MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Realities of mining in Nueva Vizcaya laid bare

Published by MAC on 2013-10-03
Source: Statements, PNA, Yes Magazine, Real News, Rappler (2013-09-28)

A fact-finding mission has recorded a growing number of human rights violations featuring mining in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya. These involve multinational mining companies including the Australian based OceanaGold and Royalco, as well as the British Metals Exploration (owner of the Philippine FCF Minerals Company). A number of violations were recorded, with a request to investigate damage to the local river systems. There were follow up accusations being made that OceanaGold ordered the arrest of a farmer Eduardo Licyayo in Didipio, while the army committed rights violations during a 'security operation' requested by Royalco in Dupax del Norte and Kasibu.

A number of general articles and resources have been written about the problems with the mining industry in the Philippines. One on behalf of Yes Magazine reviews mining issues through the prism of OceanaGold at Didipio, while another for the Real News channel considers how indigenous peoples in Mindanao (Lumads) are impacted by mining multinationals. Philippine NGOs have presented a statement on the same issue to the UN Human Rights Council. As if to emphasise the problems of mining for Lumuds, yet more people have been killed around Glencore Xstrata's proposed mine at Tampakan (although this time it is government forces).

Elsewhere, after almost two decades of fighting for compensation with Placer Dome (now part of Barrick Gold) for the toxic spill at Marinduque, it seems a legal settlement may be drawing close for the case in US courts, while access has been granted to documents in the Philippine courts.

Elsewhere the Court of Appeals has ordered a Writ of Kalikasan [Environment] stopping the levelling of a mountain by a Chinese mining company in Zambales.

Finally, more than a hundred members from various people's organizations in Cagayan province travelled to Metro Manila to bring their calls for the stoppage of destructive magnetite (aka black sand) mining projects in the province.

Deputy Speaker seeks legal action vs mining firms for rights violations in Nueva Vizcaya

Philippine News Agency (InterAksyon.com)

28 September 2013

MANILA, Philippines -- House Deputy Speaker and Nueva Vizcaya Representative Carlos Padilla has sought immediate government legal action against three mining companies in his province that he accused of committing human rights violations with impunity.

"The residents of Nueva Vizcaya have suffered much and for a long time. Ten years or so of living along barricades, not reneging on their simple desire to protect their homes and farms from aggression brought about by business is a long time," said Padilla in a privilege speech.

The three firms Padilla wants made accountable are Oceana Gold, which operates in Didipio, Kasibu town, which the Commission on Human Rights earlier confirmed has been abusing residents opposed to its presence, Royalco Resources Ltd. and FCF Minerals Company.

Among others, Padilla sought the immediate deportation of Oceana general manager Brennan Lang for allegedly ordering security guards of the firm to arrest and detain farmer Eduardo Licyayo for refusing to sell his farm to the mining company.

"I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if a court order is required for a warrant to issue, as Brennan Lang seems to have assumed the role of judge when he issued the order to arrest Licyayo. Brennan Lang should immediately be deported for acts proved to be inimical to the people of Didipio, and Oceana security guards should be punished for arresting and detaining Licyayo upon the orders of Lang," Padilla said.

Padilla said the CHR, then headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, found Oceana guilty of human rights violations against the indigenous people of Didipio. A recommendation to cancel Oceana's Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement was endorsed by current CHR chair Etta Rosales, who also upheld De Lima's findings, Padilla said.

"We call on President Aquino to adopt the recommendation of the CHR to terminate Oceana's FTAA submitted a few years back as said report remains valid," the lawmaker said.

Padilla also called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue to investigate Oceana Gold for violating the Internal Revenue Code by not declaring the true value of its exports and shortchanging the government in the payment of excise taxes.

"Even the use of its Corporate Social Responsibility funds and other corporate resources for indirectly bribing barangay officials, community leaders and politicians must be investigated by the appropriate agency," said Padilla.

"Maliwanag na nanloloko ang mga kompanya ng pagmimina, Mr. Speaker. Hindi sila nagbabayad ng tamang buwis. Bakit pumapayag ang gobyerno na lokohin ng mga kompanyang ito (It is clear that mining firms are engaged in deception, Mr. Speaker. They do not pay the right taxes. Why does government allow itself to be fooled by these companies)?" Padilla said.

The Deputy Speaker also called for the immediate cancellation of the exploration permit of Royalco, which has faced a decade of opposition from Nueva Vizcaya residents.

"Royalco Resources Ltd. illustrates a seeming collusion of state agents with private business where the military allows its men to be used by a private company for its own purposes. Reports of human rights violations as a result of this collusion have been received by this representation," Padilla said.

He also said FCF Minerals bulldozed the homes and farm lots of indigenous people in Barangay Runruno, Quezon town. He said a number of residents were hurt in the incident.

"Continuing research has led me to entertain the idea that the state is not only remiss in its duty to protect human rights. Worse, it allows its agents to be used by these companies to protect private business interest. While mining may now be present in Nueva Vizcaya, the residents won't allow further desecration of their lands," Padilla said.

"In the province of Nueva Vizcaya, I do not understand, the people do not understand why the mining companies seem to violate human rights with impunity. Let us put an end to the people's using non-legal means in favor of legal remedies. Let us, for once, prove that our laws provide us protection better than barricades do," he said.


National fact-finding and solidarity mission on mining TNCs in Nueva Vizcaya unearths realities of poison, plunder

Defend Patrimony press release

21 September 2013

National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (NFSSM) led by Defend Patrimony alliance along with Alyansa ng Nakgkakaisang Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANVIK) have discovered a pandora's box of ecological destruction and resource plunder across three big mining companies in Nueva Vizcaya province. Massive biodiversity loss, water pollution, and human rights violations were observed in the indigenous peoples and peasant communities affected by foreign mining corporations Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals.

"Based on the initial investigation we conducted, we surmise the main river in Barangay Didipio where Oceana Gold's release their mining effluents is biologically dead. In our scoping study, we observed the foul stench, the thick, orange-brown siltation and the disappearance of aquatic resources. Water snails, shrimps, carp, mud fish and other local species that used to populate the river, according to locals, have all disappeared," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and lead of the environmental scoping team on Oceana Gold gold mining operation.

Bautista said that the water pollution in Didipio have reached other barangays and communities in Quirino province. The Didipio River merges with Diduyon River which transverses the Quirino province. The local residents also reported the reduction of frog populations while at the same the increase increase of mosquito population in the communities, frogs and fishes are know a natural biological control of mosquitos. The Fact-finding team said the biological imbalance could threaten nearby communities in Brgy. Didipio with an outbreak of dengue and other insect-borne diseases.

According to Luis Paulino, a local resident from Barangay Alimit in the municipality of Kasibu, "small-scale miners and other folk who have been exposed to the waters where Oceana Gold's tailings flow have consistently experienced itching and inhaled squalid odors. Rare wildlife such as makawa (local deer), hagiit (wild boars) and kalaw (hornbills) that we used to see in the our forests can no longer be seen. This started when Oceana Gold started to clear our forest, blast our mountains and excavate our lands.

