MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: State of the nation's mining questioned

Published by MAC on 2014-07-28
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Mindanao Examiner, GMA News (2014-07-25)

The Philippine President, Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino is giving his fifth annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). Once again, the country's indigenous peoples have gathered to judge how his presidency has impacted on them (in their own State of the Indigenous Peoples Address). Once again they have condemned the lack of respect for their self-determination, and highlighted the problems with various policies, including those covering mining.

On his mining policy, the President continues to come under pressure from both sides; there are calls to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and support the people's Alternative Minerals Management Bill, and the industry is still lobbying against planned tax increases.

The country is also struggling to prepare its first report for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), with companies - unsurprisingly - lagging behind on full financial disclosure.

Interestingly the first mining permit has been issued in two years, after permitting was frozen to implement long debated reforms.

This has happened at the same time as four companies in Zambales have had their permits suspended for "unsystematic strip mining". Indigenous Subanon communities have also called for the cancellation of 168 Ferrum's license, as they have claimed access to more territory than allowed. Likewise, indigenous peoples in Kalinga have re-affirmed their opposition to the Makilala Mining Company.

There are continued threats from mining to Mindanao's first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental. BHP Billiton may have pulled out from the area, but their previous local partners are still active.

In the nearby Compestella Valley, Communist rebels have again attacked equipment used by Apex mining (whose previous foreign partners, Crew Gold, also withdrew from the project).

Finally, the union of a contracting company of Carmen Copper in Toledo City, Cebu, has filed a notice of strike, after the - allegedly illegal - suspending of union officers.

2014 State of the Indigenous Peoples Address

Indigenous Peoples - For Truth, Justice, Peace & Equality!

We, the bae, datu, fulong, baylan, timuay, mantikadong, the indigenous leaders of indigenous communities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, belonging to the different tribes of the B'laan, Higaonon, Kalanguya-Ifugao, Mansaka, Erumanen ne Menuvu, Erumanen ne Menuvu Kirinteken,Aeta-Abellen, Dumagat, Pala'wan, Subanen, Subanon, Ilongot, Manobo Matigsalog, Egongot (Ilongot) Bugkalot, Bukidnon, Manubo Blit, Teduray, Tagbanwa, Tasaday, Lambangi-an, Ybanag, Remontado, Aeta, Ayta, at T'boli-Ubo, together in solidarity with our friends, allies and partners have gathered here in the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City from 23 to 25 July 2014, to convey the true state of the indigenous peoples in Philippines.

Truth

We are the indigenous peoples of the land - peoples descended from ancestors and communities who have been time immemorial occupants and owners of territories in Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon. Ancestral domains - land and natural resources - is life; life is our ancestral domains. We, indigenous peoples respect our ancestral domains, which will be inherited and taken care of by generations to come. We are peoples with our own culture, beliefs, customs, traditions, and laws.

Justice

What is legal is not necessarily just. Philippine state policies fail to address our concerns and realities as indigenous peoples. These policies are insensitive to our diverse cultures. They do not correct and remedy historical and present injustices, and human rights violations and abuses that we continue to suffer.

1. Policies on mining and other extractives, plantations, and other exploitation of land and natural resources continue to trample upon our rights as first stewards of the land, and our right to consent or dissent to activities encroaching upon our ancestral domains. Mining destroys our territories, degrades our bodies by chemicals, and compromises our health especially indigenous women. Mining fails to justly compensate for the loss of resources, and leaves our territories unrehabilitated and in its plundered state.

We are victims of militarization and human rights violations because of the entry of these companies. Violence and threat of violence is used to suppress our voices, including extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders.

The promised benefits of policies on the extraction, development and utilization of natural resources continue to be enjoyed only by the private powerful few while, like beggars, we are left to wait for dole-outs from culturally insensitive projects like the 4Ps Program; or compelled to abide by policies ignorant of the real situation of indigenous women such as the prohibition for traditional healers to assist in childbirth, or disallowing birth to occur at home.

2. The Joint Administrative Order No. 1 series of 2012 by the NCIP, DENR, DAR and LRA compromised our basic and legal rights and resulted in the further delay in the processing of the certification of titles over our ancestral domains. We reject policies like JAO1 that do not have our participation in its formulation, and which are deliberately made complex resulting in the delay of the processing of CADTs and ultimately, in the denial of our rights.

Meanwhile, with other marginalized peoples, communities and sectors, we, indigenous peoples, have our ways to resolve land and other conflicts. We will not be deceived by projects or activities like the National Greening Program (NGP) by which fake indigenous leaders were created as well as fake NGOs, and which make us compete against each other, or fight against our co-equals and fellows, whom like us are similarly exploited and downtrodden.

