MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: More questions, and a few answers

Published by MAC on 2013-04-01
Source: Statement, Inquirer, Mindanews, Sun Star (2013-03-26)

This latest update sees an 'anti-mining' tribal leader in Mindanao arrested in dubious circumstances.

The mining issue is also being highlighted for the forthcoming elections, with a focus on the candidates' views over the siting of a coal-fired power plant, required for the Tampakan mine.

The Senate committee on Environment and Natural Resources has started its investigation into Philex Mining Corporation's Padcal mine disaster, even though the company has re-started processing. Questions are being about of the low level of the fine imposed on Philex for causing this event.

In other news, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has finally declared a ban on the contentious black sand extraction in Ilocos Sur.

The Supreme Court is, once again, reviewing the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act.

And the provincial government of Romblon has adopted an environmental ordinance that imposes strict limitations on mining.

The Detention of MAPASU Chairman Jalandoni Campos is Denial of the Right of the Lumad People to Development, Human Rights and the Environment!

MALAHUTAYONG PAKIGBISOG ALANG SA SUMUSUNOD (MAPASU) Statement

25 March 2013

We strongly condemn the denial of legal due process and continuing detention of our Chairman Jalandoni Campos. This is a form of repression of the Lumad [indigenous people]'s right to develop, to self-determination, human rights and the environment.

The circumstances of his arrest are filled with violations against due process. Armed elements of the police in civilian clothes served the warrant of arrest to him on the evening of Saturday, March 23, 2013. He was not read his rights. He was not informed of the charges against him despite that these complaints were filed in Lianga, Surigao del Sur where he lived and was well-known to government officials in the municipality. He did not receive a subpoena despite the fact that he was a resident of this municipality. There was no clear investigation of the case filed against him.

Jalandoni Campos is a Manobo who lives in Sitio Han-ayan, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and was chairman of MAPASU since 1996 to the present. He is a member of the council of the Mindanao Lumad Alliance, KALUMARAN (Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao) and KASALO (Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon) in the Caraga region. He is a legal person who actively worked with a legal organization. The fabricated and malicious case of rebellion filed against him is a form of continuing discrimination, harassment and oppression against us, the Lumad people. Our organization MAPASU was established to unify us, Lumad, so that we may develop because we have suffered a long history of oppressive conditions.

It pains us, the Lumad people who are members of MAPASU, that our respected leader is charged with crimes he did not commit, was arrested and detained without due process. We will not allow the Lumad people's unity, our defense of self-determination, to be sullied. Our wise leader Jalandoni has no other goal but toadvance the Lumad's interests and development and to guide us to have confidence and unity so that we may have respect. Under his leadership, he was always with us so that we can strongly stand against largescale mining to protect our environment and nurture our ancestral domain for our future generations. We will not allow that he be denied his rights because violation and denial of his rights are as much a violation and denial of our rights.

We are united in demanding that the government of our country reinvestigate the case against him and dismiss the case against Jalandoni Campos. Free him from jail!

JUSTICE FOR JALANDONI CAMPOS AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

RECOGNIZE AND RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

DISMISS ALL FABRICATED CASES AGAINST LUMAD LEADERS AND INNOCENT CIVILIANS!

OPLAN BAYANIHAN IS A PLAGUE AGAINST THE PEOPLE! STOP OPLAN BAYANIHAN!#

Reference: Myrna Belandres, MAPASU Deputy Secretary General +639263267458


Diocese of Marbel wages ‘Team Pabor-Team Ayaw' campaign vs mining, coal plant

By Allen V. Estabillo

Mindanews

13 March 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 March) - Calling it an effective strategy in educating local voters, Catholic Church leaders are adopting the controversial "Team Patay-Team Buhay" campaign of the Diocese of Bacolod to highlight local mining and environment-related issues in the upcoming May 13 elections.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel said Wednesday they decided to post tarpaulins containing the names of candidates who favor and oppose the planned open-pit mining activity in South Cotabato and the construction of the coal-fired power plant in Sarangani Province.

Dubbed "Team Pabor-Team Ayaw" campaign, he said the move aims to educate local voters regarding the stand of candidates on the US$ 5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) and the coal-fired power plant project of the Alcantara-led Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC).

"We're not endorsing any candidate. We just want to guide our voters in making the right choices come election day," the bishop said.

Gutierrez said the "Team Pabor-Team Ayaw" tarpaulins will be raised in front of parishes and chapels under the Diocese of Marbel.

