MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: New year starts with a victory amid the violence

Published by MAC on 2013-01-21
Source: Statements, Nordis, PDI, Philippine Star

The local community in Mankayan in the Cordillera region have won a victory over Lepanto Consolidated and their partner Goldfields of South Africa. The companies have negotiated the withdrawal of their drilling machines after nearly a year long struggle, in which the communities denied they had given their consent - and set-up barricades to force the miners to accept that.

While the people of Mankayan are celebrating, there were further acts of violence in the North of Luzon. At OceanaGold's Didipio project there have been two allegedly mining-related killings in the local community, and in December 2012 at Metal Exploration's Runruno mine six villagers were hurt trying to resist construction work for the mine.

Also towards the end of last year, Xstrata have confirmed that production has been set back to (at least) 2019 at their troubled Tampakan project. The proposed mine has recently earned itself a 'Dodgy deal' page on the Bank Track website.

Finally, the preliminary findings of an environmental investigation mission warn that the Philippine company Citinickel has been accused of risking major pollution in two rivers in Palawan, thanks to issues around its waste management and siltation dams.

IPs relieved over drill pull out

By Aldwin Quitasol

Northern Dispatch

13 January 2013

BAGUIO CITY - Mankayan indigenous people (IP) of Sitio Madaymen, Tabio, Mankayan of Benguet and members of the Save the Mankayan Movement (SMM) expressed great relief and victory as Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. announced it was pulling out its drill rigs, machinery, equipment and all ancillary materials out of Tabio.

Community protest against Lepanto Consolidated in Mankayan
Community protest against Lepanto Consolidated in
Mankayan  Photo: Aldwin Quitasol, Northern Dispatch

This notification and meeting of the company with the people was a welcomed move that came a few days before the anniversary of the Madaymen peoples' barricade against the drilling activities.

According to SMM President Marlo Pablo, on January 7, representatives of FSGRI headed by its drill manager Craig Lavrick and Quest Exploration Drilling (QED) represented by its site manager Garry Waugh went to their barricade site to negotiate the terms and conditions of the pull-out. He said they were accompanied by secretary to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Frenzel Ayong of Benguet who served as witness to the negotiations.

Pablo said the negotiations started at 10:00AM till pas t6 PM. They came to an agreement on the conduct of the process of the pull-out of the machine.

In their agreed Terms of Reference (TOR), the parties agreed on the total pull-out of the drilling machine and accessories at Madaymen. They also agreed that included in the pull-out is the transport of the machine and drilling accessories out of Mankayan.

"Inpaunay-unay mi a saan da nga iyalis laeng diay makina iti sabali a lugar ti Mankayan nu di ket ipanaw da a talaga ditoy munisipyo mi," (We made sure that they will not just transfer the machine to other places in Mankayan but they will bring it out of our municipality) added Pablo.

In the said TOR, after the dismantling of the machine, the parties also agreed that full rehabilitation of the area will be undertaken by FSGRI for a period not exceeding two weeks or such period as practically and technically feasible for its full rehabilitation.

It was also stipulated that monthly regular monitoring of the area for environmental assessment will take place and will be conducted by FSGRI for a year.

In a statement by FSGRI, the demobilizing of the drill rigs for "transfer to another location where it will be more useful. However, the firm also stated that by virtue of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA-001) in the area issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), "FSGRI retains the full right to drill at the Madaymen site and other areas covered".

Madaymen is one of the areas of Mankayan covered by MPSA-001. According to FSGRI, geotechnical drillings are being conducted in the other areas within the MPSA. The community claimed that residents and leaders "welcomed FSGRI's operations as evidenced by various memoranda of understanding and they have started to enjoy the concomitant benefits".

On February 3, 2012, around 400 residents of Mankayan trooped to the municipal hall to demand their officials to stop the drilling operations in their areas. They protested the mine exploration drillings conducted in their ancestral lands and especially without any conduct of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Members of the Mankayan Ancestral Domain Indigenous Peoples Organization (MADIPO) expressed dissatisfaction with the mining companies operating in their place. Madipo even wrote the MGB-Cordillera that they never gave consent to any mining companies go explore in their ancestral domain as they were not consulted at all.

