MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - New laws being debated against a background of lawlessness

Published by MAC on 2015-02-21
Source: Statements, Rappler, InterAksyon.com, Inquirer (2015-02-21)

The 20th anniversary of the much reviled 1995 Mining Act approaches. Civil society calls for it be scrapped persist (given new impetus by the forthcoming commemoration), as alternative mining bills are stalled in the legislature.

Against this backdrop Congressional representatives are finally debating a new, Government-approved, legislative regime for the mining industry, in House Bill No. 5367. The Bill attempts to implement what are effectively increased mining taxes. So unsurprisingly mining companies, and their allies such as foreign Chambers of Commerce, have weighed in against the legislation. The provision for 'mining-free' zones have also been heavily criticised by the industry.

Circumstances on the ground argue for a radical overhaul of legislation. Yet even with new legislation can the mining companies by trusted? A recent Australian solidarity fact-finding to Glencore's Tampakan project, and OceanaGold's Didipio mine, confirm concerns of human rights abuses.

Tribal leaders in Agusan del Sur have accused companies of coercion and militarisation in order to gain entry to their land. In Isabela, Golden Summit Mining Corp. has allegedly ignored a cease and desist order on its open pit operations.

There has been another shooting incidents concerning employees and security at B2Gold's Masbate Gold Project.

Arrest warrents have been issued against two Indian nationals over the illegal sale of black sand in Zambales. The president of Platinum Group Metals is facing a petition for deportation for allegedly faking his Filipino citizenship in order to legalize his mining investments in the country.

Nevada justices have finally heard a jurisdictional appeal as the Philippine province of Marinduque attempts to sue Barrick Gold over the 1996 Marcopper Disaster (a disaster that took place in the first year under the new mining codification).

Given this catalogue of disregard for, and subversion of the current laws, it does make one wonder what use any new legislative framework will be, no matter how many more years Philippine law-makers debate upon it.

Mining sector opposes 8 'mining-free' zones

The Chamber of Mines says proposals to declare mining-free zones could limit the country's potential for economic growth

Pia Ranada

Rappler

17 February 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Representatives from the mining sector expressed their reservations about the plan to declare 8 provinces as mining-free zones during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, February 17.

The hearing looked into 8 bills filed separately by 8 congressmen to declare their provinces and one district as off-limits to mining.

These areas are:

Banning mining from these areas will "set a bad precedent" for the Philippine government, said Chamber of Mines of the Philippines vice president for policy Ronald Recidoro during the hearing.

"Mineral resources are limited, finite and do not occur everywhere. They are concentrated in only a few blessed provinces. This deprives the national government of the chance to develop a national industrialization plan," he added.

Around 65% of the Philippines cannot be mined under current laws and executive orders despite the vast potential of the country as a source of minerals.

The Fraser Institute of Canada, a public policy research organization for Canada, puts the Philippines among the top 10 countries most attractive for mineral development based on mineral potential alone.

But the country is also among the least attractive locations "because of policy and bureaucratic obstructions and the lack of government support for mineral development," reads a statement from the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines.

Currently, Executive Order No 79 puts a moratorium on all new mining contracts until a new revenue-sharing agreement between mining companies, national government and local government is finalized. In 2013, mining contributed only 0.7% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the National Economic and Development Authority.

'Not a penny'

But the congressmen who filed the bills defended their proposed laws saying mining has led to nothing but catastrophe for the provinces they represent.

"Mining is destructive to the environment of our province. We prioritize agriculture over mining," said Representative Carlos Padilla of the lone district of Nueva Vizcaya.

There are two companies mining for gold and copper in Nueva Vizcaya: Canadian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals Corporation.

They are both covered by the Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which allows companies 100% owned by foreigners to extract minerals in the Philippines.

The province, said Padilla, "does not get a penny" from Oceana Gold. The mining company did not get the consent of the provincial council and do not pay realty tax, he added.

They used to pay excise tax and business license tax but no longer do so.

Meanwhile, it's the local government that bears the responsibility of tending to supposed human rights abuses, people displaced by the bulldozing of houses and the environmental degradation due to the mining activities, said Padilla.

Oceana Gold chairman Jose Leviste Jr denied any human rights abuses and said they provide housing for those displaced by the company's activities.

He said they no longer pay excise tax because the Board of Investments has exempted them from doing so.

As for the payment of business license tax, he said the company received a letter from nearby Quirino province claiming it is their province who should be given the tax, not Nueva Vizcaya because the mining area falls under their jurisdiction.

"Quirino complicated things. There's a lawsuit now and we're trying to work things out," he told the body.

But Padilla said there are other reasons to declare his province mining-free. Nueva Vizcaya houses an important watershed that supplies water for major dams like the Magat and Ambuklao dams. These dams irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland in Luzon.

Some 15 tribes are threatened with displacement by mining because their ancestral domains sit on top of the mineral deposits. On top of that, the province's steep solves and increasing rainfall make it susceptible to landslides.

Benefits of mining

In Catanduanes, a company has been given permits from the Department of Energy to mine for coal, said Representative Cesar Sarmiento who authored a bill to declare the province off-limits to mining.

Australian company Altura Mining was given a coal operating contract covering 7,000 hectares. Sarmiento's bill aims to protect Catanduanes' forests, the largest remaining forest cover in Bicol, from the effects of mining.

In the past, Catanduanes citizens backed by the church were able to boot out Australian mining firm Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc from mining its coal deposits. There is also a provincial ordinance declaring the province a mining-free zone.

But Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said mining could pose benefits to local communities.

He said mining generated 252,000 direct jobs and around 1 million indirect jobs in 2012.

Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee, decided to suspend the hearing until more data on the benefits of mining could be presented.

"I want to see poverty incidence before and after mining. I want to see environmental impact assessments. I am not anti-development but I believe that mining companies should be responsible." – Rappler.com


Lawmakers file bill on new mining rev share

By Lira Fernandez

InterAksyon.com

6 February 2015

MANILA, Philippines - The Malacanang-backed proposal for a new revenue sharing scheme for the mining sector, which sought to allocate as much as 55 percent of the company's net income to the government, was filed at the House of Representatives.

House Bill No. 5367, authored by Marikina Representative Romero Federico Quimbo, stressed that a higher share of the revenue was being proposed for the government, both national and local, "as owner of the mineral."

Chapter IV of the bill (Fiscal Regime and Revenue Sharing Agreement) states that for every final mining area, the government share that shall be paid by the contractor shall be whichever is higher of the following:

10 percent of the gross revenue; or,
55 percent of the adjusted net mining revenue (ANMR); provided that in the event that the ANMR margin exceeds 50 percent due to increase in metal prices or other factors, the government, as the owner of the mineral, shall get 55 percent of the threshold ANMR, plus 60 percent of the excess ANMR.

