of three (3) family members of the Capion family belonging to the B’laan community in Tampakan, South Cotabato during a raid by the military in their farm house.

The massacre was perpetrated on Thursday October 18, 2012 at about 6:30 in the morning in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal Aliong, Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato. According to the initial report of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), the suspected perpetrators are members of 27th Infantry Battalion of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reportedly, led by 1stLt. Dante Jimenez, the commanding officer of Bravo Company and under the overall command of Lt. Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo, the Battalion Commander.The victims were identified as: Juvy Capion, 27 years old, mother of the children who is said to be three (3) months pregnant, Jordan Capion, 13 years old, John Capion, 8 years old. Vicky Capion, 4 years old, was able to escape. She sustained a gunshot wound to her left ear and remains traumatized by the tragic incident and Reesa Piang, 11years old, a relative who also witnessed the whole tragedy.

We call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to conduct an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation taking into on account the following:

We demand:

  • President Aquino, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force of the Philippines, order a total pull-out of the 27th IB from Tampakan as their presence only put innocent lives in jeopardy and make them prey to further violence at the hands of G4S Security Forces, paramilitary and fanatics trained by the AFP. Together, they cause a spiral of violence adding fuel to the resource conflict in Tampakan since the Mining Act of 1995 was enacted.
  • Investigation of the suspected perpetrators by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and consequent prosecution should be initiated promptly with haste and resolve so that justice be given to the victims and their families
  • The total cessation of the operation/presence of SMI–Xstrata, Indophil Resources and local partners in the Tampakan copper—gold project, in order to diffuse and relieve the deep-seated enmity among the B’laans themselves. SMI group have no reason to be conducting any activities since it has not obtained an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) to justify any development activities in the area.

Stop the divide and rule tactics. End the killings. Scrap the FTAA of SMI.
Justice to the victims and families of Tampakan Massacre!

Tampakan Forum is a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue convened by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) in collaboration with Social Action Marbel, AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS) and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP-UK) and IUCN CESP-SEAPRISE, CBCP-NASSA, LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights),Task Force Detainees Philippines (TFDP), PhilRights, and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)Groups blame Xstrata-SMI: "Their blood are in your hands!"


Mining is root cause of killing of indigenous peoples, envi advocates

Tampakan Forum Press Release

25 October 2012

Manila-Anti-mining and human rights group led an indignation rally at the Sagittarius Mines Inc.-Xstrata (SMI-Xstrata) Head Office in Makati, Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame early today condemning the massacre of Capion Family in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur last October 18.

Tampakan Forum, a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue, blames the massacre to the U$5.2-billion gold-copper mining project-one of the largest mining investments in South-East Asia by SMI-Xstrata.

Facts of the Case

October 18, early morning. The 27th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army under the command of Lt. Dante Jimenez, raided the Capion farmhouse and strafed their nipa hut killing Juvy, 27 mother of four and wife of Daguil Capion, Jordan, 13, and John, 8. John was shot close-range.

Two other children, Ressa Piang and Becky Capion, were targeted when Aileen Capion, a relative of the family, called on the military men to stop shooting.

Aileen Capion recalled calling on the military: "Ayaw ninyo unsaa and mga bata, akoa na ang mga bata (Do nor harm the children. I will take custody of them)." A plea to which the military replied, "Mas maayo nga tiwason ang mga bata para wala'y witness (Better to finish off the children so that there will be no witnesses.)"

The military then claimed that there was an encounter between their group and the New Peoples' Army, which Daguil Capion is a member. However, witnesses and initial investigations say otherwise.

Emmanuel Amistad, executive director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, said: "It was not an encounter. The Philippine Army massacred unarmed, innocent civilians. They should not only be relieved; they should be dishonorably dismissed from service and criminal charges filed against them.

"The Capion famly were like meek lambs led to slaughter. They are not collateral damage, they are victims of human rights violations and for this, the military should be held responsible"Amistad concluded.

Atty. Mario E. Maderazo of PMPI said: "President Aquino should order the immediate pull-out of the 27th Infantry Battallion in Tampakan to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)."

He added that his tragic incident and the past unsolved killings and human rights violations are enough reasons not to allow the Tampakan Mining project to proceed.

Mayor of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur calls for the capture of Daguil Capion ‘dead or alive'

Meanwhile, after the incident, Mayor Marivic Diamante of Kiblawan, announced a reward of Php 300, 000 for the captivity of Daguil Capion, dead or alive. She said it is to avoid a pangayaw (tribal instigated war) where the B'laan community might take revenge. (Reported by Inquirer Mindanao, 20 October 2012). ATM denounced this call by Mayor Diamante, accusing her of sowing more fear and tension in the area, instead of calling for sobriety and peaceful resolution of the case.

Reports last October 23 also said that the two children who survived were riding a habal-habal (motorcycle) on the way to Bishop Dinaulaldo Gutierrez house to seek refuge when a certain Josephine Malid, staff of SMI-Xstrata-supported foundation hailed them and asked them to ride a white truck, owned by the mining firm.

It was reported that Mayor Diamante wanted to take the two children to Davao, despite the fact that they were already with their relatives from the area. Atty. Cristina Hawtay of Commission on Human Rights Region XII pacified the tug-of-war between Diamante's group and Daguil Capion's mother. The children are now with the Social Action Center of Marbel.

Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator said: "It is very clear that there is connivance by the mining company, the military and the local government units, even. It is very ironic that the mayor of Kiblawan is on the side of the military asking for the head of Capion, when she should lead seeking justice for the killing of the Capion family.

"Contrary to the claim of SMI-Xstrata that they will help the development of communities-THEY CAUSED THE KILLING ANTI-MINING ADVOCATES, AND EVEN CIVILIANS, AND THAT'S BLOOD IN THEIR HANDS. Capion and other tribal leaders are tasked to protect their ancestral domains, and it is for this reason that they have a strong stand against mining that will literally take away their land, but this is not respected by the mining companies-they resort to harassment, militarization, different forms of human rights violations to silence the opposition."

The SMI-Xstrata Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) for the Tampakan Gold-Copper Mining Project covers 23, 571 hectares in four provinces namely, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Saranggani. The permit overlaps four ancestral domains including CADT 102, CADT 108, CADT 72 and CADC 74.

