MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Another killing at Xstrata's Tamapakan mine

Published by MAC on 2013-02-04
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Asian Corresp., Davao Today

In late 2012, B'laan tribal leader Daguil Capion's (also spelt Cafeon below) unarmed wife and children were killed by the Philippine military (see: Philippines: Tampakan violence claims the lives of tribal woman and her children). The killing was linked to his opposition to Xstrata's Tampakan mine. Now, his brother has been shot dead in questionable circumstances. The military are reporting it as the justified killing of a 'bandit', but it follows on fears of a tragic escalation in the conflict with those opposing the mine. This is especially true given the deployment of Task Force Kitaco, a special unit created to suppress this opposition.

This incident followed on from yet another setback for the company, when the Provincial Board of South Cotabato reiterated a previous resolution the confirms the ban on open pit mining in the province. On the island of Romblon, a legal challenge to the local government Executive Order limiting mining has been successfully challenged by a company, but the Governor intends to appeal.

The mining industry has been complaining about hold-ups in legislation leading to a loss of $1.5 billion worth of potential mining investments.

Finally in Palawan, the Philippine company Citinickel has been fined for a spill from its minesite (see: Philippines: New year starts with a victory amid the violence).

Philippines: Brother of anti-mining tribal leader slain in military raid

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

31 January 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - The brother of fugitive Blaan tribal leader Daguil Cafeon was slain in an alleged encounter with government soldiers in the remote village of Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur Tuesday morning.

Killed was Kitari Cafeon who, according to the military, was hit on the hip and was rushed to the Allah Valley Hospital in Koronadal City but died several hours later.

Capt. William Alfred Rodriguez, spokesman of the 1002nd Brigade based in Sarangani province, said a squad of soldiers from Task Force Kitaco led by Sgt. Edwin Olpoc was conducting foot patrol when they were reportedly fired upon by the armed tribal group led by Daguil Cafeon.

After a brief encounter, Cafeon and his group reportedly withdrew leaving behind Kitari.

The Cafeon brothers and their group have been called bandits by the military.

"The incident is very unfortunate for the bandit, who for a long time, we are trying to convince to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law to face the criminal charges against them," Rodriguez said in a statement sent to the media here.

Daguil Cafeon (not Capion as earlier reported) however said the soldiers raided the place they were staying resulting into an exchange of gunfire.

In a telephone interview, Cafeon told ABS-CBN TV Patrol Socsksargen they were resting and were reportedly given assurance by Task Force Kitaco head Maj. Joel Wayagwag they will not be harmed if they will stay put in the area.

Cafeon is however wanted for a string of ambuscades that left at least six people dead, most of them security guards and consultants of Sagittarius Mines Inc. and drill contractors of the said company. Several arrest warrants have been issued against him and members of his armed group.

Cafeon and several Blaan residents Bong Mal, Tampakan town of South Cotabato took arms to protest ongoing mining operations of SMI in their area.

He accused SMI of encroaching into their ancestral domain.

In October last year, Cafeon's wife Juvy was killed together with his son and his wife's son by first marriage when a platoon of soldiers raked their house in nearby Sitio Datal-Alyong, also in Kimlawis during an early morning raid.

Cafeon escaped harm when he opted to sleep the night before in the nearby vegetated area to avoid detection.

The military claimed the killing was also a result of an encounter but human rights group however said it was a massacre.

Cafeon himself said there was no exchange of gunfire as he was some 200 meters away from their house when the soldiers fired at his wife and children.

The incident sparked international outcry.

The AFP has since then placed all soldiers involved in the killing of Juvy and her two children under court martial.

Cafeon's two other brothers have also joined him and are likewise wanted by the government.

Massacre kin killed in Tampakan mine site

"The military did not even care to give immediate medical attention to the victim when he was hit and was unable to fight back anymore," said Ryan Lariba, spokesperson for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Soccsksargends.

By John Rizle L. Saligumba

Davao Today

31 January 2013

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - More than three months after elements of the Army's 27th Infantry Battalion figured in the massacre of pregnant Blaan Juvy Capion and her two children in Tampakan town, South Cotabato, the military is now again accused of killing another civilian-relative of the Capions in a strafing incident January 29.

Kitari Capion, a young tribal leader, suffered three gunshot wounds when some 15 members of Task Force (TF) Kitacom (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio, Malungon), composed of Cafgus and the 39th Infantry Battalion, opened fired at his house around 7AM, said Pastor Sadrach Sabella, secretary general of rights group Karapatan-Soccsksagends, in a phone interview.