According to the bill, the government share will be in lieu of all national and local taxes, including corporate income tax, royalty for the ICCs, duties on imported specialized capital mining equipment, fees for mayor's and/ or business permits, and other fees and charges imposed by the host local government unit.

The mining company will still pay for the real property tax, value added tax, capital gains tax, stock transaction tax, documentary stamp tax, withholding tax on passive income, donor's tax, environmental, Securities and Exchange Commission fee, water usage fee and administration and judicial cost and penalty.

Quimbo, chairman of the ways and means committee, said the measure was proposed to put flesh to Executive Order No. 79 issued on July 6, 2012, which requires new legislation that rationalizes existing sharing schemes on mining revenues.

The executive order was issued based on the recommendation of the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Economic Development Clusters that sought to "improve environmental mining standards and increase revenues to promote sustainable economic development and social growth, both at the national and local levels," the explanatory note of the bill said.

Pending the new fiscal regime, the issuance of new operating permits has been suspended.

Rationalization of the mining fiscal regime was one of the legislative priorities in the current Congress.

Reacting to the proposed law, Philex Mining said imposing higher taxes on the mining companies could eventually kill them.

Mike Toledo, Philex Mining senior vice president, said that, while the firm recognized the need for the government to generate revenue, doing it at the expense of the mining companies was "misplaced" and should not be done at a time "when we are trying to generate more investments on an industry that has the potential to skyrocket this nation's economy."

"If we want to achieve and maintain double digit growth we must allow the industry to flourish," he said.

"As it stands now, mining companies already pay around 40% of their gross revenues to government. The industry is heavily taxed. To tax it some more, as what the bill proposes, would just kill it and the millions of lives dependent on it. How can we attain inclusive growth?" Toledo added.

Under Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, government gets a 50% share in profits of foreign miners operating in the Philippines under Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements, and a 2% excise tax on actual market value of output under Mineral Production Sharing Agreements with local companies.

Under the new proposal, the national government will get 60% of the state's share, while host local government units (LGUs) will get 40%. If the contract area is located in an ancestral domain, royalties for indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) will be taken from the government share, with the balance shared by the national and local governments according to the aforementioned ratio.

Within five days from the end of each quarter, the mining companies will directly pay ICCs their share as well as the government share (net of ICCs' share) .

Under the bill, mining areas that would be approved and certified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) may be endorsed by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the President.

The establishment of the Mining Industry Zones (MIZ) must conform to the following criteria:

"No mining operations can be undertaken in any mining area without the local government unit and indigenous cultural communities' endorsement and presidential proclamation of a mining industry zone," the bill said.


1st half Congress OK eyed for mining bill

By Imee Charlee C. Delavin, Reporter

Business World

2 February 2015

MALACAÑANG is keen on seeing the long-awaited new revenue sharing scheme for the mining industry, which it regards as a priority measure, approved by Congress by June ahead of a legislative morass expected as 2016 polls near.

A Palace official said the draft measure on the proposed regime would hopefully get the green light from President Benigno S.C. Aquino III “as soon as possible to give both chambers [of Congress] ample time to work on it” as the government steps up efforts to finally get the bill, which has been in the works since 2012, enacted.

The proposed law’s approval will be opportune for the mining industry, as issuance of new operating permits has been suspended pending the new fiscal regime, with the government bent on getting a larger, more equitable share of the industry’s revenues.

Asked for updates on the bill, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Manuel N. Mamba replied in a text message last week that the “Administration draft bill still with OP (Office of the President) awaiting approval. We are hopeful that we will have this as soon as possible. Committee deliberation in both chambers suspended awaiting administration draft.”

Pressed further, he said the Executive has reiterated to Congress that “the window of opportunity to work on the bills is up to the end of the second regular session of this Congress.” The second regular session of the 16th Congress ends on June 11. The Senate and the House of Representatives will resume session after the President’s final State of the Nation Address in July that will start the third and last regular session of this Congress.

Malacañang regards the rationalization of the mining fiscal regime as one of its legislative priorities for both the second and third regular sessions of the current Congress, and included it in the list of 29 priority bills submitted to Congress in June last year.

Leo L. Jasareno, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), last year said the new scheme under the draft measure approved by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) and submitted to the Palace last June consisted of a 55-45 sharing agreement, with the larger portion going to the state. It would also allow the government to levy either a 10% tax on gross revenues or get 55% of firms’ adjusted net mining revenues, depending on which is higher. A percentage of windfall profits will also be taxed.

Asked yesterday whether changes were introduced, Mr. Jasareno, who is a member of the MICC, said by phone: “The answer lies in the result of the presentation to be made by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to the Office of the President.”

He said the briefing, scheduled last Tuesday, was canceled.

The interagency MICC is tasked to implement Executive Order 79, signed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III in July 2012, which mandates reforms in the mining sector, including the crafting of a new revenue regime.

Lawmakers yesterday committed to speed up approval of the bill.

Asked if Malacañang’s deadline was realistic, House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr., replied: “We will prioritize it. It is a very important bill that has been pending with the Executive for several years; meanwhile, illegal mining goes on,” adding that the Executive should submit the draft bill to Congress “next week at least” in order to meet the target.

But Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said in an interview yesterday: “There is no rule of thumb. You never know how long the interpellation will be. No one can say [when the bill will be approved].”

Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Senate’s ways and means committee, said via text: “[T]he leadership of both houses has prioritized the bills on the mining regime taxes... It’s difficult to set a timetable for approval, but certainly they will move faster between now and June.”

House natural resources committee chairman Rep. Francisco T. Matugas of Surigao del Norte (1st district) said separately: “If it’s there and if it will be certified as urgent, we can. If not, that will undergo usual process. It will take time with the opposition.”

While the measure awaits approval, Mr. Jasareno said the MICC last month submitted to Malacañang a proposal for the grant of operating permits to those firms with mines in “advanced predevelopment stages” that agree to revenue sharing not less than what the draft bill proposes. “Some firms have already said they are willing to pay what we’re proposing.” -- with Melissa Luz T. Lopez and Alden M. Monzon


Canadian chamber also opposes mining scheme

Business World

9 February 2015

THE CANADIAN Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) joined other business groups and companies in opposing a new mining revenue-sharing scheme as contained in a proposed law.

OceanaGold Corp., which operates a mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, is so far the only firm that has a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement with the government.

The new sharing scheme for the Philippine mining industry would defeat its purpose of boosting investments and increasing government revenues, CanCham President Julian H. Payne said in an e-mail sent last Sunday.

“Any increase in the revenue-sharing rate for large-scale mining imposed by the Philippine government will result in decreased new foreign investment in mining because it will make the Philippines less competitive and less attractive than other countries with mineral reserves,” Mr. Payne’s e-mail said.