On January 23, 2012, residents of Madaymen stopped the drilling operation of FSGRI and LCMC. They set up a barricade to guard against further entry of the mining companies. Weeks after, SMM was founded that served at the forefront in opposing the drilling. Because of this, LCMC filed criminal and civil charges against the leaders and members of the SMM.

During their barricade, the Mankayan IPs stood their ground against eviction orders and dispersal carried out by FSGRI/LCMC assisted by the ruling of the courts and the direct interference of members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Pablo said the pull-out is a victory for them although the criminal and civil charges filed against them by LCMC are still not withdrawn. According to FSGRI's statement, LCMC affirmed that it will continue to pursue the criminal and civil cases against the residents.

Pablo hopes that the matter will also be amicably resolved soon.

Meanwhile, Katribu Indigenous Partylist Beverly Longid congratulated the SMM and residents of Mankayan for the pull-out. She said that the IP of Mankayan did a job well done in the defense of their ancestral land against development aggression. She also said that as the withdrawal of the drilling machine is taking place, the people of Madaymen and members of SMM should however continue their vigilance in guarding and protecting the land against mining explorations and expansions.

Longid said rich lessons can be derived from the struggles of the Mankayan people particularly that of the Madaymen barricade. She added they should serve as inspirations to other IPs and communities who are fighting against these kind of encroachments. #

Kicking Off 2013 with Victory

Cordillera Peoples Alliance statement

14 January 2013

We salute the people of Mankayan and the Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) on their long-deserved victory after Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSGRI) pulled out its drill rig and other mining equipment from Tabeo, Madaymen over the weekend. We congratulate the community, the leaders and members of SMM in not surrendering the fight and sustaining a year of protest despite the cases filed against leaders of SMM by Lepanto and several attempts to dismantle the barricade, which basically served as the common home of community members while asserting land rights.

With the barricade marking its one year anniversary on January 26, 2013, this victory is worth celebrating, with the outpouring of support and solidarity from communities in neighboring Cordillera provinces, Ilocos Sur, other Philippine regions, and even among advocates in the global community.

The challenge however remains for the people of Mankayan and SMM to be more vigilant for this is not where the story ends, as MPSA (Mineral Sharing Production Agreement) 001 still stands and is in the process of conversion to an FTAA (Financial Technical and Assistance Agreement) and the mining equipment will only be transferred to Brgy. Poblacion. Peace can only resume in Mankayan if MPSA 001 is revoked and Lepanto desists from expanding its large mining operations.

Lepanto Mining is majority shareholder of FSGRI (60%), while 40% is held by South African mining giant Goldfields. The people of Mankayan have spoken. We expect that their stance to be respected, and that Lepanto, Goldfields including NCIP should stop from insisting and enforcing their mining interest.

Agbiag ti Umili ti Mankayan and more victories the rest of the year!

Abie Anongos
Cordillera Peoples Alliance
Secretary General
P.O. Box 975
2600, Baguio City, Philippines
Tel No. 63-74-304-4239
Fax: 63-74-443-7159

Killings and human rights violations in mining-affected areas continue

Kalikasan PNE press release

8 January 2013

Environmental groups reported today the mining-related killing of a barangay official and tanod that were allegedly kept silent from the public last December 29, 2012 by a mining company in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

Brgy. Didipio councilor Gerry Linagga and Valentino Wanaton were responding to a suspected illegal entry into the home of Marivic Ude-e, an employee of large-scale mining company Oceana Copper-Gold Philippines Inc. (OCGPI). OCGPI security personnel who were likewise notified by Ude-e responded later and allegedly opened fire upon Linagga and Wanaton, who they supposedly suspected as the culprits of the forced entry.