Capion, he added, was brought to the Allah Valley Medical Specialist Center in Koronadal City but later died due to hemorrhage. He arrived at the hospital at around 11 AM, four hours after the incident.

"The military did not even care to give immediate medical attention to the victim when he was hit and was unable to fight back anymore," said Ryan Lariba, spokesperson for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Soccsksargends.

Kitari was declared dead at about 2 PM, the military's 1002nd Infantry Brigade reportedly said.

Lariba emphasized that while Kitari was a known leader of a group of lumads waging tribal war against Xstrata- Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) and its military protectors, "witnesses said that he was unarmed during the incident and in fact was not able to fire back."

The military reportedly said that Capion's group fired M79 grenade at them.

Bayan said what the military did was "a gross violation" of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the military rules of engagement and war protocols.

"We denounce the continued militarization in the area. We challenge the Aquino government to give justice to the victims. The military must be pulled out now," Sabella said.

Kitari who will be laid to rest today, January 31, is the younger brother of Daguil Capion, an anti-large-scale mining leader who's been waging a pangayaw against the Xstrata-SMI, the country's largest mining investor with USD 5.9 Billion investment in the 10,000-hectare proposed mine site.

About 7,095 of the said area lie within the Blaan's ancestral lands where an estimated 2,600 families, or 4,000 individuals from the Blaan Tribe reside.

Prior to the incident, the TF Kitacom allegedly launched military operations in the nearby Sitio Alyong.

According to Sabella, on January 28, brothers Daguil and Kitari came down from the mountains to Sitio Nakultana, Kimlawis village, Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur. The morning after, he said, Cafgus and troops from the 39th IB led by a certain Captain Wayagwag strafed the house of Kitari.

After the Capion's family massacre, the 39th IB replaced the 27th IB in November 5. Thirteen elements from the latter unit were relieved from post and put under court martial.

In can be recalled that on October 18, 2012, Daguil's wife Juvy and their sons, Jan-jan (7) and Jorge (13), were killed by 13 troops of the 27th IB led by Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Alyong, Danlag village in Tampakan town. Their daughter, Vicky (5), was wounded. Juvy was a member of Kalgad, a lumad organization against large-scale mining.

Lariba said that the continuous military operations in Xstrata - SMI's mining areas will not solve the problem but will actually force more and more lumads to join their relatives in a tribal war in defense of their ancestral lands.

"The military has been serving as Xstrata-SMI's protectors. They kill lumads and local residents in servitude to Xstrata-SMI. Military operations in mining areas drive the lumads to take up arms if only to defend their ancestral lands and lives," Lariba said.

Tampakan's mining site is where the largest underdeveloped copper and gold deposits in the Southeast Asia are located. Its copper reserves are estimated to be between 13.9 to 15 Million metric tons while the gold reserves are estimated to be between 16.2 to 17.9 million ounces. (With reports from Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/

Tribal members flee Tampakan mine site due to heavy military presence


4 February 2013

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/2 February)-At least 50 individuals, mostly women and children, have fled the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. for fear of the growing militarization in the area, a church worker said Saturday.

Rene Pamplona, advocacy officer of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, said the evacuees have sought refuge in a shelter owned by the diocese.

"They started going down on board motorcycles yesterday (Friday) because they are afraid of the growing presence of the military," he said on the phone.

Pamplona said the evacuees came from Bong Mal district, a B'laan territory at the heart of the mines development site that straddles the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

The evacuation came three days after the alleged encounter between soldiers and a tribal armed group that is opposing the mining venture of SMI.

The "firefight" in Sitio Nakultana in Bong Mal resulted to the death of Kitari Capion, younger brother of Daguel Capion who is leading the armed struggle against the mining company.

In October last year, Daguel Capion's wife Juvy and their two young children were also killed in what the military claimed as a "legitimate operation" to arrest the former, who is wanted for murder charges.

Groups opposing the Tampakan project, however, described the trio's death as a "massacre."

Daguel Capion had admitted responsibility to the killing of three workers of a construction company hired by SMI for a road project in March 2011. He, however, blamed the mining firm for the incident, saying he was forced to do it because of the firm's alleged disrespect to the rights of the tribal members.

Citing the sentiments of the evacuees, Pamplona said that they are better off in their tribal communities without the presence of the soldiers, apparently referring to the possible violations of their human rights.