For more information:
Emmanuel Amistad, TFDP Executive Director
Atty. Mario Maderazo, PMPI-AMC Project Coordinator
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 

Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Research&Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61


Philippines rights commission launches probe into killing of family

Human rights group claim shooting was attempt at repression by mining companies

By Gilbert P. Felongco

Gulf News

20 October 2012

Manila: The Philippines' Commission on Human Rights (CHR) plans to investigate the killing of the family of a tribal leader in southern Philippines after various groups condemned the incident.

Loretta Anne Rosales, of CHR, said she will personally visit the site of the incident in Sitio, in Kimlawis, Davao del Sur province, where three members of the Capion family were killed after soldiers shot at their house.

According to reports, the soldiers, from the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, were looking for Daquil Capion, who is a leader of the local tribe of the B'laan, who oppose the activities of foreign-owned Sagittarius Mines Inc and Xstrata in the area of Tampakan, South Cotabato, which is adjacent to Davao del Sur.

Capion's wife Juvy, who was thought to have been pregnant, and their children Pop, 13, and John, 8, were killed in the attack, while their daughter Vicky was wounded.

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The soldiers allegedly laid the bodies out in the open in an attempt to draw Capion, who is under investigation in a murder case, into handing himself into authorities.

The project in Tampakan is one of the largest mines of its kind in the country, straddling the boundaries of four provinces and the activities are expected to displace more than 30,000 B'laan peoples.

According to Karapatan, the human rights group, Capion's tribe, the Bong Mal, have long opposed the incursion of mining into their lands. His uncle, Gorelmin Malid, was murdered in 2002 and there have been repeated abuses. In June 2012, Capion and other leaders invoked a pangayaw, or tribal war, to protect themselves.

Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan Peoples Network, an environmental group, claimed the killing of the family was "a clear attempt at violently subduing opponents of the Tampakan Mining Project. Instead of addressing the ecological, economic and social impacts of foreign large-scale mining companies, the government of President Benigno Aquino III chose to simply silence the critics that have exposed and opposed these crimes to the environment. Justice must be immediately dispensed for all victims of human rights violations, especially for our environmental defenders.

"We call for the permanent and final cancellation of the Tampakan project that has indirectly claimed so many lives over the years and has been the source of increasing social strife and bloodshed even way before it starts operating. Let us not abet the killing of more people and the rich natural wealth of the country's lands."


Outrage sweeps Mindanao over Tampakan massacre

By Warren Cahayag

Davao Today

22 October 2012

They are demanding the military to account for such "act of barbarity", saying that relieving the perpetrators is not enough but the pull-out of these troops "who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites."

Tupi, South Cotabato - Anti-mining advocates led by church, lumads and progressive groups in Socsksargen and Davao strongly condemn the brutal slaying of the family of a Blaan anti mining leader in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

They are demanding the military to account for such "act of barbarity", saying that relieving the perpetrators is not enough but the pull-out of these troops "who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites."

The Mindanao Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) said that the killing of Juvy Capion, the pregnant wife of anti-mining indigenous leader Daguil Capion and his two sons "was intentional and not a result of an encounter as claimed by the Philippine army."

A fact finding mission initiated in the area by the Marbel diocese and other groups learned from family members and neighbors of the Capions that elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' 27th Infantry Battalion strafed the hut of Capion in Sitio Datal-Alyong, Barangay Danlag, Tampakan at 6 am of October 18.

Juvy, two-months pregnant, and her two sons, aged 13 and 8, were killed immediately, while her five-year-old daughter Vicky was wounded. Daguil who was tending to his farm some two hundred meters away from the house heard the gunshots and hurriedly escaped thinking he was being targeted.

Juvy and her two sons, Jan-Jan and Jorge, were also found out to have sustained gunshot wounds in the head.

The mission team found out that the bodies of the victims were dragged out of the house by the perpetrators and exposed to elements for hours in an attempt to compel Daguil's surrender.

The 27th IB headed by a certain Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo in a radio interview claimed the incident was "a legitimate encounter" between his men and Red Pangayaw led by Daguil.

But Secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Socsksargends Ryan Lariba disputes this saying Bravo was "threading patent lies to conceal the atrocity," which was the latest in the recent spate of attacks against staunch anti-mining campaigners in Mindanao.

A heightened attack against anti-mining tribal leaders

The environmental group, Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) accounted 28 environment defenders killed under President Benigno Aquino III in two years.

Prior to the incident, Gilbert Paborada, a lumad leader in Northern Mindanao was killed on October 3. He was the third lumad leader killed this year under the present administration, based on the data of indigenous peoples partylist, Katribu.

The group cited Matigsalug leader Jimmy Liguyon of San Fernando, Bukidnon who was killed in March, and followed by Banwaon leader Genesis Ambason in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, on September 13. They were both reportedly killed by paramilitary troops.

The three indigenous leaders are known for staunchly opposing projects forcibly implemented in their ancestral lands, particularly mining.

Representative Luz Ilagan of Gabriela Women's Party, a Mindanao affairs advocate, notes that there are "heightened military attacks against anti-mining tribal leaders in Mindanao," citing that the Capions have been opposing the operation of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated-Xstrata (SMI-Xstrata) in their area.

Daguil, according to environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, is among the tribal chieftains of the communities spanned by the mining claims of SMI-Xstrata in the region. These communities are Danlag, Salnaong, Pula Bato, Bong Mal, and Datal Biao in the Municipalities of Tampakan; Kiblawan in Davao Del Sur; and Columbio, in Sultan Kudarat.

Juvy was a member of Kalgad, a local lumad organization that has taken a strong stance against SMI-Xstrata's extraction of rich gold and copper deposits in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.

SMI's Tampakan Project is said to displace an estimated 30,000 Blaan peoples out of their ancestral territories.

Blood in SMI-Xstrata's hands

Panalipdan sad Daguil is targeted by the military for leading the B'laan tribe's pangayaw (tribal war) in June against the mining company.

In waging the pangayaw , the tribesmen attacked SMI's security, machines, and equipment.

Kalumaran said the fact that the AFP and Xstrata-SMI "have been reeling from the opposition posed by the Blaan people's pangayaw against the mining company's open-pit encroachment, and the murder of Daguil's family shows they are on a murderous rage."

The National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organization in the Philippines, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) cites that the Blaan declared pangayaw or tribal war against SMI was "just."

