MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - Miners accused of fuelling violence in Mindanao

Published by MAC on 2015-09-19
Source: Statements, Inquirer, Rappler, Business Mirror, AP (2015-09-17)

The Philippines Chamber of Mines has just held its annual Conference in Manila. Those inside the conference expressed dismay at the state of the industry, but their monetary concerns were nothing in comparison to the protests outside from those concerned about mining's impacts.

The demonstrations were particularly charged because of the alleged links of mining to the recent human rights violations of the indigenous peoples (Lumads) in the island of Mindanao. These include the recent killings in a Lumad school in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. One of those killed, school director Emerito Samarca, had attended the recent Manila-based International People's Mining Conference (see: 'Our Resistance, Our Hope' - International People's Mining Conference) Urgent actions around those violations are included below.

Despite denials from the Chamber of Mines of any involvement in these atrocities, it is worth noting that Manuel Zamora Jr., the Chair of Nickel Asia, casually quipped in an interview to Forbes magazine that his company simply armed itself in response to local violence in the region.

A congressman has called for the army suspects in the 2012 killing of Juvy Capion - related to the proposed Tampakan project in Mindanao, then controlled by Xstrata - to be jailed, given court martial proceedings appear to have dissipated.

Another typhoon, nick-named Goni, has struck the Philippines, once again causing deaths in mining areas through landslides. Not only does mining make many areas more vulnerable to these deadly landslides, but the country is also proposing increasing its reliance on coal power (& thus exacerbating climate change, and such extreme weather events). The country's main coal mine remains suspended after a fatal landslide.

Communities in Nueva Vizcaya have demanded that OceanaGold halts operations at its Didipio mine and leaves the area.The provincial government of Marinduque has been urged to sue Toronto-based Barrick Gold in Canada in the long-running struggle over compensation for the 1996 Marinduque disaster.

The town of Kibungan in Benguet province has been celebrating being declared a "mining-free zone", while those in Zambales have been outraged that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) lifted the suspension order on Benguetcorp's nickel mining activities in the province.

Finally, Cielo Magno of Bantay Kita has published a 'think piece' challenging the “mining for development” paradigm.

Miners accused of funding militias in Surigao Sur

Chamber of Mines issues denial

By Maricar B. Brizuela

Philippine Daily Inquirer

15 September 2015

To demand justice and accountability from big mining companies for the recent Lumad killings in Surigao del Sur, about 100 protesters picketed on Tuesday morning outside the Solaire Casino and Resort along Aseana Avenue in Parañaque City, where the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines held its Mining Philippines 2015 Conference.

Members of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Katribu and the Defend Patrimony Alliance gathered along Diokno Avenue at the corner of Aseana Avenue, just outside the entertainment complex, and carried with them banners, which slammed the event sponsors whom they tagged as “promoters of pollution, plunder, and militarization.”

Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said that the main sponsors of the mining conference, which included Philex Mining, Nickel Asia and Red 5 Limited, have been “the leading sponsors” of paramilitary groups in mine-affected communities in Mindanao.

“These sponsors also have extensive track records of pollution and plunder over the past recent years,” added Bautista.

However, the Chamber of Mines strongly denied having any links to paramilitary groups to weaken the indigenous communities’ resistance to mining in their areas. It pledged to help the police investigate the killings of the lumad in Surigao del Sur.

It issued a statement Tuesday night, which read, as follows:  “The Chamber is not aware of the involvement of any of its member-firms in this case. We condemn the killing and offer our sincerest sympathies to the victims’ loved ones. Among the foundations of responsible mining is respect for human life, for human rights, and for indigenous peoples rights.

We will cooperate with police authorities and be willing to participate in any investigation on the alleged killings.”

The Kalikasan People’s Network, meanwhile, claimed that all these groups have benefited from the  militarization of indigenous Lumad communities in the Caraga region while another mining company, the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) funded paramilitary groups in Lumad communities, which fought mining projects in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“The recent killings in a Lumad school in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, is part and parcel of the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan inextricably linked to mining and other big business interests in the region. The Andap Valley Complex, in which Lianga, is situated is known to be one of the biggest coal reserves in the country, and the killing rampage that forced more than 3,000 Lumads to evacuate to the city center seems motivated to protect these investments,” explained Bautista.

Lumad school director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo were recently killed in Surigao del Sur allegedly by paramilitary forces.

“These big miners are responsible, not only for the pollution they have caused, but also for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and their paramilitary attack dogs who have transformed mine-affected villages into killing fields. But the serious accountability of large-scale miners is a pipe dream when they have collaborationist public officials, and some of them will be exhibited in the conference itself,” added Bautista.

The green group said they would continue to “demand accountability and justice for the pollution and plunder brought by these large-scale miners.”

“We demand immediate justice for our Lumad brothers and sisters and the pull-out of the butcher mining companies that militarized their communities. We also promise to the collaborationist politicians that aid and abet these onerous mining projects that they will be met with our vigorous opposition,” Bautista said.

