MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Seeking the truth about killings of indigenous activists

Published by MAC on 2012-12-04
Source: Statements, Bulatlat.com, Rappler (2012-11-19)

"Impunity" is the name of the game

Outrage is mounting in the Philippines at recent violence meted out against indigenous activists and their families.

Fact-finding missions are being launched into the killing of Juvy Capion and two of her children (see: Philippines: Tampakan violence claims the lives of tribal woman and her children). Initial results of one of these reveals the premeditated nature of the army assault .

A complaint has also been submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples,  regarding the murder of 11-year old Jordan, son of Subanon leader Timuay Lucenio Manda (see: Gunmen kill Jordan Manda, son of Filipino anti-mining activist).

These crimes, together with other human rights abuses outlined below, beg the question  whether "a terror blitz" is being waged against indigenous communities, with women and children bearing the brunt of the assaults.

In this context, the government's announcement of a "task-force against illegal mining" is creating concern that this will provide a further pretext for armed incursions on indigenous lands.

Philex continues refusing to pay fines levied upon it for its Padcal mine spill in the Cordillera. The company estimates the cost of clean up to be around 1 billion pesos (some US$24.5 million - also the estimated amount of fines Philex is seeking to evade).

As if that wasn't bad enough for the people of the region, a recent report by the government's National Economic and Development Authority highlights how little the Cordillera benefits from mining, supposedly one of its major industries.

Probe reveals massacre of Blaan family ‘premeditated'

By Raymund B. Villanueva

Bulatlat.com

19 November 2012

"The victims were unarmed and helpless, as most of them were still sleeping. It was only the elder son who was awake and in school uniform, sipping coffee outside the hut and who can be clearly seen and identified by the soldiers and yet they still fired at Jordan."

KIBLAWAN, Davao del Sur-A retired Philippine Army colonel allegedly played an active role in events that led to the massacre of a two-month old pregnant B'laan woman and her two sons last October 18.

Dan Balandra, reportedly a former colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a security consultant to Sagitarrius Mines, Inc. (SMI)-Xstrata, was seen at the site of the incident for three consecutive days before elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army killed Juvy Capion and her two sons.

According to witnesses, Balandra visited the Capion family three times, preceding the massacre of the pregnant Juvy, Jordan, 15 years old and John Mark, seven years old. A daughter, five-year-old Juvicky, survived the attack but was grazed by a bullet in her left ear.

The National Peace and Solidarity Mission led by the Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Network to remote Alyong subvillage, Kimlawis village, this town, November 17, deemed that Balandra's real motive was to ascertain Daguil and his family's whereabouts for members of the 27th IBPA to strike.

The mission concluded that Balandra might have informed the military of Daguil's possible presence in their fayahlob (farm hut).

Arminda (not her real name), a close relative, said Balandra was trying to convince Daguil, the head of the Capion family, to surrender, often bringing alcohol beverages that Balandra and Daguil drank in an adjacent hut. Balandra was also reported to have given Juvy P7,500 ($178) for a potato-growing contract project initiated by SMI-Xtrata as a community relations initiative with the tribe.

"It appears that SMI-Xstrata's security consultant has knowledge of the military's plan to wipe out the Capion family, and has informed the military of Daguil's presence in the area," Ryan Lariba, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Socksargen and head of the documentation team of the mission, said.

Balandra has not been seen in the area since the massacre.

Wide-ranging persecution

Balandra's role in the eventual massacre is part of a series of moves that included branding Daguil as a bandit and offering as much as P300,000 ($7,100) reward for his capture.

Remy (not her real name), another witness, told members of the mission that she was told by soldiers of the 27th IBPA that Daguil's family would be ‘wiped out' a few weeks before the massacre.

Kiblawan mayor Marivic Diamante was on record to be among the first who called Daguil a bandit and offered the reward money for his capture or killing.

Mayor Diamante also told the tribes people to follow military orders to stay in their respective subvillages and stop visiting their outlying farms because of the military's presence and she could no longer assure them of their safety.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas also reportedly issued the same warnings against Daguil.

After the bounty has been placed for Daguil' capture, Remy said, Lt. Dante Jimenez, commander of the bravo company of the 27th IBPA, boasted that Daguil's capture or death was certain in three months. Such remark was oft repeated by Jimenez, Remy said, whenever he and his men would patrol the subvillages affected by SMI-Xstrata mining operations.