"It is entrenched in the culture of the indigenous peoples to defend their land and life. For centuries, we defended our lands against the plunder of our territories and the killing of our people. SMI is a threat to the way of life and the survival of the Blaan people. The pangayaw being waged is just," Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said in a statement.

"However, the merciless murder of the unarmed and children are inexcusable. The military act as the security force of foreign business and interests, and not of the people," Malayao added.

Gabriela's Ilagan noted that one year after the death of anti-mining activist Fr. Fausto "Pops" Tentorio the deaths of environmental activists in Mindanao continue. She said, "Indigenous families, including children are now direct targets in the Aquino government's continued defense of mining corporations."

The Gabriela solon also said the Tampakan massacre "highlights the Aquino government's low regard and disdain over indigenous peoples defending ancestral lands from unhampered mining and plunder."

She maintained that Aquino's counter-insurgency scheme, Oplan Bayanihan and his policy of deploying military units and militias for the use of mining corporations "has resulted to the evacuation and displacement of thousands, the deaths of indigenous leaders and activists and the continued plunder of our mineral resources."

Ilagan said they hold President Aquino responsible for these continued attacks.

Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan, a Blaan from Sarangani, believes the incident must compel the Aquino government to immediately relieve, not only the commanding officer of the 27th IB but the officialdom of the Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP.

"More importantly the Aquino government must repeal its mining liberalization policy reinforced by EO 79 and legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995 as these clearly bring death and destruction to indigenous communities," he said.

Katribu meanwhile calls on the Department of Justice to form an independent fact finding board that will determine the extent violations done by the 27th IBPA and file necessary charges.

Katribu National President Beverly Longid in a statement said they have doubts over the board of inquiry that the military claimed it had formed to look into the Tampakan incident. "As early as now, the members of the 27th IBPA is lying to say that what happened is an encounter with Daguil Group," Longid added.

Call to action

Bayan-Socsksargends, together with its allied groups have picketed the SMI office in Bula Road in General Santos City to condemn the Tampakan Massacre and call for swift justice for victims.

Around 1,000 bishops, pastors and lay church workers under the nationwide membership of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) have also embarked on a "National Caravan Against Large Scale Mining and Impunity" this Monday.

Pastor Jay Sichon, National President of the UCCP-United Church Worker's Organization (UCCP-UCWO) in a statement said their national caravan, affirms the mission and vision of their church to uphold justice, peace and integrity of creation in the service of God and the people."

Sichon said, their church "stands in solidarity with the Filipino people in opposing the massive influx of large-scale mining which has caused the severe deterioration of the environment and led to the perpetuation of militarization, human rights violations of those who stand in the way of aggressors."

Meanwhile, defenders and advocates for the environment led by Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao will hold a public forum today from 9am to 12 noon at the Ateneo De Davao University President's Board Room, to press calls for justice for the Capion family and all those martyred for defending Filipino lands to large-scale destructive mining. (Warren Cahayag, davaotoday.com)


Tribal war feared over killings of Blaan members

By Allan Nawal, Aquiles Zonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

21 October 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines - The sister of a tribal leader whose wife and two children were killed in a military operation last Thursday, said a "pangayaw" (tribal war) could erupt due to the killings.

Rita Dialang, younger sister of Dagil, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that the two-month pregnant Juvy, her children - Pop, 13 and John, 8 - were mercilessly killed, and because of that, "pangayaw is very possible." "It was not only our family, which was hurt deeply. Our people are in pain too. They were asking what sin Juvy and her children had committed to deserve such deaths," Dialang, also the family's spokesperson, said in Visayan.

She said for the B'laans, the killings were quite depressing but these had not weakened their resolve to fight for their rights and their way of life against aggression.

The Capion family maintains that Dagil has been waging a tribal-sanctioned war against the intrusion of Sagittarius Mines Inc., which allegedly has displaced many B'laans in the boundaries of Tampakan, South Cotabato and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Dialang, who lives in a community adjacent to Sitio Alyong in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, the place of the killings last Thursday, said they were awakened by the sound of automatic gunfire early morning Thursday.

"We heard the gunshots from the direction of Dagil's house so we rushed outside. We saw human figures in dark clothes outside Dagil's house so we hurriedly went to the area," Dialang said.

She said although Dagil's house was visible from her own home, the uphill climb towards it made the trek last for nearly an hour.

"The soldiers were still there when we arrived. Dagil's neighbors are also already in the area," Dialang said.

Based on what neighbors had told her and members of the Capion clan, Dialang said Dagil was not in the house when the soldiers opened fire at it.

"So he was not injured, contrary to the claims of the military," she said.

Dialang said that by all accounts, the killing of Dagil's family did not happen in an encounter as the military has been claiming.

"It was a massacre. They were unarmed and sleeping. Dagil was not around and nobody from our family's side could have started the firefight," she said.

Dialang said the soldiers could be standing close to Juvy and her children because - except for Vicky, 7, who survived with an injury on the lower part of the body - Juvy and her two sons suffered gunshot wounds in the head.

Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, the Army unit seen as responsible for the killings, said the victims were killed in the crossfire when soldiers responded as they were being fired upon by Dagil and his men.

"We did not know there were unarmed civilians inside," he said, adding that the military launched an operation against Dagil, who has been sought for murder and other crimes.

Bravo said the soldiers involved in the killings had been relieved, were called back to headquarters and also placed under investigation "for possible operational lapses."

Dialang said Dagil, along with her brothers Kitari and Batas, were being persecuted for defending the B'laans.

"They were not engaged in banditry as authorities had been claiming," she said.

Dialang said Dagil and her two other brothers had decided to stand up against abuses, including the murder in 2002 of another relative by men believed to be government agents.

"Before, we just agree to what influential people would ask us to do. But now, we are fighting," she said.

But why have the Capion brothers been leading the fight?

Dialang said the Capion family has been leading the B'laans in many issues for many years now.

She said members of the tribe would often seek the help of any member of her family to address problems.

Batas is the recognized "settler" while Kitari, the youngest of the Capion siblings provided assistance.

Dagil is the fighter among the Capion siblings and had been leading the armed struggle against SMI and people perceived to be protecting its interest, Dialang said.

"The words of moneyed people are what the public tends to believe. Because we are poor, we are seen as plain bandits even if what we are doing is in defense of our ancestral domain and our way of life," she said.

