MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Earth Day protests focus on mining

Published by MAC on 2014-05-06
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Davao Today, VERA Files

As before Earth Day celebrations in the Philippines have had something of a focus on mining. In Mindanao indigenous Manobos protested the entry of five mining companies into their homeland in Davao del Norte, while in Zambales local people turned out to object to destructive nickel mining. The findings of an environmental investigation mission into foreign-owned mine sites in Nueva Vizcaya were released, and Manila groups converged on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest the construction of coal-fired power stations.

Shortly after Earth Day President Obama visited the Philippines, and among the issues raised during his visit by civil society were the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), notably its potential to further open up the country to polluting industries, such as mining.

In Surigao del Sur, the DENR has ordered Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) to shut down its mining operations for operating outside its permitted area (following a complaint from a local indigenous group). On the Western side of Mindanao, local Subanon communities in Zamboanga del Sur have filed a petition to cancel all mining permits on their ancestral land.

At Glencore Xstrata's much disputed Tampakan mine, one of the civil society opponents of the mine has been arrested (or abducted) allegedly for being a member of the communist New Peoples' Army. The charge that is vehemently denied, and such accusations are a regular method of discrediting, and intimidating, those who oppose the project.

Following the murder of a mayor for his alleged links to illegal black-sand mining the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed (or more importantly re-directed) all local chief executives to stop black sand and beach mining.

Anti-mining protests mark Earth Day celeb in Mindanao

By Tyrone A. Velez and Myrah G. Acuzar

Davao Today

24 April 2014

DAVAO CITY - The Talaingod Manobos highlighted an Earth Day protest rally here where they slammed government agencies for allowing the entry of five mining companies into their homeland in Davao del Norte.

This as other rallies in General Santos City and Surigao City gathered indigenous peoples and environment advocates to oppose the entry of large-scale mining companies in Mindanao.

Led by the organization Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, some 50 of its leaders and members picketed the offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional offices.

Salugpungan spokesperson Datu Duluman Dausay said they opposed the encroachment of mining operations as they fear it would displace their community.

He said five mining companies have applications covering their ancestral domain, namely: Kinimi Copper exploration & Mining Corp., Pacific Heights Resources, Inc., McWealth Mining Corp., Geoffrey T. Yenco and One Compostela Valley Minerals, Inc. The companies are reportedly mining for gold, silver, copper, nickel, chromium and iron.

"We will not allow our lands to be mined because these are our homes," said Dawsay.

Dawsay added that the companies and government agencies did not seek their permission to mine in their areas.

A Salugpungan member, Lito, said mining operations would harm their livelihood as they heard of experiences of other communities being hit by mining spills and other accidents.

"This will destroy our land especially our crops. This will threaten our livelihood, our livestock and the environment," he said.

Talaingod is highly susceptible to landslide and flooding on rainy days.

The MGB website listed the mining companies' applications that were rejected as of January this year for their failure to meet mining standards.

But the Salugpungan still criticized the MGB for implementing government's mining laws that have caused their displacement from the recent military operations which they believed are clearing operations to facilitate the mining incursions.

Support groups held a benefit concert for Talaingod Manobos at the People's Park to raise awareness on mining threats to Pantaron Range, one of the remaining forests in Mindanao that lies in the boundary of Talaingod and Bukidnon.

Mining and human rights also took center stage in Earth Day rallies and events in other cities in Mindanao.

In General Santos City, a Mindanao-wide consultation on the Philippine Platform on Indigenous Peoples Rights gathered indigenous peoples together with support groups and environment advocates to discuss a pro-active approach to protecting natural resources and indigenous communities from mining.

One of the participants, Sr. Noemi Degala SMSM, executive secretary of the Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin), mentioned the outpouring of support in solidarity with the indigenous peoples.

"I admire their persistent resistance on the exploitation and destruction of our natural resources, our environment. May their effort be supported by all who respect, believe and love God and the creation God gifted us with," Degala said.

The activity was followed by an Earth Day Forum and Solidarity Action Against Large Scale Mining where participants joined in the traditional indigenous dance.

In Surigao City, some 8,000 joined a rally led by the environment group Caraga WATCH to oppose some 15 foreign mining companies operating there.

The group led by IFI Bishops Mervin Elimanco and Romeo Tagod and Surigao City Councilor Atty. Jose Begil sought an audience with MGB Region 13 OIC Engineer Nilo Arreza to demand attention to their concerns.

Caraga WATCH said one of the major issues is the Japanese-owned Taganito High Pressure Acid Leaching (THPAL) that opened a few months ago but was complained of the communities because of the foul smell emitting from its plant.

The group raised concern that mining has caused forest denudation and floods in low lying cities such as in Butuan City.