Runruno: another Didipio in the making

Meanwhile, the scoping team in Brgy. Runruno where the Runruno Gold and Molybdenum project of FCF Minerals is currently in the mine development stage called the current environmental impacts as ‘another Didipio in the making, following in the polluter giant's footsteps.'

"Similar to Oceana Gold's mine development stage, waterways have either decreased in both flow and volume or have completely dried up, while some ‘dead creeks', as locals put it, have suddenly strengthened most likely due to deliberate water diversion. We also observed signs of decreased water quality, including signs of chemical contamination and increased turbidity in comparison to observed unaffected rivers that will likely impact on the irrigation, potable water supply and sanitation of communities. This was most apparent in Sulong River, where residents noted the disappearance of paco (ferns) and other riverside flora as well as a decrease in productivity and stunted growth of fisheries," said Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of the peasant-scientist group MASIPAG and lead expert of the scoping team on FCF Minerals.

The groups also noted the destruction of rice fields, citrus plantations and other cultivated lands alongside homes and properties in all affected barangays by both the Australian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals.

According to Fr. Vicente Tiam, chair of the mission's lead organizer group Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), "the findings of the mission is a clarion call for justice on the crimes committed by mining TNCs to the people and the environment of Nueva Vizcaya. The operations of Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals are in clear conflict with the declaration of the Magat River Forest Reserve as a Permanent Forest Reserve in which more or less 97 percent of Nueva Vizcaya is included."

"These projects were granted under the auspices of the Mining Act of 1995 and more likely further reinforced by Pres. Benigno Aquino's Executive Order 79 that may serve as basis for the overriding of local and national environmental policies. The realities unearthed by the NFSSM are indictment on the current mining policy regime. There is a need to investigate the environmental damage done by large-scale mining in Nueva Vizcaya. The local and national governments should look into the violations and these polluters should be held accountable," ended Leon Dulce, spokesperson of the Defend Patrimony! Alliance.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator - Kalikasan PNE - 0922 844 9787


Mining harms Nueva Vizcaya's resources

By Artemio A. Dumlao

Philippine Star

23 September 2013

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines - An independent probe on mining ventures in Nueva Vizcaya has allegedly unearthed cases of poisoning and plunder of community resources.

A fact-finding mission led by anti-mining alliance "Defend Patrimony" along with Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANVIK) said it discovered a number of cases of ecological destruction and resource plunder commited by three big mining companies in Nueva Vizcaya province.

The mission participants said they unearthed "massive biodiversity loss, water pollution, and human rights violations along indigenous peoples and peasant communities" affected by foreign mining corporations Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals.

"Based on the initial investigation we conducted, we surmise the main river in Barangay Didipio where Oceana Gold released their mining effluents is biologically dead. In our scoping study, we observed the foul stench, the thick, orange-brown siltation and the disappearance of aquatic resources. Water snails, shrimps, carp, mud fish and other local species that used to populate the river, according to locals, have all disappeared," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and lead of the environmental scoping team on Oceana Gold gold mining operation.

Water pollution in Didipio, Bautista said, has reached other barangays and communities in Qurino province.

The Didipio River merges with Diduyon River which traverses the Quirino province.

Local residents have reported the reduction of frog population and the increase of mosquito population in the communities.

Frogs and fish are known as natural biological controls of mosquitos.

The independent probers said the "biological imbalance could threaten nearby communities in Brgy. Didipio with an outbreak of dengue and other insect-borne diseases."

Villager Luis Paulino of Barangay Alimit in Kasibu town said "small-scale miners and other folks who have been exposed to the waters where Oceana Gold's tailings flow have consistently experienced itching and [complained of inhaling] squalid odors."

He added that"‘rare wildlife such as makawa (local deer), hagiit (wild boars) and kalaw hornbills)" that were used to be seen in the forests can no longer be seen'.

The disappearance of these animals allegedly started when Oceana Gold started to clear the forest, blast the mountains and excavate the lands.

The scoping team in Brgy. Runruno where the Runruno Gold and Molybdenum project of FCF Minerals is currently in the mine development stage called the current environmental impacts as "another Didipio in the making, following in the polluter giant's footsteps."

"Similar to Oceana Gold's mine development stage, waterways have either decreased in both flow and volume or have completely dried up, while some ‘dead creeks', as locals put it, have suddenly strengthened most likely due to deliberate water diversion. We also observed signs of decreased water quality, including signs of chemical contamination and increased turbidity in comparison to observed unaffected rivers that will likely impact on the irrigation, potable water supply and sanitation of communities," said Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of the peasant-scientist group MASIPAG and lead expert of the scoping team on FCF Minerals.

The groups also noted the destruction of rice fields, citrus plantations and other cultivated lands alongside homes and properties in all affected barangays by both the Australian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals.

Fr. Vicente Tiam, chair of the mission's lead organizer group Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), said "the findings of the mission is a clarion call for justice on the crimes committed by mining TNCs to the people and the environment of Nueva Vizcaya."


NOLCOM chief assures fair probe on alleged human rights abuses in Nueva Vizcaya mining areas

Philippine Information Agency

10 September 2013

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command chief Major General Gregorio Pio Catapang,Jr. has assured tribal folks in mining -covered villages in three towns here that a fair and proper investigation will be done to establish whether or not the soldiers who were under security operation in the said areas have committed the alleged human rights abuses.

"They were relieved from their deployment in strategic areas in towns of Dupax del Norte and Kasibu and they are now in the barracks awaiting the result of the investigation," Catapang said yesterday after paying a courtesy call to Governor Ruth Padilla.

He also proceeded to the areas where the alleged human rights abuses took place inorder to know more of the situation in barangays Yabbi, Binuangan and Belance in Dupax del Norte town and barangays Pao, Pacquet and Kakiduguen in Kasibu towns.

"If ever there will be violations, we will punish them but they might have been misinterpreted for their actions. Their penalty depends... they can be discharged from the service," he said.

Catapang said the soldiers swooped to the mining -covered areas based on the request of the officials of Royalco Resource Ltd., asking security against the anti-mining villagers who have set up barricades along the access road to prevent the entry of equipments of the mining firm.

He added that the soldiers were also conducting military operations in the area as remnants of the New People's Army(NPA) with 15 to 20 armed members were seen frequenting the said areas.

"Our soldiers were after the NPA guerillas who were sighted near the mining-areas. They were there to engage them once they have identified their location," Catapang said.

The army chief made his statement after Representative Carlos Padilla, also one of the deputy house speakers in a recent privilege speech last August 27 assailed soldiers deployed earlier in the mining-areas of causing panic and alleged human rights abuses against several villagers who are mostly members of the Bugkalot and other tribal groups..

He said the establishment of barricades by anti-mining villagers proved to be the most effective device to prevent the equipments of the mining firm in entering their ancestral lands.