Maj. Jacob Obligado, 10th ID civil-military operations officer, said all allegations have been included in the investigation being conducted by the Board of Inquiry, which, Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th ID, has formed.

Obligado said that in the meantime, the Army's concern has been to provide assistance to the Capion family in coordination with the local tribal council, and beef up security in the area.


Justice for the Capion Family

Letter to the Editor

23 October 2012

We in the Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders join the nation in mourning the death of Juvy Capion, a pregnant mother and member of tribal organization Kalgad, and her sons John and Pops.

They are a B'laan family determined to protect their land and environment from the threat of Xstrata-SMI's Tampakan gold-copper project. Juvy's husband, Daguil, declared a Pangayaw, a traditional declaration of war to protect their land from the errant mining corporation after years of fruitless struggles in court and other venues of negotiation. On October 17, elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army sprayed bullets onto the hut where Juvy and her children were still sleeping, cued by the words "finish them off!" according to what relatives living nearby overheard.

The 27th IBPA would have us believe that the operation was a legitimate encounter with Daguil's armed warriors. But a subsequent fact-finding mission conducted by the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Marbel and rights group Karapatan, among others, belied these claims.

This massacre, like the many affronts to the human rights of environmental defenders before it, is exactly the reason why the beleaguered people of mining-affected communities take to arms. Mining transnational corporations (TNCs) and state authorities resort to the violent repression of opponents to destructive large-scale mining instead of addressing its resultant ecological destruction and economic dislocation that the people criticized.

The same old policies that perpetuated brazen impunity towards anti-mining activists have been perpetrated by Pres. Benigno Aquino III. While the Mining Act of 1995 remains in force to perpetrate the wanton plunder of mineral resources by mining TNCs, the Aquino government instituted Executive Order 79 to override local government codes and environmental laws to further mining liberalization.

Demonstrating a complete disregard for the rights and peace of communities, Aquino also gave continuity to the government's militarization especially of mining-affected communities as a means of protecting mining investments. Aquino continued to deploy Investment Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as CAFGUs, SCAAs and other paramilitary groups to viciously crack down on all opposition towards large-scale mines, using the banner of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan as well.

The Capion massacre marks up the number of environmental activists killed since the Aquino administration to 24 of which 13 occurred this year alone. This makes 2012 the bloodiest year for environmental activists. Despite the unabated killings and rights violations, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Justice (DOJ) and other related agencies have done little and have resolved none of these cases.

A case in point is the failure of CHR and DOJ to release up to the present an investigative report regarding infamous killings of world renowned botanist Leonard Co and two of his companions by suspected elements of the Philippine Army. If this is not the height of incompetence of these agencies, we can only surmise that this inaction is a deliberate effort to deny justice to the victims and their families.

It is therefore justified and should be no wonder if the B'laan people declare Pangayaw not only against Xstrata-SMI but to state forces as well. So long as the Aquino government continues to fail in addressing the destruction, plunder and injustice brought by foreign, large-scale mining, the people will continue to rise up against its tyranny and struggle for their rights.

Justice for the Capion Family and all victims of HRVs! Pull out and punish the 27th IBPA now and dismantle all paramilitary groups!

Reference:

Fr. Oliver Castor
Spokeperson, Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City Philippines 1100
(Kalikasan-PNE is a convener organization of TF-JED)


Blaan family massacred, IP killings rise to 28

KAMP statement

19 October 2012

The Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) condemns the massacre of a Blaan family in the Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) mine site in Tampakan, South Cotabato. Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson, described the killings as "barbaric, and their killers are the most brutal."

Elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines strafed the hut where Juvy Capion, 27, and her three children were resting. The gunfire killed the pregnant Juvy and her children Janjan, 7, and Pop, 13. Her daughter, Vicky, 5, was wounded.

"This act of brutality against the most vulnerable sector, indigenous women and children reflects the mindset of the Aquino administration that allows this kind of violence to persist and go unpunished." Malayao said. "It is also shows how the State violates the people's rights in favor of big business, especially large-scale and foreign-owned mining."

The KARAPATAN-Socsksargen report said that after the strafing, the 27th IB laid the dead out in the sun to coerce Jovy's husband, Dagil Capion, to surrender. Dagil is a tribal leader of the Blaan community resisting the entry of Sagittarius Mines Inc, and has gained the bile of the mining company and their security forces.

Defense of ancestral domains just

"The Blaan declared pangayaw or tribal war against SMI in June", says KAMP. "It is entrenched in the culture of the indigenous peoples to defend their land and life. For centuries, we defended our lands against the plunder of our territories and the killing of our people. SMI is a threat to the way of life and the survival of the Blaan people. The pangayaw being waged is just," Malayao claimed.

In waging the pangayaw , the tribesmen attacked SMI's security, machines, and equipment this year. SMI's Tampakan Project is poised to displace 30,000 Blaan peoples out of their ancestral territories.

"However, the merciless murder of the unarmed and children are inexcusable. The military act as the security force of foreign business and interests, and not of the people." Malayao maintained.

Malayao also shared that the Bong Mal community, the base of resistance against large-scale mining in the area, has continually been in the receiving end of human rights violations for years since mining companies encroached in their ancestral territory. "Dagil is the nephew of Blaan leader Gorelmin Malid, who was slain back in 2002. This resistance and defense of ancestral lands runs throughout families. By the action made by the AFP , and the persistence of SMI to mine their lands, this tribal war will run through generations."

28 indigenous peoples slain under Aquino

KAMP claims that the three killings raised the death toll of indigenous peoples under Aquino to 28.

According to KAMP data, just last October 13, 2012 another indigenous leader, Gilbert Paborada was killed. He led his people against the entry of A. Brown Palm Oil Plantation in Opol, Misamis Oriental. "The trend of killings is indicates the determination of the Aquino government to sell-out our resources to foreign investors despite the strong opposition of ingenous peoples," Malayao declared.

KAMP demands the immediate pullout of military forces in indigenous communities, and justice and indemnification for the extrajudicial killings.

"The killings seeks to weaken the defense of indigenous peoples to their lands. The State's systematic persecution and violation of our rights only intensified our peoples resistance against plunder and repression," Malayao asserted.

Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, near Quezon Avenue corner EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City
(02) 412-5340
www.katutubongmamamayan.org


Gunman shoots environmentalist opposed to destructive mining, illegal logging in Southern Philippines

Mindanao Examiner

30 October 2012

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2012) - An unidentified gunman shot and wounded the head of an environmental group who was opposing destructive mining and illegal logging operations in the southern Philippines, according to Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

It said Dr. Isidro Olan, executive director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation, was shot while he was driving home in the town of Carmen in Surigao del Sur on Monday afternoon.

"Dr. Olan was a passionate environment defender who opposed destructive and large-scale mining as well as illegal logging activities in Cantilan and other areas of Surigao del Sur. We ask for everyone's prayers for Dr. Olan's immediate recovery, and for justice to be swiftly exacted upon the assassins and their clients as well," Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson for the Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders, said in a statement sent Tuesday to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The motive of the attack is still unknown, but Castor said there could be no other motivation to assassinate Olan than his staunch opposition to ecologically destructive projects in their areas.

"If the Aquino government claims to be hard workers for the protection of human rights, we demand to hear about their work on Dr. Olan's case now. In fact, we would like to hear what about what they have done now about the 61 extrajudicial killings of environment defenders we recorded since 2001 that remains languishing in court up to the present," the priest said.

Clemente Bautista, convener of the Defend Patrimony Alliance, said the failed assassination of Olan sent a chilling effect to environmental advocates.

"It's not even Halloween and yet this latest attack on Dr. Olan already produces a chilling effect to environmental advocates. The year 2012 is already the bloodiest year for environmental advocates in this new millennium, and it infuriates us to remember that President Benigno Aquino dismissed the ever mounting cases of human rights violations in the country is dismissed as just propaganda of the Left. Is the attempt to take the life of Dr. Olan for his defense of the environment not real enough for Aquino?" Bautista asked.

Both groups demanded for an immediate and independent investigation of the attempted assassination of Olan. No individuals or groups claimed responsibility for the attack.

In September, gunmen ambushed a Subanen tribal leader Timuay Locenio Manda and his son Jordan in Zamboanga del Sur province. His son was killed in the attack.

Manda, who is fighting for their ancestral lands, was heading to school to bring his son when gunmen attacked them in the town of Bayog. Two of the 5 attackers, were arrested days later.

"In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice," he said. "I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son's death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader."

Manda's group - representing the 3,000-strong Council of Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog - is claiming some 23,800 hectares of lands in the town where several mining companies are operating.

Government authorities recently shut down illegal mining activities in Bayog and charged at least 16 people, including a town councilor, accused as one of the mining financiers. (Mindanao Examiner)


CaragaWatch Strongly Condemns Shooting of Staunch Environmental Activist Dr. Isidro Olan!

CaragaWatch statement

30 October 2012

On October 29, 2012 at around 3:30 in the afternoon, Dr. Isidro Olan, founding president and executive director of Lovers of Nature Foundation was shot by identified men while he and his wife were on their way home in Brgy. Puyat, Carmen, Surigao del Sur. Dr. Olan is one of the most vocal and known anti-logging and anti-mining activist in the Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (CarCanMadCarLan) area of Surigao del Sur. Dr. Olan along with the local environmental groups and the Catholic Church are actively campaigning to stop mining in the area, have been exposing the rising illegal logging of CarCanMadCarLan forests and are calling for the election of pro-environment candidates.

In September of this year, local environmental groups and organizations exposed the increasing illegal logging in the area by those allegedly close to the higher ups in government despite the implementation of Pres. Aquino's Executive Order 23 declaring a nationwide total log ban and increased military presence. They are also strongly calling for the termination of mining operations in the area. There are 2 nickel and gold mining companies in the agricultural town of Cantilan (Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.; Carac-an Development Corp.) covering almost 10,000 hectares of land, while close to 12,000 hectares are being mined by 2 companies in neighboring Carrascal town (C.T.P Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Co.) with 1 mining exploration in Carmen.

The shooting of Dr. Isidro Olan is but one of the countless attempts to silence the growing clamor of the people of Caraga to put a stop to the increasing number of destructive large scale operations of mining, logging and plantations in the region. Sixteen (16) of the country's mining operations are in Caraga and as of June 2012 there are 57 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements covering 134,994.9880 hectares or 7% of Caraga's land area. There are 3 palm oil plantations and 3 banana plantations scattered in the region and a number of wood-based companies in operation. Leaders of people's organizations, environmental groups, even local government officials that oppose mining, logging and plantations are being harassed, threatened and trumped up criminal cases have and are being filed against them in the different courts in the region. Communities opposed to mining and plantations are being militarized under Pres. Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan which has resulted to forced evacuations. There are 6 military battalions and 2 infantry brigades currently deployed as Investment Security Forces around the region implementing military operations within mining,logging and plantation communities. This year alone 297 lumad families with 1,106 individuals were forced to evacuate from their mountain communities in Kitcharao and Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte and Alegria and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte because of military operations and indiscriminate bombings. These communities are within or are surrounding nickel and gold mining operations and have been vocal in their opposition against these.

The shooting of Dr. Olan is no different from the killing of anti-mining activist Dr. Gerry Ortega of Palawan; Italian priest Fr. Pops Tentorio of Cotabato who fought against mining operations in Mindanao; lumad leader Gilbert Paborada of Cagayan de Oro who fought against land grabbing by a palm oil plantation in his community; Brgy. Capt. Jimmy Liguyon of Bukidnon and Brgy. Capt. Ricardo Ganad of Oriental Mindoro who both opposed the entry of mining operations in their barangays; Dutch environmentalist Willem Geertman of Pampanga; known botanist Leonard Co and the very recent massacre of the wife and 2 sons of B'Laan leader Daguel Capion who declared war against Sagittarius Mines in Tampakan .

According to Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment there have been 25 instances of killings of environmental advocates under Pres. Aquino's administration. Despite the increasing killings and human rights violations happening under his watch, Pres. Aquino has not been taking significant steps to stop the atrocities. He has even reached the point of denying such human rights violations calling these mere "propaganda of the left" in an interview in New Zealand. Pres. Aquino has recently been to New Zealand and Australia to encourage foreign mining investments to the Philippines.