Jimenez was ground commander of the team that peppered the Capion's house with bullets that fateful day of October 18.

"The bounty which translates into a shoot-to-kill order, the three-month deadline, and the branding of Daguil as a bandit made him and his entire family an open target," Lariba said.

‘Not a bandit'

For a fulong, a well-respected B'laan clan elder, however, Daguil is not a bandit.

The elder admitted to the mission that it was their tribal council that decided to wage pangayaw or traditional tribal war against SMI-Xtrata in 2010.

The Capions initially supported SMI-Xtrata, including Daguil, who was employed by the mining company as a community relations staff for three years starting 2005. Daguil and Balandra first met as co-employees at the mining company.

The clan had a falling-out with the company when it ordered the Capions to leave their land, which SMI-Xstrata wanted to buy at a company-determined price.

The military, whom the Blaans believe to be in cahoots with SMI, also prevented community members from visiting surrounding forests, their traditional hunting and gathering grounds.

The Capions also refused the company's proposed relocation site of Atmorok subvillage, which was even farther from Kimlawis village than Alyong subvillage where they live.

The fulong also said the tribe are at odds with Atmorok's original inhabitants and are unwelcome to the area.

Juvy, meanwhile, joined Kasasatu Di Aktamang Idad Labi Manue Di Gtagak Akana Aktaga De Di'dad Ml'wein (Kalgad) or the Unity for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples and Ancestral Domain Against Mining, a people's organization opposing SMI-Xstrata.

The pangayaw has since claimed the lives of several police officers and para-military forces tasked to guard SMI-Xstrata's gold and copper mining activities. It has also confiscated firearms from the company guards.

But the Capions said they are just following and enforcing their customary laws against violators of their ancestral domain.

"When it comes to our land, our laws, and not of outsiders, apply," the fulong said.

No encounter

The mission also concluded that Juvy and her sons were massacred and were not merely caught in crossfire during an encounter as claimed by the 27th IBPA.

Arminda told the group she rushed to Daguil's falahyob, after hearing bursts of gunfire from the location of the farm hut a few minutes after 6 a.m. of October 18.

When she arrived at the scene, which was one and a half kilometer from where she came from, she saw 14 soldiers with assault rifles still trained against the victims.

Aside from the dead victims, two other minors survived the attack. July (not her real name), five years old, and Juvy's niece, Rosanna, (not her real name), 13 years old and, were also in the hut.

Toyang (not her real name), another witness and relative, overheard a soldier named Murillo and Lt. Jimenez saying both girls should also be killed to leave no witnesses.

Toyang claimed that soldiers pointed their guns at the two minors and Arminda.

The P7,500 Balandra was said to have given Juvy was also taken by the soldiers, Arminda added.

Witness Toyang also saw the soldiers cleaning the bloodied hut with water and rags after the shooting.

Toyang also protested the soldiers' removal of the bodies, saying it must be the relatives who should recover them.

The soldiers ignored her and exposed the bodies in the sun, she added.

Toyang was also told by one of the soldiers that they would only allow the relatives to claim the remains of the victims when Daguil surrenders.

The soldiers prevented other community members who came to the scene hours after the incident to recover the bodies.

The soldiers, police and the para-military brought the victim's remains inside Juvy's house at Biaao subvillage at about 3 p.m. of the same day. This angered the community even more as bringing human remains inside B'laan houses are uncustomary.

"Results of our direct investigation at the site disprove the military's claim that there was an encounter. Daguil was clearly absent and no one could have fired at the soldiers," Promotion of Church People's Response secretary general Nardy Sabino said.

The fayahlob stands in the middle of a flat farmland newly furrowed for corn planting.

Sabino also rues the military's statement that the incident was a mere violation of rules of engagement.

"The victims were unarmed and helpless, as most of them were still sleeping. It was only the elder son who was awake and in school uniform, sipping coffee outside the hut and who can be clearly seen and identified by the soldiers and yet they still fired at Jordan," Sabino said.

The 27th IBPA has been pulled out from the village due to alleged violations in the rules of engagement. No further disciplinary action has been taken.