But soldiers implicated in the human rights violations denied the allegations, saying they were just following proper procedure in paying a courtesy call to the village officials and further dismissed reports of looting from the villagers' properties. (BME/PIA 2-Nueva Vizcaya)


The Real Cost of Gold in the Philippines

We think of gold as a sign of prosperity, but the farmers and communities most affected by mining just want their rivers and land back.

by John Cavanagh, Robin Broad

Yes Magazine

13 September 2013

"An engine of growth and prosperity," announces the deep blue OceanaGold sign that greets us as we enter a small town in the northern Philippines. We've come a long and windy 12-hour drive through seven provinces from the Philippines' capital city into the clouds of the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains. We stand at the base of what remains of a hill that Australian mining executives call "dinkidi," Australian slang for "the real thing." Just years ago, this was a green hill dotted with trees and farmers' modest homes.

It may be hard for mining executives at OceanaGold and elsewhere to believe, but these farmers tell us that their dream is simply to end the mining.

Today, after the homes have been demolished and successive layers of land blasted away by high-powered explosives, it is a giant pile of rocks, with the valuable gold and copper-"the real thing"-being extracted for the profits of the OceanaGold corporation, headquartered far away in Australia.

We sit with community members of the Didipio Earth-Savers Multipurpose Association Inc. (DESAMA), with a bird's eye view of the plundered site that's just outside the window.

To you readers, and especially those who think of gold as something of value, we invite you into the room. Some of you have followed us in our journeys to gold-mining country in El Salvador where OceanaGold has joined forces with Canadian company Pacific Rim. We invite you to ponder OcenaGold's claim: prosperity for whom?

Listen to the weary and distraught mother as she tells us that her family lives so close to the enormous conveyor belt that carries rock to be crushed that she and her four school-age children cannot study or sleep. They hear the loud droning noise 24 hours a day. When the mining company blasts rock, it feels like an earthquake. But it is her house and her land, and what is she to do?

Listen to the cracking voice of Lorenzo Polido, a farmer who moved to this fertile land decades ago, as he recounts the demolitions of homes several years ago. He tells us of a neighbor who suffered a heart attack watching his home demolished to make way for the mine. During the demolitions, many in the community set up barricades to try to stop OceanaGold. Allies from the national Alyansa Tigil Mina (the Network Against Mining), the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, and other groups lent support.

Carmen Ananayo, her voice breaking and eyes tearing, talks about the 2012 murder of her daughter, herself the mother of two very young children, along with another DESAMA member. No one suggests that the mining company shot the two, but OceanaGold's presence has brought conflict and death to this previously peaceful municipality.

As to the economic benefits from the gold mine, Carmen tells us that many of the mine's workers-often hired as irregulars to avoid minimum wage and benefits-work a grueling 12-hour shift while earning less than a meager 50 cents an hour. It would take these workers many lifetimes to approach the $1.3 million compensation package of OceanaGold CEO Michael Wilkes in 2012.

The government's Human Rights Commission has recommended the revocation of the mining license of OceanaGold.

Moreover, any economic benefits from this mine's projected 16-year life will be more than outweighed by the environmental devastation. We hear of "dirty water" downstream from the mine and of dead fish washing up on the shore. What is the cause? What is in the four massive vats that can be seen amidst the mine's machinery beside the piles of rocks? Is OceanaGold, like other global mining firms, using cyanide to separate the gold and copper from the surrounding rock? Are there sulfides in the rock now exposed by the mining-sulfides that are transformed into sulfuric acid every time it rains, creating "acid rock drainage" of toxins-as there are at roughly half the mine sites around the world? And why don't the affected people in this area have access to this information?

"An engine of growth and prosperity," bragged that OceanaGold sign. But what we witness is the scorched earth of mining and the broken dreams of a community.

Governments of the world should be listening to the voices of these people as they set national and international mining laws. It may be hard for mining executives at OceanaGold and elsewhere to believe, but these farmers tell us that their dream is simply to end the mining, to have their community and clean rivers back, to be able to farm in peace and to build a better tomorrow for their children. They are proud to be the producers in a province called one of the Philippines' "fruit and vegetable bowls," and they want to keep it that way.

Mining executives seem not to hear these voices. For mining executives and for too many governments, the bottom line seems to be the yearly 100,000 ounces of gold (valued at $130 million) that OceanaGold projects to extract from this once verdant mountainside, most of which will be shipped overseas. OceanaGold's mine here will leave behind just pennies on each dollar extracted, a trivial sum that does not nearly compensate for the social, environmental, or economic chaos.

Back in the capital city, Philippine Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann Rosales tells us of the motion that the Commission filed against OceanaGold in 2011. A former Marcos-era political prisoner who was raped in jail, Rosales stands as a beacon of hope. Citing the forcible and illegal demolitions, the harassment of residents by the police, and the indigenous community's right to culture, the Human Rights Commission recommended the revocation of the mining license of OceanaGold. Rosales is now discussing with her counterparts from other countries a stronger framework to protect the rights of people and their environment from the plunder of mining firms.

OceanaGold is but one of dozens of mining companies now in the Philippines that have celebrated the skyrocketing gold, copper, and other mineral prices since 2000. Collectively, these companies are blasting up and down the Philippine archipelago and opening mines all over the world.

But in the Philippines, as in El Salvador, a broad set of groups has come together to protect land, water, and life in the face of this mining onslaught, and they have proposed alternative mining bills that would protect these basic rights. These bills, like the voices of the people of we visit in this remote community, deserve a broad hearing across the globe.

John Cavanagh and Robin Broad wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions.

Robin is a Professor of International Development at American University in Washington, D.C. and has worked as an international economist in the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Congress. John is director of the Institute for Policy Studies, and is co-chair (with David Korten) of the New Economy Working Group. They are co-authors of three books and numerous articles on the global economy, and have been traveling the country and the world for their project Local Dreams: Finding Rootedness in the Age of Vulnerability.


The human rights violation related to mining projects in the Philippines

Oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council - 24th Session

9 - 27 September 2013

Agenda Item 4 - General Debate

Delivered by Budi Tjahjono of Franciscans International
Jointly prepared by Franciscans International and RMP-NMR

Geneva, Switzerland

Mr. President,

Franciscans International (FI) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines - Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) would like to draw attention of the Council on the human rights violation in the Philippines related to mining. We would like to draw the attention of the Council and the Government of the Philippines on the three cases. The first is the magnetite mining operations in the coastal area of Cagayan province, by foreign and local investors. Allegedly, the mining permission was granted with inadequate consultation and consent of the affected communities. The mining operation has negative impact on the right to lively hood, right to water and right to freedom of expression of the local population. The anti-mining groups have received intimidation from the local authority and mining operators due to their opposition. Consequently, there has been a climate of fear among the population.