The diocese covers the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani as well as the cities of General Santos and Koronadal.

The bishop said they are not setting any limit as to the sizes of the "Team Pabor-Team Ayaw" tarpaulins that will be posted.

"(The tarpaulins) will be as long as you want and as big as you want. No limit when it comes to sizes," he said.

Gutierrez said among the candidates included in the "Team Ayaw" or those who oppose the open-pit mining and coal plant projects are South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr., South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel, Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao and Sarangani Vice Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon.

He did not name the candidates that will be included in the "Team Pabor" or those who favor the two projects.

Pacquiao and Solon, who were running unopposed as representative and governor of Sarangani, respectively, have opposed the ongoing construction of the SEC's 200-megawatt (MW) coal plant in the coastal village of Kamanga in Maasim town.

The US$ 450-million power plant, which is due for completion by the end of 2015, is a joint venture between the Alcantara Group's Conal Holdings Corporation and Thailand's Electricity Generating Public Company Limited.

Pingoy and Fuentes, who are both running for governor of South Cotabato, have repeatedly disclosed in public their opposition to SMI's open-pit mining project.

While in her last term as governor in 2010, Fuentes signed the province's environment code that included a provision banning open-pit mining in the area.

Pingoy, who succeeded Fuentes, implemented the open-pit ban and stood behind it amid calls for its withdrawal by the national government.

Mayor Miguel, who is seeking reelection, is also supporting the open-pit ban.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued last month a conditional environmental compliance certificate or ECC to SMI despite the standing ban on open-pit mining.

The open-pit ban was the main reason for the DENR's denial in January last year of SMI's application for ECC.

SMI, which is controlled by world's fourth largest copper producer Xstrata Copper, had disclosed that it would employ the controversial open-pit mining method for its operations, a move vehemently opposed by local environmental groups and Roman Catholic Church. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)


Senate probes Philex mining spill

By Ma. Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

20 March 2013

BAGUIO CITY - The Senate committee on Environment and Natural Resources started the investigation Tuesday on the Philex Mining Corporation's Padcal mine disaster.

Representatives of the Philex Mining Corporation attended the Senate inquiry on Tuesday.

Fay Apil, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) officer in charge, and over 41 other groups from government and nongovernment organizations also appeared before the Senate hearing.

On July 2012 an unusual amount of water accumulated in tailings pond 3 of Philex located in Balog, Ampucao, Itogon.

A sink hole resulted causing the pond to spill about 21 million metric tanks of mine wastes along Balog Creek until it reached the Agno River.

Ed Aratas, chief of Philex's legal division, said the inquiry will thresh out problems encountered after the spill and it hopes to craft legislation to prepare for similar events in the future.

"There have been no official findings yet from the government on the exact details of the spill such as the toxicity of waste, the accurate amount of waste spilled, as well as the effect on all those living near the Balog and Agno river systems," said Senator Serge Osmeña.

He said he received a letter from various non-government organizations (NGOs) calling on the Senate to conduct an investigation into the incident.

"We owe it to our people, the country and ourselves to know the truth about the massive leak, its impact to the affected communities, the Local Government Units, and our ecosystem," Osmeña added.

The inquiry is done in the interest of transparency, fairness, and justice, Osmeña said. "I strongly and respectfully request that the appropriate committees of the Senate initiate proper inquiry, in aid of legislation, even while the Senate is on recess."

The senator tagged the spill as unprecedented.

"The penstocks of the only operational mine-tailings pond or Pond ‘C' of Philex in Benguet had collapsed, causing the discharge of over 20.6 million metric tons of mine wastes," Osmeña said, adding the amount of waste spilled in the incident was 20 times more than the infamous Marinduque Mining Disaster that left Boac River dead over a decade ago.

Aratas said Philex is temporarily operating after getting the nod of the government to continue work for four months to fill up tailings pond 3 before the rainy season sets in July.

Philex resumed operations in February 26 to collect tailings to fill the defective pond and stabilize the area.

Aratas said the Senate inquiry will not affect the temporary operations of the mines. (Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)


Position Paper for the Senate Hearing of Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, on the Issue of Philex Mine Waste Spill

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA)

19 March 2013

Mining or extractive industry can be destructive to the environment - "Our experiences of environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational corporations belie all assurances of sustainable and responsible mining that the government is claiming. Increasing number of mining affected communities, Christians and non-Christians alike, are subjected to human rights violations and economic deprivations. We see no relief in sight" (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006).