The 27th IBPA has since been replaced by the 39th IBPA, a sister unit under the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Aside from taking over the former's "Pioneering Camp" in the barangay, the latter also has detachments in seven of the village's 13 sitios. Tribes people have been demanding the immediate pullout of all military units from their areas. (http://bulatlat.com)


On the Capion massacre

Fact-finding mission confirms massacre, points to accountability of the AFP, LGU and Mining Co.-Karapatan

Press Release

19 November 2012

The recently concluded fact-finding mission in sitio Alyong, Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur affirmed Karapatan's claim that the Capion family was massacred and not killed in an encounter; and Daguil Capion, the supposed target of the military attack, was not with his family in the farm hut as the military claims. The mission also confirmed earlier reports on the involvement of Mr. Dan Balandra, a security consultant to Sagittarius Mining, Inc.(SMI)-XStrata-Copper and a former colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Karapatan reiterates its call to the AFP to go after those who were responsible for the massacre and charge them in court, as it challenges the Aquino government to discontinue the operation of the SMI-Xtrata. "We call on the AFP to file in civilian court charges against Col. Alexis Bravo and members of the 27th IB. It is not enough that they are contained in the barracks of the 10th ID enjoying the perks of their position," said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan. Hilao-Enriquez joined the National Peace and Solidarity Mission led by the Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Network at Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis, last November 17.

According to the mission report, Dan Balandra visited the Capion family for three consecutive days immediately before the massacre. The witnesses believed that Balandra knew of the military's plan to wipe out the Capion family and has provided the military information of Daguil's supposed presence in the hut. It was known that Balandra was trying to convince Daguil to surrender.

Another witness told the mission that after the massacre of Juvy and her two sons, a soldier, known as Murillo, and Lt. Jimenez wanted to shoot the two survivors, ages five and 13, to leave no witnesses.

Daguil Capion, with other members of the Blaan tribe, waged a pangayaw against the intrusion of the SMI-Xstrata into their ancestral lands. Both the AFP and the mayor worked to discredit the pangayaw, a traditional practice of waging war against the enemies of the tribe. Daguil was declared a bandit and a PhP300,000 reward money was offered for his capture, dead or alive. People in the community knew of Col. Alexis Bravo's boastful statement that Daguil would be captured or killed in three months after the issuance of the bounty. "Thus, it is very clear that the massacre was a planned attack and not just a ‘lapse in judgement' on the part of the military. It is also clear that that the mayor, the AFP and X-strata-SMI, through ex-colonel Baladad, connived to capture Dagil and kill his family," said Hilao-Enriquez.

Hilao-Enriquez added that, "interviews revealed that Jordan Capion, 13, with one of the victims, was already in his school uniform, sipping his coffee a few meters outside of the house when the military opened fire. The military could clearly see that he was not Dagil but a child ready to go to school."

"The Capion massacre highlights the government's connivance with the SMI-Xtrata. From the LGU to the national government and through the AFP, it is obvious that the Aquino government is protecting the interest of the mining company to the detriment of the Blaan and other residents of the areas covered by the mining operations. Pres. Aquino's silence on the massacre speaks of his bias," added Hilao-Enriquez.

KARAPATAN - Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people's organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people's rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.


"Impunity name of the game" in mining-affected indigenous communities

Karapatan Public Info Desk Press Release

22 November 2012

Two fact-finding missions simultaneously held last week in Bukidnon and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur finds indigenous peoples attacked by mining-backed military and paramilitary groups.

The missions, led by 200 indigenous peoples and environment advocates, said the murders of Matigsalog chieftain Jimmy Liguyon in San Fernando, Bukdinon and Blaan Juvy Capion in Kiblawan are linked to their communities' opposition to large-scale mining companies that are applying for exploration in their villages.

The Peace and Solidarity Mission held in Kiblawan on Saturday confirmed the involvement of a retired army colonel who is now security consultant of Sagittarius Mines-Xstrata, Dan Balandra, in the murder of the Capion family.

Witnesses in the village said Balandra had visited the Capion family for three consecutive days before the massacre, reportedly to convince Juvy's husband Daguil to surrender after his pangayaw (tribal war) against the intrusion of SMI-Xstrata into their ancestral lands.

But witnesses believed Balandra's motive was to confirm Daguil's presence in his farm and provided such information to the 27th Infantry Battalion to attack his family on October 18 killing Juvy who was two-months pregnant and their two sons.

The presence of Balandra points to the "complicity between SMI and the AFP to go after Daguil for leading his tribe's opposition to large-scale mining," said Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan who was one of the delegates of the mission.