In a related development, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance to Stop Mining) has urged Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to order the total pullout of military detachments in the tenement of SMI.

Jaybee Garganera, the group's national coordinator, said the number of military detachments within the Tampakan project of SMI is "very alarming," which in effect "threatens the security of communities in the area."

"We believe that the reports of counterinsurgency are unjustified and their presence in the area is no more than [a] threat to the people," his letter to Bautista dated last January 23 showed.

Noting the apparent militarization in the mines development site of SMI, Garganera cited the deployment of additional troops to the area last mid-January.

Two weeks ago, soldiers on board five military trucks were deployed at nighttime to the different parts of the mines development site of SMI.

Xstrata Copper, the world's fourth largest copper producer, controls SMI, with Australian firm Indophil Resources NL as the junior partner. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)

B'laan leader Capion confirms brother killed in clash with soldiers

By Aquiles Zonio, Orlando Dinoy

Inquirer Mindanao

31 January 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines-The leader of a group of B'laan natives waging war against the copper and gold mining project of Xstrata's Sagittarius Mines Inc. confirmed Thursday that his brother was killed in a raid by government soldiers on Tuesday and called the operation an act of betrayal as their surrender was being arranged.

Daguil Capion, often referred to as a bandit by the authorities, said his brother, Kitari, and two others died in the Tuesday military operation in a remote area of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Capion said he and his men felt betrayed by the authorities because just last Sunday, Kitari discussed their planned surrender with a relative working for SMI and a military officer.

He said that, with his blessing, Kitari met with Dot Capion and Army Capt. Joel Wayagwag, head of Task Force Kitaco, in an area in Barangay Bong Mal, a village that borders Kiblawan and Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Task Force Kitaco is a special unit created under the Army's 1002nd Infantry Brigade in the wake of attacks by various armed groups against SMI and is mandated to secure the areas where the mining company operates.

"During that meeting, Dot and Capt. Wayagwag pledged to help us in our planned surrender. Kitari had relayed to them my vow that we will cease our armed struggle," he told the Inquirer by phone in Filipino. Capion said they were tired of running from the law and were ready to face a string of charges filed against them, including murder and robbery in band.

But he clarified that while their armed struggle would cease, their opposition to SMI's operation continued.

Capion said that after the meeting with Dot and Wayagwag, their group converged on Sitio Nakultana in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan. He and Kitari stayed in separate huts while awaiting news about their surrender feeler.

He said they had expected the "good news" to arrive on Tuesday, as Dot and Wayagwag had pledged.

"But instead of the good news, soldiers came and strafed the hut that Kitari was occupying," Capion said.

He said some of their men fired back but they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of operating troops-ironically, he said, they were led by Wayagwag-and decided to fall back, leaving the wounded Kitari and two other dead comrades behind.

Kitari subsequently died in a hospital in Koronadal City, where soldiers had rushed him, according to a military report on the incident.

Army Capt. William Rodriguez, spokesperson of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon, Sarangani, dismissed Capion's claim. But he confirmed that Wayagwag led the troops that killed Kitari and two other "bandits."

"Government troops under Capt. Wayagwag of Task Force Kitaco were conducting a patrol when fired upon by the group of Dagil Capion. The firefight ensued for about five minutes. Kitari was injured and was brought to a hospital but was later declared dead," Rodriguez said.

Kitari was the younger brother of Daguil and Batas Capion, whose family remains in the forefront of the armed struggle against Sagittarius Mines Inc.

Despite the "betrayal," Capion said he was still determined to surrender but would wait for the intervention of "an honest and trusted government official." If such intervention does not take place, then his group would continue the struggle against SMI and other interests threatening the B'laan way of life and ancestral domain.

"We are ready to die for our struggle," he said.

"We are only trying to protect our right to existence within the domain that our forebears left for us to care for our tribe," Capion added.

The Capions, who descended from a long line of traditional B'laan leaders, maintain that SMI has caused dislocations among B'laan communities and that its operations threatened the livelihood of the natives.

But for authorities and government officials in areas where SMI operates, including Kiblawan, the Capions and their band of fighters are plain bandits who have been involved in senseless killings and robberies.

The Capion brothers have pending warrants for their arrest, including one for murder issued on January 29 last year.