3. We, as indigenous peoples, have our own governance, our own Indigenous Political Structures (IPS). Our own governance and IPS are often not reflected in state laws and policies. We recognize the women in our community as equals and partners in decision-making. The state policy of "IP mandatory representation in local legislative councils" has generally been used by local political elites for their own selfish interests. While we do not entirely reject this "IP mandatory representation in local legislative councils" - we reject fake "representatives" that are chosen by LGUs, by the NCIP, or by any person or entity that do not have our mandate nor represent our true and collective interest, and which only satisfy a person's or a few's greed.

Peace

We are indigenous peoples; we have the right to self-determination. We, too, want lasting peace in Mindanao. We support everyone who works for the attainment of peace in Mindanao. We support the full inclusion of indigenous peoples rights in the core area in the Bangsamoro Basic Law and full exclusion of the adjacent IP territories. We recognize the diversity of indigenous peoples and communities in Mindanao. We affirm that our identity as indigenous peoples is intrinsically linked with our ancestral domains. Lasting peace in Mindanao can only be achieved if all rights are recognized, respected and protected and no one is excluded.

Equality

We, indigenous peoples, are human beings and as such are not inferior to anyone. We condemn any form of discrimination, separating us from the rest of the Filipino people through health, education, access to food and peaceful living.

We are Indigenous Peoples and we Continue to Assert our Rights! United, We Shall Struggle!

Recognize and Respect Indigenous Peoples' Rights over Ancestral Domains!
Recognize and Respect the rights of Indigenous Women!
Scrap the Mining Act of 1995! Enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill!
Fast track the processing and awarding of CADTs! Scrap JAO 1 series of 2012!
Respect Indigenous Peoples' Governance and Indigenous Political Structures!
Full participation of IPs in all levels of Decision making affecting ADs/ALs!
Investigate the implementation of NGP in Ancestral Domains!
Ensure consistency of 4Ps with the customs and traditions of its IP beneficiaries!
Investigate incidents of human rights violations and
Hold Human Rights violators accountable!
Respect Indigenous Peoples' Customary Laws!
Transform the NCIP! Make government officials accountable!
Recognize Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Bangsamoro Basic Law!
Full Support of the Peace Agreements!


Aquino urged to repeal 1995 Mining Act for proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill

Mindanao Examiner

13 July 2014

MANILA - Environmentalists renewed their calls for President Benigno Aquino to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and certify as urgent the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.

Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, said large scale mining gravely damages the environment and disrupts peoples' lives.

He said there are also continuing accounts of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by mining companies. "Worst, there are violations by some government officials and personnel who prioritize profit and income over peoples' rights and welfare. What we still have today is a law that tolerates all these in favor of corporate greed," he said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner by SOS-Yamang Bayan (SOS-YB) Network.

Judy A. Pasimio, head of Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights), member of SOS-YB Executive Council, also reiterated that "while the government works hard to protect the interests of the investors, there should be more protection for the rights and interests of its constituencies".

"The country needs a just and equitable mining policy which covers not only the economic benefits but also the participation and opportunities for development, especially for the affected communities," she said.

Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez said Aquino needs to certify as urgent the AMMB. "It is a legislative action that is our best alternative to the current mining policy that promotes large-scale mining and exploitation of the country's mineral resources and communities."

"If we really want the future generations to benefit and experience our rich environment, we should help alter the global condition of our environment today and AMMB is a vital solution," Gutierrez said.

According to SOS-YB, it has been more than two years since they called for the Aquino administration to certify the Green Bills, including AMMB as urgent, because it will significantly contribute to the rehabilitation of the country's depleted ecosystem. Their call however, has so far been ignored.

The members of the group also said that with all the violations caused by mining operations, they will remain steadfast in their appeal to the government to prevent further catastrophic impacts to the indigenous communities and the rural poor who directly benefit from the remaining natural resources.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. reaffirmed his commitment to push for the enactment of the AMMB in Congress.


Miners dismayed by proposed tax hike

By Ronnel W. Domingo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8 July 2014

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has expressed dismay over that the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) is going ahead with proposed tax hikes "without taking into consideration comments and observations by authoritative third parties."

The inter-agency MICC was earlier reported to have approved a proposed revenue sharing scheme where the government would take 55 percent of a mining operation's adjusted net revenue or 10 percent of gross revenue, whichever is higher.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the MICC is said to have submitted this to the Office of the President for concurrence.

"The MICC-proposed tax structure cannot, by any measure, be considered equitable, much less competitive," the chamber said in a letter to Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr.

In the two-page letter signed by COMP chair Artemio F. Disini and president Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, the group said the scheme would not attract investments that are needed to allow the development of the country's mineral resources in a responsible manner.

"There are other countries with more reasonable tax structures and are equally [if not better] endowed than the Philippines," they said.

"The results of our financial modeling indicate that the government share under such proposal will be much higher than [those of] large mineral producing jurisdictions such as Canada, Queensland (Australia), Peru, South Africa, Chile and Papua New Guinea," they added.