Meanwhile, the International Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity visited 150 Matigsalog evacuees camped in the Bukidnon provincial capitol grounds, and showed concern that the tribe cannot return home as the paramilitary group remains in their village.

The paramilitary group called New Indigenous Peoples' Army for Reform (NIPAR) is headed by Alde Salusad, who claims responsibility for the killing of Liguyon.

Liguyon, village chieftain of Barangay Dao, was killed by Salusad in front of his family on March 5 after he refused to recognize Salusad's ancestral domain title that encompasses 52,000 hectares of the Matigsalog tribe in San Fernando. Liguyon's family said the title allows Salusad to enter into a consent with mining companies such as San Cristo mining now operating in San Fernando covering 13,000 hectares of Matigsalog lands.

The mission also learned that NIPAR has killed two other Matigsalogs. In one incident they violently dispersed a rally. They also disrupted a literacy school affected 86 children.

The mission scored the government for failing to arrest Salusad and dismantle the paramilitary to help the Matigsalogs who have camped out for three months.

"We note that this is the second wave of displacement of the indigenous communities of San Fernando after the death of village chief Jimmy Liguyon, yet Salusad was never held accountable after the killing, impunity is no doubt the name of the game in this part of the world," said Richard Gadit, human rights advocacy officer of the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact (AIPP).

Both missions recommend that those responsible for the killings face prosecution. The mission in Kiblawan called for the prosecution of the 27th Infantry Battalion Commander Col. Alexis Bravo, and hold the SMI-Xstrata accountable for more reported human rights violations since its entry in the quadric-boundary of South Cotabato,Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and Davao del Sur. #

For references :
Bukidnon's mission

Jomorito Goaynon, KALUMBAY. +63905-815-1490
Sr. Famita Somogod MSM, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao. +63907-645-8674

Kiblawan's mission
Francis Morales, Panalipdan Mindanao convener . +63919-991-4117
Pastor Vince Ortiz, Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Movement, +6393-0940-7433
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan. +63917-561-6800

Mr. Genasque Enriquez, KATRIBU Partylist. +63942-557-8223

ManiLakbayan ng Mindanao is a Mindanao Peoples' Mobilization for the Defense of Land, the Environment, and Human Rights that brings voices of concern on mining-affected communities and the attacks on environment defenders. It will mobilize to Manila starting November 30 to December 10 to lobby with Congress and other institutions to support the call to protect the environment and human rights.

Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people's organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people's rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.


Asian NGO brings Subanen tribe case to UN

by Voltaire Tupaz

Rappler.com

22 November 2012

MANILA, Philippines - While seeking justice for the killing of his 11-year-old son, Jordan, Subanen Timuay (tribal chieftain) Locencio Manda had to move his wife and two other children out of their ancestral land into safety.

According to Manda, he brought them to an undisclosed location, far from the community, whose struggle to defend their land, he took on after his father died.

Manda, one of the claimants of the Subanen Indigenous Community Ancestral Domain, has been leading the Subanen tribe's efforts to claim and protect their ancestral domain from mining and logging operations. He said he thought his son Jordan, who was a boy scout and a candidate for valedictorian, would succeed him in making sure their rights and traditions are protected and promoted.

On to the UN

A few days before International Human Rights Day, Manda found an ally in his fellow indigenous peoples from other countries in Asia who are taking his plight to the United Nations (UN).

On Tuesday, November 27, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a Thailand-based network of 43 indigenous peoples' organizations from 14 countries in Asia, included Manda's case in a submission to James Anaya, special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The special rapporteur is an expert appointed by the Human Rights Council of the UN to examine and report back on the situation of the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.

The AIPP submission sought an "urgent intervention on the killings of indigenous leaders and activists and their families in the Philippines." Militant indigenous groups say at least 30 indigenous peoples have become victims of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino government.

Letter of concern

AIPP felt the Philippine government failed to address its concern over the ambush of Manda and his son Jordan on September 4 in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.

"We're still pushing the government to establish a task force that would look into the case. We will also bring this to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Richard Guyguyon Gadit, AIPP human rights advocacy officer told Rappler.

Immediately after the ambush, AIPP sent President Benigno Aquino III a letter expressing "deep concern and condemnation" over the attempt on Manda's life that killed his son.

Replying to the letter, Undersecretary Severo Catura, head of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), said that authorities have already filed a murder case and a separate complaint for illegal possession of firearms against 3 suspects. Three other suspects remain at large.