Environmental groups oppose proposed coal-fired power plants

By Patricia Isabel Gloria

VERA Files

22 April 2014

GROUPS opposed to the building of 25 coal-fired power plants within the next six years gathered outside the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday, International Earth Day, as a sign of protest.

Members of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) walked from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City and continued with the program in front of the DENR's main office along Visayas Avenue. An estimated 200 participants joined the rally.

DENR is the agency that issues Environmental Clearance Certificates for the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, head of PMCJ's Energy Working Group said this proposal expressly contradicts the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC-AR5).

According to the report, one of the leading causes of climate change is the high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The construction of the 25 proposed coal power plants would increase carbon emissions in the country by 52.82 million metric tons, the report said.

Instead of investing in coal power plants as an energy source, Pedrosa suggested the improvement of sustainable, clean, and renewable options. "We should lead the call for the transition to renewable energy systems," he added.

Pedrosa added that the people in the communities should be involved in the decision-making, contrary to the corporate-driven Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) implemented today.

"You have a PEP that encourages private sector participation and investment in dirty and harmful energy processes. It is because (private investment) is easier and faster to commission," Pedrosa said.

However, these plants may be cheaper short-term, but its long-term effects are more devastating, he added.

PMCJ is also lobbying for the improvement of existing renewable energy sources throughout the country, like the Angat Hydropower Plant in Bulacan and the Tongonan Geothermal Powerplant in Leyte.

They also encourage the communities to create off-grid energy sources independent from big energy corporations.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said the proposed power plants are unnecessary. "Hindi kailangan itong mga proposed na coal plants na ito, kasi hindi supply ang problem natin, kundi distribution (Additional powerplants are not necessary because the problem is not supply, but distribution)," he added.

Garganera said geothermal and hydropower plants are more than enough to supply energy for the country, but the Aquino administration does not appropriate budget for the power plant maintenance.

He added that although it is initially more expensive to maintain these renewable energy sources, in three to five years, the geothermal and hydropower plants will be cheaper to operate than the proposed coal-fired plants.

These coal-fired power plants are also set to be constructed in regions that do not need them, Garganera said. These power plants will provide energy to mining projects and plants, instead of to the communities. "Hindi nagtatayo ng coal plant para sa economic development ng lugar (These coal plants are not for the economic development in the area)," Garganera said.

Ireneo Cerilla, president of Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) said communities in Semirara Island in Antique are in danger of being displaced because of the expansion of a mining plant owned by Semirara Mining Corp.

The mine has already affected the quality of the seaweed in the island, which is the main livelihood of the residents. The seaweed is deformed, and less fish is harvested due to the pollution caused by the mine.

Most of the mass action participants were members of the youth from the alliance. PMCJ Campainger Val de Guzman said these events are for the future of the youth. "We are doing it not for today, but for the future generation," de Guzman said.

PMCJ is an alliance composed of different sectoral organizations that include SANLAKAS, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod, Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya, Freedom from Debt Coalition, ATM, Alliance of Progressive Labor and PAKISAMA.

(The author is a University of the Philippines student writing for VERA Files as part of her internship.)

Zambales town protests nickel mining activities

By Allan Macatuno

Inquirer Central Luzon

22 April 2014

STA. CRUZ, Zambales - Swirls of an unusual red-orange dust greet people passing along the national highway in this coastal town. A muddied shoreline, lopped-off mountains, fishponds and farms that have gone dry, and rivers and streams heavy with silt are common sights.

Residents say the ill-effects of nickel ore mining have been too hard to ignore as threats to their environment, livelihood and lives.

"Our environment is bleeding," says Dr. Benito Molino, chair of Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOSZ).

During the Earth Day celebration today, Benito will lead the residents in protesting the environmental destruction, which they believe has "brought diseases and economic losses to the people."

Luisito Capili, 63, operator of a 2-hectare fishpond in Sitio Dampay in Barangay San Fernando, says mining operations have taken their toll on fishponds. Owners like him have lost their only source of income.

Nickel laterite (laterite is a soil layer rich in iron oxide) has been washed away from the mining sites by floods, destroying Capili's fishpond.

"Most families of farmers are now suffering. They have less food on their table and their children have to stop schooling," Molino says.

According to him, the average rice yield went down from 100 to 70 sacks per hectare while at least P100,000 is lost per hectare of fishpond in every harvest.

Mango production has also suffered, Molino says.

At least four mining companies operate in Sta. Cruz town, all producing nickel laterite, says Danilo Uykieng, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Luzon.

Eramen Minerals Inc., one of the mining firms, is doing its best to improve its system and help the communities, says Karlo Flores, its pollution control officer.

"We are compensating the farmers and we have ongoing research to validate the other concerns of the communities," Flores said in a meeting on Monday with Lormelyn Claudio, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) director in Central Luzon.