Mr. Payne expressed these sentiments after a proposed law was filed at the House of Representatives last Tuesday which contained a draft measure that was the product of deliberations of the Malacañang-created Mining Industry Coordinating Council.

Once passed, the new bill will lift the government’s moratorium on new exploration permits, a move largely anticipated by local and foreign miners. However, the new scheme gives the government a 55% share in adjusted net mining revenue, or 10% of the company’s gross revenues, whichever is higher; and 60% of any windfall profit above the net revenue threshold, with the state deemed the “owner of the minerals.”

“If there is less new foreign investment in new mining, there will be less new mining and less (rather than more) mining revenue to share than is possible with a competitive revenue-sharing rate that stimulates a growing mining industry,” Mr. Payne said.

CanCham is home to the biggest investors in the Philippines’ mining sector, among them OceanaGold Corp., the sole company operating in the Philippines under a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement; and gold extractor Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co.

The current rates -- a 50% government share in profits of foreign miners under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement, and a 2% excise tax on actual market value of output under Mineral Production Sharing Agreements -- are already among the highest among mineralized countries, Mr. Payne said. Increasing the government share would turn off more investors, effectively foregoing investments, he added.

The government, Mr. Payne said, should instead focus on improving regulations for the industry to ensure fiscal and environmental compliance.

“Large-scale mining can be well-regulated (as in Australia and Canada) to assure not only that it is environmentally and socially responsible but also that it pays all legal taxes required with revenue-sharing,” he said.

The mining fiscal regime bill is a priority of Malacañang and Congress. However, lawmakers said exhaustive consultations and amendments will be conducted before it is approved. -- Melissa Luz T. Lopez


20,000 signatures to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 sought

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) News Release

20 February 2015

Scrap the Mining Act Network led by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) is gathering 20,000 signatures to sign the petition for the repeal of Republic Act 8371 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

In a forum held Friday in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, the Scrap the Mining Act Network said that they aim to have 20,000 signatures marking the 20th anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995 in March 3.

The network’s petition urges the Philippine Congress to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and enact a pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment, and responsible mining bill.

According to Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson, the petition highlights the effects of the liberalized mining industry to indigenous peoples.

"The Mining Act of 1995 allowed the complete ownership of mining TNCs of our mineral lands, waters, and resources, among other incentives to attract mining investment. The law is blamed for the continuing desolation of our environment and the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land and life," Malayao said.

Broad network

Scrap the Mining Act Network is a broad campaign network of individuals, institutions and groups from the Church, academe, legislators, lawyers, cause-oriented groups , indigenous peoples rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, cultural workers and concerned groups who are united and committed to the call to Scrap the Mining Act of 1995.

The petition to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 was launched last June in time with the World Environment Day, at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran. The first set of petitioners, which included National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Caloocan City Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, actress and women’s rights advocate Monique Wilson, Missionary Benedictine Sisters Prioress Mo. Adelaida Yrugbay, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Jose Manguiran, Our Mother of Perpetual Help National Shrine (Baclaran church) Rector Fr. Victorino Cueto, and University of the Philippines Student Regent Neill Macuja, was submitted to the House of Representatives last August 12.

A total of 139 petitioners, representing representing 84 organizations, schools, universities, councils, congregation, churches, dioceses signed the petition, Malayao shared.

Sign-up drives are ongoing in University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Manila, College of the Holy Spirit Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, St Louis University in Baguio City, St. Mary's University of Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya and the latest in St. Scholastica's College Manila.

‘Lopsided to mining TNCs’

In the petition, the Scrap the Mining Act Network describe the Mining Act of 1995 as foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture."

"Incentives and benefits in our mining industry is lopsided in favor of transnational mining corporations, far greater than those of Filipino entrepreneurs," Malayao added.

Some of the more controversial and criticized provisions in the Mining Act are the following:
1. Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit
2. Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation
3. Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years
4. Easement rights, water rights and timber rights
5. Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years

According to think-tank IBON Foundation, the Philippine mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. In addition, the mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.

"The facts belie the government's claim that mining is the boost our economy needs. What we truly gain from mining is the plunder of our mineral resources, environmental destruction, and the violation of our people's rights," Malayao commented.

According to Malayao, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by indigenous communities.

"The call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 comes from a spectra of people since its enactment almost twenty years ago. It is high time that this sentiment be harnessed for the creation of a patriotic, pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment a responsible mining law.

Scrap the Mining Act Network is still gathering signatures for the repeal of the Mining Act in schools, Churches, and other public places.

Reference: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576; Lea Fullon, Public Information Officer, 0998-2972500

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines
(02)412-5340
katutubongmamamayan.org


Environmentalists, locals troop to DENR to call for implementation of mine ban ordinance, stoppage of destructive mining in Nueva Vizcaya

Kalikasan PNE press release

27 January 2015

The environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined various groups from the Cagayan Valley region who trooped to the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today, calling for the immediate stoppage of large scale mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya.

This was after an environmental ordinance banning the use of open-pit mining in the province was recently passed. Mining proponents however claimed that the said ordinance was not retroactive and did not cover the existing operations that include FCF Minerals and Oceanagold. Oceanagold operates a gold mining operation in Bgy. Didipio, Kasibu while UK based FCF is developing a large-scale mining in Bgy. Runruno, Quezon both in NUeva Vizcaya province.

“We express solidarity with Novo Vizcayanos and the rest of the people of Cagayan Valley in their just demand to halt the mining operations of Oceanagold and FCF Minerals. Nueva Vizcaya, known as Cagayan Valley’s Watershed Haven, should be spared from further environmental pollution and destruction, and resource depletion. Local ordinances have been passed in the province as a clear expression of the people’s opposition to these mines and as a legitimate policy basis for the stoppage of these projects,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Oceanagold and FCF Minerals are Australian and British mining companies, respectively, both operating in the province of Nueva Vizcaya under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) issued by the national government. Currently, Oceana Gold has been in the extraction phase for over a year while FCF Minerals has been in the construction phase since 2012.

“Recent scientific studies revealed that the operations of both OceanaGold and FCF Minerals have resulted in the clear pollution of different freshwater ecosystems, biodiversity loss within mine operations and its adjacent environments, and the socio-economic and cultural dislocation of different affected communities,” noted Karl Begnotea, research biologist of Kalikasan PNE.

Citing the results of a 2014 Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) , high levels of Copper, a toxic heavy metal, were found in the sediments and water samples from the river impacted from operations of these two mining companies. Additionally, the populations of organisms thriving in the impacted river were found to be relatively lower as compared to nearby unaffected rivers also tested in the EIM.