Motive

In a letter to Catura last October, police Chief Supt Francisco Don Montenegro, acting director of the directorate for investigation and detective management, said their probe revealed that "the only plausible motive of the incident is Brgy Chairman Manda's position as chieftain of the Pigsalabukan Gukom de Bayog (PGB) because it carries with it some political power."

But AIPP doubted the result of the police investigation and did not discount the possibility the incident could be related to mining.

"We are not sure if those who were arrested were mere fall guys. Is the motive of the killing that authorities provided the real one? We still believe that Manda's involvement in the anti-mining campaign is the reason," Gadit said.

The ancestral domain of Manda's tribe in Bayog has 8 mining permit applications, 3 approved mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA), one approved exploration permit, and numerous illegal small-scale mining operations.

In August 2012, Manda joined Catholic bishops and concerned groups in filing a writ of kalikasan to protect the Pinukis Forest Range, considered by the Subanen people as a sacred site and one of the remaining forest frontiers in the Zamboanga Peninsula covered by various mining applications.

Mining caused conflict

Manda himself believes that the alleged perpetrators, who turned out to be his fellow indigenous peoples, are also victims of the worsening division in his community that, he thinks, is brought about by mining operations.

"Yung kaguluhan na nangyari sa bayan namin sa Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, dahil yan sa mga pumapasok na interes sa loob ng ancestral domain -- yung mina talaga," Manda told Rappler in an earlier interview. (The conflict in our town in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur is caused by various interests in the ancestral domain -- it's really the mines.)

When Manda faced the suspected men who ambushed him and killed his son, he gave them P200 each as pocket money before they were put behind bars.

"Sa puso ko lang, naawa din ako sa kanila. May galit ako sa kanila bakit nila ginawa. Pero sigurado ako na hindi nila decision 'yan kundi ng nag-utos sa kanila," Manda told Rappler in an earlier interview. (In my heart, I pitied them. What they did angered me. But I'm sure it was not their decision but the mastermind's.)

Divided by mining

Manda feels that his community is being used and divided by various mining interests in his ancestral land.

"Ginagamit yung pangalan naming katulad ng Lupa Bigatawan. Nagkakahati-hati kasi inorganize nila," Manda said. (Our name -- like Lupa Bigatawan -- is being used. We are being divided because they're also organizing other members of our community.)

He said in Filipino, "As a leader, I don't treat my fellow tribal leaders [who don't share my position on mining] as an enemy because I know their hearts and minds are not like that. The mining company just influenced them."

AIPP expressed concern over efforts to "divide and sow intrigue among indigenous peoples and the defenders of their rights." The group particularly reacted to the circulation of a statement attributed to Manda but which the tribal leader later disowned.

The statement which reached media, particularly the Internet in September, suggested that the indigenous leader was not supporting the "anti-mining advocacy."

Misrepresentation

He could not have issued the statement because according to him, when the statement was released, he had not yet even buried his son. "So paano ako nakalabas? Walang media na nag-interview sa akin, so paano yun nakalabas? Pati yung kaso nga ng anak ko hindi ko naasikaso." (How could I have gone out? No media interviewed me so how did it come out? I could not even attend to the case of my son.)

Manda said he released an official statement which he signed only after the burial of his son.

Manda also clarified that whatever the label of his advocacy is, it essentially opposes mining operations that violate the rights of his tribe.

"Ang sinusulong namin ay yung paano i-establish ang karapatan naming bilang katutubo. Pero kung may masasagasaan yung mga karapatan namin, kahit sino pwede naming makalaban kasi karapatan namin iyon, eh," he added. (We are pursuing how we could establish our rights as indigenous peoples. We will confront anyone who will trample on our rights.) - Rappler.com


Aquino launches terror blitz vs indigenous peoples

Philippine Daily Inquirer

26 November 2012

The wave of killings of indigenous peoples (IPs) in recent weeks signaled the launching by the Aquino administration of its own brand of terror against these minorities. The most recent massacre of a B'laan family in Datal-Ayong, Tampakan, South Cotabato last Oct. 18, raised to 30 the number of IPs in the Philippines who have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings during the two-and-a-half years of the Aquino presidency.

Juvy Capion, 27, who was two months pregnant, and her two children, Pop, 13, and Janjan, 8, were killed by elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army allegedly during an armed encounter. A 5-year-old daughter, Vicky, was wounded.