Claudio says the EMB is addressing the issues raised by the residents of Sta. Cruz.

"There's no overnight solution," she says, adding that the MGB is ensuring that mining companies meet all the conditions that her office has set, especially for hauling operations.

Today, CCOSZ is holding a rally to urge concerned agencies to cancel all permits issued in this town and nearby Candelaria town.

The group, in a statement, demanded that the mining companies clear all the nickel laterite and other debris from farmlands, fishponds, rivers, roads and shoreline.

"We were left with no choice but to bring our complaints to the higher agencies of the government- the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, MGB and EMB-hoping that they will stop the bleeding of the environment and protect the welfare and rights of the people," the group said.

Novo Vizcayanos Demand ‘Payback Time' from Political Leaders, Promises on the Closure of the Foreign Mining Companies Assailed

Media Advisory

24 April 2014

On April 25, 2014, the results of a two day Environmental Investigation Mission held on April 12-13 at the two foreign owned mining sites of the province, Didipio, Kasibu and Runruno, Quirino will be presented to the people and the provincial government specifically the Sangguniang Bayan.

The Environmental Investigation Mission was lead by ANNVIK (Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan) and its partner organizations as well as other supporting groups and individuals namely: AGHAM, SAMANA, Kalikasan PNE, KabataanParty list, UP Minggan, NUSP-North Luzon, Taripnong, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Defend Patrimony, Amianan Salakniban. The same group will lead the people in demanding for the fulfillment of the election promises of the provincial government- to make Nueva Vizcaya truly "mining free zone" The group will be marching to the Capitol grounds at 8:00 am and will be mobilizing a thousand participants.

"On March 3, 2014 our group sought audience with the Sangguniang Bayan and that of the provincial governor to present to them the results of the Fact finding missions held and demand for the fulfillment of their promises for the ouster of these foreign mining companies. We were treated coldly." said Alfonso Shog-Oy a member of the Board of Directors of ANNVIK.

Furthermore, "They have been saying that we do not have the legal basis for the ouster of these 2 mining companies - the Oceana Gold Co. and FCF since their mining operations are constitutionally bound with RA Republic Act 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. However, with the many violations and irreparable environmental degradations they have done in the areas as proven by the scientific and technical environmental investigation we have done, the government has no more excuses not to heed to the people's demand, to oust the 2 mining companies from the province". The action of the group coincides with the Earth Day celebration of Nueva Vizcaya.

Green groups hit Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership agenda: ‘TPP will heighten displacement of communities, plunder of resources'

Environmental activists join thousands in hounding protest on US president's visit in PH

Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment Press Release

28 April 2014

Dubbed ‘the fastest way towards the dispossession of the entire nation,' environmental activists under the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hit the agenda of United States president Barack Obama to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) during his two-day visit to the Philippines.

The militant environmental network joined thousands today in ‘unwelcoming' the two-day visit of United States president Barack Obama to protest the US government's militarization and economic agenda.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is being railroaded by Obama in the Philippines and other Pacific Rim countries to add to the 12 countries that are already signatories in the agreement. The TPPA aims to dismantle all controls and regulations on big corporations in a free-trade zone where the US can control trade routes, plunder untapped natural resources, and even file harassment suits against governments," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The protest also condemned the administration of Pres. Benigno Simeon ‘BS' Aquino III for fast-tracking the passage of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the charter change on economic provisions in time for Obama's visit.

Takeover and Power Play

"The EDCA is part of the US government's policy of strategic pivot towards the Asia-Pacific, which aims to rebalance or reposition 60 percent of its military forces towards the Pacific Rim. The increased military muscle aims to contain the growing aggression of their main competitor, China, and to police the entire free-trade corridor under the TPP," Bautista said.

Under the TPPA, trade, social, environment, and health and safety regulations on the entry of foreign investment in member countries will be removed, effectively dismantling national sovereignty and patrimony by allowing foreign big businesses to own the land and resources in the said countries. It also allows corporations to sue governments in an international tribunal in cases where the government impedes their operations.

"The TPPA likely stands for a ‘Takeover and Power Play Agreement' by the US and its multitude of transnational and multinational corporations. With only the signatures from Obama and BS Aquino left in approving the revival of US bases, the colonial master and his ‘little brown American' servant aims to complete clearing the way for the TPPA by trying to water down the nationalist provisions in the Philippine constitution," explained Bautista.

Toxics, Pollution and Plunder

Bautista added that "allowing the economic Cha-Cha Train and the TPPA membership of PH will promote the rapid entry of toxic, pollutive and plunderous corporations. Dirty coal is already shifting to underdeveloped nations due to avoid domestic stringent regulations and emissions caps in advanced capitalist economies, and are bound to further increase with the TPPA. The TPPA's twin policy of military pivot in Asia-Pacific will also bring in the world's top polluter, the US military, which has a history of toxic waste spills and damages to marine ecosystems, among others, in the entire region."