"Accident or not, it is clear the presence of Oceana Gold and its heavily armed security forces have caused the death of Linagga and Wanaton. Oceana Gold's intrusion into Didipio has caused much violence in the area, including a spate of killings and brutal demolitions. An independent investigation must be conducted especially since the company tried to cover up this incident," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

A paraffin test administered on OCGPI's security guards revealed that two of their personnel, Lyndon Tayaban and Joseph Pugong, reacted positive for the presence of gunpowder residues.

The Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED) likewise raised the alarm over the increasing violence caused by OCGPI and other large-scale miners in Nueva Vizcaya. They cited earlier incidents last December, including the assassination of Cheryl Ananayo, a member of Didipio Earthsavers' Multipurpose Association (DESAMA), and Randy Nabayay, a small-scale miner who had differences with OCGPI over property, while they were travelling home last December 7.

"It must be noted that the death of Linagga and Wanaton came successively after Ananayo and Nabayay, both opposed to Oceana Gold's entry into Didipio, were murdered. At least six villagers were also hurt by demolition operations last December 12 to pave way for the road construction of British mining firm FCF Minerals. Nueva Vizcaya is set afire once again as a hotspot of mining-induced human rights violations," said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of TF-JED.

Linagga and Wanaton cap the 66 killings involving environmental advocates and issues recorded since 2001, 52 of which are involved in mining. 2012 is considered the bloodiest year for environmental advocates, with 18 deaths occurring last year alone. On New Year's Day, the first killing of environmental advocate in 2013 was recorded. Alfredo Almueda, was an official of Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO), was shot dead while manning a anti-logging check point by unknown assailants.

"The spate of killings shows how inutile President Aquino and his administration in protecting the rights and lives of environmental advocates. It is from the likes of Pres. Benigno Aquino III's Executive Order 79 on mining and the counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan that the pervading culture of impunity towards earth's defenders emanate from. It must be stopped," ended Bautista.###

Reference Clemente Bautista 09228449787, Fr. Oliver Castor 09087098595

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

Mining protest turns violent; 6 hurt

Philippine Daily Inquirer

15 December 2012

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya-Six people suffered injuries when villagers clashed with work crews and policemen as they tried to block a clearing operation to make way for a mining project in upland Runruno village in Quezon town.

Witnesses told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday that the scuffles ensued on December 12 when bulldozers broke a human barricade composed of about 70 villagers. The crewmen were brought in to develop the site for a gold-molybdenum project of FCF Minerals Inc., an Australian firm.

FCF has not issued a statement about the incident despite requests made by the Inquirer. The firm's country manager, Craig Watkins, did not respond to telephone calls and text messages.

"Those injured were shoved during the melee. Others were hit by police truncheons," said a witness, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from the authorities.

The villagers tried to prevent FCF's entry into a 6,839-square meter property owned by Dolphy and Teresa Tindaan, who filed a lawsuit last year to stop the operation. The couple feared that their property would be affected by the operation.

On December 10, Judge Fernando Flor of the regional trial court here ordered the opening of a 20-meter access road that would allow FCF to start its clearing activities. The judge's order was intended as an interim measure while the hearing of the Tindaans' complaint continued.

"Some of those who were injured were treated for minor cuts, while others were brought to the hospital. A medical team from the police was said to be around but they did not trust the police because they were (supporting the) mining company," said Jonathan Humiwat, president of the Bit-ang Runruno Residents Association, a people's organization.

A number of villagers blocking the clearing operations found themselves half buried in loose soil, Humiwat said.

In his report, Senior Superintendent Valfrie Tabian, provincial police director, described the clearing operation as "generally peaceful and orderly" and "with successful results."

When asked, Tabian said the police did not take sides and were at the clearing site to maintain order. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon

AFP confirms operations near Tampakan mine site


18 January 2013

The military here confirmed ongoing security operations near the boundary of South Cotabato and Cotabato provinces that could include areas near the mine site of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Col. Edgardo ‘Boogie' de Leon said a composite team of soldiers from the different military units under the 1002nd Brigade is moving towards the boundary near the area of responsibility of the neighbouring 602nd Brigade.