The COMP said they have shared this financial modeling with the MICC, but this appears to have been ignored.

Further, the group reiterated that the government's perception that the domestic mining industry is not paying enough taxes is "premised on the wrong interpretation" of Mines and Geosciences Bureau statistics."

"The total taxes of P13.4 billion in 2010 over total gross production value of P145.3 billion was 9.2 percent, giving the impression that the industry was paying only a miniscule amount to the government," the COMP said.

"However, that analysis includes output from small scale gold miners (whose sales to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is on a ‘no names' basis), where there are no taxes paid, hence the wrong impression," they added.


PHL may not make it to EITI as mining firms sit on disclocures, says lead group

By Danessa O. Rivera

GMA Network

23 July 2014

Getting the Philippines on board a global coalition on extractive industries is proving to be quite a challenge especially when it comes to meeting international standards on reporting revenues, taxes and royalties.

The year-end deadline for the Philippines is fast approaching, but so far only 33 large-scale mining, oil, and gas exploration firms have filed a signed waiver in favor of the government including full disclosure of tax payments and credits, Finance Assistant Secretary Teresa Habitan told reporters in a briefing Wednesday.

This means only 65 percent of the 51 companies the Philippine EITI or Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has approached so their tax and royalty declarations can be included in the upcoming industry report.

Oslo, Norway-based EITI is a coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together to improve openness and accountable management of revenues from natural resources.

The PHL-EITI- Multi-Stakeholder Group and decision-making body, headed by the Finance Secretary was created through Executive Order 147 to make sure large mining and oil companies that make up the extractive industries comply with global reporting standards.

In April, the PH-EITI-MSG said the Philippines is expected to submit to EITI a report on the extractive industries by December 2014. The report was supposed to include the revenue streams, licensing structure, statistics, discussions and social management expenditure.

If the PHL-EITI-MSG fails to get all the companies to comply with the disclosure requirements, the group would have to defend why it wasn't able to do so, said PHL-EITI national coordinator Marie Gay Ordenes.

"That will have a bearing on how they will evaluate us," she said.

In June 2013, the Philippines achieved candidacy status before the EITI - which works to raise the level of transparency on payments made in the oil, gas and mining industries.

Issues of transparency

There are still "pockets of resistance" in the industry due to issues of transparency and sustainability, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Legal and Policy vice president Ronald Recidoro said at the same briefing.

"Mining is a very old industry, a very conservative industry whose image has been battered in the public. We're seen as destroyers of the environment," Recidoro noted.

"There's also this issue of sustainability. Can we sustain this effort that 20 years down the road, there's still EITI," he added.

But signing on the waiver can clear the cloud of doubt cast by public perception on the mining and in terms of the industry's contribution to the economy, said Bantay Kita national coordinator Cielo Magno.

"As far as we're concerned, their contribution to the GDP and employment are really very low based on data," she said.

"This is a challenge for mining companies to prove us wrong, and you can only do that if you disclose 100 percent of their records," Magno said.

Mining accounts for only 1.04 percent of GDP, but it holds the potential to attracting foreign direct investments and increase exports, government data show.

Bantay Kita is a civil society representative in the PHL-EITI initiative, spearheading the move to make the Philippines a membership of the coalition.

"EITI does not only focus on the tax payments and fees, we're also going to disclose social expenditure... It's going to be nice to have a solid picture of, aside from taxes, what are the social contributions of these companies," Magno said. - VS, GMA News


Bantay Kita calls for full participation from Philippine mining firms in EITI

Bantay Kita press release

23 July 2014

Manila, Philippines - To achieve greater transparency and accountability in the mining industry, Bantay Kita (BK) is calling for full participation by all large scale mining, oil, gas and coal mining in the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI).

EITI is a policy adopted by the Philippine government to improve transparency and accountability in the extractive industry sector. The policy requires government agencies and companies to disclose the taxes and fees companies actually paid to the government and the social expenditure programs companies actually delivered to communities.

Participation requires the signing of a waiver to allow the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to disclose the taxes the companies paid to the government. To date, only 33 out of the 51 metallic and coal mining, gas, and oil companies required to report have signed the waiver.

"We are challenging the companies to display their commitment to transparency and accountability by signing the BIR waiver and complying with PH-EITI. We are still a long way from achieving 100 percent participation from all the extractive companies," BK National Coordinator Dr. Cielo Magno said.

According to BK, current macro economic data show very little socio-economic benefit from mining. There are about forty large-scale metallic mining companies operating in the country whose contribution to the GDP is only about 1%. Mining and quarrying account for less than 1% of total employment . They directly provide at most 80,000 jobs.