Secondly is the nickel mining operations in Eastern Samar province, especially in Homonhon Island and in Manicani Island. There has been allegation of human rights violations of the local communities, especially on the right to freedom of expression, access to water, and right to livelihood. In Homonhon, the anti mining groups have been intimidated by the mining operators. No action was taken by the government to protect them. The latest case was on August 5, 2013 where 17 protesters including two underage children were intimidated by the mining company and the security force. Instead of having a dialogue, the mining company filed a case against the protesters. In Manicani Island, despite the government's decision to suspend the mining operation in 2001, the mining company has been trying to continue their activities. There is no law enforcement for the implementation. The local community is obliged to make human barricade to prevent the company to operate illegally.

Thirdly, is the situation in Matigsalug and Tigwahanon indigenous communities in San Fernando, Bukidnon in Southern Philippines. On 5 March 2012, Mr. Jimmy Liguyon was shot and killed at his home. He strongly resisted the entry of large scale mining companies in his village, where the main source of income is small-scale mining. The police investigated the killing and charged Mr. Alde Salusad and 14 unidentified paramilitary members for the murder. The Court issued a warrant of arrest against him on 30 April 2012, but to date has not been served. The regional office of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines also promised to investigate the case but no official investigation report has been released. The failure to arrest the perpetrators and the continuing militarization of San Fernando led to two mass evacuations of Matigsalugs and Tigwahanons in March 2012 and August 2012.

Therefore, we would like to recommend the government of the Philippines the following:

* Stop mining operation in Cagayan Valley and Eastern Samar and conduct an independent evaluation on the impact of mining to the full enjoyment of human right of the affected communities;

* Implement the principles of Free, Prior and Inform Consent, not only during the implementation, but throughout decision making process.Repeal Mining Act of 1995 and take consideration on the Alternative Mining Bill and Peoples Mining Bill

* Enforce the warrant of arrest of the perpetrators of the killing of indigenous leader Mr. Jimmy Liguyon and conduct an investigation on the other reported killings and mass displacements of indigenous peoples in San Fernando, Bukidnon


Tribe rejects mining bid in Kalinga land

Philippine Star

18 September 2013

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - The "Guinaang" tribal folks in Pasil town in Kalinga province have rejected a mining application over at least 3,000 hectares of their ancestral lands.

In a manifesto of the Guinaang Indigenous People Organization (GIPO), the folks signified their rejection of the proposed mining application of the Makilala Mining Co. Inc. (MMC).

The manifesto signed by 700 representatives of the tribes in six barangays in Pasil namely Guinaang, Dangtalan, Pugong, Malucsad, Galdang and Bagtayan are asking the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to declare the MMC application "a failure". The manifesto specified that MMC did not get the IPs' Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as provided by law.

The NCIP Kalinga was furnished a copy of the manifesto.

Barangay assemblies were conducted where tribe members agreed to submit their written manifestation of rejection to the entry of MMC.

Embracing mining, they said, "would mean permanently losing their rights over their ancestral land and their rights to develop the Tabia gold fields for their livelihood."

GIPO also requested NCIP to inform the mining company to refrain from approaching them anymore. They said they want to preserve their mining resources for their children and reserve their right to develop and control it to benefit their communities. - Artemio A. Dumlao


2 killed in ambush by suspected tribesmen opposed to mining

By Orlando B. Dinoy

Inquirer Mindanao

14 September 2013

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur - A soldier and a government-backed militiaman were killed in an ambush perpetrated by suspected followers of anti-mining B'laan tribal leader Daguil Capion in Barangay (village) Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur on Friday, the police reported Saturday.

Senior Superintendent Ronaldo Llanera, Davao del Sur police director, said Corporal Ritchie Maravilla, 38, commander of the Kiamo Patrol Base, and militiaman Enrique Tiogangco were walking toward their camp from an errand when they were fired upon by armed men around 8 a.m.

"They were injured and were rushed by their companions to the Gregorio Matas District Hospital in Poblacion, Kiblawan, but the attending physician declared them dead upon arrival," Llanera said.

Government officials, led by Davao del Sur Governor Claude Bautista, said the ambush could be part of the "pangayaw" or vendetta by B'laan tribesmen following last month's killing of anti-mining tribal leader Datu Anting Freay, 60, and his son, Victor, 16, in a military operation, also in Kimlawis.

Earlier this year, soldiers also killed Capion's brother, Kitari, who also led a band of anti-mining B'laan warriors.

In October last year, members of the military-led Task Force Kitaco, who were deployed to secure Sagittarius Mines Inc., were also blamed for the death of Capio's wife and two children.


Philippine Activists Fightback Against Corporate and Military Forces

The Real News

"It is better to die from bullets than from hunger" In the Philippines, activists put their lives on the line to fight the military and corporations

15 September 2013

Transcript

Philippine Activists Fightback Against Corporate and Military ForcesDIAN RUIZ, PRODUCER: On Mindanao, a major island in the southern Philippines, foreign-based companies are destroying the environment and robbing local and native people of their livelihoods.

Corporate agri-businesses like U.S.-based Dole, Del Monte, Monsanto, along with international and Philippine mines, are polluting waterways and destroying the surrounding farms. Chinese, European, Canadian, and Filipino mines are stripping away the mountains to get at what some estimate to be the largest iron deposit in the world. There also some of the most significant gold, nickel, and copper reserves in Asia.

Despites its natural riches, most of Mindanao is struggling, with six out of the ten poorest provinces in the impoverished country. Protecting and paving the way for foreign corporations is the Philippine military, forcibly evacuating residents from their lands, and even killing and kidnapping.

JOSAPHINA PAGALAN, FARMER: The soldiers are the protectors of the foreign companies.

RUIZ: The Real News Network spent time in Caraga in northeast Mindanao, one of its poorest regions, but richest in terms of minerals and agriculture.

Sister Stella is an advocate for Mindanao and has seen the damage to the environment and people because of the invasion by cash crops, like Dole's bananas.

SISTER STELLA, GENERAL SECRETARY, PANALINGKDAN (DEFEND) MINDANA: Biodiversity--this is beauty, this is creation! All has the place, all has the life. All has the right to live. But with capitalism, with agribusiness plantations, only one has the right to live, and that is banana.

RUIZ: Rogilio Montero, an organic rice farmer in Tago and chairperson of a peasant organization, talked to us about his community and farm, which is now surrounded by Dole's banana trees.

ROGILIO MONTERO, ORGANIC RICE FARMER: After Dole came in and surrounded the farms that were still planted with rice before the farm was converted into a banana plantation, we observed an increase of pests in the surrounding areas, and the water became a threat, because the drainage goes through the main river. So the peasants are increasingly worried that it can cause harm or sickness.

RUIZ: Dole has over 13,000 hectares of banana plantations in the region, more acreage than the entire land area of the city of San Francisco. Growing cash crops like bananas and oil palm means two important staples, corn and rice, are being displaced. And so are the farmers that grow them.

MONTERO: When Dole was not here, we were able to survive from the income from these farms. It was sufficient for the needs of the family.

RUIZ: Dole is taking over leases in lands that tenant farmers used to till. Now those farmers work for Dole and don't earn enough to survive.