Current military base construction activities across the Asia-Pacific region are threatening or have already affected globally significant ecosystems, such as the Jeju Island in South Korea, habitats of the rare Dugong species in Japan, and the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in the Philippines.

On Obama's last day of visit in PH, Kalikasan PNE, alongside Pilipinas, the PH counterpart of international climate action network, and other environmental groups, plan to deliver to Obama more than 70,000 signatures from across the globe calling for the stoppage of the TPPA.

Reference: Clemente Bautista - 0922 844 9787

Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment
Office Tel No: (+63 2) 924 8756
Mobile No: (+63 2) 917 562 6824

DENR shuts down Surigao del Sur mining firm

by James Konstantin Galvez

Manila Times

24 April 2014

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) to shut down its mining operations in Surigao del Sur after it was found to be operating outside the approved area.

In a telephone interview, Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) director Leo Jasareno said that a multi-disciplinary team found three major problems with MMDC's operation - including the extraction of mineral resources outside its concession area, unsystematic operations and massive siltation to waterways.

"We have already written a letter to Marcventures to show cause why their operations should not be cancelled," said Jasareno, who signed the order on behalf of DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.

"We wrote them informing that they are guilty of several prohibitions of the Mining Act, particularly the operations outside the mining area. They should immediately stop mining operations without prejudice to the imposition of penalties under the law," he added.

MMDC, a subsidiary of publicly listed Marcventures Holdings Inc., is engaged in nickel production in Surigao del Sur. The company holds a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) for a 4,799- hectare tenement located in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.

However, Jasareno said that the multi-disciplinary team found that the company was mining in Carracas Town, which is outside the approved mining area, after a tribal group from Cantilan petitioned for the cancellation of the mining firm's MPSA.

"When the group petitioned for the cancellation, we formed a multi-disciplinary team to assess the mining operations of the company. A few weeks ago the team reported that Marcventures is mining outside of the approved mining area," Jasareno said.

At present, the DENR is evaluating the penalties that will be imposed against the company.
"It will be the court that would determine the amount of penalties as stated by the Mining Act," Jasareno said, noting that illegal mining is considered as a criminal case.

The official, however, did not state whether such action by MMDC could lead to the cancellation of its MPSA.

Mining firm disputes MGB suspension order

By Doris C. Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer

28 April 2014

Nickel mining firm Marcventures Holdings Inc. has protested a mining suspension order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the Carrascal portion of its contract area in Surigao del Sur, claiming that the government agency had acted "arbitrarily and without legal basis."

Given the dispute with MGB, Marcventures has requested the Philippine Stock Exchange for a trading suspension on its shares, citing the need to "safeguard the interests of its shareholders while the issues are resolved with the MGB." On Friday, shares of Marcventures tumbled 19.62 percent on news that MGB had ordered the suspension of its Surigao mine for alleged violations.

In a regulatory filing on Friday, Marcventures also refuted the MGB's allegations that its subsidiary, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC), had failed to maintain environmental mitigation measures in the Cabangahan area notwithstanding the presence of an armed illegal barricade by certain third parties. It also challenged the MGB's findings of "unsystematic method of extraction in Pili."

"The company, for its part, has consistently acted in good faith and been in constant coordination and compliance with the MGB," Marcventures said, adding it would "pursue all remedies available to it to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders."

On MGB's allegation that MMDC was conducting its mining operations outside the approved mining area, Marcventures said its subsidiary had "validly obtained all the necessary permits from the MGB." The argument that the 300-hectare portion of the contract area approved under the partial declaration of mining project feasibility (DMPF) should be situated in the Cantilan area and not in the Carrascal area was "without basis," the company said.

It argued that it was authorized to proceed to extract nickel ore and associated minerals in the 300-hectare area. The environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the original 120 hectares and for the 4,799 hectares, which included both the original 120 hectares and the 300-hectare portion, had already been obtained and submitted to MGB, Marcventures said.

The mining firm lamented that additional documentary requirements for alleged violations cited by MGB had only been raised for the first time in the MGB letter on April 22, 2014.

All related mineral ore export permits and ore transport permits issued by the MGB already stated the source of the extracted minerals, which included Cantilan and Carrascal, the company said. It also noted that the ore transport permits had been issued by MGB director Leo Jasareno, the same official who issued the MGB letter suspending the mining operations.

Meanwhile, Marcventures lamented that the MGB had conducted only one inspection of MMDC's mining premises on July 3, 2013, in Cabangahan, and on July 4, 2013, in Carrascal and that these became the sole basis of its findings of deficient environmental mitigation measures in Cabangahan.