Col. de Leon however declined to reveal the exact location and direction of the government forces that are said to be running after heavily armed members of the New People's Army who recently celebrated the 44th founding anniversary of its political arm, the Communist Party of the Philippines.

"We cannot divulge their exact position for security reasons," Col. de Leon said.

The military officer said intelligence reports from the 602nd Brigade allegedly monitored a column of NPA rebels getting into the direction of a remote military detachment during the Christmas season when a mutually agreed ceasefire was supposed to be in effect, prompting the AFP to launch the operations.

Col. De Leon said it is a routine security operation.

Mindanews earlier reported that 5 military trucks arrived in Tampakan Tuesday evening coming from the direction of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

The report quoted Capt. William Rodriguez, civil military officer of the 1002nd Brigade, as saying in a text message the soldiers reportedly ‘passed by the mines development site towards their detachments in Tampakan town."

The statement of Rodriguez contradicted Col. de Leon, operations officer of the AFP's Eastern Mindanao Command, who said the troop movement by the 1002nd Brigade is a coordinated operation with the 602nd Brigade aimed at flushing out NPA rebels in the area.

The Mindanews report earlier said fugitive tribal leader Daguil Capion saw the soldiers arrived in Tampakan evening.

In October, Capion's wife Juvy and two sons were killed when elements from the 27th Infantry Battalion raked their hut in Kimlawis, Kiblawan with heavy automatic and machinegun fire. Capion cheated death by opting to sleep outside their house the night before the soldiers swooped down on their hut.

The killing was immediately condemned by local Catholic churches here and international human rights groups.

Capion took arms in protest over the continued mining operations of SMI in the quad boundaries of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Malungon in Sarangani and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

He has since admitted responsibility over the ambush-slayings of at several people that included 3 SMI drill contractors and a security consultant and 2 security guards of the mining company.

A warrant of arrest has been issued against Capion who is said to be leading at least 15 heavily armed Blaan tribe members who are opposing the mining operations of SMI.

New AFP Chief is human rights violator, not green warrior--envi groups

Kalikasan PNE Press release

18 January 2012

Environmental groups rebuke General Emmanuel Bautista, the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for falsely presenting the AFP as green warriors and masking the military's real character as protectors of environmental criminals and perpetrators of human rights violations.

"While there may be honorable people in the military who have the intention of serving the country and saving people, the AFP as an institution follows a mandate and framework that is anti-people and anti-environment," cries Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

General Bautista is credited as the architect of Oplan Bayanihan, which permitted the deployment of the Investment Defense Force (IDF) of the AFP as well as other paramilitary groups to mining tenements. The IDF are commissioned to protect the interests of mining companies and viciously crack down on all opposition towards large-scale mines and commercial logging operations.

"The Philippine Army became notorious perpetrators of human rights during the leadership of Gen. Bautista as its Commander in Chief. Kalikasan monitored that Philippine Army forces were suspected perpetrators in at least 16 cases of extrajudicial killings of environmental activists," said Father Oliver Castor, Spokeperson of Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders.

The group added that the military is responsible for the massacre of a B'laan family in Brgy. Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Norte on October 2012. Elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army reportedly strafed the house of anti-mining rebel and Lumad leader Daguil Capion, killing his wife Jovy and their two minor children.

The Capion massacre is the 59th case of extrajudicial killing recorded by Kalikasan. To date, none of the 64 killings of environmental advocates since 2001 have been resolved or brought to justice.

The group also said that the military has enjoyed impunity for its abuses, citing the case of the country's top botanist Leonard Co. Until now, members of the 19th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army who killed Co and his two companions in Kananga, Leyte on November 2010 have not been charged with criminal liability and remain unpunished.

"The alarming number of attacks against environmental activists and this culture of impunity reveal that the military are opposite of what they profess. By acting as direct assailants, protectors or mere abettors of human rights violators, AFP has undermined environmentalism in the country," says Bautista.

According to the group, the killings of environmentalists result from the policies and liberalization program of the current government such as the Mining Act of 1995 that allows the plunder of our natural resources.