Many of the provinces hosting mining are the poorest in the country. An independent study by Dr. Ogie Arcenas of the UP School of Economics shows that mining does not contribute to poverty alleviation. Using data from Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), Arcenas demonstrated that the share of provinces from the extraction of natural resources, which is about 3% of their total budget, is not even enough to cover the provinces' expenditures in education, health care and basic social services.

"We value the willingness of the 33 companies to participate in EITI and disclose key industry information. We hope that the other companies who have not signed the BIR waiver and express commitment to implement EITI will take this opportunity to disprove the notion that mining has no significant social and economic impact both at the community, provincial, and national level," Dr. Merian Mani, CSO representative to the PH-EITI, added.

On the government side, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Philippine Port Authority (PPA) have submitted their data. The Board of Investment (BOI), which provides incentives to companies and local government units hosting mining operations are also required to report.

The report is set to be released on December this year, which gives PH-EITI less than six months to gather all the data from the government and the extractive companies.


1st mining permit issued

Anna Leah G. Estrada

Manila Standard

1 July 2014

The government issued the first mining exploration permit in two years, since President Benigno Aquino signed Executive Order No. 79 to introduce industry reforms in July 2012.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau said it approved the exploration permit of Goodearth Mining and Development Inc. for a 1,968-hectare area in Dinapigue, Isabela.

An exploration permit allows a qualified person to undertake exploration activities for mineral resources in certain areas open to mining.

"The EP issued on May 19, 2014 grants Goodearth the right to explore the potential nickel, chromite and other associated mineral deposits within the permit area for a period of two years renewable for like periods but not to exceed a total term of six years, as such the case for metallic minerals," MGB said.

The exploration permit of Goodearth will expire on May 19, 2016.

"The said approval of the EP is in accordance to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 7942, otherwise known as The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and implementing rules and guidelines," MGB said.


4 mining firms suspended over ‘unsystematic' methods

by Rappler.com

24 July 2014

MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has suspended the nickel mining operations of 4 mining firms in Central Luzon because of unsystematic methods.

Suspended were Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.

Residents of Sta. Cruz, Zambales have reportedly been complaining of nickel contamination of shores and rice fields as a result of "uncontained" metal.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said unsystematic strip mining leads to "inefficient recovery of minerals and adverse environmental impacts like siltation and dust generation."

The companies were ordered to remove all stand-by stockpiles in open cut areas and store these in designated stockpile areas equipped with proper drainage systems.

The firms were also ordered to implement maintenance measures for the duration of their suspension. Compliance reports shall be sent to the MGB regional office.

In separate orders issued on July 15, MGB Region III director Danilo Uykieng also suspended activities for the expansion of the mining areas.

"All environmental protection and enhancement program should be continuously implemented," Uykieng said.

The suspension orders were issued in response to the answers sent by the companies to the show cause orders sent by the MGB Region III on June 30.

The suspension orders were sent to Zambales Diversified president Cesar F. Simbulan, Jr.; Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines president Lina Fernandez; Eramen Minerals president Enrique Fernandez and LNL Archipelago president Lawrence Leonio.

Zambales Diversified Minerals is a joint venture of DMCI Mining Corporation and Australian miner Rusina Mining Corporation. It has a mine site in Sitio Acoje in Zambales.

Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, a unit of diversified Benguet Corporation, operates the Sta. Cruz Nickel Project (SCNP) at Barrio Guisguis, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Eramen Minerals Inc. and LnL Archipelago Minerals likewise maintain mine sites in Sta. Cruz.

In September 2013, the Court of Appeals' Fourth Division issued a writ of kalikasan, stopping Chinese miner LNL Archipelag from leveling a mountain in Barangay Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz. LNL Archipelago is building a seaport for the shipping of chromite-rich soil to China. - Rappler.com


Zambo del Sur IPs call DENR for cancellation of 168 Ferrum MPSA

By Jong D. Cadion

Pagadian Frontline

14 July 2014

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur (MPF News) --- The Subanen Indigenous Communities of Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur through their economic arm, Subanen Gataw Taasan Association Incorporated (SUGATAI), warned and cautioned government officials from closing their eyes to the violations committed by 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation (168 Ferrum), IPs Official said.

SUGATAI Chairman Timuay Carlito Dalangon said Monday calling the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje for the cancellation of 168 Ferrum Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) No. 267-2008-IX after they had discovered recently that said documents issued by former DENR Secretary Lito Atienza to 168 Ferrum following the recommendation to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is procured through fraud and machinations.

Timuay Dalangon said on September 30, 2008, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issued Resolution No. 303, Series of 2008 approving the issuance of Certification Precondition (CP) for the MPSA application of 168 Ferrum as APSA 101-IX on the basis of the said CP, MPSA No. 267-2008-IX was then issued to 168 Ferrum.

However, Timuay Dalangon said thorough and careful reading of the documents, specifically, the Resolution No. 303, would show that the CP issued to 168 Ferrum covers only areas located in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, namely: Barangays Datagan, Bantal, Canoayan, Liba, and Matin-ao, but not Midsalip.