The children sustained fatal gunshot wounds in the body and head. The soldiers dragged their bodies outside their hut, and left them exposed for eight hours before they allowed Capion's relatives to claim their bodies.

What was very alarming was that the killings did not discriminate-IP children and minors were not spared. To date we have monitored five cases of extrajudicial killings involving minors and children by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or by its paramilitary partners.

Rodilyn Aguirre, a 6-year-old Tumanduk, died on March 11, 2012 when an M203 grenade exploded a few meters from their home in Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz. The grenade was launched by elements of the 61st IB. Aguirre's 4-year-old sister was wounded.

On Sept. 4, 2012, 12-year-old Jordan Manda was slain when his father, Subanen leader Timuay Lucenio Manda, was ambushed in Bayog, Zamboanga del Norte.

Roland Malley, a 16-year-old Teruray, was mercilessly shot last Sept. 29, in Sitio Teruray, Barangay Telafas, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat by elements of the Alpha Company of the 27th IB during an alleged "raid" on New People's Army guerillas.

The Capion children were the fourth and fifth children killed.

This merciless killing of members of the most vulnerable sectors of society-indigenous women and children-are inexcusable. This act of brutality reflects the mindset of the Aquino administration which allows this kind of violence to persist and go unpunished. It is a clear statement that the government is not about to tolerate any opposition to its anti-IP policies, programs and projects.

As the Aquino regime pursues an economic program anchored on foreign mining investments and development projects, it continues to wage its counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which has resulted in what we have dreaded from the very beginning: heightened repression, intensified militarization, and an increased number of human rights violations committed against IPs.

These unabated killings and human rights abuses and the culture of impunity bring back dark shadows from the murderous Arroyo regime. We thus call on all IP advocates and concerned citizens to take an active stand against the killing of IPs. The wave of killing must stop. Now!

-REY A. PAULIN, Tunay na Alyansa ng Bayan Alay sa Katutubo, tabakphils@yahoo.com


Aquino's silence on rights violations vs women hit

Sun Star Manila

25 November 2012

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III seemed to have deaf ears on calls to end killings and other rights violations against women human rights defenders, a group said Sunday.

Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Tanggol Bayi, cited Aquino's silence on the massacre of pregnant Juvy Capion, an anti-mining activist, and her two children in Tampakan, South Cotabato, which is an issue raised by several local and international groups.

She said Aquino did the same on the Maguindanao massacre case as various local and international journalist organizations slammed him for failing to speed up delivery of justice to 58 victims and their families.

According to rights group Karapatan, out of the 114 victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino (July 2010 to September 30, 2012 data), 15 are women and girl-children, with the Capion massacre as the latest in the string of killings.

Karapatan also documented the cases of Marilou Valle, an urban poor leader in Tondo who was killed by village watchmen in collusion with the police; Rodilyn Aguirre, an eight-year old Tumandok, who was killed with a mortar from a nearby military detachment; and that of Asmayrah Usman and Gailly Miraato, Moro girls who were killed due to military operations in Mindanao.

Palabay said laws and treaties protective of women's rights are nothing but "mere papers" if the government does not recognize rights violations of state security forces against women and it fails to give them justice.

Tanggol Bayi also scored the Aquino government on its "lackadaisical" movement in arresting former major general Jovito Palparan for the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

"How lame can you get, Mr. President? The mothers, their lawyers, the witnesses, and human rights organizations have already done their part already in filing these charges, while you have yet to exercise your responsibility in arresting Palparan," Palabay said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)


Gov't forms task force vs illegal mining

Malaya

21 November 2012

Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo L. Jasareno said the government is forming a task force to stop illegal small-scale mining and gold smuggling.

The team will be made up of representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Justice.

The Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation will help the team. The first meeting was held on Monday, November 19. It was presided over by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.

On the other hand, DENR said given the continuing high price of gold and the increasing number of small-scale mining areas, the decrease in gold purchases by the BSP clearly indicates that gold outputs are going to the black market and smuggling operations.

The DENR said small-scale miners want to take advantage of the higher price of gold on the international market by selling to the black market and not to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as required by law.

"The smuggling is continuing," he said.

The situation has become more acute since the Bureau of Internal Revenue began charging 2 percent excise tax and 5 percent withholding tax on gold sales.

Government data has revealed that gold sales to the BSP plunged 95 percent in the first half of 2012 to just 786 kilograms from 15,003 kilos last year.