Anti-mining advocates urge MGB to bare status of Marcventures case

Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

29 April 2014

ANTI-MINING groups remain skeptical of the decision of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on the case of Marcventures Mining Development Corp. (MMDC) in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, whose operation was suspended for numerous violations committed under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

While they are "happy and grateful" that the MGB stopped Marcventures's mining operations in Cantilan, groups belonging to Cantilan Anti-Mining Coalition and the Alyansa Tigil Mina question the lack of community participation in the drafting of the final report done by the MGB's Multi-Disciplinary Team that led to MMDC's suspension.

They fear that the decision would eventually be overturned or dismissed because of mere technicality.

Emma Hotchkiss, president of the Baywatch Foundation, a member-organization of Cantilan Anti-Mining Coalition, said the report was only signed by the team leader who presided over the assessment.

Hotchkiss said that under the MGB's investigation process, the report produced by the MGB-MDT assessment should be seen and signed by the members of the community and party who filed the complaint. Otherwise, the result could be proclaimed invalid and thus could lead to the dismissal of the case filed against the MMDC.

The group claimed that MGB Director Leo Jasareno had initially committed to a final assessment meeting with all concerned parties, but no meeting has been conducted until the suspension slapped against MMDC was announced on April 24.

"What's keeping us on edge is the lack of clarity of the reported suspension order. First, it did not state when the suspension was imposed. Second, it did not mention anything about what conditions there are for the suspension to be lifted or suspension changed to cancellation," Hotchkiss said.

Meanwhile, ATM led by Jaybee Garganera had requested the MGB for a copy of the MGB-MDT Final Report, as well the MGB's recommendations with regards to the report. Garganeral also requested the MGB for a copy of its order to MMDC directing it to show cause as why their mining permit should not be canceled as a result of the violations committed by the company under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

"The people of Cantilan deserve transparent information about this recent development and they deserve the justice MMDC has been successfully snatching out from their hands for all these years. It's about time MMDC faces the repercussion of the crime they have committed to Cantilan and its people. It would be such a shame if these grave environmental criminals will get off the hook just because of mere technicalities," Garganera said.

Man tagged as NPA insists he is non-combatant civilian Romeo Rivera

By Germelina Lacorte

Inquirer Mindanao

4 May 2014

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines - Still shaken and confused over the new identity his captors wanted him to assume, the man the military's Eastern Mindanao Command claimed was Felix Armodia rattled off the name of his father, his wife, his children, even the place where he lived in Koronadal in the last 14 years, just to prove to people who he was.

Romeo Rivera Jr., 53, who talked to Philippine Daily Inquirer inside the Digos police detention center Saturday, said his father and namesake, Romeo Sr., has been staying in a hospital in Tagum city; while his son and another namesake, Romeo III, has been working for a call center called Teleperformance in Manila.

"You can check it out, Ma'm, please check it out, my name is Romeo Rivera, how can I be someone else? I have a wife named Alona Eduarte, who is with my in-laws who are sick. We live in Koronadal in the last years. Please tell the people outside I am here and I am Romeo Rivera," he said.

He also asked friends who knew him to come and help.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesperson of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, said Rivera, an anti-mining activist, was actually Felix Armodia, the "notorious front secretary of the New People's Army (NPA) operating in Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Tulunan, North Cotabato."

Caber said Rivera has only been one of Armodia's aliases. But Rivera said he heard about Felix Armodia for the first time while he was inside the pickup after the soldiers took him from his home.

The group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) had alerted the public about Rivera's abduction when it held an indignation rally in General Santos on Friday evening but the Eastmincom released a statement the following day identifying Rivera as the notorious NPA leader named Felix Armodia.

Rivera said he was forcibly taken by soldiers from his home in Sitio Antonio, Purok Lower San Juan in Barangay (village) San Roque in Koronadal at about 1 p.m. Friday, May 2. "Wala ko'y laing nalitok kundili, ‘maayong udto,'(I wasn't able to say anything but ‘good afternoon')" Rivera said, as the men arrested him, handcuffed and blindfolded him and forced him to a waiting car.

"My two children were with me in Koronadal. One of them, Arel, was in the house when I was taken away but I don't know what happened to him because I heard soldiers told him to lie on his stomach, while they took me away."

In a separate interview, Arel Rivera said he was inside the house, while his father was taking a rest in "hammock" outside, when he heard some screaming and commotion outside. When he looked up, soldiers with long firearms were entering the house, and ordered him to lie on his stomach. He said someone hit him and ordered him to crawl outside of the house.

"Then they made Papa stand from the hammock and were about to take him, when I heard him plead, ‘Please let me put on my clothes first,' for he was not wearing a shirt but it was as if they did not hear him," Arel said.