Reference: Clemente Bautista 09228449787 Fr. Oliver Castor 09087098595

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

Xstrata mine in Philippines set back to 2019

Agence France-Presse

13 December 2012

MANILA, Philippines-Swiss mining giant Xstrata has set back the commercial production of its $5.9-billion project in the Philippines to 2019 due to problems with security and the government, the company said Wednesday.

Sagittarius Mines Inc., Xstrata's local unit, which is developing the Tampakan copper-gold project in the southern Philippines, cited "challenges" that arose since it originally scheduled operation to begin in 2016.

The obstacles include the local government's 2010 ban on open pit mining and the national government's failure to issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) that would overturn the ban, the company said.

A company statement also cited "security issues" in the project site, an apparent reference to armed groups that have attacked workers and contractors of the mine.

"If local government endorsement and final approvals from the national government are forthcoming... construction could potentially commence in 2015, enabling commercial production in 2019," the statement said.

Sagittarius has described the Tampakan project as one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.

The project would be the Philippines' largest ever foreign investment but it has been opposed by leftist anti-mining activists, tribal groups and even church leaders.

The Philippines is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world - the government estimates the country has at least $840 billion in gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore deposits.

However, the minerals have been largely untapped, partly because of a strong anti-mining movement led by the influential Catholic Church, while poor infrastructure and security concerns have also kept investors away.

Suspected NPA members torch mining equipment

By Alexis Romero

Philippine Star

10 December 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) on Sunday torched an equipment owned by a mining firm in Sofronio Española, Palawan, the military said.

Lt. Anne Abrigo, acting public affairs officer of the Armed Forces Western Command, said the backhoe of the Citinickel mining firm was burned by six armed men at about 1 p.m.

Employees of the mining company were on their way home on board a truck when the armed men held them at gunpoint in Sitio Malalag in Barangay Punang.

The suspected rebels then burned a backhoe parked about 250 meters away from the area where the employees were held.

Abrigo said based on initial investigation, one of the possible motives behind the incident is extortion.

"They (employees) think it may have been driven by retribution because they refused to pay revolutionary tax," she said.

Abrigo said another possible angle being looked at is the conflict between Citinickel and some anti-mining activists.

"Perhaps there are anti-mining activists who are angry with the mining company," she said.

The military has advised mining firms in nearby areas to heighten their security to prevent similar incidents.

The military earlier claimed that the communist rebels had extorted about P300 million from businesses in 2011. Officials said among the usual targets of extortion activities are mining and logging firms and plantations.

Cancel mining, logging permits in Compostela Valley, green party asks nat'l gov't

40 days after typhoon Pablo devastates mining-affected areas

Kalikasan Party-list Press Release

15 January 2013

Green political party Kalikasan today challenged the national government to cancel existing mining and logging permits in Compostela Valley, stressing that 40 days have already passed since typhoon Pablo devastated many vulnerable communities in the province's mining and logging-affected areas.

"The Aquino administration should heed the call of Compostela Valley's communities to cancel large-scale mining and logging permits in the area for good. It should stop allowing the conversion of forests and lands into plantations, logging areas, and large-scale mines which do not benefit the majority of the province's people and which only make these areas more vulnerable to natural hazards," the group said in a statement.

Yesterday afternoon, over 5,000 people from the towns of Monkayo, Naburuntan, Compostela and Montevista in Compostela Valley and Baganga, Cateel and Trento in Davao Oriental set up a human barricade along the main Montevista Highway in Compostela Valley, in protest against mining and logging operations that have contributed to the massive destruction left by the typhoon. Their ranks have swelled to over 8,000 as of last night as the barricade continues.

Typhoon Pablo of 2012 is one of the deadliest typhoons to hit Mindanao in recent decades: killing thousands, affecting nearly two million people, and destroying around 14 billion pesos worth of property and infrastructure. The rapid destruction of the province's forests and lands have contributed greatly to the devastation left by the typhoon.