The Church challenges the government policy on mining and categorically declares that: "the Mining Act destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people's right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people's health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas" (CBCP, A Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns, January 29, 2006).

We pursue our advocacy for a sustainable ecology because it is part of our Christian responsibility. With the late Pope John Paul II, we believe that "Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith" (The Ecological Crisis No. 15, Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace).

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines also emphasized the issue of human accountability due to neglect of the ecol­ogy: "Because the integrity of Gods creation is violated, our people suffer the destruction brought about by droughts and floods. Those disasters cannot be traced merely to uncontrollable powers of nature, but also to human greed for short term economic gain . . ." (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, Acts 323).

The recent tailing spill in Philex is another tragedy in the mining industry that illustrates how mining activity can irreversibly damage the livelihood of affected communities and the river eco-system. After months of recurring leakages, the Philex mine spill in Benguet has become the "biggest mining disaster" in the Philippines in terms of volume. Some 20 million metric tons of sediments have flowed into water channels from the Philex tailings pond in Itogon since its drainage tunnel was breached last August 2012. This is ten times more than the volume of mine tailings that spilled out of the Marcopper mine in 1996 in Marinduque, which dumped some two million metric tons of waste into the Boac River and is still considered the worst mining disaster in terms of toxicity.

The Philex spill incident invites us to see the need to go beyond the myopic monetary valuation of our natural resources to give weightier consideration to the demand for ecological protection, promotion of environmental justice and the common good. We recognize the flaw is in the government's framework which regards the natural resources as something to be exploited rather than a crucial reserve to be sustained and protected in order to preserve the ecological balance and to ensure sustainability for all - both for the human community and the threatened ecosystems.

Premises considered, we reiterate our positions and pastoral statements calling for policy reform in the mining industry:

1. The country faces more and more environmental problems because of the government's liberal policies on extractive operations.

The Mining Act of 1995, which lays down the policy for the government's near-fanatical campaign to attract investors to invest in the mining distorts the goal of genuine development. By single-mindedly pursuing the economic benefits or financial gain, it failed to weigh the greater consideration in the equation - the human and ecosystems well-being, the human rights of the indigenous peoples and the local communities, the food security and ecological integrity of our country.

Therefore, the Church together with the civil society advocates, call for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of an alternative law on mining and environment protection. The Church has thrown its full weight on the campaign for the passage of the alternative Minerals Resources Act, which offers a far more sustainable approach to utilization and protection of our country's natural resources.

2. The CBCP-NASSA submits to this Honorable Committee the major recommendations that we enumerated in the Fact-Finding Report that we submitted to government offices for appropriate action, and in this case, for legislative consideration.

a) There is a need for an immediate and impartial investigation on the impacts of the spill to the watershed, the people and the impact communities:
· Technical assessment on the structural safety of the TP3 given its terminal life span and vulnerabilities to climate change and geo-hazards. The status of TP1 and TP2 should also be reviewed for strong compliance to rehabilitation of its environment;
· Regular and continuing laboratory testing for water, fish and environment quality and for heavy metals contamination of the TP3, Balog River, Agno River and the San Roque Dam (SRD). Bathymetric survey on the collapsed TP3 and the SRD needs to be immediately undertaken; and
· Conduct impact studies on rice farms, irrigation system and the downstream communities where the mine tailings flow from San Roque Dam to Agno River and to the provinces of Pangasinan and Tarlac

b) Compliance with environment standards and to local government clearances and payment of due taxes to Itogon and Tuba municipalities should be ensured.

c) Clean up and rehabilitation of the entire impact and watershed area should be undertaken.

The Church joins the local communities and the civil society in calling for a mining moratorium to put a stop to the plunder of our natural resources by the large-scale mining companies. The mining operations, under the guise of development, promise to bring the much-needed investment but to the detriment of the environment and the welfare of our people. We believe that environment should never be sacrificed - that "an economy respectful of the environment will not have the maximization of profit as its only objective, because environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations . . . The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces." (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 40: AAS 83 (1991), 843).

We reiterate our objection to the prevailing neo-liberal pitch that there is no other path to development except through further economic liberalization, especially in mining industry. Recent empirical researches show otherwise - "Mining has the highest poverty incidence (48.7%) of any sector in the country. It is the only sector where poverty incidence increased between 1988-2009."