He said his father, who was involved in a community vermiculture project, was busy cleaning his garden the whole morning. "We had a late breakfast at 10 a.m., so, when they took him, he did not have his lunch."

Pastor Sadrach Sabella, Karapatan regional coordinator, said Rivera served as a convenor of the newly formed group Tampakan Panalipdan (Defend Tampakan), a group opposed to large scale mining in Tampakan, South Cotabato, where Glencore-Xstrata-SMI operates.

Sabella said Rivera's group organized the Mindanao-wide forum to observe Earth Day on April 22 and echoed the people's firm opposition against the foreign large scale mining operation of Glencore Xstrata - Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI).

Eastmincom said Rivera's arrest was done by a combined operation of the police and the Philippine Army.

Sabella said 10 Blaans were already killed at the mine site of Glencore Xstrata SMI since President Aquino came to power.

NPA on arrest of leader: AFP nabbed wrong person

The New People's Army says the military got the wrong guy, alleged to be an NPA leader

Edwin Espejo


4 May 2014

MANILA, Philippines - The spokesman of the underground communist movement New People's Army (NPA) said the man arrested by police and military forces was not NPA commander Felix Armodia.

On Saturday, May 3, the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced the capture of Armodia, identified as the secretary of the NPA's Front 72.

Front 72 operates in the quad-boundaries of North and South Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Rebel spokesman "Ka Efren" of the Far South Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the CPP said in a phone interview that Armodia is "safe with our comrades in the guerrilla front."

On Friday, May 2, authorities arrested local anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera in South Cotabato for his alleged participation in the communist movement.

Captain Alberto Caber, public affairs chief of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, said Rivera led NPA rebels in Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, and North Cotabato.

"He was responsible for the series of attacks on plantations and construction firms in the region that do not give in to their extortion demands," Caber said.

Mistaken identity

Rivera is now under the custody of police in Digos City, Davao del Sur, while waiting for the trial of his cases. But Rivera's family and local activisits insist the arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

Emily Lopez of environmental group Panalipdan said the 52-year-old carpenter is a member of their group and is widely known in Tampakan for his involvement in the anti-mining campaign.

Rivera, along with the Panalipdan network, opposed the large-scale mining in Mindanao, particularly against XSTRATA-SMI in South Cotabato, Sarangani and Davao del Sur.

Lopez also said that contrary to reports, Rivera was not arrested but was abducted by intelligence operatives in his residence in Koronadal City.

Ka Efren said Rivera was either mistakenly abducted or the intelligence units that nabbed him utterly failed in their information.

"They want to make up for the Matanao raid where they suffered heavy losses," Ka Efren added.

The military tagged Armodia as the leader of some 100 NPA guerrillas who launched simultaneous attacks in Matanao in Davao del Sur in March.

Three policemen were killed when the rebels overran the town's police station, carrying away 7 M-16 Armalite rifles and 3 service pistols from the policemen.

The guerrillas also detonated a land mine, hitting a military truck that was sent to reinforce the policemen.

Nine soldiers and two rebels were killed in the land mine explosion. -

Vilification and illegal detention of Tampakan anti-mining activist ‘SOP' of AFP to quash opposition to destructive mining projects

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

7 May 2014

The Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) denounced the vilification of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr. as a member of the New People's Army (NPA) and his subsequent illegal detention as an atrocious ‘standard operating procedure' by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in harassing and quashing opponents of the Tampakan gold and copper mining project owned by the Glencore-Xstrata-SMI group of companies in South Cotabato.

"It has been the AFP's SOP to vilify, harass, and even ultimately ‘neutralize' the leaders and members of the opposition to large-scale mining operations, under their mandate as ‘investment defense forces' and through the direct payroll of mining companies to their paramilitary forces. We condemn the latest example of this despicable tactic in the illegal detention of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr., under baseless charges that he is a member of the NPA," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

"The AFP forced Rivera to admit that he is a certain Felix Armodia of the NPA - another SOP they resort to when they make mistakes in their captures. In fact, Rivera was one of the organizers of the Earth Day forum we attended where Tampakan Panalipdan, a local alliance against Glencore-Xstrata-SMI's gold-copper project in which Rivera is one of the conveners, was formally launched," added Bautista.

Rights violations persisting under Aquino

The group feared that the illegal detention of Rivera may signal the upsurge once again of human rights violations in Tampakan and other mining-affected areas. According to the recording of the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED), at least 10 extrajudicial killings have been perpetrated against critics and opponents of the Tampakan project under the current administration of Pres. Noynoy Aquino since 2010.

"It seems the Aquino administration is hell-bent in pushing through with big-ticket mining items such as the Tampakan project despite the clear impacts and threats it has posed to the human rights, soci-economic and environmental situations in the areas to be affected. Let us recall that Aquino himself defended the Tampakan project and even pushed for its environmental compliance certificate, despite clear documented evidence of its violation of humanitarian and environmental laws," explained Bautista.