All these are happening under the "Daang Matuwid" government of Pres. Aqunio. Like his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pres. Noynoy Aquino has maintained and improved upon government policies and programs that ensure the continued plunder of the country's natural resources. Arroyo's Investment Defense Forces (IDF), whose sole purpose is to ensure the continued mining, logging and plantation operations of large foreign and domestic companies has been renamed as the Investment Security Forces (ISF) by the Aquino administration. These increased military presence to secure large investments and ensure continued despoiling of our natural resources has given the plunderers of the land the license to use violence against the people and communities that oppose the destruction of the environment.

We strongly condemn the shooting of Dr. Isidro Olan as we condemn all violent attempts to silence the resistance of the people in Caraga and the country against the plunder of our natural resources and our national patrimony! Environmental activists will continue to make their protests against the destruction of the environment be heard. Our advocacy for the protection of the environment and the appropriate utilization of mineral resources for Filipinos will not rest. We will continue to expose environmental destruction by foreign and local resource extraction operations. Our protests against Pres.Aqunio's pro-foreign, anti-Filipino people mining programs and policies will persist.

Stop the plunder of our natural resources!

Scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995!

Scrap Pres. Aquino's Executive Order 79!

Stop the persecution of environmental activists and advocates!

Respect our rights to protect our land and our people!

For reference:

Fr. Raymond Ambray
Spokesperson, CaragaWatch
CP No: +639399023699


Online libel case aims to silence legitimate opposition to magnetite mining

Joint Press Release

22 October 2012

Green groups condemned today the filing of an online libel case and the subsequent arrest of Esperlita Garcia, president of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation (GAEPP), as an under-handed ploy to silence critics of destructive magnetite mining operations in Gonzaga, Cagayan. The case was filed by Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr., a known pro-mining kingpin in the province.

"Even with a standing TRO on the Cybercrime Prevention Act, this did not prevent Mayor Pentecostes from harassing environment leaders in their municipality with an online libel case. This clear case of state-sponsored harassment is yet another manifestation of the impunity in Cagayan towards opponents of magnetite mining operations, particularly the Lian Xing Phils Stone Carving Co. and Huaxia Mining and Trading Corporation," said Leon Dulce, spokesperson of Kalikasan Partylist and convener of Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED).

Records of TF-JED show that Garcia's case and illegal arrest is the 19th incident of human rights violation (HRV) only this year, and second this month of October alone. HRVs vary from death threats, persecution and vilification to physical harassment, community displacement and even attempted assassinations. 13 politically-motivated killings have also already been recorded this year.

"Mayor Pentecostes demonstrates once again his penchant for strong-arm tactics to cover up the various cases of freshwater contamination, coastal erosion, decreasing fish catch, fish kills and degrading aquatic ecosystems experienced by communities because of magnetite mining operations. We challenge him to face the music instead of cracking down on his critics," said Dulce.

According to the Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), an Ombudsman case was filed against Mayor Pentecostes in 2011 for the physical harassment of protesters by him and his security forces during an anti-mining mobilization. The leader-organizers of these protest actions were subjected from then up to the present to a series of incidents of intimidation, harassment, threats and militarization.

"Mayor Pentecostes' libel suit is a classic example of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) used by corporations and other powerful entities to discourage opposition to their anti-people and anti-environment projects," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.

"We call on the people of Cagayan to strengthen their resolve in struggling against magnetite mining through GAEPP. We also encourage lawyer advocates to help maximize the SLAPP defense mechanisms instituted in the Supreme Court's Annotation to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," ended Bautista.

CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Website: www.kalikasan.net


Cagayan anti-mining leader arrested over Facebook post

By Melvin Gascon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

20 October 2012

BAYOMBONG, Philippines - The leader of an anti-mining group in Cagayan was arrested Thursday for posting an allegedly libelous account about a mining issue on her Facebook page in May last year.

Esperlita Garcia said she was arrested at her home in Calayan, Gonzaga, Cagayan, on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Conrado Tabaco of the Regional Trial Court of Aparri.

"What really bothers me is how the prosecutors and the judge determined that I should be arrested when I know that the law that supposedly punishes online libel was passed only this year and was even (restrained) by the Supreme Court," said Garcia, referring to Republic Act No. 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012.

Garcia is president of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation, a people's organization that has been leading the opposition to the magnetite sand extraction project operated by Chinese firms in Gonzaga. The companies were allowed to mine magnetite sand by the Cagayan provincial government.

The libel charge was filed by Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. over an account Garcia posted on her Facebook page about an aborted antimining rally in the town on April 30, 2011.

She said she was merely giving a factual account of what had transpired during the rally where she quoted the mayor before demonstrators at St. Anthony Academy in Gonzaga.

The arrest warrant "shocked me because I had not received any notice about the case since I filed my counteraffidavit last year," Garcia told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

The Inquirer tried to reach prosecutor Mila Acacio but her staff said she was not at her office in Aparri.

A Department of Justice official based in Tuguegarao City supported Garcia's objection, saying there was no law yet against libelous statements made online.

"The reason the cybercrime law was passed was that the provisions of the Revised Penal Code do not embrace online libel. But even that law (RA 10175) is not yet in effect," said the official.

Garcia, 62, said her arrest was an act of harassment, narrating how she was taken into custody by National Bureau of Investigation agents.

"I am a senior citizen but I was treated like a hardened criminal. They did not even give me a chance to bathe or change from my house clothes. They just dragged me into a car," she said.

The agents brought Garcia to the NBI regional office in Tuguegarao City, about three hours from Gonzaga, where she was detained overnight Thursday.

On Friday, she was released after posting P10,000 bail.


Black sand mining stops in Cagayan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

29 October 2012

BUGUEY, Cagayan-Magnetite mining operations in this town and in nearby coastal areas have stopped after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided a mining site in nearby Aparri town and arrested 14 of its Chinese workers last week, an official of an environmental group said.

Art Alariao, president of the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (Feac), said heavy equipment belonging to two Chinese firms had stopped digging along beaches here while trucks had suspended delivery of processed magnetite or black sand to Port Irene in Santa Ana town.

Feac is an alliance of people's organizations opposing black sand extraction and mining activities in the province's northern coastal towns.

"We have received information that the Chinese were alarmed by the NBI raid, so they are probably playing it safe for now," Alariao said.

Before the raid was conducted on Oct. 22, he said, black sand extraction was continuing despite stoppage orders issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the provincial government.