For the farmers who continue to till the land like Rogilio, the fields and waters are increasingly polluted and the farmers are under constant threat of being displaced.

They also must contend with the Philippines' hacienda system. This system gives all the power to landowners--corporations and the entrenched Philippine aristocracy. Most farmers are tenants that till the land owned by others. Tenant farmers must borrow money for the supplies they need and struggle to earn enough to pay back the loan.

The Philippine government perpetuates the system of large landowning families, like the current President's own family. Tenant farmers can't survive without subsidies, as the price paid for their goods in local markets aren't enough to cover their expenses. Multinationals like Dole, on the other hand, are at a huge advantage. They're well capitalized and they sell their cash crops in a global market.

RUIZ: In contrast, when rice growers sell their harvest, the price they get is so low that they have to sell nearly all their rice in order to make their loan payments. This leaves farmers without enough food to feed their families.

Corporate plantations aren't the only destructive forces in Caraga. Large-scale corporate mining is tearing down mineral-rich mountains and sending them off to be processed in another country.

STELLA: We have seen by our own eyes how our mineral ore, our nickel laterite, the red soil, are being carried and shipped to Japan to Australia to China.

RUIZ: This is Shenzhow Nickel Mine stripping the mountain of its ore and shipping it to China right from its private port where the toxic run-off is flowing into the sea. The mines contaminate waterways, killing crops, livestock, and people.

We spoke to a farmer and fisherman who live near a Philippine-owned nickel mine in Surigao del Sur, Marcventures.

ARSENIO AVILA, FARMER AND CHAIRPERSON OF FARMERS COOPERATIVE AND IRRIGATORS ASSOC.: So that areas are also surrounded by the mining areas. So, as a result, the mining is uphill, in the highlands, and the agricultural is below. So the siltation during the rainy days will flow down to the river and of course the irrigation dam will be affected.

RUIZ: Arsenio told us contaminated water from the mines is killing crops and fish. And these waterways are the only source of drinking water for the local residents. Many people displaced from their livelihoods now work for mining corporations, but the work is typically seasonal, on contract, with low wages and without health benefits, despite the hazards.

How can these corporations be getting away with this? Upon the recommendation of the World Bank, the Philippines liberalized its mining policies in the Mining Act of 1995 to attract more foreign engineering and capital. The Act allows foreign corporations 100 percent ownership of the minerals, even though under the Philippine Constitution foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent. The government only taxes 2 percent of the value of the mined ore. So now the government is basically giving away its mineral riches.

Threats to the community aren't just to their environment and livelihood. The Philippine military is terrorizing local and native people to make way for mining, logging, and agricultural corporations.

Since this farmer was a little girl, her indigenous Manobo community has been forced off their land at least four times by the Philippine military.

JOSAPHINA PAGALAN, FARMER: That is what happened, they (the military) occupying the houses and the school. They ransacked ALCADEV, the school. These are the reasons we quickly evacuated. Of course, because we evacuated, our means of livelihood was also affected. We had to leave our farm and the corn behind. When we went back there was nothing left.

RUIZ: The village children also leave behind their education as the entire community is forced into the jungle.

JOSAPHINA: It hurts us to evacuate, to leave our own houses behind. Instead, we have to go there where it's difficult to find potable water, toilets, food, and places to sleep.

RUIZ: A Manobo chieftain and the chair of an indigenous organization told us about the military's past and ongoing intimidation.

DATU JALANDONI CAMPOS, CHAIRPERSON, MAPASU INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATION: With every military operation, we are afraid. We fear about which members will be beaten up next, who will be killed or missing, who we cannot find, and who we do not know whether they are dead or alive. To this day, there are members of the organization who are missing amidst the military operation. We still don't know where they are. We don't know if they're alive or dead.

RUIZ: Local cooperative miners are also being threatened by the military.

JUCY SALADO, SPOKESPERSON AND TREASURER, NAGAMI SMALL SCALE MINERS: So, why do the soldiers not want us to work here and allow our lives to get better? Because they want large-scale mining companies to operate here. That's what the soldiers want, probably because it's what the government wants them to do.

RUIZ: Jucy told us the military blasted their tunnels, burned down their houses, and destroyed their pipes.

Mining is their only source of income. These local miners don't use chemicals, water diversion, open pits, or deforestation, unlike corporate mines. When they sell the gold to local buyers, they share the proceeds equally throughout their cooperative. But these small-scale miners are a threat to corporate interests, and that's why the military is after them.

RUIZ: While the situation in Caraga is dire, with agribusiness, mining, and logging destroying the environment and communities, local people are finding strength in organizing.

In Han-Ayan in the jungles of Surigao del Sur, a community's solidarity against corporate intrusions is based around a school founded by five native tribes. They founded ALCADEV, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development. The school teaches farming, community development, and what's happening because of the corporations and military. They teach not just to high-schoolers, but adults as well.

One of the groups that established the school is MAPASU, an organization of indigenous peoples. The full Cebuano name translates into Persevere in the Struggle for the Next Generation.

The school and MAPUSU foster solidarity, which is why the military keeps trying to shut the school down.

JOSAPHINA: Because MAPASU organization always struggles against mining companies, we are being subjected to recurring military operations.

They see MAPASU is strongly united and the people are developing capacity because of the project we have here, which were not given by the government, but by the efforts of the indigenous people setting up their own school.

RUIZ: So far, Han-ayan has been successful in fending off mining corporations.

JALANDONI: At the present time, at the MAPASU organization there are mining companies that try to enter, but because of the strong resistance of the people and strong unity of the people, they have not been able to enter.

RUIZ: In the nearby community of co-operative miners, it's clear that they're ready to fight against the corporations and military to defend their way of life.

JUCY: When a really big company tries to go in here, we are against it. That is what we say--it is better to die from bullets than from hunger.

RUIZ: This is Dyan Ruiz for The Real News Network.


Firm offers Marinduque $20M for PH's worst mining disaster

By Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/489741/firm-offers-marinduque-20m-for-phs-worst-mining-disaster

17 September 2013

SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines-After nearly a decade of battling it out in a United States state court, the province of Marinduque has come close to signing a deal worth $20 million with the mining company that bought the firm being held responsible for unleashing toxic wastes into Marinduque's Boac River in a case considered to be the country's worst mining disaster.

The compensation offer of $20 million, however, is way below the $100-million claim for damages that the Marinduque government is demanding from Barrick in a 2006 lawsuit.

Barrick is the global gold-mining firm that purchased Placer Dome Inc., the former parent company of Marcopper Mining Corp. that shut down operations following the mine tailing spill.

Eleuterio Raza, Marinduque provincial administrator, confirmed the offer in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The amount, however, would further be reduced to $13.5 million after litigation expenses had been paid.

"These are crumbs," said Raza, "but we are being pushed to the wall."

Raza said the province initially declined the offer. "But we were told that Barrick is losing billions due to the downturn of the mining industry globally," he said.