Midsalip is not part of Bayog. "It is very clear therefore that Midsalip is not covered by Resolution No. 303. But to our shock and dismay, a parcel of land in Midsalip was surreptitiously included in MPSA No. 267-2008-IX," said Dalangon.

Dalangon added that it is due to the machinations of 168 Ferrum that two parcels of land were included in MPSA No. 267-2008-IX, namely: a parcel of land in Midsalip which is covered by our EPR, and a parcel of land covered by EXPA 046 located in Bayog, which had in fact been canceled by the DENR Secretary. These two parcels are included as if they were part of their CP, where in fact they were not.

Dalangon said the records would show that the CP issued to 168 Ferrum which only covers certain barangays in Bayog was duplicitously used to include areas in Midsalip.

By so doing, 168 Ferrum succeeded in securing MPSA No. 267-2008-IX over lands within their ancestral domains, said the tribal leader.

The IPs leader accused 168 Ferrum for violating the law and the conditions of its grants.

He said the records would also show that 168 Ferrum has not secured the following: a.) FPIC of the IPs in Midsalip, b.) Certification of Non-Overlap, and c.) Certification Precondition over any parcels of land located in Midsalip.

He cited section 59 of the IPRA provides: "Certification Precondition that all departments and other governmental agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from issuing, renewing, or granting any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production sharing agreement, without prior certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain.

Such certification shall only be issued after a field based investigation is conducted by the Ancestral Domains Office of the area concerned: Provided, That no certification shall be issued by the NCIP without the free and prior informed and written consent of ICCs/IPs concerned: Provided, further, That no department, government agency or government owned or controlled corporation may issue new concession, license, lease, or production sharing agreement while there is a pending application for a CADT: Provided, finally, That the ICCs/IPs shall have the right to stop or suspend, in accordance with this Act, any project that has not satisfied the requirement of this consultation process."

He said the law is very clear that a Certification that the area does not overlap any certified or claimed ancestral land/domain issued by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples must be secured by the applicant, and where the area overlaps any certified or claimed ancestral domain, the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the concerned ICCs/IPs must also be obtained. 168 Ferrum has not complied with any of these requirements over the areas within our ancestral domains in Midsalip.

The aforementioned MPSA granted to 168 Ferrum has denied us of our rights under the law as it is only under "free, prior, and informed consent" that we can protect ourselves and assert our rights under the IPRA. "Clearly, the MPSA of 168 Ferrum strikes at our liberty to exercise our rights to explore, harvest, extract, develop and exploit the natural resources within our ancestral domains.

This law must be applied strictly and swiftly to stop the fraudulent acts of 168 Ferrum and to mark out our rights within our ancestral domains," said Dalangon.

He also added that under the same provision, the DENR is strictly enjoined from granting any agreements without valid FPIC and CP, presumably to ensure that the IPs concerned are protected. Undeniably, the issuance of MPSA No. 267-2008-IX to 168 Ferrum in violation of Section 59 of IPRA is illegal and punishable under Section 72, he concluded.

In addition he said, Article 5 of the New Civil Code also provides: Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity. He also also explained that under this provision, MPSA No. 267-2008-IX is null and void for being executed in violation to Sec. 59 of the IPRA requiring valid FPIC, CNO and CP prior to its approval. Being null and void, the MPSA has no force and effect and must be treated as if no MPSA has been issued. "The MPSA of 168 Ferrum, if not enjoined, will prohibit two distinct and specific activities that the law directly grants us, namely: the right to explore and the right to mine the natural resources within our ancestral domains." Said Dalangon.

He commented that the fraud resorted to by 168 Ferrum may have been complicated that it had escaped the attention and watchful eye of the MGB. Unquestionably, the records of this case and the documents submitted by 168 Ferrum could reasonably ascertain that 168 Ferrum committed fraud and violated the law and the conditions of its grants.

The IPs in Midsalip (Zamboanga del Sur) also recommended to the DENR Officials that the existence of these violations by 168 Ferrum warrants the cancellation of MPSA No. 267-2008-IX.

NCIP Region-9 Director Timuey Woy Lim P. Wong in an interview on Friday said denied of that their having issued the said certification to 168 Ferrum. "I just newly assumed office last month when we had received the copy of the complained furnished to us by SUGATAI and upon verification based in our record shows our office did not issue the said documents to the said mining firm," Wong explained.

MGB Region-9 Satellite Office on the other hand refused to give any comment on the issue due to the ongoing investigation regarding the complained by the IPs in Midsalip.


Kalinga tribe vs mining

Manila Bulletin

5 July 2014

Baguio City - Members of the Guinaang tribe of Pasil town in Kalinga and the group Indigenous Farmers of Guinaang, Pasil Inc. (IFAGPI) vowed they are ready to "raise a storm" to block the operation of the Makilala Mining Company (MMC).