Therefore, we also demand for a cost-benefit analysis of the mining industry vis-à-vis its impact to ecology and food security. As our experience on the ground confirms: "the adverse social impact of affected communities, especially our indigenous brothers and sisters far outweigh the gains promised by large-scale mining corporations. Our people living in the mountains and along the affected shorelines can no longer avail of the bounty of nature. Rice fields are devastated and bays rich with sea foods become health hazards" (A Statement of Concern on the Mining Act of 1995, February 28, 1998).

For the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA)

FR. EDWIN A. GARIGUEZ
Executive Secretary


Mine spill fine too low? Don't look at us-Philex

By Cathy Yamsuan

Business Inquirer

20 March 2013

MANILA, Philippines-The P1-billion penalty paid by Philex Mining Corp. for the tailings spill that occurred at its Padcal mine site in August 2012 may have been "low," according to Sen. Sergio Osmeña III.

"I have suspicions that it was undervalued," said Osmeña, vice chairman of the Senate environment committee, after the panel's initial hearing on Tuesday.

The senator, on whose privilege speech the Senate probe was based, said people he knew in the mining industry had told him that relative to the volume of the spill, P1 billion was very low.

"We will try to compute how (the authorities pegged the penalty) at P1 billion. I don't know but, just very recently, I had talks with people connected to the mining industry who told me that P1 billion, which is only about $25 million, is certainly a very, very low amount for an almost 21-million-metric-ton spill," he told reporters outside the hearing room.

There was a need to "clarify mining policies" following the accident, he said.

Pressed to explain, Osmeña said that had the accident occurred in another country, Philex could have been made to pay as much as $1 billion (P40 billion).

"Most of the time, I tend to discover that our fines are so low for many crimes. Napakaliit (Very small)," he said.

Osmeña said the proper amount would have to be computed based on Philex's ability to pay.

‘Make sure it hurts'

"Let's see...the total revenues of Philex are not that big so ($1 billion) would not be realistic. But when you impose a fine, make sure it hurts so the [payee] is forced to implement preventive measures. If a company were to be penalized P5 billion, its people could consider spending P500 million to ensure that an accident would not happen," he said.

Told of Osmeña's remarks, Philex senior vice president for corporate affairs Mike Toledo said it was the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) that imposed the P1-billion fine and the mining firm had already paid it.

At the Senate hearing, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recalled that the MGB immediately issued a suspension order "on the entire operation" of Philex the day after the 21-million-metric-ton spill occurred on Aug. 1, 2012.

After another spill occurred on Aug. 3, Paje said the MGB conducted a probe that showed that "at least five million cubic meters of sediments" was discharged and contaminated a 2.5-kilometer stretch of the Balog River.

Paje said a multidisciplinary committee was formed to determine the liabilities and penalties against Philex. A report that the committee submitted one month later showed that the total volume of mine tailings that leaked from the Padcal mine measured 13.513 cubic meters, equivalent to 20,689,179.42 tons.

More precautions

Philex was found liable and fined P1.034 billion based on the Philippine Mining Act.

Paje said that Philex should have conducted more safety inspections apart from the one it regularly does during the summer.

For his part, Philex president Eulalio Austin said company procedures dictate that the inspection of penstocks discharges to the river is done in the dry season to prevent accidents that could occur when it rains.

Philex consultants and other officers took turns assuring the Senate committee that more precautions were being put in place to prevent a recurrence of the August accident.

Toledo said the MGB and the Pollution Adjudication Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "have already given their separate go-signals to the company to resume temporary operations for four months."

He said Philex was using the time to complete a P2-billion "beaching process...meant to fortify" the portion of the mine damaged by heavy rains when the accident occurred.

Toledo stressed that the accident was a force majeure as "it was a result of the elements of nature...But even as we were not at fault, we share the concern of the government for the environment, thus we are paying the fee, as set by regulators, to cover the costs of remediation and rehabilitation activities."


Senate conducts inquiry on Philex spill

By Maria Elena Catajan

Sun Star Baguio

26 March 2013

THE Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) recommended during a Senate inquiry last week just compensation for affected Philex folk.

In a statement the CPA recommended to "decommission TP3 (Tailings Pond No. 3) and rehabilitate affected river and terrestrial ecosystems. Rehabilitation must start with the decommissioning of the TP3 as well as transparency, as the damage to the environment remains undisclosed."

The CPA further stressed the need for a comprehensive assessment of identified impacts sites and just compensation of affected communities.