He said the provincial government is afraid that Barrick might get absorbed by another company again and not taking the offer would leave the provincial government back to square one.

American lawyer Walter "Skip" Scott, lead counsel of the Marinduque government, confirmed that his meetings over the past two weeks with Marinduque officials and nongovernment stakeholders in Boac were meant to finalize the deal.

"Yes, you can say that we are close to a potential settlement," Scott said in a phone interview on Monday evening, although he declined to comment on its details, despite Raza's statements.

He said the deal framework on the table, from the side of the Philippines, involved Philippine legal experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Sedfrey Candelaria from Ateneo, environmental lawyer Tony Oposa, retired Justice Josue Bellosillo, former Philippine Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Manuel Teehankee and professors Harry Roque and Ruben Balane.

Raza said the province "conditionally agrees" to take Barrick's offer once certain provisions in the settlement are revised. One of those, he said, is a clause stating that Placer Dome never operated on the island.

"That's something difficult for us to accept. It's common knowledge that Placer Dome was a managing partner of Marcopper," Raza said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/489741/firm-offers-marinduque-20m-for-phs-worst-mining-disaster


Court orders mine site inspection and access to documents in Marinduque mining disaster case

Tan-Awan (Newsletter of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc.)

September 2013

IN THE ORDER dated 14 June 2013, Judge Emmanuel Recalde, presiding judge of Branch 38 Regional Trial Court of Marinduque granted plaintiffs‘ motion, which asked that the Marcopper mine site in Marinduque be opened and inspected, and company-related documents be produced by defendant Marcopper. By virtue of the court order, plaintiffs have been allowed access by the courts to the mining company's documents, as well as to the mine site, which has long been off-limits to the general public.

The more or less sixty plaintiffs led by Rita Natal, who filed the case against Marcopper in 2001, expressed relief that the court sided with their pleas and arguments in their 2010 motion for inspection in this 12-year old case.

To set the arrangements for the conduct of the inspection and the production of documents, the court scheduled a hearing or conference on October 2.

The case remains at the pre-trial stage, however. Defendant Marcopper also filed a petition with the Court of Appeals questioning the green light given by the trial court. Meanwhile, as of press time, the Court of Appeals has not issued the temporary restraining order requested by Marcopper to stop the inspection and production ordered by the trial court.

Consorcia, one of the petitioners, expressed hope and vigilance when she said: "Panalangin ko sa Maykapal na huwag pa Niya ako kunin, at nang makita ko ang kahihinantnan ng kaso." ("I pray that the Lord allow me to live long enough to see the resolution of this case.")

In December 1993, and then again in March 1996, Marcopper's mine tailings dump was unable to hold its chemical toxic waste, which spilled into at least 2 river systems of Marinduque and other water systems, flooded nearby communities and territories, and damaged properties and sources of livelihood.
--
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc.-
Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines
24-A Malingap St., Teachers Village,
1101 Quezon City, Philippines
telefax: (+63) (02) 920-7172; (+63) (02) 441-0858
website: www.lrcksk.org


Court issues writ of kalikasan vs Zambales mining firm

Philippine Star

23 September 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals has issued a writ of kalikasan enjoining a mining company in Zambales and other government agencies from cutting trees and leveling a mountain in Sta. Cruz town.

In a 20-page amended ruling promulgated on Sept. 13, 2013, the CA's 4th Division through Associate Justice Danton Bueser, reconsidered and set aside its Nov. 23, 2012 ruling.

The CA granted the petition for writ of kalikasan filed by Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones seeking to stop metallic ore miner LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. from further defiling the environment.

"Respondent [LAMI] is directed to permanently cease and decease from scrapping off the land formation in question of from performing any activity/ies in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage[,]" the ruling said.

LAMI president Lawrence Lenio and its general manager Philip Floria, Environment Secretary Jesus Ramon Paje, PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana, and Zambales Police Provincial Office Director Francisco Santiago, Jr. were named respondents in the case.

In his petition, Palmones alleged LAMI's personnel, with their security details armed with guns started to cut trees in Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Aside from cutting trees which serve as the natural barrier of the nearby communities from typhoons and floods, LAMI also allegedly had started leveling of mountain despite the undisputed physical evidence in the area.

It was revealed LAMI secured a prior approval of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sta. Cruz but did not conduct public consultations.

In the ruling, the CA said "[t]he respondent [LAMI] as well as the Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources and/or their representatives are directed to protect, preserve, rehabilitate and/or restore the subject land formation including the plants and trees therein."

"The Secretary of DENR and/or his representative is directed to monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court; and make periodic reports on a monthly basis on the execution of the final judgment," it added.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Amelita Tolentino and Ramon Garcia. PNA


CA stops mining firm from leveling Zambales mountain

Rappler.com

22 September 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals permanently stopped the leveling of a mountain by a Chinese mining company in Zambales.

The court's Fourth Division issued a writ of kalikasan, stopping Chinese miner LNL Archipelago Minerals from leveling a mountain in Barangay Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz. LNL Archipelago is building a seaport for the shipping of chromite-rich soil to China.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Danton Bueser, took into consideration the claim of Agham Party List Rep. Angelo Palmones that the company did not secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Palmones argued that the leveling has serious impact on the ecological balance of the affected towns and was undertaken without consultations with residents.

He said the mountain serves as protective barrier against floods.

In its ruling, the CA said LNL Archipelago wasn't just leveling the mountain, it was also reclaiming a portion of adjacent waters.

"LNL's pretense that it is only constructing a causeway does not inspire belief as it actually scraped off or cut a land formation and, with the earth taken therefrom, it filled up the adjacent waters to pave the way for the construction of a seaport," the court said.

The CA also cited the geo-hazard map of Region III, which revealed that coastal portions of the "Sta. Cruz Quandrangle-Zambales and Pangasinan provinces" are now highly susceptible to landslide and flooding.

The CA directed the DENR to "protect, preserve, rehabilitate and restore the land formation," monitor strict compliance with its decision and orders, and make a monthly report on the execution of the final judgment. - Rappler.com


From Cagayan to Metro Manila: People's calls for stoppage of destructive black sand mining reach halls of Congress, Malacañang

Kalikasan PNE press release

17 September 2013

More than a hundred members from various people's organizations in Cagayan province travelled to Metro Manila last Monday to bring their calls for the stoppage of destructive magnetite mining (also known as black sand) projects in the province to the halls of Congress and Malacañang Palace. The residents under the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (FEAC) were joined by the national groups Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony! Alliance against Mining Liberalization and Plunder, Taripnong-Cagayan Valley and the Lakas ng Kabataan para sa Bayan-Cagayan Valley (Lakbay CV), among others.