In a recent report by the London-based Global Witness where Kalikasan PNE and TF-JED served as resources, the Philippines has been singled out as the deadliest Asian country for environmental advocates and third deadliest after Brazil and Honduras, with 67 known killings since 2002 and of which 41 were opposing mining operations.

"There are now at least 74 killings of environmental advocates in the Philippines since 2001, and more than 70 percent of these cases consistently involve anti-mining activists. Thousands have been subjected to other forms of human rights violations, with the latest cases being Rivera's illegal detention, and the displacement and harassment of more than 1,300 Pantaron Manobos in Talaingod, Davao del Norte who have historically fought off big logging, large dam and big mining interests," said Leon Dulce, spokesperson of TF-JED.

The Kalikasan PNE and TF-JED called for the immediate release of Rivera, and the filing of subsequent charges against AFP personnel involved in the unwarranted arrest. They also reiterated their calls for the pull-out of the Tampakan mining project along with its military, paramilitary and security personnel from the communities.

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DILG prohibits black sand and beach mining

Manila Bulletin

27 April 2014

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is directing all local chief executives to stop black sand and beach mining.

Batas Pambansa Blg. 265 categorically prohibits "the extraction of gravel and sand and such other activities as would erode or diminish the natural beauty of beaches."

Also, Section 79 of the Department of Natural Environment and Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No.2010-21 requires all "Quarry/Commercial or Industrial Sand and Gravel/Government Gratuitous/Guano/Gemstone Gathering Permits" issued by the government to prohibit the extraction, removal, or disposition of materials within a distance of one kilometer from the boundaries of reservoirs established for public water supply, archaeological and historical sites or of any public or private works or structures, unless the prior clearance of government agencies or owner is obtained.

Further, no extraction, removal, or disposition of materials shall be allowed in offshore areas within 500 meters distance from the coast and 200 meters from the mean low tide.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said illegal black sand mining causes coastal and soil erosion and the intrusion of salt water into agricultural areas, and adversely affects both local tourism and the fisher folk in host communities.

NPA admits killing mayor over black sand mining

Philippine Daily Inquirer

26 April 2014

TUGUEGARAO CITY-The New People's Army (NPA) took responsibility for the April 21 assassination of Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. of Gonzaga town, Cagayan province, after a revolutionary court sentenced him to death for his role in the arrest of a rebel leader and for supporting black sand mining in his town.

In a statement released on Thursday, Ester Falcon, spokesperson of the NPA's Danilo Ben Command-West Cagayan Front, said eight judges found Pentecostes guilty and was then condemned to die by virtue of Section 2, Article VI of the Patnubay sa Hukumang Bayan (Rules of the People's Court), which imposes a death penalty for the crimes of "espionage, killing, arson, betrayal of public trust, rape and other heinous crimes."

"This is a testament to everyone that no one is above revolutionary justice. No matter how near or far, or how easy or difficult, the Red court empowered by the people will punish the guilty," the NPA statement said.

The NPA court began hearing Pentecostes' case in 2012, Falcon said.

Major victory

Pentecostes was shot dead in front of the town hall after a flag-raising ceremony.

"It is a slap in the face of the Philippine National Police and the security personnel of Pentecostes, that the red unit tasked to punish the mayor was able to penetrate their ranks at 8 a.m. right in front of the town hall," the NPA statement said.

The NPA also rebuked the military for declaring that the NPA is no longer operating in Cagayan.

"This is a major victory for the people of Cagayan and for the revolutionary movement in the province despite the insistence of the Army's 5th Infantry Division that the NPA is no longer operating in Cagayan," the statement said.

Newspapers and television news broadcasts quoted a military official as saying crime scene evidence disputed the theory that an NPA hit squad had murdered Pentecostes.

The PNP has started investigating policemen in Gonzaga for failing to prevent the attack on Pentecostes, said Chief

Supt. Miguel Laurel, Cagayan Valley regional police director.

Laurel also ordered Senior Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag, deputy regional police director for administration, to review the actions of the intelligence branch of the Cagayan provincial police. Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon

2 mining workers kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi freed

By Mindanao Examiner

27 April 2014

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants have freed two mining workers after almost a year in captivity in the southern Philippines, reports said.

It said Marcial Espana and Eddie Reubal, who were freed in the town of Patikul in Sulu province, arrived on a ferry in Zamboanga City over the weekend. The two men were seized in May last year in Tawi-Tawi province while working for SR Languyan Mining Corporation and brought to Sulu.

Espana and Reubal were on a boat when gunmen on another vessel seized them along with Mar Hadjula, who was later freed.