Several cases of human rights violation were also recorded since the operation of the two companies. Instances of threats, intimidation and deception by the mines were documented. Moreover, according to the residents, restrictions were imposed by the companies that limited the activities of locals and affected their livelihood.

“The DENR should listen to the demands of the people of Cagayan Valley that travelled hundreds of kilometers away from their communities to demonstrate their determination in protecting their livelihood and environment. They should respect the political will of the frontline communities that have borne the brunt of OceanaGold an FCF Minerals’ pollutive and destructive operations,” Bautista ended.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 09228449787 Karl Begnotea 09263140752
--
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 
E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Aussie environmentalist in solidarity mission to mining-affected communities

A green activist from Australia joins investigative missions in areas affected by operations of Australian mining companies in the Philippines.

By Marya Salamat

Bulatlat.com

27 January 2015

MANILA – As Australian Peter Brock turned 56 on January 27, he found it fitting to be with environmentalists in a picket protest in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Quezon City.

Brock is the head of a national campaign initiated by the Australia-based group Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines. He is set to participate in environmental investigative missions in Philippine communities affected by large-scale mining operations by various Australian mining companies.

Brock said his group is trying to build solidarity between groups in Australia, Philippines and El Salvador, where OceanaGold is currently involved in a mining dispute.

OceanaGold has big interest in El Salvador mines, but the El Salvadoran government has halted its operations following peoples protest and reported environmental destruction which includes tragic impact on communities’ water sources.

“Mines have been operated badly in El Salvador, causing pollution, damage, and people’s protests,” Brock told Bulatlat.com.

But because the El Salvador government is part of a free trade agreement, Brock said it is being sued since two years ago by the mining company OceanaGold as a result of the government decision to stop the mining operation.

Oceana Gold is demanding from El Salvador government some $310-million, said Brock. The amount, he added, is higher than the country’s budget for health or education. He said the decision in the case would show the nature of free trade agreement, “if governments can decide to protect environment or if profit is more important.”

In the Philippines, Brock will also visit the Tampakan mines in Mindanao where members of his group had been to since 1995.

The mining operations in Tampakan, locally operated by Sagittarius Mines, have repeatedly postponed the start of commercial operations amid a bloody standoff with the opposing tribes. Over the years, its foreign partner mining company has changed hands from Australian Western Mining to Swiss Xstrata, and now to global mining giant Glencore.

The Tampakan Mines is two-third owned by the Brisbane, Australia unit of global mining giant Glencore, Brock said. The remaining third owner of Sagittarius Mines, he added, has stakes from mining companies headquartered also in Australia. This web of Australian company involvement is part of what brings him to the Philippines and to environmental investigative missions in affected communities, he said. A green activist from Australia joins investigative missions in areas affected by operations of Australian mining companies in the Philippines.


Filipino and Australian advocates embarked on fact-finding mission to communities affected by Aussie mine firms

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

29 January 2015

Seeking to validate the social and environmental conditions in various communities across the Philippines affected by Australian-owned large-scale mines, environmental and rights advocates from the Philippines and Australia have embarked on a fact-finding mission circuiting Bongmal District, South Cotabato and Kasibu Town, Nueva Vizcaya from January 28 to February 03 , 2015.

“We aim not only to inspect the adverse impacts of Australian-owned mining to the environment, economy, society and culture of communities they affect, but to deliver our solidarity to the people’s righteous resistance as well. It has been widely reported how such Australian-backed mining transnational corporations or TNCs such as OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya and Glencore-SMI in South Cotabato have been amassing rights violations and other atrocities towards their host communities, and we intend to report details on these atrocities back to our country’s leaders to hold these TNCs accountable,” said Sr. Mary Francis Anover of Defend Patrimony.

Led by Australian solidarity groups APDP, Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA), and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Australia (ILPS-Australia), the mission was joined by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony Alliance, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan, SOCSKSARGENDS Agenda, and various other national and local environment groups and social movements.

Both OceanaGold and Glencore-SMI have been permitted with Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements or FTAAs for their respective mine projects, which grants the biggest possible project area as well as both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to mining companies.

In a 2010 Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) in areas covered by Glencore-SMI’s Tampakan project in South Cotabato, potential serious impacts such as geological instability, watershed ang agriculture pollution and disturbance, losses of livelihood and militarization were identified. A recent EIM held just last year discovered that the Didipio project of OceanaGold has already caused massive siltation and heavy metals pollution in different river systems.

“This PH-Australian fact-finding mission is part of a series of activities which aim to directly support the Filipino people’s struggles to protect their land and livelihood from mining encroachment and pollution. It is high time for the Australian people and the international community at large to hear the plight of indigenous people, peasants, and other marginalized sectors that have been robbed of their livelihood and their voice by these Australian mining TNCs,” explained Sr. Mary Francis Anover, RSM, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony and national coordinator of RMP.

According to the mission organizers, the findings will help guide an International Solidarity and Fact-Finding Mission this coming July, and will serve as basis for lobbying efforts and legislators’ investigations in the Australian Congress later this year.

--
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756
E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net
Site: www.kalikasan.net


Aussie-PH fact finding mission validates adverse impacts to communities affected by AU mining companies

Joint press release

4 February 2015

Environmental advocates and grassroots groups under the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and the Defend Patrimony! Alliance (Defend Patrimony) co-organized a recently concluded fact-finding mission joined by local people's movements and Australian solidarity groups. They shared the initial findings that highlighted continuing violations of human rights and environmental regulations during a press conference held today in Quezon City.

The mission sought to validate the outstanding concerns on human rights violations coinciding with popular opposition to various Australian-owned large-scale mining projects, as well as concerns over adverse ecological and socio-economic impacts in which these projects previously figured. The mission traveled to Tampakan, South Cotabato and then to Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya to investigate Australian mining corporations Glencore-SMI and OceanaGold, respectively.

"We went to Tampakan to check on the human rights situation in communities within Glencore-SMI. The massacre of the indigenous B'laan family of the Capions still unresolved as new incidences such as the illegal detention and torture of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera continue to occur," said Sr. Mary Francis Anover, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony and national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Anover noted how communities in Tampakan continued to suffer from militarization and displacement. The B’laans are still being coerced to give their ‘consent’ to the mining project of Glencore-SMI. Government agencies and Glencore-SMI officials persist in their deception tactics and the violation of the indigenous people's right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Meanwhile, the Nueva Vizcaya leg of the mission highlighted the continuing resistance of OceanaGold to its tax obligations to the province and compensation obligations to the host communities despite the mine project’s ongoing environmental impacts, even as it presently seeks to further expand its operations.