"At least 53,684 hectares of coastal lands and foreshore areas in Cagayan are covered by magnetite mining operations that have over time caused the erosion of their northern coastline and the riverbanks of the Cagayan River. Studies and scientific investigations of magnetite mining areas in the province have concluded that black sand mining operations, regardless of legality, contributed to the depletion of fisheries, salt water and chemical intrusion into the freshwater table, and worsened flooding in coastal and riverside communities," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

An Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines alongside various advocacy and sectoral groups on four municipalities of Cagayan Province from September 18-19, 2010 concluded that observed magnetite mining operations along the Cagayan River in the municipalities of Camalaniugan, Lal-lo and Aparri worsened flooding due to bank erosion. The same was observed in the magnetite mining-affected coastal communities in the municipalities of Gonzaga and Aparri because of the destruction of sand dunes and the disruption of the coastal sediment budget. The EIM also concluded that magnetite mining contributed to the depletion of fisheries supply, noting observations of locals that fresh water mollusk known locally as Unnok and fish locally known as Ludung were reported to have drastically decreased in supply post-mining.

This was reconfirmed in a 2012 Environmental and Social Risk Appraisal led by Kalikasan PNE last September 8-10, 2012 where fish kills were reported by local fisher folk in the Buguey Lagoon where 50 percent of their local Malaga cultures perished between January and February 2012. The ESRA also noted that 7 out of the 9 barangays they surveyed had varying reports of salt water intrusion, foul odor and discoloration and chemical contamination of deep wells and other fresh water supplies, affecting the potable water supply and the agricultural land and crop quality in the affected areas.

"Thousands of our fellow Cagayanons and no less than Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg have joined our long-standing calls for the revocation of all black sand mining permits in Cagayan. We brought our demands before the Malacanang's Cagayan Black Sand Mining Task Force, to which they promised an immediate investigation and stoppage of magnetite mining operations in the area. The people of Cagayan will remain vigilant and will hold Pres. Benigno Aquino III accountable for his office's promises," said Isabelo Adviento, spokesperson of local peasant group Alliance of Farmers in Cagayan (Kagimungan), a member organization of FEAC.

"The local Mines and Geosciences Bureau office in Cagayan have ongoing operations to remove magnetite mining operations within the prohibited area 200 meters from the shoreline. But those that have been impacting on our livelihoods and safety are actually legal mines given permission by MGB and local governments, such as such as the Lutra Inc., Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Co. and San You Philippines Mining Ltd. Inc. Some of these were just recently given renewed permits to operate, and we find it incredible how these operations pass the requirements of MGB and LGUs," asserted Adviento.

The Cagayanons trooped today to the House of Representatives to gather support for their calls, and to support legislative initiatives contributing to their campaign against magnetite mining in the province. Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate co-authored House Resolution 300, directing the House Committee on Ecology to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the magnetite mining operations' ecological impacts, as well as suspend or stop magnetite mining operations while the review is ongoing.

"The impacts of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan Province are an indictment on the country's flawed mining policies. Despite the passage of PNoy's Executive Order 79, the scourge of magnetite mining remained unaddressed - some hide behind small-scale mining permits despite using large-scale machinery and equipment, while others are actual Mineral Production Sharing Agreements legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995. Let us not forget how the Nicua Magnetite MPSA in Leyte caused massive fish kills last year, a disaster waiting to happen in Cagayan unless we put a stop to it," the Defend Patrimony said in a statement.

Defend Patrimony alongside the other national formations also called for support to House Bill 171 or the People's Mining Bill, which Bayan Muna Rep. Zarate filed to promote environmental safety and the reorientation of the mining industry towards domestic, needs-based economic development.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator - Kalikasan PNE - 0922 844 9787
Isabelo Adviento, spokesperson - Kagimungan - 0935 556 0578

Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment


Black sand mining: eroding livelihoods, destroying communities

‘The impacts of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan Province are an indictment on the country's flawed mining policies.'- Defend Patrimony Alliance

By Marya Salamat

Bulatlat.com - http://bulatlat.com/main/2013/09/18/black-sand-mining-eroding-livelihoods-destroying-communities/

18 September 2013

MANILA - Residents of Cagayan Valley, north of Manila, warned of an ongoing disaster in their province, one that will worsen and affect people more destructively if the Aquino government fails to stop black sand or magnetite mining soon.

Since 2007, residents of eight towns of Cagayan province where there are ongoing black sand mining operations have expressed alarm at the effects of these mining activities. "The effects are now easily seen - houses are crumbling because the sand underneath it are getting eroded; rice fields are shrinking and we are losing harvests as the fields are inundated by saltwater. Fisherfolk are reporting reduced catch. There is no other reason behind all these but the continuing black sand mining in Cagayan River and coastline," said Ofelia Fuentes of Samahan ng Kababaihan sa Buguey at Sta. Teresita during a press conference Tuesday September 17 in Quezon City.

With Fuentes, a hundred other members of various people's organizations in Cagayan province arrived in Metro Manila last Monday September 16 to bring their demand for immediately stopping the "destructive" magnetite (also known as black sand) mining projects in the province right into the halls of Congress and Malacañang Palace. Grouped under the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (FEAC), the Cagayanos were joined by national groups Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony! Alliance against Mining Liberalization and Plunder, Taripnong-Cagayan Valley and the Lakas ng Kabataan para sa Bayan-Cagayan Valley (Lakbay CV), among others.

Clem Siriban of Samahan ng Maliliit na Manininda sa Cagayan said in the press conference that the locals of Cagayan have been very vocal in their opposition to black sand mining, but they were being ignored by authorities.

"We have shouted out our No's to black sand mining in meetings with village officials, but they still came out with resolutions in favor of black sand mining," Siriban said in Filipino. The organized local communities now claim there is a "collusion" among government officials from village level to the province. They also suspected some legislators representing their province of "protecting" all these allegedly illegal black sand mining operations. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, they said, seems to be one of the biggest protectors, considering that all the hauled off black sand in Cagayan pass through the Enrile-owned Cagayan Special Economic Zone before being exported.

"Thousands of our fellow Cagayanons and no less than Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg have joined our long-standing calls for the revocation of all black sand mining permits in Cagayan. We brought our demands before the Malacañang's Cagayan Black Sand Mining Task Force, which promised an immediate investigation and stoppage of magnetite mining operations in the area. The people of Cagayan will remain vigilant and will hold Pres. Benigno Aquino III accountable for his office's promises," said Isabelo Adviento, spokesperson of local peasant group Alliance of Farmers in Cagayan (Kagimungan), a member organization of FEAC.

Felix Mogado from Pamplona, Cagayan said their town has no black sand mining operation yet, but it has lots of applications, which they have been blocking. "We see the experience in (town of) Buguey, where diggings are just left un-rehabilitated, some were done right beside houses. We don't want it to happen to our communities. Local officials and those in municipal levels, and higher ups, we know they are there, allowing all these. That's why we demand an investigation of all involved in local government units, Mines and Geosciences Board (MGB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Congress, (to probe) if they're colluding to protect black sand mining operations."