Kalikasan expressed support for the grassroots communities' struggle, stressing that the Aquino administration has failed to curb large-scale logging and mining projects in the region. People's organizations in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte have long condemned the entry of large-scale miners and loggers in the regions as well as the increase of military troops in areas with strong opposition to mining and logging.

Kalikasan Partylist called for justice for victims of environmental plunder and destruction, saying that the Aquino administration has not learned anything from the lesson of typhoon Sendong in 2011, which similarly killed more than a thousand people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities. In this time of increasing extreme weather events, the national government must ensure that policies and programs that pose long-term impacts on the environment and people's welfare must be reviewed and changed. However, the administration has continued to support mining liberalization and private and foreign exploitation of natural resources. ###

Kalikasan Party-list is a progressive political party formed to protect the environment and defend the people's welfare. It is comprised of individuals and various sectors which support pro-people, pro-Filipino and pro-environment policies, reforms and programs. It is one of the first green political parties in the Philippines.

Reference: Frances Quimpo, Secretary-General, Kalikasan Party-list
Address: # 26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
Facebook: Kalikasan Partylist
Twitter: @KalikasanParty
Telephone: +632.920.9099

Death of two rivers in Palawan imminent if Citinickel mining continues

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

3 December 2012

The large-scale mining operations of the Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation's Pulot nickel mining project will potentially result in the biological death of at least two rivers adjacent to its tenement in the province of Palawan. This was revealed in the preliminary findings of an environmental investigation mission (EIM) recently held from November 23 to 26 in the municipality of Sofronio Espanola.

"Initial biological indicators in the Pasi River showed mortalities of shellfish, fish, aquatic and coastal plants and other organisms within its ecosystem that possibly resulted from Citinickel's mining impacts. Distinct discoloration in the riverbed of Pulot River was observed, an indicator that it is saturated by weathered nickel precipitates that will possibly suffocate the various organisms found in its ecosystem," said Finesa Cosico, lead environmental scientist of the EIM.

The EIM's technical team conducted a biological indicator assessment and gathered water and soil samples in six survey points: the Punang River's estuary and a mangrove forest adjacent to the Citinickel's stockpiles, the Pasi River where Citinickel's tailings dam drains, the Maribong River which runs through the community closest to the mining operations, and the Pulot River, where all mining-affected rivers drain, and its adjacent rice fields.

The EIM was organized by Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Bigkis at Lakas ng Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (BALATIK), Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM), Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas, Defend Patrimony Alliance, Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders, Katribu Party-list and the Kalikasan Party-list, in response to complaints of local residents.

"Residents reported that all these rivers seemingly cry crimson tears with every rainfall, most recently during the heavy rains of the Habagat storms in August. This means oxygen depletion and the eventual biological death in all of these rivers," Cosico said.

Based on an ocular inspection of the siltation dam facilities of Citinickel, the EIM team estimated the dam to be a shallow four feet deep. It also noted that the dam had questionable structural integrity, which greatly increases the risk of siltation spillage.

The water and soil samples will be tested in laboratories to check for the total suspended solids and heavy metal contamination, respectively.

Kalikasan PNE pointed out that previous mining disasters such as the 1996 Marcopper Mine Spill prove that environments affected by heavy metal contamination and other impacts from mining take a long time to recover and rehabilitate.

"In the interviews and group discussions conducted with locals, it was noted that the productivity of affected fisheries and agricultural lands experienced a drastic drop since the start of Citinickel's mining operations. There were also cases of respiratory and skin diseases, among others, that could possibly be attributed to the mining's effects. These problems can be long-lasting especially since heavy metals and other contaminants from mining that will surely result from Citinickel's operations accumulate and remain over time," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The groups plan to send a letter of concern to DENR's Region-IV and National offices as well as to Congress to call for an immediate investigation and prompt action on the urgent findings of the EIM regarding the siltation dams of the mining project, among others.