"It is the height of callousness for OceanaGold to continue refusing payment of its tax and compensation obligations to the Filipino people even as it continues to pollute the rivers that run through their tenement in Didipio Village. OceanaGold’s pollution has already contaminated an adjoining river in a nearby village where OceanaGold intends to expand, and is suspected of causing cases of deaths of farm animals and lower farm productivity in the area. The noise pollution is intensifying everyday with the mining project's blasting operations, affecting communities and the immediate environment," said Karl Begnotea, field biologist of Kalikasan PNE.

The mission's initial findings were reported back to the communities and has already served as foundation for people's actions, including a protest-dialogue held at the Nueva Vizcaya provincial government and a dialogue on FPIC to be held soon in Tampakan. The proceedings will also be used in lobbying efforts back in the Australian Parliament.

The mission co-organizers include Australian solidarity groups Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA), and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Australia (ILPS-Australia), as well as local social movements such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan, and SOCSKSARGENDS Agenda.#


Environmental advocates call for accountability of OceanaGold Corporation operations in the Philippines

Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP) Press release

3 February 2015

On February 2, 2015, members of the Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP) based in Australia along with local environmental groups conducted an international solidarity investigation mission on the continuing environmental and human rights issues affecting the people and communities in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and its neighbouring barangays. This is the area where Oceanagold operates the Didipio gold and copper mine. Oceanagold is a transnational corporation with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. It trades on the Australian Cancadian and New Zealand stock exchanges.

During the mission, the ADPD, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Agham, Amianan Salakniban, Alyansa ng Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance found that:

The mission further received testimony alleging the failure of OceanaGold to acknowledge or respond to residents’ concerns about release of sewerage water into the river adjacent to homes in Didipio. Oceanagold also requires residents to ‘prove’ infractions or land ownership issues, knowing full well the ordinary folk of Didipio lack the capacity and the resources to do this. If acting ethically and responsibly, Oceanagold would be proactive in monitoring and resolving issues, rather than rely on their superior economic power over the ordinary folks of the community.

The continuing concerns about human rights infractions by company security guards and Police units close to the mine have been documented by the mission. These reports are consistent with previous reports gathered by international and national missions since the 1990s. Oceanagold impairs the residents exercise of economic and social rights by denying some residents access to their homes and farmlands by fencing off access and boundaries.

Aside from these violations, OceanaGold operations have a detrimental effect on the environment. According to scientific analysis by AGHAM, the river in Didipio shows elevated heavy metal (copper) and turbidity in Didipio River (below the mine). These levels are not present in comparison sites above the mine. The severely elevated level of copper renders the waters of the Didipio River un-usable for irrigation. Residents also report skin irritation after contact with water from the river. The corporation is conducting exploratory drilling in extension areas on land without permission from or consultation with landholders. Oceanagold has exploration rights in Bokod, Benguet and it is feared that their poor practices will be exported to the Cordillera.

Oceanagold have announced major changes to the Didipio project technical specifications in the past 4 years. As amendments, are these major changes subject to the same approval and government oversight requirements as the original development proposal?

In 2011 the open cut operation was tripled in size, requiring a similar increase in the size of the waste storage and tailings dam, and a relocation of the tailings dam above the open cut mine site, with a bigger environmental damage footprint.

In October, 2014, Oceanagold announced a doubling of the size of the underground mine operation, with some decrease of the size of the open pit portion of the mine. 900 Didipio residents have signed a petition opposing this expansion of the underground mine. The petition cites the risk of mine collapse, environmental damage and rushed implementation and lack of consultation with the affected community as the basis for their opposition to the expanded underground operation. Although they fear a repeat of previous heavy-handed repression of their legitimate dissent, they are strong in their united voice opposing these latest changes in the mine’s operation.

APDP is a full member of a national campaign in Australia for the Philippines. APDP will be challenging Oceanagold to act in a socially responsible manner. This is in the Philippines and also El Salvador where Oceanagold is seeking to use legal suits against the Government of El Salvador in the World Trade Organisation to overturn the El Salvadorean band on the large scale and destructive mining operation oceanagold has acquired in that country

APDP will continue to support the legitimate grievances and demands of the people of Didipio. APDP will send a delegation to the International Mining Conference slated for July 2015 in the Philippines, which will include a return visit to Didipio. As a conference which will include participants from other countries investing in mining in the Philippines [such as Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and USA] the International Mining Conference will further strengthen and broaden international solidarity with the Philippine people’s opposition to destructive large-scale mining conducted for maximum profit and not for the best interests of the people of the Philippines.

Calls:

End large scale, destructive mining in the Philippines.
Pass the People’s Mining Bill.
Oceanagold – treat the people of Didipio justly and with respect for their dignity and rights.
Oceanagold – pay your tax obligations to the Filipino people!

For reference:

Peter Brock
Chairperson
Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines


Australian business, trade to increase presence in PH

Australia notes though that mining is a missed opportunity for the Philippines, an industry that significantly contributes to the former's growth

Chris Schnabel

Rappler

29 January 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Australia is more bullish in their business and trade growth prospects in the country, firms from Down Under said.

Anthony Weymouth, Australian senior trade commissioner to the country, said that it is time for Australia to increase its trade presence in the Philippines.

Two-way trade between the two countries is at AU$3 billion ($2.40 billion) and an estimated 200 Australian companies now have a significant presence in the Philippines, employing 15,000 to18,000 Filipinos, Weymouth said.

These include ANZ Bank and Macquarie, two of the major Australian locators in the country.

The landmark ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZ) also now allows for 95% of Australian products to enter the Philippines duty free while 97% of Philippine-made products can enter Australia with the same benefit.

An increased popularity of Australian products is also seen due to the recent fall of the Aussie dollar.

“It’s basically a 20% price reduction in 3 months,” Weymouth said.

About 15,000 Australians currently reside in the Philippines while about 250,000 Filipinos now call Australia home, Weymouth shared.

Increased investment

Other Australian firms, meanwhile, praised the government efforts to improve the overall environment in doing business in the country.

“We see a country that is really getting its act together,” James Young, country director for Cardno, said. Cardno, a professional infrastructure and environmental services company is involved in some of the important public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects planned for the next few years.

Michael Banak, director of Crone Partners, an architectural firm, confirmed that it is looking for a partner to set up a permanent base in the country.

The firm has been in the Philippines since 2006 and is notable for designing Arya Residences, the country’s first residential building receiving the “green” certifications of Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). Crone Partners is also designing a 20 hectare master-planned project.

Meanwhile, Sight Skills based in Clark, Pampanga, is providing training services for construction, gas, mining, and oil. The company is behind Asia’s only simulated underground mine and an offshore platform which it uses to train workers involved in the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project.

Telstra, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, is also among locators that employs the highest number of Filipinos in the industry.