Two Chinese firms, San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. and Lutra Inc., operate in at least 10 coastal villages here.

"We were given assurance that the NBI will stay here for as long as it takes in order to stop these illegal mining operations. We have been used to the strategy of these mining companies: they resume operations the moment law enforcers leave," Alariao said.

Residents in Aparri and Gonzaga towns also noticed the absence of mining activities since the arrest of the Chinese workers.

Trucks loaded with magnetite have not been seen plying the Dugo-San Vicente highway, the main road to Port Irene which traverses the towns of Camalaniugan, Buguey, Santa Teresita, Gonzaga and Santa Ana. Before, the residents said, as many as 40 trucks would pass the area daily.

"The transport has stopped but the processing of black sand continued. From a distance, we can see their machines working-separating the magnetite from the sand and disposing of their wastes in ponds," said Rochelle Garma, president of Gonzaga Alliance of Environmental Preservation and Protection.

Hector Eduard Geologo, NBI regional director for Cagayan Valley, could not say if there are upcoming operations against black sand mining operators in Aparri and nearby areas. "[The NBI] central office is still evaluating the results of the previous operation," he said.

He was referring to the arrest of the 14 Chinese in Barangay Dodan in Aparri. The workers, who included five engineers and a geologist, were found to have entered the country illegally and were said to be lacking work permits.

They were charged before the Department of Justice in Tuguegarao City on Wednesday with violation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. They were released on Thursday after posting bail of P2,500 each.

Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. said he had asked the Chinese companies to check the presence of illegal workers in their roster. "They assured me that their workers have been issued all the necessary papers," he said. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon


Group asks Espino's suspension over Pangasinan blacksand mining

Philippine Star

29 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Community leaders from Pangasinan will troop on Monday to Quezon City to ask the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend Gov. Amado Espino over the issue of massive blacksand mining operations in the province.

Aside from the prayer for suspension, the local leaders, belonging to the group Aromas, will also file a complaint to oppose the massive destruction of environment allegedly due to the mining and quarrying operations all over Pangasinan.

The group also alleged the continuing harassment of its leaders by the mining operators in the province.

Before the filing of the complaints, a Halloween-inspired protest will be held outside the Office of the Ombudsman to symbolically show the aftermath of the blacksand mining to the people of Pangasinan.

According to the protesters, Governor Espino will be depicted in an ‘undertaker' costume in Halloween masks holding shovel digging blacksands. Some of the protesters will also wear masks and Halloween costumes.

The group said it will also hold a protest march against blacksand mining on November 21 from their province going to Manila in time of the International Fish Day.

The group filed last year administrative cases of abuse of authority, violation of local government code and graft and corruption charges against Espino also in the Office of the Ombudsman.


Human rights violations ‘rampant' in Salcedo mining areas

Sun Star Tacloban

20 October 2012

PALO, Leye -- Government authorities have failed to enforce laws to protect human rights of the mining-affected communities in Salcedo town in Eastern Samar, according to a fact-finding report of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI).

Lawyer Mario Maderazo, PMPI legal and advocacy officer, said the lack of law enforcement has led to "pervasive lawlessness" and "environment of fear" in Barangay Carapdapan in Salcedo.

"Salcedo has been hit by several mining-related human rights violations in recent months," Maderazo said during the executive summary presentation of the report on "Mining rush in Salcedo, Eastern Samar rakes up violence and social conflicts."

"Based on the fact-finding mission result, the perceived propensity of some government authorities to favor mining companies only exacerbated the tension within the community," Maderazo added.

Extraction of chromite ore by subsistence miners and buying/trading of said ores has been observed in Salcedo, particularly in the barangays of Carapdapan, Cantomoja, Kamanga, Palanas and Cagaut.

Maderazo said there are laws and regulations on mining to protect mining affected communities from harm and violence, but their enforcement has essentially collapsed.

He cited the incident last May 1 this year when a known anti-mining advocate in the town, Francisco Canayong, was killed.

"Statements from witnesses and complainants, and documentary evidences gathered by the mission have shown the lack of effective response by authorities to the killing of Mr. Canayong and alleged threats and harassment to human rights defenders of Barangay Carapdapan has resulted in the prevailing environment of fear among the population in the said mining affected community," said Farah Gamalo of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

Gamalo said one of the mission's findings revealed that the killing was directly related to Canayong's work in the campaign against mining in Carapdapan and other parts of Salcedo.

Initial report conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Eastern Visayas, however, revealed that the killing of Cayanong could have been mining-related.

The mission, meanwhile, recommended to immediately conduct a reinvestigation using normative framework of human rights by the CHR central office into the killing of Canayong and the continuing threats and harassment to human rights defenders of Carapdapan.

The mission also urged concerned agencies to implement the cease and desist order to stop mining operations of mining companies in the affected communities issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)


Itogon mayor, councilors condemn mine firm

By Rubyloida Bitog

Sun Star Baguio

28 October 2012

ITOGON, Benguet -- Officials disapproved Benguet Corporation's opposition on applications for free patent titles of the indigenous peoples (IPs) of the municipality.

Legislative council's presiding officer, Vice Mayor Noel Ngolob, said Benguet Corporation's opposition has no basis.

Councilor Gerard Cornel said the claim of the IPs, who are mostly senior citizens, is valid.

Mayor Oscar Camantiles also said the claim of the IPs has basis. He added the company should also present its basis on its act.

Cornel said "the applicants are the original people of the town, so they should be given the appropriate land tenure."

He said the problem with the company is that it opposed all the applicants. "This move of Benguet Corporation is what we are opposing in the legislative body. Why deny these people their rights to own their lands?"

Ngolob said they will pass a resolution condemning the act of the corporation and will support the resolution of the elders' association.

Earlier, elders of the town sought action from the Provincial Board of Benguet on their plight against the corporation.

The Federation of Itogon Senior Citizen's Association headed by Tomasa delos Reyes recently passed a resolution appealing to the Provincial Board of Benguet for its immediate action on the opposition filed by the mining firm against the elders' application of free patent title.

Elders stated the lots are covered by Survey Number CAD 1062-D, which is under the different nine barangays of the town. The lands are within the town's cadastral survey under alienable and disposable lands.

They also said the applicants of the free patents are IPs of the area. With this, the elders said the mining firm should respect their rights.

Benguet Corporation had been opposing around 500 applicants for the free patents.