"At least 53,684 hectares of coastal lands and foreshore areas in Cagayan are currently covered by magnetite mining operations that have, over time, caused the erosion of northern coastline and the riverbanks of Cagayan River. Studies and scientific investigations of magnetite mining areas in the province have concluded that black sand mining operations, regardless of whether they are legal or not, contributed to the depletion of fisheries, salt water and chemical intrusion into the freshwater table, and worsened flooding in coastal and riverside communities," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

An Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines alongside various advocacy and sectoral groups on four municipalities of Cagayan Province from September 18-19, 2010, concluded that observed magnetite mining operations along the Cagayan River in the municipalities of Camalaniugan, Lal-lo and Aparri have worsened flooding due to bank erosion. The same was observed in the magnetite mining-affected coastal communities in the municipalities of Gonzaga and Aparri, because of the destruction of sand dunes and the disruption of the coastal sediment budget. The EIM also concluded that magnetite mining contributed to the depletion of fisheries supply. The probe noted observations of locals that fresh water mollusk known locally as Unnok and fish locally known as Ludung were reported to have drastically decreased in supply with the start of black sand mining.

These findings were further confirmed in a 2012 Environmental and Social Risk Appraisal (ESRA) led by Kalikasan PNE last September 8-10, 2012. Fish kills were reported by local fisher folk in the Buguey Lagoon, where 50 percent of their local Malaga cultures perished between January and February 2012. The ESRA also noted that seven out of nine villages they surveyed were manifesting salt water intrusion, foul odor and discoloration and chemical contamination of deep wells and other fresh water supplies. These, in turn, affect their supply of potable water, their agricultural land and crop quality.

Calls for an investigation

Locals of Cagayan said the local office of Mines and Geosciences Bureau in their province officially has ongoing operations to stop magnetite mining operations within the prohibited area, or areas 200 meters from the shoreline. But, according to Adviento, those impacting on their livelihoods and safety are actually the legal mines granted permission by MGB and local governments.

These mines include Lutra Inc., Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Co. and San You Philippines Mining Ltd. Inc. "Some of these were only recently given renewed permits to operate, and we find it incredible how these operations have passed the requirements of MGB and LGUs," said Adviento.

Residents of Cagayan Valley province trooped Tuesday September 17 to the House of Representatives to seek support for their calls, and to push for legislative initiatives bolstering their campaign against magnetite mining. Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate co-authored House Resolution 300, directing the House Committee on Ecology to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the magnetite mining operations' ecological impacts, as well as suspending or stopping magnetite mining operations while the review is ongoing.

Bayan Muna Rep. Zarate said there is an urgent need to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the participants to these mining operations, and for the government to immediately stop giving new permits. There is a need also to rehabilitate the sites where blacksand mining were conducted, and to compensate communities whose houses, water supply and livelihood were destroyed. Zarate estimates that the costs of destruction and loss livelihood may already be running into multibillion pesos.

Zarate added that at the very least, there is inefficiency, and at worst, collusion, given that there were already cease and desist orders by MGB yet black sand mining still persists. Cagayanos blamed their government leaders from Gov. Alvaro Antonio to their town mayors and village officials for continuing to allow the destructive sand mining despite their opposition. They showed the media copies of documents revealing that in fact, some village officials are in the payroll of black sand mining companies. The Barangay captain gets p15,000/month, each Barangay council members P9,000 per month. Town mayors, said Cagayanos, are the ones who endorse black sand mining for approval of governor.

"The impacts of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan Province are an indictment on the country's flawed mining policies. Despite the passage of Aquino's Executive Order 79, the scourge of magnetite mining remained unaddressed - some hide behind small-scale mining permits despite using large-scale machinery and equipment, while others are actual Mineral Production Sharing Agreements legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995. Let us not forget how the Nicua Magnetite MPSA in Leyte caused massive fish kills last year, a disaster waiting to happen in Cagayan unless we put a stop to it," the Defend Patrimony said in a statement.

Defend Patrimony and other national formations urged the public to support House Bill 171 or the People's Mining Bill, which Bayan Muna Rep. Zarate has filed to promote environmental safety and reorient the mining industry towards domestic, needs-based economic development. (http://bulatlat.com)


Cagayanos protest massive ‘black sand' mining

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

17 September 2013

MORE than a hundred members of an environmental group in Cagayan province traveled to Metro Manila to lobby for a law regulating "black sand" mining.

Their members trooped to the House of Representatives building in Quezon City on Tuesday to solicit support and legislative initiatives contributing to their campaign against the extraction of magnetite sand in the province.

According to a statement by the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (FEAC), around 53,684 hectares of coastal lands and foreshore areas in the province are covered by magnetite mining operations. They blame the mining for the erosion of their northern coastline and the riverbanks of the Cagayan River.

The group wants Malacañang and the country's lawmakers, through the Senate and the House of Representatives, to address what they describe as plunder of the country's mineral wealth.

"Magnetite is rich in iron. Mining companies export magnetite, mostly to China, illegally," the group alleges in the statement.

Aside from Cagayan River, magnetite mining is also rampant in the coastal towns of Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan, they added.

Black-sand mining contributed to the depletion of fisheries, salt water and chemical intrusion into the freshwater table, and worsened flooding in coastal and riverside communities, according to Clemente Bautista.

Bautista is national coordinator of People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the groups that joined FEAC during Tuesday's protest rally.

Results of an environmental investigation mission (EIM) conducted by the nonprofit Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines revealed that observed magnetite mining operations along the Cagayan River in the municipalities of Camalaniugan, Lal-lo and Aparri worsened flooding due to bank erosion. The study was done in 2010 and covered four municipalities of Cagayan province.

The same was observed in the magnetite mining-affected coastal communities in the municipalities of Gonzaga and Aparri because of the destruction of sand dunes and the disruption of the coastal sediment budget.

The EIM also concluded that magnetite mining contributed to the depletion of fisheries supply, noting observations of locals that fresh water mollusk known locally as unnok and fish locally known as ludung were reported to have drastically decreased in supply post-mining.

A 2012 environmental and social risk appraisal by Kalikasan PNE last year linked mining to the fish kill reported by local fisherfolk in the Buguey Lagoon.

The report also noted that seven of nine barangays surveyed had varying reports of salt water intrusion, foul odor and discoloration and chemical contamination of deep wells and other fresh water supplies, affecting the potable water supply and the agricultural land and crop quality in the affected areas.

Isabelo Adviento, spokesman of FEAC ally Alliance of Farmers in Cagayan (Kagimungan), said they are still awaiting results of the probe by the government's Cagayan Black Sand Mining Task Force.

Adviento added that the local mining and geosciences bureau in Cagayan have ongoing operations to remove magnetite mining operations.

However, he said those that have an impact on the livelihood and safety of the people are actually legal mines given permission by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and local governments, such as the Lutra Inc., Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Co. and San You Philippines Mining Ltd. Inc. Some of these companies were just recently given renewed permits to operate, which Adviento said he finds "incredible."

Another group, Defend Patrimony, said that some activities hide behind small-scale mining permits despite using large-scale machinery and equipment, while others are actual Mineral Production Sharing Agreements legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995.

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