Soldiers and policemen have been hunting them down in the hinterlands of the provinces of Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

On Oct. 18 last year, one of the many operations aimed at capturing the Capion brothers turned ugly when soldiers instead killed Daguil's wife and his two sons. The deaths of Juvy and her two children, Pop, 13, and John, 8, caused an uproar and put in question anew the military's respect for human rights.

The Eastern Mindanao Command maintained that the deaths of Daguil's wife and two sons were the result of a legitimate encounter but it was eventually forced to conduct an inquiry. Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, later announced that a military prosecutor had recommended the court-martial of a junior officer and 12 infantrymen for tactical lapses in the Oct. 18 operation.

The case against the soldiers remains undecided to this day.

Green groups ask new AFP chief to pull our military in controversial mining project

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Press Release

23 January 2013

Alyansa Tigil Mina wrote the new Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista calling for an investigation on the increased presence of military in the communities surrounding the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project and total pullout of the said military detachments.

Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator said: "We believe that the presence of military detachments in Tampakan and nearby villages will heighten the tension in the area and further escalate the threat of human rights violations against anti-mining communities, especially indigenous peoples."

In January 16, MindaNews, a local newspaper in Mindanao reported that additional military were deployed in Sitio Lafla, Datal Alyong, and Datal Biao in the Municipality of Bong Mal, in Kiblawan Davao del Sur.

A recent and controversial case is the massacre of the Capion Family in Bong Mal in October 18 last year, which was immediately admitted to by the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Dante Jimenez. At that time, the Philippine Army was under the command of Bautista.

Garganera added: "We are gravely dismayed that the Court Martial has not been convened, when reports show that the military failed to follow rules of engagement."

Jimenez and his team were only suspended after the said incident.

In the letter received by the AFP chief yesterday, ATM cited Bautista's acceptance speech:

"calling for an end to armed violence and in advocating for peace, to allow us to focus on the important task of securing the sovereignty of our state and the integrity of our national territory and protecting our people from the adverse effect of climate change and environmental degradation." (PDI, 18 January 2013)

"In this case, if Lt. Gen. Bautista is sincere when he said in hi speech that-we felt it is only right for him to command the military to pull out from sites where there are no intelligence or basis of counterinsurgency or reason for the military to roam around," Garganera concluded.

Earlier reports identified Lt. Gen. Bautista as the brains of Oplan Bayanihan, a counterinsurgency program of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, 09277617602

Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, 0915-3313361

Visit our website:
Twitter: atm_philippines

Philippines: Mining giant Xstrata-SMI suffers another blow

By Edwin Espejo

Asian Correspondent

24 January 2013

The Xstrata-controlled Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) suffered yet another setback when the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP, or Provincial Board) of South Cotabato on Monday, January 21, reiterated a previous resolution reaffirming the validity of a provision of the Provincial Environment Code that bans open pit mining in the province.

The resolution dashed any hopes SMI had to have the landmark local legislation reviewed by the local legislative body before the May elections this year.

SMI was hoping the provincial government would lift the ban on open pit mining to pave the way for its planned commercial production. The mining firm had announced in the past that it will start commercial operations in 2016.

But a latest statement from SMI said it is moving its production target to 2019 due to its failure to get the necessary permits and licenses.

In January 2012, the Environmental Management Bureau denied the application of SMI for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) citing existing provincial ban on open pit mining.

Former South Cotabato governor Daisy Avance Fuentes signed the provincial ordinance in June 2010, several days before she stepped down from office to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Fuentes won in the congressional race but is now seeking to regain her gubernatorial post.

She will be up against incumbent Gov. Arthur Pingoy who also repeatedly and publicly stated he will implement the ordinance unless it is declared by the court as unconstitutional.

SMI has refused to seek the opinion of the courts but has been lobbying for the repeal of the ordinance arguing that it is a mere contractor under the Columbio Financial Technical Assistance Agreement which served as the legal basis of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project.

A company source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Philippine government should stand pat on the primacy of national laws over a local legislation.

The Aquino government however has put on hold all issuance of new mining permits and licenses pending the issuance of a new mining policy and drafting of a new mining bill.

But with only six session days left before Congress goes into a recess, President Benigno Aquino is expected to until after the May elections before tackling controversial mining issues.

SMI said it will pour in more than US$5.9 billion into mine - estimated to return 15 million tons of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold - at its main min development site in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

The company is said to have already spent more than P10 billion (US$250 million) leading to the permit and licensing stage of the mining project.

Vice Gov. Elmo Tolosa however stood pat and said that "only a court of law can declare whether the ban on open pit mining is valid or not."