Cordillera mines start review of mine tailings, waste disposal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

31 October 2012

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines-Mining firms operating in the Cordillera have begun reviewing their waste-management facilities, including the designs of their tailings dams, in the aftermath of the tailings pond leak at the Benguet facility of Philex Mining Corp. in August.

The reviews not only address the waste disposal system of the country's oldest mines, but are also meant to assure outlying communities that the facilities are safe, said Maria Mignon de Leon, vice president for administration of Benguet Corp.

Officials of the Benguet Corp., the Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc. (ISRI) and the Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. held a news conference on Tuesday to address the impact on their ventures of the Philex leak.

The accident has cost Philex more than P1 billion in penalties.

Asked if the tailings leak had discouraged new investors, De Leon said: "So far, it has not. They [businessmen] saw there was really no proof that Philex was negligent. [Philex] took care of their tailings pond. [The accident, however] was more of a wake-up call for many of us not to be complacent."

Tailings Pond No. 3 of Philex's Padcal Mine in Itogon town was built in 1992 with a design capacity to impound 177 million cubic meters of mill tailings from the 26,000 tons per day mining operation of Philex, a document from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the Cordillera said.

The leak was found near an underground tunnel, beneath a penstock which channels rainwater out of the dam and toward the closest waterway, the Balog Creek.

Using huge concrete balls wrapped in steel, Philex had been able to plug the leak.

Lawyer Eduardo Aratas, Philex legal officer, said on Tuesday that 61 meters of concrete now line the damaged rainwater tunnel. He said the company has been using a second penstock tunnel to remove rainwater from the tailings facility while it builds a new spillway for run-off rainwater.

This second underground tunnel will be condemned or sealed once the spillway is completed, Aratas said.

"What happened to Philex affects us because it...gives the community a bit of uneasiness. If you talk about a dam, the picture of [the accident] can always come to mind, so we [the mine industry] have to double-time to deliver information to residents to express what we are doing now," De Leon said.

Benguet Corp. has applied for government permission to process its mine tailings using technology that would allow the country's oldest mine to recover gold mixed with the mine waste.


Palace says PHL participation in EITI to help deter mining accidents

Written by Mia M. Gonzalez / Reporter

Business Mirror

29 October 2012

THE planned participation of the Philippines in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) will help achieve best practices in the country's mining industry that will, in turn, assist in protecting host communities and deter accidents, a Palace official said on Monday.

Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) made the statement when asked whether the government remained hopeful that local communities would not be less receptive to mining operations following the Padcal mine leak of Philex Mining Corp.

"Our planned participation in EITI, among other things, will help us achieve best practices in mining that will help protect communities and prevent accidents like this in the future," Carandang said.

Section 14 of Executive Order 79 provides for improved transparency in the mining industry through the country's participation in the EITI, which promotes and supports improved governance in mineral-rich countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.

Carandang said public perception about the Philex tailings leak would be molded by the actions taken by both the government regulators and the company itself.

"Accidents happen and I think what they have to show is that they are able to respond to this effectively. There are two things that need to be put at play here: the regulators need to do their job, and the company needs to show its effectiveness in dealing with it as well," he said.

When asked, Carandang said the Padcal incident "won't necessarily make [other] communities less receptive" to mining operations "but again, it's a question of how the communities perceive it's being handled, both by the regulators and by the company itself."

"There have been companies in the past that have had to deal with unexpected accidents and they have handled it properly and they have been able to recover from it. In some cases, they even had their reputation enhanced by their handling of it," he said.

Carandang added, "The way that the regulators behave and the way that the company itself conducts itself will determine what kind of impact this will have in terms of the public perception."

Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is handling the Philex issue.

"We expect them [DENR] to enforce the environmental laws. And Philex has already mentioned that they are ready and willing to cooperate with the actions of the government," Lacierda said.

The DENR had earlier ordered Philex to pay a P1-billion fine for the leak in its tailings pond in its Padcal mine, which is being contested by the firm.


45 illegal mining groups dismantled in Zambo del Sur

By Roel Pareño

Philippine Star

25 October 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - At least 45 illegal mining groups, which have been operating for a decade, were dismantled in a mining village of Zamboanga del Sur after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) implemented a cease and desist order.

Albert Johan Jacildo, regional director of MGB, issued the cease and desist order to 45 illegal miners operating in Balabag last April but the police with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) personnel implemented the order last Tuesday.

Records from the MGB and the Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) showed that operators and alleged financiers of the illegal mining activities include elected local government officials.

Among those in the list were Sangguniang Bayan members Julieto Monding alias Giging and Raul Dano.

The two also received notices of violations issued by EMB Regional Director Sixto Tolentino for operating without Environment compliance certificate (ECC), which is required for a mining operation to ensure the environment and rehabilitation program for the mining site.

However, the two officials, who are also members of the Monte de Oro Small Scale Mining Association (MOSSMA), an association of illegal miners operating in Balabag, defied the orders.

The MOSSMA had earlier petitioned their mine area to be declared a Minahang Bayan site but was rejected by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) for lack of legal capacity and legal possession of the claimed area because it is the site of TVI Resources Development (Phils.) Inc.'s (TVIRD) Mineral Production Sharing Agreement.

Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, Police Regional Office director, said the team encountered no resistance in the dismantling of the illegal miners in the area.

But before the police reached the mining site, an improvised bomb exploded few meters away from the convoy of vehicle. But police believed the explosion was mining related.

The MGB and EMB records in the region showed that the illegal miners in Balabag operate with the use of toxic chemicals such as cyanide and mercury and resort to blasting inside their un-engineered makeshift tunnels.

Raiding personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last week recovered a sizeable volume of toxic chemicals and high-powered firearms from the security group of the illegal miners.

Eugene T. Mateo, president of TVIRD, lauded the police and NBI for implementing the cease and desist order in the most humane way.

"The implementation of the stoppage order is a victory for the rule of law as it will put to end the regime of illegal mining which have continuously defied national and local laws by engaging in mineral theft, wanton disregard of environmental laws, tax evasion, child labor, criminality, unprovoked violence, and lawlessness," Mateo said.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, 1st Army Division chief, said the military forces will continue to provide security forces in the area to prevent the illegal miners who were accused by the Subanen tribe as behind the string of killings on villagers opposing the mining activities in the area.

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