Officer-in-charge of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Fay Apil, representatives from Philex Mining Corporation, and over 41 other groups from government and non-government organizations appeared before the Senate Tuesday, March 19, to face the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

The Senate called for an inquiry sparked by a speech of Senator Serge Osmeña and a motion of Senator Vicente Sotto on the Philex Mine leak.

Several groups attended the inquiry including Father Oliver Castor, advocacy officer for mining concerns of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), who said results of their fact-finding mission showed Philex's Padcal mining operations violated several laws.

Among the laws violated by Philex were the Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and even the Mining Act of 1995.

The CPA added: "While Philex may boast of being an international model of responsible mining, TP3 failure, is a clear account of its negligence and unsafe practices. In fact, it shatters the myth of safe and responsible mining harped by large mining companies."


Roadmap for sustainable mining pressed

By Christina Mendez

Philippine Star

19 March 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Various stakeholders agreed Tuesday for a need to map out ways to amend current laws in the mining industry in the wake of the mine tailings incident involving Philex Mining Corp.

Christian Monsod, vice-chairperson of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines, said his group supports President Aquino's executive order 79, and six accompanying directives to address the gaps in the present mining framework, particularly on governance and the protection of the environment and prime agricultural and fishing grounds.

According to Monsod, the EO rightly deferred to the Congress the task of promulgating the new fiscal regime. Only Congress has the power to tax, he said.

"We agree with the proposal to do away with all tax incentive schemes for mining in addition to higher take on mining revenues that also considers both the boom and bust character of mining operations," said Monsod, who forwarded the proposal before the Senate committees on environment and natural resources, and on health and demography which are conducting the inquiry into the mine tailing incident last year.

Monsod also recommended that the requirements imposed on mining such as royalties to indigenous peoples' and community social development projects should be removed.

It is the government that should be providing these services, he said.

Philex airs side

Mike Toledo, senior vice president for corporate affairs, said the firm is open to study proposals to increase the excise taxes imposed on mining operations, as well as Monsod's proposal to do away with the tax incentives.

Toledo welcomed the probe saying it is giving them a chance to explain to lawmakers and stakeholders the issues surrounding the Padcal Mine site incident in Itogon, Benguet.

Toledo told the Senate hearing that Philex has started its rehabilitation project in the area.

According to Toledo, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), have given their separate go-signals to the company to resume temporary operations for four months, so it can complete a P2-billion "beaching" process that is meant to fortify the repaired Tailings Pond No. 3 (TP3).

This beaching process, which was recommended by the foreign engineering experts that Philex had tapped to help the company in its P4-billion rehabilitation and remedition work, is meant "to ensure the safety of both the workers and residents of the host-communties and protect the environment-in time for the rainy season this June or July," Toledo said.

Toledo said environmentalists' charges regarding the Padcal incident were "pure fiction" because there was neither toxic spill nor human casualty in the Benguet accident

The Mines Bureau Cordillera Administrative Region suspended the operations of Padcal Mine on August 2, 2012 at the height of enhanced monsoon rains that broke the mine's tailings storage facility a day earlier.

About 20.6 million metric tons of mine waste spilled from the tailings pond and contaminated the immediate environment, including the Balog Creek that merges with the Agno River.

Philex, DENR open to study tax proposals

On proposals to increase taxes, Toledo said the firm is "open to a review and a study, for as long as the form of taxation is progressive, equitable and will take into consideration all the other taxes and payments and royalties that mining companies have been paying through the years."

Environment Sec. Ramon Paje said the government is open to proposals to expand the excise tax from two percent to seven percent which is the international standards on mining.

Paje added that he is also inclined to support proposals to take away tax incentives from the mining sector.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) already removed tax holidays, Paje said, adding that the DENR will be supportive if Congress makes a law defining the terms on the matter.

"Tax holidays on mining has been removed. We have done it administratively but if Congress would want to do it through legislation, then we can do it," Paje said.

"In effect, what we want to have is that...we would accept extractive industries like mining but they have to pay for it," the DENR secretary said.

"Our share now is two percent excise tax. If we consider excise tax as a tax, then we want share. What we are asking from Congress is that Congress will ask pass a scheme that will prescribe the sharing scheme," Paje added.

"We want to follow the international standards which is seven percent. If Congress will pass higher than that, we will be happy. But if Congress will pass higher than that, the international standards can guide us," he said.