Citinickel fined for pond spill in Palawan

Regulators reviewing mining company's operations

By Niña P. Calleja

Philippine Daily Inquirer

20 January 2013

The operations of a mining unit of publicly listed Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc. in southern Palawan are under review after the reported outflow of silt from its mine site to the province's Pinagduguan River and nearby farmlands.

According to a report reaching the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. was issued a notice of violation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources after silt-laden water spilled from its silt pond No. 2 at its Toronto Mining Area in Barangay (village) San Isidro, Narra, in Palawan on Nov. 25, 2012.

The water from the pond flowed into the river and irrigation canals affecting six farm lots and a fish pond.

Findings of a validating team composed of local officials, a nongovernment organization and Citinickel showed farmlands owned by six farmers were found with one centimeter-thick silt deposits in areas away from water inlets.

Silt deposits measuring four centimeters were recorded at water inlets and near the irrigation canals on the upper stream of the National Highway in Barangay San Isidro.

After the investigation, the Environment Management Bureau of the DENR asked Citinickel to pay the cost of the damaged farm lots and the river, which amounted to P146,745 and P368,000, respectively.

"Citinickel must comply with the notice of violation. They must immediately pay the farmers compensation," MGB director Leo Jasareno said in an interview.

Jasareno said he had ordered the regional office in Palawan to probe the incident and determine if Citinickel should continue operations.

"I have asked our regional office to find out if there is a ground to allow the company to still continue operations," Jasareno said.

Jasareno said a cease-and-desist order on the operation of the Silt Pond No. 2. had been issued by the EMB of DENR immediately after the outflow incident on Nov. 25.

According to the MGB report, the incident happened on the night of Nov. 25 "due to the lapses in judgment of the company mine foreman who was tasked to drain water from silt pond no. 2 to silt pond no 1."

Instead, the foreman excavated a canal toward an old and non-serviceable silt sump that resulted in the outflow of the silt.

The company is operating on a 25-year mineral production sharing agreement with the DENR since 2007. It has a 768-hectare property in the municipality of Narra in Palawan, where it is mining.

Citinickel says clean-up of tailings spill in Palawan completed

GMA Network

24 January 2013

Citinickel Mines and Development Corp., the mining unit of listed Oriental Peninsula, on Thursday announced the completion of clean-up efforts involving the waterways affected by the tailings spill from the Toronto nickel site in Palawan.

Farmers whose properties were affected by the accident last November are also being paid, the company said in an e-mailed statement, citing president Ferdinand Pallera.

Dredging of silt from the affected waterways was completed 15 days after the incident on Nov. 25, 2012. "The situation was addressed immediately and we conducted extensive dredging of the affected areas," the company said citing Pallera.

"Different environmental mitigating structures were immediately installed upon discovery of the incident, and the compensation is being remitted straight to the affected farmers,'' Pallera noted.

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), silt-laden water escaped from Citinickel's Tailings Pond No. 2 at its Toronto mine site in Barangay San Isidro, Narra, Palawan.

It happened "due to lapses in the judgment of the mine foreman who was tasked to drain water from Silt Pond No. 2 to Silt Pond No. 1."

On Nov. 29, 2012, the Environmental Management Bureau ordered the company to stop using the tailings pond that overflowed.

The miner noted it suspended mine operations from Nov. 26 to Dec. 9 to hold the clean-up operations.

Tests conducted by CRL Environmental Corporation showed that water sampled from the surface water of Pinagduguan River churned -2.5 milligrams per liter in total suspended solids, "which means after the clean-up operations, water is clean as potable water," according to Citinickel.

CRL is a laboratory accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"We do not use chemicals in our mining operations, because we have no processing... Thus, there are no permanent damage in the farmlands," said Pallera.

At least 6.8 hectares of farmlands were affected by the spill, and the damage was placed at P146,745, and the damage to the Pinagduguan river was placed at P368,000, the company said. - VS, GMA News

Green groups, Romblon governor question regional court ruling against local issuances

Asserts local autonomy and right to protect environment

ATM Press Release

29 January 2013

Manila-Gov. Eduardo Firmalo and members of Alyansa Tigil Mina will challenge the Resolution issued on the Special Civil Action Case No. V-1906, which declared Romblon's Executive Order No. 001, s.2011, unconstitutional.