IFAGPI Chairman Benedicto Lingbawan said their indigenous group is particularly concerned over the planned memorandum of agreement (MOA) between MMC and what he alleged as a bogus organization called Indigenous Peoples Organizations.

Lingbawan said members of their group will "storm" the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) central office - and if need be, take the case to the courts - to block the MOA being facilitated by the NCIP-Kalinga Office.

He said the Guinaang tribe is opposed to the MMC's plan to mine in more than 3,000 hectares of ancestral lands.

The MOA signing was initially set on June 23, 2014 in Barangay Pugong, Pasil, but Lingbawan said tribesmen had foiled it.


Piece of mines

By Conrado R. Banal III

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3 July 2014

This particularly immaculate ecotourism zone, the Caramoan peninsula in Camarines Sur in Bicol, with its magnificent islands just off the coast, has one feature no other sites can claim: It boasts of unbridled destruction from small-scale mining and quarrying activities.

In the past 10 years or so, Caramoan rose to international fame when its pristine shoreline and other islands near it was featured in several editions of the hit reality TV show "Survivor," airing in the United States and Israel.

As a tourism zone, declared as such under Republic Act 9445, Caramoan by definition must be off limits to mining, whether licensed by the government (large-scale mining) or by the local government unit (small-scale mining).

Not surprisingly, a group of local officials, headed by the progressive 23-year-old CamSur Gov. Miguel Villafuerte, and some environmentalists have been trying to close down what they termed as "illegal" mines in an official tourism zone.

It so happened that, about four months ago, four workers in a small-scale mining site in the area were killed. After years and years of inaction on the complaints about illegal mining there, the police sprang into action. And what did the police do? Well, they simply suspended the power of the provincial governor, i.e. Migz Villafuerte, as deputy of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which gave him certain authority over the local police force. Mind you, this was the guy who was fighting the illegal mining activities, in the first place. Wow!

Last month, you see, the Napolcom basically just echoed the supposed "findings" of the local police in the province against the young Villafuerte, who nevertheless never found out from the Napolcom head office what those "findings" precisely were.

Take note that Villafuerte indeed was the one complaining-consistently and persistently-to the local police in CamSur of their "inaction" on the rampant illegal mining in Caramoan, which the environmental groups believed to be sanctioned, guided and even controlled by local political bigwigs.

And what did the police do? Well, apparently to show a bit of achievement, they casually seized some construction equipment that nevertheless belonged to the provincial government, used for public works and other government projects in the province.

Thus, word went around in LGU circles, not to mention some environmental groups, that the police and the illegal miners could be in connivance over the multimillion-peso minerals "business" in the tourism zone.

Giving the Napolcom a piece of his mind, Villafuerte noted in his appeal to the commission that the real issue in the area was the unabated illegal mining and quarrying in some pieces of real estate where mining was banned.

For one, the local police failed to carry out Villafuerte's order to stop the illegal mining activities, by arresting for instance the operators and then filing charges against them.

Villafuerte told the Napolcom that the commission perhaps should zero in on the reported collusion between the local police and illegal-mining operators, instead of his power as Napolcom deputy.

But how did the mining activities in such an ecotourism zone, declared as such by an act of Congress at that, actually come about in the first place?

Well, it seemed that it was all the handiwork of this government corporation called PDA.

The Partido Development Authority was created some 20 years ago supposedly to fast-track the economic development of one specific district in CamSur, the one controlled by the Fuentebella family, headed by former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella.

Yes, boss, he was the same former speaker who was implicated in the P10-billion pork scandal involving Janet Napoles, who already testified that he was one of her 100 or so accomplices in the pork scam in the past decade.

Indeed, in its 2007-2009 special audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) already questioned Fuentebella over the pork releases, amounting to almost P200 million, which he coursed through the Technology Resource Center (TRC) for supposed projects, although the funds ended up in another corporate vehicle called Partido District Development Cooperative Inc.

Anyway, PDA was also on the list of government corporations that the Aquino (Part II) administration earlier planned to abolish for being useless. The COA reported that PDA had been saddled with more than P1 billion in foreign loans, having incurred consistent losses over the years.

However, it seemed that PDA some years ago mysteriously obtained from the government (courtesy of the natural resources department and its mining licensing arm called the Mines and Geosciences Bureau) an agreement that, in effect, cleared the way for mining activities in the "Partido" district, even without the approval by the provincial government.

In other words, thanks to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PDA became its own republic. It did not matter that Congress actually declared Caramoan, which was part of the "Partido" district, a national tourism zone.

The funny thing is, well, during his time in Congress, the politically influential Fuentebella was the lead proponent of RA 9445, the very same law declaring Caramoan as a tourism zone.