Ban on black sand mining in Ilocos Sur declared

By Artemio Dumlao

Philippine Star

20 March 2013

BAGUIO CIY, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has declared a ban on all black sand extraction in Ilocos Sur and ordered a moratorium on the issuance of mineral processing permits for such.

Leo Jasareno, MGB director, has recently vowed in a dialogue with various groups to halt all black sand mining operations in Ilocos Sur. Those who were engaging in the activity, he said, had no mining permits.

The MGB has previously prohibited mining in beach areas 200 meters from the mean low tide onshore where most of the magnetite concentrates are located.

The MGB geohazard mapping says that the coastal areas of Ilocos Sur is highly vulnerable to water and wind erosion, making sand mining unsuitable.

Jasareno also learned that the MGB Region I has failed to implement the cease and desist order (CDO) against Taiwanese-owned Wellresource Mining Co. operating in Caparacadan, Caoayan and San Sebastian, San Vicente in Ilocos Sur.

Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs) issued for the company's operation did not give it right to extract minerals and should be revoked if it is found violating the country's laws, the MGB chief said.

Jasareno said the failure of the MGB regional office was owing to the support to mining of local government units.

Jasareno has vowed intervention of the MGB and DENR national offices and other concerned agencies to implement the CDO against Wellresource and address the problem of unrestrained illegal blacksand extraction in Ilocos Sur.

Among others, Jasareno said he will pursue legal actions against Wellresource, recommend its blacklisting to concerned offices and directed MGB Region I to strictly monitor blacksand extraction and transport activities in the province.

The MGB is undertaking a review of all ECC and mining permits issued related to blacksand mining and revocation of permits of companies and individuals found to have violated environmental laws, Jasareno said.


SC tackles constitutionality of Mining Act

By Edu Punay

The Philippine Star

25 March 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) will take a second look into constitutional issues regarding Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as it tackles petitions of lawmakers against the widely criticized law during oral arguments in court's summer session on April 16 in Baguio City.

In the guidelines released last Friday, the high court listed four common issues in the petitions filed by Quezon 4th district Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño and former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

The debate will tackle the legal standing of the petitioners and whether or not the legal questions they raised can be subject to judicial review.

The SC also directed parties to argue on whether or not it could still rule on the case given that it had already decided on a similar case of La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association vs. Ramos administration in December 2004.

Lastly, the high court wanted the petitioners and respondents to discuss the "alleged adverse effects of mining to the environment, health of the community and human dignity."

The high tribunal has listed 12 distinct contentions raised by petitioners which will also be debated upon.

"Each of the parties, through their respective counsel, shall have 30 minutes to present their arguments. The time allotted for counsels to argue and counter-argue shall be exclusive of the interpellation by the members of the Court," read the advisory signed by SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal.

Justice Marvic Leonen will not participate in the oral argument. He inhibited from the case since he served as legal counsel of La Bugal in the earlier case.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Hallmark Mining Corp. and Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp. were named respondents in the petitions filed last January.


Tough days for mining, logging

By Madonna T. Virola

Inquirer Southern Luzon

21 March 2013

CITY OF CALAPAN-The provincial government of Romblon has adopted an environmental ordinance that imposes strict limitations on mining and logging in the resource-rich province.

The provincial board on Monday passed the Environment and Natural Resources Code which, according to the antimining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), seeks to stop "destructive industries like mining and logging."

"The code will protect us now and our children's children," Romblon Provincial Board Member Felix Ylagan, the principal author of the environment code, was quoted as saying.

New rules

Among others, the code provides that "mining shall not be allowed within one kilometer radius from a declared watershed or watershed areas as identified by the municipality concerned."

Mining will also be prohibited in "tourism and agricultural areas as identified by the municipality concerned," the ordinance added.

"The legislation challenges local government units to integrate climate change action and disaster risk reduction management plans in their development programs," said Rodne Galicha, Sibuyan Islands Sentinels League for Environment director.

ATM, through its national coordinator Jaybee Garganera, "lauded the political will of the legislators and the Romblon locals" in passing the environment protection measure.

Marble is the most significant mineral deposit of Romblon and is the most renowned product of the province, making the province the second biggest marble producer next to Bulacan, according to information published on the Romblon provincial government website.

Marble-rich

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has estimated that Romblon is endowed with about 150 million metric tons of marble. At current rates of extraction, the supply may last for three more centuries. Tablas Island is also believed to have vast reserves of marble, it added.

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