"The DENR supports the BIR because that's enforcement. We can't say that taxes shouldn't be collected, we want an ideal situation where we are able to collect all taxes and, at the same, we are able to buy all the gold," said Jasareno.


Walk the talk on punishment of Philex mine disaster, DENR told

Kalikasan-PNE Press Release

28 November 2012

The Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment challenged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to walk the talk of holding the Philex Mining Corporation accountable for the recent mining disaster it caused in its Pacal Mine in Itogon, Benguet by exercising its police powers. This was in response to the exchanges between Philex and DENR on the mining company's refusal to pay the P1.034 billion fine imposed on them.

"DENR is mandated to oversee, supervise and police our natural resources but we have yet to see this in the series of tailings dam failures caused by Philex. All operations of Philex should be immediately closed and their permits cancelled for defying the law in the same breath that DENR ordered and easily enforced the closure of countless dumps, saw mills and other environmentally destructive operations in the past, This is in fact long called for, as this is not the first time that Philex has skirted responsibility for its mining disasters," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Records of mining disasters since 1982 have pegged the number of tailings dam failures that occurred in the various mining projects of Philex to be at least five. This included the collapse of the Padcal Mine's older tailings pond that spilled 80 million metric tons which went unpunished.

"The issue with Philex goes beyond their refusal to pay for the pollution of Balog and Agno River. The greater issue at hand is why these irresponsible miners that are historically serial offenders to our environmental laws are still not met with action that has teeth. Even with just preliminary independent data at hand, the causality of Philex's negligence and the resultant biological death of the affected Balog River should have elicited a stronger penal reaction from DENR," Bautista reiterated.

Kalikasan PNE cited the initial findings of the recent environmental investigation mission (EIM) that it co-conducted with other people's organizations and cause-oriented formations from October 26-28, 2012. No signs of aquatic organisms were observed during the EIM's assessment of biological indicators in the waters of Balog River and its confluence with Agno River.

"The scent of rotten fish pervaded the air, indicating the possibility of fish kills induced by the deluge of mine tailings. It complimented our observations of the high turbidity of the affected waters, which prevents the penetration of sunlight and have likely affected the productivity of aquatic vegetation and massively disrupted the food chain," Bautista recalled.

The EIM also gathered water and sediment samples to assess the levels of total suspended solids (TSS) and the toxic heavy metals in the affected water bodies. Laboratory results are still pending.

"Philex cannot keep hiding behind their ‘Force Majeure' card as it was clearly established that the company used their tailings dam beyond its lifespan, making it structurally compromised. Reliable 50 and 100-year rainfall records in Padcal are respectively pegged at 658.6mm and 731.3mm, clearly above the amounts that came from the typhoon and monsoon storms blamed for the period. This proves that Philex failed to anticipate the flood risks," said Bautista.

"This wanton disregard for strictly ensuring environmental safety warrants the closure of Philex's operations. This cannot happen again, and letting Philex off the hook sets the precedent for its continued lax management of its mines. It also emboldens other irresponsible large-scale miners to do the same," Bautista ended.

--
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


Philex poised to bring back to life creek, river with P1B

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

Businessmirror.com.ph

25 November 2012

Philex Mining Corp., which is facing a penalty of P1.034 billion for the accidental discharge of sediments from the tailings pond of its Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet, has allocated approximately the same amount for the rehabilitation and cleanup of the two affected waterways near the mine.

Philex submitted its final plan for the Balog creek and Agno river that according to company officials will take four months or until April 2013 to complete.

In a 25-page report sent to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Eu-lalio Austin Jr., Philex president and COO, said the company will be spending an additional P870 million, on top of the initial P190 million allocated for the remediation and restoration of the affected waterways.

All in all, the company will be spending P1.06 billion.

Moreover, Austin said that a medium- and long-term environment management program would be implemented to rehabilitate and enhance the river basin ecosystems.

According to Austin, the 26-week rehabilitation and cleanup drive, which started in mid-October, will be done after the remediation phase
undertaken from August 1 until October 17.

Michael Toledo, Philex's senior vice president for corporate affairs, said that the company "is more than willing to pay for anything and everything" pertaining to its remediation effort and the cleanup and rehabilitation drive on the affected waterways.

The construction of silt traps along strategic areas in Balog creek is ongoing, according to Toledo.