It was unknown if ransom was paid to the kidnappers for the freedom of the two workers. Security officials and mining executives have not issued any statement about the release of the duo.

Local environmentalists are opposing the nickel ore mining project of SR in Languyan town. Most of the nickel ore are being shipped to China.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several hostages, including at least 3 foreigners, in the restive southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Zambo. del Sur IP's seek PNoy help for MPSA cancellation within Midsalip Ancestral Domain

By Jong Cadion

26 April 2014

PAGADIAN CITY, ZAMBO DEL SUR - The Indigenous Peoples represented by the Council of Elders and Leaders belong to the Subanen Gataw Taasan Association, Inc. Midsalip Ancestral Domain in Zamboanga del Sur showing their hope that positive results will be undertaken by officials of the government to their petition for the cancellation of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of all mining firms within Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur Ancestral Domain area, IPs Official said.

According to IPs Association Vice President Timuay Langhap Carlito Dalangon in an interview Sunday, the petition was filed on August 5, 2013 requesting the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR for the cancellation of all mining applications, existing mining operations with approved MGB Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) within the Ancestral Domain area without Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Vice President Timuay Langhap Carlito Dalangon said, the Subanen Community of Midsalip Ancestral Domain specifically within the 24 covered barangays have been declared on April 13, 2011 to exercise their Priority Rights (EPR) in the management and development including harvesting and utilization of all natural resources within the ancestral domain as provided for by Section 57 of R.A. No. 8371 otherwise known as Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

Timuay Langhap Dalangon said the NCIP have issued a resolution dated June 18, 2013 acknowledging the declaration now pending before since the area applied for EPR contained approved MPSA's and other pending mining applications before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Dalangon added that the council have gone too far for the desired appropriate actions to be undertaken due to the fact that the aforesaid mining tenement application and the approved MPSA was already expired or if not as in the case of 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation wherein the applied area does not overlapped any and or portion of the ancestral domain.

Timuay Langhap Dalangon also said citing the report/recommendation of the Field-Based Investigation (FBI) activities conducted by the NCIP Region IX headed by its designated Team Leader, Dr. Roberto R. Barcela, Jr., wherein he recommended for the issuance of Certificate of Non-Overlapped (CNO) since the affected/applied area does not overlapped any and/or portion of the ancestral domain. On the contrary, the approved MPSA of 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation includes ten barangays within the ancestral domains and the affected areas only mentioned Canipay Sur and Canipay Norte of both located/situated outside of the ancestral domains. Meaning, the areas with approved MPSA do not have any FPIC's and such violated section 59 of R.A. 8371 (IPRA) and section 16 of R.A. 7942 otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and recently the Executive Order No. 79 of Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III.

A Temporary Restraining Order was issued dated May 16, 2013 by the NCIP against 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation for Violated section 59 of R.A. 8371 IPRA, he said.

Dalangon further said that more mining applications are on pending status before the MGB and NCIP but without any applications for FPIC's in particular, CZARSTONE Mining Corporation is a merged company with a claimed of Francisco Real and Juan Carillo of both has acquired respective Certification Precondition issued by the NCIP and consent from the Subanen Community of Midsalip, but both were already expired. CZARSTONE as it is has no FPIC and it violated NCIP Administrative Order No. 01 s, of 2006 and NCIP Administrative Order No. 03 s, of 2012, the revised FPIC Guidelines.

Various requests were sent to the MGB and NCIP yet the council received no concrete actions undertaken by the concern agency aside from referrals, assurances of reviews and analysis by the said offices, Dalangon said.

He said the council made a lot of follow up letters with regards to the said request and it's quite frustrating yet the office of the NCIP did no concrete action relative to the request instead have referred the matters to the MGB of the DENR for action while in fact the controversial areas mentioned in here is within the ancestral domains with an approved MPSA but without the mandated Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

He said their complaint was also the contents of their letter address to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III dated April 2, 2014 through Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Dr. Ramon J.P. Paje, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Dir. Leo N. Jasareno and NCIP Chairperson Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo. with the hope that Tuwid Na Daan will be implemented immediately.

He said the council hoping that Tuwid Na Daan action will be implemented immediately by President PNoy after the letter was received and acknowledged by the Office of the President in Malacañang on April 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm.

Timuay Langhap Dalangon said that in their letter the council also informs President Aquino regarding the consensus decision of the Subanen Community of Midsalip that they will no longer entertain any FPIC application in lieu of their Exercise of Priority Rights as inspired by law and further application for FPIC will no longer be entertained.

He added that there were no more grounds for those concern agencies to delay the request for the cancellation of all pending applications and MPSA granted by the MGB and the delaying cancellation of the aforesaid mining tenements and application might only frustrate the noble intent of the Subanen Community of the Ancestral Domain of Midsalip in Zamboanga del Sur.

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