Mining a ‘missed opportunity’

When asked about the problems Australian firms face in the country, Weymouth singled out mining as a great “missed opportunity,” saying with significant investment in mining the Philippines could achieve an 8% or 9% gross domestic product (GDP) growth instead of 6%.

The Philippines is one of the most mineral-rich country in the world, but only about 2% of the resources are being extracted, Weymouth said. On the other hand, mining is a significant industry and major contributor to the Australia economy.

“The bottom line is that there are mining projects in places like Mindanao that have the potential for billions of dollars in investment that can raise the GDP by 2% for the next 40 years,” Weymouth said.

The trade commissioner added that Australia would like to see the issues addressed, as it is a big challenge facing Australian mining firms.

Australian mining firm Indophil Resources has a significant stake in the controversial Tampakan project.

The firm is set to be taken over by local firm Alson. – Rappler.com

(AU$1 = US$0.80)


Government told: Stop forcible entry of mining firms

By Jigger J. Jerusalem

Sun Star Philippines

30 January 2015

A TRIBAL group leader is pressing on the government to stop coercing the indigenous people (IP) of San Luis, Agusan del Sur to sign the document that would pave the way for the entry of mining companies, which he said could destroy not just the environment but the culture of the lumad communities.

Rogelio Plana, secretary-general of the lumad group Kalumbay, said Friday the Banwaon tribe members living in hinterland areas in San Luis are being pressured to sign the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).

The signing of the CADT, Plana said, would give mining firms the legitimate reason to enter the ancestral domain and mine the areas for precious minerals especially gold.

This coercion, he added, has prompted the more than a thousand Banwaons to leave their homes as they fear for their lives due to the presence of state agents and the “bagani force” or armed tribal warriors in their communities.

Aside from that, Plana said Kalumbay is also dismayed by the government for providing their fellow lumads with weapons to drive away their fellow lumads, most of them their relatives.

“This arming of the lumads and the violence that would ensue will be called a tribal war, but it’s not. It’s instigated by outsiders who want to destroy them so these mining companies can operate inside their lands,” he told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday.

Also, more than a dozen students from Northern Mindanao embarked on a trip to Agusan del Sur to be with the lumads for two days.

At the sendoff Friday, Vennel Chenfoo, spokesman of Youth Act Now, said the students are from various organizations such as the League of Filipino Students, Liga ng Kabataang Moro, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, and some representatives from Anakbayan.

The purpose of the solidarity mission, Chenfoo said, is to immerse themselves in the lumad community so they could see the real situation on the ground and know firsthand the various issues affecting the tribal peoples like the result of mining, logging, and cash-crop plantations in their communities.

“Nganong naay ingon ani bakwit gakahitabo? Dili na paigo lang ang among nangatun-an sa sulod sa classroom, sa libro. Kinahanglan pud namo mga kabatan-onan nga moadto mismo, makita namo unsa ang gakahitabo ug nganong gakahitabo ni siya (Why is there an evacuation? What we have learned in the classroom, in textbooks, is not enough. We have to go out so we could see what really happened and why are these situations happening),” he told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a separate interview Friday.

Belonging to the future generation of this country, he added, “dapat pud makakat-on sa mga kabatan-onan ang kamatuoran (the youth must learn to know the truth).”

He said the aim of their visit is to “elevate the socio-political consciousness of the youth” as this would help awaken them, and through this, the students will be able to tell the events that are happening in the countryside.

Chenfoo said most of what happened in the hinterland areas where the lumads reside are not reported in the media or even online, and it is now the role of the youth to report these narratives to the public.

In their two-day visit to the area, the youth will sit down with the tribal peoples and their leaders and listen to their stories and engage them in issue-based discussion.

The group also brought items and supplies needed by the evacuees, especially for the children such as slippers and toothbrushes.


Banwaon datus: Mining interest leads to human rights violations

Joint Press Release (http://www.rmp-nmr.org/articles/2015/02/02/banwaon-datus-mining-interest-leads-human-rights-violations)

2 February 2015

Around 207 Banwaon households became victims of human rights violations as recorded by Karapatan-Caraga due to the ceaseless military operations in four villages in San Luis, Agusan Del Sur, to pave way for the entry of mining companies in the area.

Two hundred families involving 969 individuals were forced to evacuate their community due to threats by paramilitary groups and elements of the 26th Infantry Battalion- 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army (26IB-4th ID PA) under Lt. Col. Rolando Dumawa. Three families were victims of divestment of properties.

Other than violations committed against families, 22 individuals were victims of harassment and intimidation, 10 innocent civilians were used as guide in military operations, seven were forced to surrender as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), and 11 victims of indiscriminate firing.

We refused

Datu “Bagal” Mauro Mansilyohan, a chief community adviser of the Banwaons in Sitio Tabon-Tabon, Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis Agusan del Sur, said the paramilitary groups in the area wants us to give up our ancestral domain to them through a unified Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).

“Mario Napungahan, a tribal chieftain who used to be with the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), wants us to transfer to their community so that the ancestral domain of the Banwaons will be consolidated under his supervision and leadership,” Datu Mansilyohan said.

He added Napungahan wants to consolidate the CADT because he wants mining corporations to operate in the ancestral domains of the Banwaons in San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

Military involvement

Ricky Hogsalan, vice chairman of sitio Tabon-Tabon, said they were invited by the members of the 26IB-4th ID PA in Barangay Mahagsay on November 23, 2014 to discuss about CADT.

“The military personnel talked to us one-by-one, they questioned our refusal to go against the consolidated CADT for our ancestral domain,” Hogsalan said.

Hogsalan said through the army’s Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), they were constantly convincing indigenous peoples about the benefits of mining and the CADT under Mario Napungahan.

Also, around 20 Banwaon datus representing the tribal communities involved in the evacuation conducted a meeting on February 1, 2015. They all agreed that the corporate mining interest in the area is the reason behind the militarization and harassment towards them that also breed forcible evacuation.

Collusion

Datu Jomorito Goaynon, deputy secretary general of Kalumaran, said the forcible evacuation is the effect of the army and paramilitary group’s coercion to allow the entry of mining corporations in the ancestral domain of the Banwaons.

Goaynon is also the spokesperson of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2014 which brought the issues of the indigenous peoples in Mindanao to Manila. He is also a council member of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP).

“In this case, we can clearly see the collusion of the military and the lumad bandits in the hinterlands to pave the way of foreign mining corporations that will surely destroy our environment,” Goaynon said, adding that the AFP have been training these bandits through their Investment Defense Force (IDF) program.

These pattern of harassment and militarization is akin to what happened in Sitios Banwaon, Tambo and Kilometro 48 in Binicalan village, San Luis, Agusan Del Sur. The Banwaons in the said area agreed with the consolidated CADT which was supervised by Datu Benhur Mansuonay.