Issued January 17, the resolution is found in favor of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC) to proceed to minerals exploration. SNPDC earlier received a cease-and-desist order from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau until the conduct of an investigation on the complaint of the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines and other groups. The declaratory relief filed by the mining company also argued local issuances that disallowed metallic mining operations in the province.

Firmalo said: "I will challenge this resolution and stand by the executive order. It seems this will be a test case of Mining vs. Local Autonomy, and I believe we will win in the end because as the caretakers of our province, the local leaders should agree to protect the environment by measures that are bound by law. I do not think that the executive order and municipal resolutions are unconstitutional."

Mayor Dindo Rios of San Fernando in Sibuyan added: "We are empowered by the Local Government Code and the mandate of our constituents to protect our resources and people from devastating effects of industries like mining. I come from an ice-age island of Sibuyan, a sensitive ecosystem teeming with unique biodiversity, the source of our sustainability."

Local leaders and advocates are aware and supportive of their leaders.

"We stand firm with the moratorium order of the governor towards a healthful and balance ecology, for the general welfare. We were disappointed with the court's decision on councilor Armin Rios Marin's death and with this recent decision of the same court - the honorable judge favored the same mining company involved. We will exhaust all means to protect our island ecosystems and the rights of our people to determine our own path to genuine sustainable development," said Rodne Galicha, leader of Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) and ATM sites of struggles officer.

Representing Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM), Msgr. Nonato Ernie V. Fetalino, administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Romblon and Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, jointly said that they " will continue to support the mining moratorium - the cry of our people is very clear, this is a moral and spiritual call."

"The mining industry has been dividing communities, but in our province we have united ourselves. We shall continue to fight for the integrity of creation promoting human rights and environmental justice. We remind our people to think twice this coming elections," the religious leaders added.

Meanwhile, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) finds that the said ruling is opposed to the right of local governments to promote the general welfare of their constituency and implement policies geared towards the protection of their environment and natural resources.

"When the Local Government Code was enacted, powers have been delegated to local government units to promote the general welfare of their constituencies. If the RTC ruling is to be upheld, I believe more local governments will stand and assert their local autonomy. In this case, it seems the RTC is putting more premium to the Mining Act of 1995 and the industry rather than the Local Government Code," said Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator.

At present, the following LGUs have enacted legislations disallowing mining operations in their jurisdictions: Albay, Bukidnon, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Ilo-ilo, Samar, Marinduque, La Union, Capiz, Romblon, Antique, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Negros Oriental and South Cotabato.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, 09277617602
Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, 0915-3313361
Visit our website:
Twitter: atm_philippines

Mining loses $1.5B in potential investments

Stakeholders still waiting for Congress to enact new law

By Niña P. Calleja

Philippine Daily Inquirer

30 January 2013

The country's mining industry remains in limbo as businessmen and potential investors await the new mining law to be passed by Congress, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.

"To go forward, the government must resolve the mining revenue-sharing issues first. That won't happen until at least after the midterm elections in May and when a new Congress is sworn in," Jimbo Gulle, the new spokesman of the CMOP, said in an interview.

Gulle noted that mining industry stakeholders have lost all hope that a new mining law would be approved before the close of the current 15th Congress and that the moratorium on new mining contracts would be lifted.

"There's a six-month lull in Congress (in connection with talks about mining). We have to wait until June this year. We are patient about it but you see if the mines don't get to work and companies are not allowed to start operations, all the investments planned for the country will not happen," Gulle said.

Gulle cited data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showing that the foreign mining investments that flowed into the country last year reached $509.24 million, 75 percent lower than the estimated $2 billion. The Philippines lost $1.5 billion worth of potential investments.

The Chamber of Mines said that with the issuance of Executive Order 79, which imposed a moratorium on mining agreements until such time that a new mining bill has been enacted into law, both government and industry leaders have reconsidered their projections for the mining industry.

The government has lowered significantly its forecasts for mining investments for the next four years because of project delays due to the implementation of EO 79.

Industry records showed that investment inflows for 2013 would likely reach $718.47 million, down from the previous target of $2.07 billion; $851.75 million in 2014 from the previous estimate of $2.4 billion; $757.6 million in 2015 from $2.9 billion; and $619.5 million in 2016 from $2.3 billion.

Gulle also cited the case of Sagittarius Mines Inc., which is developing the Tampakan copper-gold project in Mindanao, but has to put its $6-billion project on hold due to a provincial ordinance prohibiting open-pit mining.

"There should be a harmony in national and local laws. That's something the government should solve," he said.

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