Moreover, Executive Order No. 79-issued by our dear leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS, as the bible of reforms in the mining industry-actually declared Caramoan as one of five specific areas that were closed to any mining application, big or small. The government even created the Caramoan National Park, with the DENR declaring it a "protected" area.

No wonder, the CamSur government has been begging DENR boss, our beloved Secretary Ramon Paje, to scrap the "agreement" between the PDA and the DENR, granting PDA the power over mining activities in Caramoan.

And what did Paje do? Well, basically, nothing!


Bio-piracy, mining threaten new Unesco World Heritage site in Mindanao

By Edgar Allan M. Sembrano

Inquirer

14 July 2014

After 15 years, the Philippines has successfully inscribed another site to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Joining the five other Unesco cultural and natural sites of the Philippines is the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, which is noted for its rich biodiversity.

It is the first Unesco heritage site for Mindanao.

"It was inscribed under Criterion 10. The endemicity is very high," said Unesco Philippines Commissioner and University of Santo Tomas cultural-heritage studies professor Eric Zerrudo.

A site cited under Criterion 10 of the heritage list is supposed to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of universal outstanding value from the point of view of science or conservation. This criterion refers to the rarity and endemicity of the site.

The Unesco website describes Hamiguitan: "Forming a north-south running mountain ridge along Pujada Peninsula on the southeastern part of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary has an elevation range of 75-1,637 meters above sea level, and provides critical habitat for a range of plant and animal species."

Zerrudo said the mountain had many site-endemic flora and fauna species. Nepenthes (pitcher plant) and certain butterfly species can only be found there. It is also home to the Philippine Eagle and Philippine Cockatoo.

Dolores Valdesco of the Environment and Natural Heritage Center of Davao Oriental said that in Hamiguitan one could see the outstanding adaptation of the species to the environment, epitomizing the struggle to survive despite harsh conditions.

The mountain was supposed to be inscribed last year during the World Heritage Convention in Cambodia but it lacked the required Visitors Management Plan. The document was completed and submitted in this year's convention in Qatar.

Strict control regime

Owing to its rich biodiversity, Mount Hamiguitan is very fragile and very sensitive, said Zerrudo. So access to it is restricted to scientists and researchers.

"It is not a tourist spot," he said. "It's more of a science laboratory because the species are still evolving on top of the mountain."

Zerrudo said the decision to restrict access to the mountain was "the position of the Philippine government, the Unesco National Commission, and even the province."

Representative sites will, however, be developed adjacent to the buffer zone for tourists to view the mountain from afar, Valdesco said.

Tourists are going to be confined to the representative sites located in San Isidro and Governor Generoso towns as well as Mati City, the three places which have jurisdiction over the mountain.

Happening worldwide

One of the issues the mountain is facing today is biological piracy.

"That is happening now all over the world. They [scientists] would get samples and usually study the DNA," Zerrudo said.

This is why another province, Palawan, has restricted access by foreign scientists to Mt. Matalingahan, another Philippine natural site being considered for Unesco heritage listing.

About Hamiguitan, Valdesco cited an incident involving German researchers in 2005.

"German scientists entered and got species samples. They propagated and cultured the samples in Europe; that is why the Nepenthes hamiguitanensis is already thriving in Europe today. They're still naming it as such but it is no longer endemic (to the Philippines)," Valdesco said.

Aside from bio-piracy, mining is another threat.

Valdesco said a mining firm was operating on the periphery of Mount Hamiguitan and it had built a housing tenement for its miners which might affect the protected area.

However, she said the company had promised to comply with regulations to protect and conserve the mountain.

Other sites

Other mountains in the country are being eyed for World Heritage nominations, said Zerrudo.

These are the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range; Mount Kitanglad (Bukidnon); Mount Malindang (Misamis Occidental); Mount Matalingahan (Palawan); Mount Pulag (Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya); Mount Mayon (Albay); and the Chocolate Hills (Bohol).

Zerrudo said Mount Matalingahan in particular had a pristine environmental condition and a higher biodiversity compared to Mount Hamiguitan.

With its inscription, Hamiguitan joins the Palawan Subterranean River; the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera; and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on Sulu Sea, among the Philippine natural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The rest of the Philippine properties on the Unesco list are cultural heritage landmarks: the Baroque churches-San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila; Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte; Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur; and Miag-ao Church in Iloilo-and the Historic Town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur.


Rebels burn mining company's buses in Compostela Valley

By Frinston L. Lim

Inquirer Mindanao

19 July 2014

TAGUM CITY, Philippines-Communist rebels burned two buses owned by a mining company in Maco, Compostela Valley, on Friday, police said.

The newly acquired vehicles, used to ferry employees and workers of Apex Mining Co., were seized by an undetermined number of New People's Army gunmen on a road in Purok 8 in Barangay Elizalde around 1:50 p.m., according to Senior Superintendent Abraham Rojas, Compostela Valley police chief.