“On our previous experience, after the approval of the consolidated CADT, the datus in Barangay Binicalan are now under threats and harassment for refusing to sign the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) that grants the entry of mining corporations in the area, following the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),” Goaynon said.

He said that Tambuli Mining Company Inc. and Malampay Mining Inc. are planning to conduct an open-pit mining in the area for gold.

“We call to stop the COPD in the community and let the Banwaons decide for themselves without threats and intimidation. We also call for the pull out of military troops in the area that led to forcible evacuation and human rights violations. We also demand justice to the rights violations committed against our Banwaon brothers and sisters,” Goaynon said.

For reference:

Jomorito Goaynon
Deputy Secretary General
Kalumaran-Mindanao
C#: (+63) 936 334 7754

Eliza Rose Pangilinan
Secretary General
Karapatan - Caraga
C#: (+63) 907 434 7565

Datu Bagal Mauro Mansilyohan
Banwaon Community Adviser
C#: (+63) 919 784 0077


Mine defies MGB order; officials call for help

By Brenda Jocson

Manila Standard

31 January 2015

CORDON, Isabela—A big mining firm here pays no heed to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) cease and desist order to stop its open pit mining operations here, according to affected residents.

Residents said Golden Summit Mining Corporation (GSMC) continue to operate its operations in the mineral-rich villages of Anonang, Kakilingan and Villa Miemban pending its application for exploration with MGB.

But the MGB said it has already issued its stoppage order and for GSMC to vacate the mining area which is under a mining claim dispute.

Records in the MGB show that the mining area is operated by Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corporation with the original mining lease order Jose Jocson of Marian Mineral Exploration and Olympus Mining Corporation.

Alarmed residents over the GSMC operations said they have been appealing to national authorities to intervene and stop the operations but to no avail.

Vice Mayor Charlita Mariano said the operation is very alarming as the GSMC now uses heavy equipment in Sitio Roque in Kakilingan, Singking Adit VI (Vulcan Mine Site), Sitio Minanga in Villa Miemban and Sitio Gawed in Anonang.

Mariano said the residents are the ones suffering because of irresponsible mining by the GSMC destroying corn and rice fields of the residents who have recently mounted a protest rally in front of the municipal building here.

She said GSMC never spared the cornfields as they bulldozed away several parcel of cornfields allegedly ordered by Osmundo Chua, a Chinese national and chief executive officer of GSMC who promised royalties to the land owners but did not do so claiming the operation was unproductive.

“I wish Golden Summit would pay attention to MGB and stop these illegal mining operations. The Local Government of Cordon never issued any permit, much less an OreTransport Permit. We never signed anything but still they persist with their illegal activities,” Mariano said.

She said the residents have also complained of the disappearance of several mountains used to be a source of their livelihood and the blocking of the flow of water of Diadi River located at the buffer zone of the watershed of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System.

“I was shown photos and videos of GSMC’s continuous illegal extraction of gold bearing nuggets (nava) from Adit VI in Sitio Gawed, Anonang with the use of heavy equipment creating a very deep shaft of more than 70 feet and more than 100 meters in width,” Mariano said.

Residents showing the video to local officials said the area is continuously being bulldozed and dug to extract minerals on a large-scale basis and hauled by the tangerine dump trucks to Barlo, Mabini in Pangasinan.


2 shot dead at Vancouver based B2Gold mining operation in Philippines

Two security guards killed at same mine where another employee was shot last December

The Canadian Press

11 February 2015

B2Gold Corp. says two security guards have been shot and killed at its Masbate Gold Project operation in the Philippines.

The Vancouver-based company says in a statement that the guards were shot at their guard post early Wednesday (Philippine time).

Both guards worked for a security contractor and the deaths are under investigation by Philippine National Police.

These deaths follow the shooting death of a long-time employee last December at the same operation about 350 kilometres south of Manila.

B2Gold said that incident involved an altercation between employee Jessie Villegas and a security guard who was later arrested by police.

The mining and milling operation on the island of Masbate was acquired by B2Gold through a merger with CGA Mining Ltd., that was completed in early 2013.


Indians hunted for illegal mining

By Manila Standard

23 January 2015

SAN MARCELINO, Zambales—Director Leo Jasareno of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is pressing for the arrest of two Indian nationals over the illegal sale of 33,330 metric tons of black sand.

He said Maqsood Ahmed Khan and Koyanna Venugopal Krishna Reddy from Bangladore India were noted in a letter dated January 12 by lawyer Argee Guevarra to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

“Ipahuhuli po natin ang mga yan... hihilingin din po natin ang tulong ng kapulisan sa bagay na yan at kung kinakailangan ay sampahan natin ng kaukulang kaso, (We will arrest them and we will ask the help of the police in this and if possible, we will file cases against them” Jasareno said in a statement.

He said Guevarra wanted an investigation for possible violations of money laundering upon learning that one of them, identified as Khan, confessed selling 33,330 metric tons of black sand to China with the proceeds sent to Mali.

He said there was reason to believe that they had close links with a foreign organisation in Mali, possibly Al Qaeda after admitting that the monies they sent, which amounted to US$ 6 million, were used as protection money to avoid being harassed by the terror group.

The Indians claimed they had a mining operation in Mali. Upon checking, no such mining operations were being undertaken in Mali by Templeton Resources Inc., the letter said.

The missing US$ 6 million or about P270 million are now under investigation of the Provincial prosecutors’ office of Zambales, and intelligence agencies.

Jasareno has confirmed reports about the illegal sale of black sand to contacts in China.

“We have received complaints about it,” he said.

According to Guevarra, the alleged involvement in mining can be a “smokescreen” to hide their money laundering activities.

“When our clients would call the attention of the Indians that they were buying finished black sand at “high price” and exporting it at low prices, the Indians never cared. What they cared about was merely to project an image of dollar earnings even if TRI was operating at a loss,” he said.

In a disclosure, Khan was technical consultant while Reddy served as right-hand man of former TRI chairman Guru Prasad.

Prasad left the company in May 2014 when the Bureau of Immigration issued a deportation order against him for being an undesirable alien.

Record showed that Prasad, before deportation, managed to change the ownership structure of the firm to be allegedly 92 percent owned by Templeton Resources Singapore, reportedly a shell company established by Prasad.


PCCI exec in trouble, faces deportation raps

By Ray S. Eñano

Manila Standard

15 February 2015

A top official of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry may soon be evicted from the Philippines, if deportation charges with the Bureau of Immigration finally proceed.

Joseph C. Sy, a member of PCCI’s board and president of the P20-billion Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. and Platinum Group Metals Corp., is facing a petition for deportation for allegedly faking his Filipino citizenship to legalize his mining investments in the country.