"One of the most striking observations of the EIM concerns Citinickel's siltation dams, which appeared to be mere 4 meter-feet holes in the topsoil. These would easily overflow or break down should heavy rains come, and is seen as the probable source of past suspected massive siltation incidents in the various affected rivers. Citinickel and all government agencies instrumental to their operations should be impartially investigated and immediately held accountable, as they are clearly violating environmental laws and policies such as the EIS System, Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act," ended Bautista.

Clemente Bautista - National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE - 09228449787 | Finesa Cosico - Project and Extension Officer, AGHAM - 09178115445

To: Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje
Office of the Secretary
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

06 December 2012

Warm, nationalist greetings!

Last November 23 to 26, various environmental organizations, indigenous people's groups and other sectoral formations held an environmental investigation mission (EIM) in the municipality of Sofronio Espanola in Southern Palawan. This was a response to earlier grievances and requests for intervention expressed by local indigenous people's communities regarding the 1,408-hectare Pulot nickel large-scale mining project operated by Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation (CMDC).

The EIM aimed to gather scientific data and case studies of community experiences with regards to these complaints of environmental, socio-economic and cultural impacts from the Pulot nickel mining project of CMDC. The mission had two components: a technical team that conducted a biological indicator assessment and gathered water, sediment, and soil samples in six survey points, and a socio-economic team that conducted focus group discussions and key informant interviews that covered six areas.

We are writing to express grave concern on the resultant preliminary findings of the EIM. In the team's biological surveys in Pasi River, the tributary near the siltation dam of Citinickel, and in the mangrove forest of Sitio Bulikawa, which is adjacent to the soil stock pilings of Citinickel, bleached shells and dead mollusks were scattered everywhere, indicating possible shellfish kills. Distinct reddish sediments were observed in the bottom portion of Pulot River's sediment profile that were clearly only recently deposited, indicating possible siltation spills from the mining project.

These technical assessments reflected in the socio-economic team's findings. Palay  production in Punang, Maribong and Pulot Center once ranged an average of 80 to 150 sacks of rice per cropping, with farmers enjoying one to two croppings every year. When farmers started experiencing pollution of their irrigation systems with red-colored siltation from Citinickel's mines, average productivity dropped to 60 to 80 sacks per cropping, now limited to only one cropping per year. In Pulot Center, red and black spots were observed in their palay's leaves. Fisheries clearly declined after Citinickel started mining, where the average 15 kilos of fisheries caught per day dropped to 2 kilos per day, or a drop to P160-200 average per-diem profit from an average of P1,350 per-diem. Fisherfolks also observed the disappearance of certain aquatic species such as lato and tuway (clams), and have reported actual incidents of fish kills last October 2012.

One of the most striking observations of the EIM team concerns the siltation dam of Citinickel. It is appears to be a mere dugout in the soil with seemingly no protective lining, and is estimated to be only 4 meters in height. This poses a great danger to the environment and the community because it could easily overflow should heavy rains come. Worse, there is also a danger that this siltation dam would break down because it is made only of packed soil. Should this happen, the siltation will immediately flow to the river and pollute if not poison not only this ecosystem but also the fields, the sea and other interconnected systems. Attached here are pictures taken by the team from the site.

It is in this light that we are calling for an immediate investigation about the  aforementioned urgent concerns regarding Citinickel's impacts on the environment and the communities in Sofronio Espanola. We are requesting your offices to take immediate action regarding this matter. We would also like to suggest that we hold a dialogue in January 2013 with the affected residents from Palawan to discuss what your office can do about these reported negative effects of Citinickel. By this time, the laboratory results of our water and soil samples will have come out and contribute to our discussion and immediate actions.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you very much.

For the environment and the people,

Roshell Allaga
Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog
Katagalugan (BALATIK)

Joan Jaime
National Coordinator
Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng
Pilipina (KAMP)

Finesa Cosico
Project and Extension Officer
AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology
for the People

Clemente Bautista, Jr.
National Coordinator
Kalikasan-People's Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan PNE)

Frances Quimpo
Executive Director
Center for Environmental Concerns -
Philippines (CEC Phils)

Fr. Oliver Castor
Defend Patrimony! Alliance

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