Rojas said the gunmen ordered the bus drivers to disembark before dousing the vehicles with gasoline and setting them on fire.

Friday's attack was the latest against the publicly listed gold-and-copper mining company operating in the minerals-rich but insurgency-plagued province.

Last March, dozens of rebels stormed the company's compound in Masara village, destroying millions of pesos' worth of vehicles and mining equipment.

The company holds a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) of 2, 237 hectares covering the villages of Masara, Teresa, Tagbaros and Mainit and employs some 1, 400 workers, according to the company website.

Local miner Mapula Creek Gold Corp. holds a 42.96 percent stake in the company, while Mindanao Gold Ltd. of Malaysian investor ASVI acquired the shareholdings of Mapula's former partner, London-listed Crew Gold Corp., with 30.11 percent.

"It was a form of harassment as the firm refused to give in to the rebels' (extortion) demands," Rojas told the Inquirer by text message, adding no one was hurt in the incident.


Mining firm contractor faces own labor problem

By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon,

The Freeman

8 June 2014

CEBU, Philippines - The workers union of a contracting company of Carmen Copper Corporation in Toledo City has filed a notice of strike before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

Members of the workers union of Galeo Equipment and Mining Company have accused the management of union busting after 11 of its officials were placed under preventive suspension effective June 5.

GEMC has an existing hauling contract with Carmen Copper Corporation for its mining operation in Toledo City.

The company is in-charge of hauling the mine waste from the mining site.

Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa and organizer of the Alliance of Genuine Labor Organization of which GEMC union is affiliated, said that they filed the notice of strike after all the 11 union officers were preventively suspended for 30 days.

"They were suspended on the night of June 5 after they did not render overtime work," Derige said.

Derige said the suspension was illegal. He also accused the management union busting and non-payment of benefits.

GEMC has more or less 560 employees working at the Carmen Copper Mining. According to Derige, it is very clear that the management is trying to get rid of the union officials because there were about 200 employees who refused to render over time work but the 11 union officers were singled out.

"So, klaro gyud ni nga union busting ang gihimo sa company," Derige added. (FREEMAN)


Top Frontier to tap SMC dividends for mining ventures

By Neil Jerome C. Morales

The Philippine Star

10 July 2014

MANILA, Philippines - Top Frontier Investment Holdings Inc., the majority shareholder of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is gearing up to start mining and processing ores from several nickel and gold mining projects in the next five years.

The listed investment vehicle will fund its mining projects with cash dividends from SMC, which will continue to be an active participant in the government's Public-Private Partnership (PPP) auctions, its top official said yesterday.

"We are conducting due diligence to make sure reserves are in the right places where we are going to mine. As soon as that is ready, we're going to put up the plant," Top Frontier president and CEO Ramon S. Ang told reporters after the company's annual stockholders meeting.

Specifically, exploration projects and feasibility studies, which will determine the mineable deposits, will require one year to complete.

Ang said Top Frontier allotted another three years to build the mine and start processing ores.

"The Philippines currently has one of the largest mineral reserves in the world," Ang said, adding that long-term outlook on mineral prices is on the positive side.

Top Frontier, through wholly-owned subsidiary Clariden Holdings Inc., holds the mining rights for the Nonoc nickel project in Surigao del Norte, Mt. Cadig nickel project in Camarines Norte and Lo-oc limestone project in Cebu.

It also has exploration permits for certain areas under the Bango gold project in Davao Oriental, Dinagat chrome nickel project and North Davao gold and copper project.

"We can do project financing and Top Frontier has enough cash dividend (from SMC). We can use that as equity," Ang said.

He said there is no need to raise funds through a follow-on offering.

In January, Top Frontier listed by way of introduction or without conducting an initial public offering.

SMC earlier distributed to its stockholders the 240.19 million common shares or 49 percent of Top Frontier as a property dividend. The transaction ended the two companies' cross ownership structure which allows both parties to block any takeover or entry of hostile entities given each other's rights to match any offer from potential investors.

Ang said Top Frontier is also open to acquiring operating mines here and abroad.

For its part, SMC will remain as one of the most active conglomerates in the infrastructure scene.

Ang said SMC is looking to join all PPP projects up for public bidding despite a setback in the P35.4 billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).

Last month, the Department of Public Works and Highways disqualified SMC subsidiary Optimal Infrastructure Development Inc. from the auction of the CALAX after the latter failed to comply with the bidding rules, particularly on the issue of the validity of its bid security.

Top Frontier's earnings hit P299 million in the first quarter, reversing the P327-million net loss a year ago prior to its reorganization program. Gross revenues reached P195.63 billion from just P2 million last year, driven by Petron Corp. and SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. that posted double-digit improvement even as core businesses reported better quarter-on-quarter results while liquor firm Ginebra San Miguel made a solid recovery.

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