Philex is also set to conduct a "full characterization" of the creek, reforestation, enhancement of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and improvement of monitoring procedures.

Toledo said that the creek's full characterization involves analyzing sediment and water samples based on "critical values established for proper nutrition of the crops to be used in restoration and enhancement."

Other activities that the company plans to conduct are the construction of an open spillway and the sealing off of Penstock B and Tunnel B.

The spillway will replace the damaged tailing pond's existing underground drainage system while Penstock B drains water to Balog creek through Tunnel B.

Penstock A and Tunnel A had been plugged with concrete after the accidental discharge of sediments, after historically unprecedented heavy rains were brought about by the southwest monsoon during the last week of September.

The heavy rains triggered the accidental discharge from Tailings Pond No. 3 on August 1. Five similar incidents took place in the ensuing weeks as Philex's workers tried to plug the leak.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said that they would require Philex to immediately implement the cleanup plan for Tailings Pond No. 3.

On Thursday the Department of Environment and Natural Resources rejected Philex's appeal in connection with the P1.034-billion fine it had imposed for violations under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The Pollution and Adjudication Board, a quasijudicial body headed by Education Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, is deliberating on another fine under the Clean Water Act of 2010.


Mining contributes little to Cordillera economy

Philippine Star

19 November 2012

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines - Mining is not doing much to the economy of the Cordillera, data from the National Economic and Development Authority indicated.

Manufacturing remained the top contributor to the region's gross domestic product.

In 2011, NEDA said the mining industry In 2011, contributed P3.8 billion, which was eight percent of the region's GDP. In 1987, mining contributed 23 percent or P2.6 billion to then region's economy.

At present, according to the government, the mining industry in the Cordillera employs over 17,000 workers, with over 7,000 in large-scale mines while the majority of 10,000 are working in small scale mines.

The average contribution of the mining industry to the country's GDP from year 2000 to 2010 was pegged at 1.30 percent and its average share to the country's total investment in the same years was 2.5 percent.

Philippine business groups report that the mining industry's average share to total employment from year 2000 to 2010 is 0.5 percent, while the average contribution of metallic mining to total exports in the same years is 3.7 percent.

While total taxes, fees and royalties collected from the mining industry from 1997 to 2010 was 7.6 percent (P642 billion) of the total production value of mining companies.

Benguet province hosts three of the largest mines in the country, yet is consistently included in the top 20 poorest provinces in the country for decades now, the regional development council noted.

The three big mines in Benguet include Benguet Corp. that has been operating for 109 years, the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp. (LCMCo), which has been operating for over 70 years now and Philex Mining Corp. (Philex), which has been operating for over 50 years now. - Artemio A. Dumlao


Philippines cuts '12 mining investment target

New goal down to $509M from original $2.27B

By Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

23 November 2012

The Philippines has lowered its mining investment target this year due to slow developments in key projects, government officials said in a briefing.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno said Thursday that the new target is down to $509 million from the original of $2.27 billion for this year.

Environment Secretary Ramon JP Paje said that while the target cut was due to delays in the implementation of certain projects, "it's not really due to new mining policy."

Paje was referring to government's new mining policy embodied in Executive Order No. 79, which prohibits the acceptance of new mining applications and the granting of permits until a new revenue scheme is legislated and pending the identification of sites where mining activities would be restricted or prohibited.

In the first half, mining investments fell by some 48 percent to $160 million in the January-June 2012 period from the $309.31 million in the same period last year, the MGB said.

About $30 million of the realized investments during the first half came from two major sources: Philsaga Mining Corp., the operator of a gold mine in Agusan del Sur; and Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), which has yet to get an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for its $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao due to a local ordinance banning open pit mining, which the company will use to mine copper and gold from its asset.

The rest of the investments made for the period were smaller companies expanding existing projects, Jasareno said.

Industry observers have noted that aside from permitting challenges, local government ordinances that ban mining or methods such as open pit mining and high investment requirement amid high political risks are hampering investments.

This, at a time when the government is seeking more revenue from the industry.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has said the moratorium on new permits has caused an outflow in foreign direct investments in the mining sector beginning in 2011 to the tune of over P10 billion.

In 2011, the Philippines missed its mining investment target of $1.44 billion due to deferred development in major projects, although mineral sales grew as existing mines continued to be productive.

Actual mining investments in 2011 reached only $618.5 million from ongoing developments.

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