Sy, according to a complaint filed with the Bureau of Immigration by Olongapo City resident Nestor Cas, is not a Filipino but a Chinese citizen.

Sy’s PGMC took over Global Ferronickel, formerly known as Southeast Asia Cement. Global Ferronickel in turn acquired 100 percent of Ferrochrome Resources Inc. and Southeast Palawan Nickel Ventures Inc.

FRI has two existing operating agreements in Zambales to explore, develop and utilize surface and underground chromite and other platinum group metals. SPNVI, on the other hand, has one operating agreement covering an area with nickel ore deposits.

Cas alleged that Sy falsified public documents and simulated his birth so he could pass himself off as a Filipino qualified to control companies that are into mining, a partly nationalized industry where foreigners are not allowed to hold a controlling ownership.

Cas has asked the BI to deport Sy for falsifying public documents and allegedly violating other local laws, such as the Anti-Dummy Law, the Immigration Act and the Corporation Code.

Sy, through several companies, controls PGMC and Global Ferronickel, a company listed at the Philippine Stock Exchange with a market capitalization valued at over P20 billion as of the end of January 2015. Being a miner, Sy serves as officer-in-charge of a mining committee in PCCI.

Late birth registration

Sy defended himself in an affidavit for late registration of his birth on Dec. 28, 2007. But Cas, through ADBLACCC Law Office lawyer Renny Domingo, said the entries in the affidavit—executed 41 years after Sy’s alleged birth on Oct. 10, 1966—were “incredible” and “proven false.”

Domingo noted that “the only time in recent memory of the country that a group of people did not possess birth certificates for a certain period of time is during the 1970s with the discovery of the Tasaday Tribe” in Mindanao.

Sy in his affidavit claimed that he was the son of Filipino couple Emilio Toledo Sy and Aida Samson Cue, who married on June 18, 1964, in Balanga, Bataan.

Cas, however, claimed that a certification from the office of the Civil Registrar of Balanga disputed Sy’s statement. The Civil Registrar of Balanga attested that while its archived records of marriages in 1964 were intact, it has “no record of marriage” between persons named Aida Samson Cue and Emilio Toledo Sy.

Sy’s affidavit also gave an address—#31 Visayas Ave., Upper Sta. Lucia, Novaliches, Quezon City—as his place of birth. Domingo said the address had been “a vacant lot since 1901,” adding the neighborhood did not know Sy nor his alleged parents.

BI records, meanwhile, showed that Sy had been travelling in and out of the country since 2001 presumably without a valid birth certificate, a requirement in getting a passport. Sy was eligible to get a birth certificate only after he executed the affidavit for late registration of birth, Domingo claimed.

“How did respondent Sy travel in and out of the country since 2001 when he only executed his affidavit for late registration of birth in 2007?” Domingo asked in the complaint he filed on behalf of Cas.

“The only plausible explanation as to the reason why respondent Sy executed [his affidavit] is to obtain Philippine citizenship in the most speedy and expeditious way in order to be allowed to own shares in mining companies, the latter being a partly nationalized industry which limits foreign ownership to 40 percent,” Domingo said.

----------------------------------------

Nevada court hears Barrick Gold-Philippines province appeal

Nevada justices hear jurisdictional appeal in Philippine province attempt to sue Barrick Gold

By Ken Ritter

Associated Press

4 February 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Philippine island province that experienced mining waste disasters in the 1990s but has been unable to find a court to hear its claim for damages is asking Nevada's highest court to rekindle a nearly 10-year-old state lawsuit against Barrick Gold Corp.

Attorney James McCarthy pleaded with six Nevada Supreme Court justices Tuesday to let the Province of Marinduque sue in Nevada because the Toronto-based mining company has substantial operations in the state.

"We filed here for all the right reasons," McCarthy said. "We chased them here. They fled the Philippines."

McCarthy told the justices Philippine courts ruled that Barrick can't be sued there because it doesn't do business there.

Steve Morris, a Las Vegas lawyer representing Barrick, accused McCarthy of choosing Nevada because he hoped to find a judge amenable to his claim.

"He chose this forum, I believe, because he thought he could persuade the court, just by filing here, by trumpeting these ... evil activities that occurred in the Philippines, that he could persuade the court out of sympathy to say, 'You can try these claims here,'" Morris said.

Barrick wasn't responsible for the Marinduque damage, Morris said. Neither was the company subsidiary, Barrick Goldstrike, that does business in Nevada.

"Is Barrick Goldstrike involved in the Philippines at all?" Justice Michael Cherry asked Morris.

"No," the company lawyer replied. Morris' wife, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Kristina Pickering, removed herself from the appeal and didn't hear Tuesday's oral arguments.

Subtleties of corporate ownership didn't matter to about 10 protesters organized by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada demonstrating outside the downtown Las Vegas courthouse with a banner reading, "Barrick Kills."

"Barrick must be held accountable for the mining disaster in the Philippines in which children died," PLAN spokeswoman Laura Martin said.

Barrick spokesman Louis Schack in Salt Lake City responded with a statement saying, "PLAN's attempt to tie this case to Barrick's Nevada operations ignores the facts."

The parent company in 2006 acquired an 81 percent stake in Placer Dome Inc., which had ceased operations in Marinduque in 1997 after more than 30 years as a minority partner with a Philippine government company, Marcopper Mining Co.

The pullout was a year after a mine waste pool dam failed, in the second mining waste disaster in three years. The lawsuit alleges the river leading to Marinduque's capital city, Boac, was polluted, and millions of tons of waste laden with arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, nickel and sulfate smothered forests, river basins and coral reefs.

The company statement said Placer Dome provided cleanup funds to Marinduque, an island about half the size of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Follow-up studies, including a U.S. Geological Survey assessment in 2004, found no remaining risks to public health or the environment, it said. Marinduque today has some 228,000 residents.

Morris told the court that Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair properly decided in 2010 that Vancouver, British Columbia, or Toronto were better venues for the lawsuit.

"She concluded that Canada has a greater interest in the issue," Morris told the justices, and that Canadian law should apply.

McCarthy pleaded for a hearing in state court and in U.S. federal district and appeals courts before it was routed back to Adair, whose ruling was the basis for the appeal to the Supreme Court.

McCarthy expressed frustration Tuesday at trying to pin down a multinational corporation and said he felt Canadian courts were "stacked against" claims like his that involve foreign places.

"In an international world, we're going to see a lot of cases like this," he said.

Barrick, which bills itself as the world's largest gold producer, operates on five continents. It owns five mines in Nevada and has a 50 percent stake in a sixth. Its Nevada operations produce 2 million to 2.5 million ounces of gold per year, Schack said.

At Tuesday's gold price of $1,263 per ounce, Barrick could reap more than $3 billion a year from Nevada operations at peak production.

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