(With a report from Riza Olchondra)


#StopLumadKillings: Mining confab’s sponsors ‘sponsored paramilitaries, polluted with impunity,’ said green groups

Kalikasan PNE press release

14 September 2015

Around 100 protesters picketed outside the annual mining conference organized by the Chamber of Mines in the Philippines (CoMP) today to demand justice and accountability from the event’s leading sponsors, who the demonstrators described as promoters of pollution, plunder, and militarization.

“This mining conference’s top sponsors are also the leading sponsors of paramilitary groups that have sown terror across the mine-affected communities especially in Mindanao. These sponsors also have extensive track records of pollution and plunder over the past recent years,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The group noted that Philex Mining, Nickel Asia and Red 5 Limited, respectively a platinum, premier, and bronze sponsor of the conference, all benefited from the militarization of indigenous Lumad communities in the CARAGA region. Nickel Asia itself has been funding paramilitaries trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to augment AFP investment defense forces terrorizing communities opposed to the various mining projects in the area.

Meanwhile, silver sponsor Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is also a known funder of paramilitary groups to militarize Lumad communities that fought against their gold and copper mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“The recent killings in a Lumad school in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur is part and parcel of the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan inextricably linked to mining and other big business interests in the region. The Andap Valley Complex in which Lianga is situated is known to be one of the biggest coal reserves in the country, and the killing rampage that forced more than 3,000 Lumads to evacuate to the city center seems motivated to protect these investments,” said Bautista, referring to the murders of Lumad school director Emerito Samarca, and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo.

One of the nine coal operating contract holders in Surigao del Sur is the Benguet Corporation, whose president Philip Romualdez is also president of the CoMP, the main organizer of the conference.

Nueva Vizcaya-based mining companies FCF Minerals and OceanaGold, respectively premier and gold sponsors in the confab, are widely known to have caused extensive water pollution in the river systems that flow through their tenements. Philex, meanwhile, is known to have caused the Philippines’ historically largest mine disaster in its mining project in Padcal, Benguet.

“These big miners are responsible, not only for the pollution they have caused, but also for the AFP and their paramilitary attack dogs who have transformed mine-affected villages into killing fields. But the serious accountability of large-scale miners is a pipe dream when they have collaborationist public officials, and some of them will be exhibited in the conference itself,” explained Bautista.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is expected to deliver the keynote speech during the mining conference proper. Binay was earlier quoted in the media calling for the passage of the economic charter change to promote the further unimpeded entry of large-scale mining projects in the country. Surigao del Norte governor Sol Matugas, a key pro-mining politician who has been instrumental to the entry of destructive and heavily militarized mining projects in the CARAGA region, will also be present in the conference exhibit opening.

“We are resolute in demanding accountability and justice for the ongoing pollution, plunder and even genocide that these large-scale miners are perpetrating against the people and the environment. We demand immediate justice for our Lumad brothers and sisters and the pull-out of the butcher mining companies that militarized their communities. We also promise to the collaborationist politicians that aid and abet these onerous mining projects that they will be met with our vigorous opposition,” ended Bautista.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment -   0922 844 9787

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


Philippines Mining - Mining conference kicks off in Manila

by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

14 September 2015

AN international mining conference kicks off at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila from September 15 to 17 to tackle industry issues and challenges faced by the country’s minerals development sector.

This year’s conference carries the theme: “Building from the ground up: The role of mining in global development” will highlight mining’s impact on the global economy and the challenge of how to use minerals to fight poverty, create opportunities and spur development in the countryside.

Organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), the annual event will also showcase in an exhibit products and services, and mining’s best practices and tackle issues confronting the mining industry, as well as challenges brought about by government policies, including taxation.

Mining continues to face stiff opposition in the Philippines despite its promised benefits to host communities and potential contribution to the national economy, owing to its potential adverse impact to the environment, health and livelihood of the people, as well as alleged human-rights violations committed against tribal communities.

The Aquino administration, meanwhile, is pushing for a new tax measure that will increase the government’s share in mining profit and is planning to take away mining’s tax perks, including tax holidays.  According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, mining’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is less than 1 per cent.


Green group marches to Mendiola, holds PNoy accountable for mining disasters

ATM Press Release

17 September 2015

“INTEGRIDAD NG TAO AT EKOLOHIYA IPAGLABAN, GANID NG PANDAIGDIGANG INDUSTRIYA NG MINA WAKASAN! PNoy panagutin sa mga disgrasya, pagpaslang at panlilinlang na dulot ng pagmimina!”

After two-consecutive days of public actions slamming large-scale mining operations in the Philippines and highlighting the call for ecological integrity, environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) headed to Mendiola to demand accountability from the Aquino administration for its alleged inactions to the injustices brought by mining in the country.

Environmental advocates performed a die-in near Mendiola bridge and used their bodies to spell-out “NO TO MINING” while other participants held up posters reiterating the group’s calls to stop large-scale mining operations in the Philippines.

The activity is part of ATM’s week-long action to challenge the global mining industry by supporting the call of Laudato Si for ecological integrity and challenge the globalization of the mining industry.

“We hold the Aquino government accountable for its inaction—for the mining disasters, human rights violations and deaths, and the many negative impacts of mining.” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM.

“These inactions have led to unresolved pressing issues that continue to haunt the everyday lives of anti-mining advocates all over the Philippines.” he added.

According to the group, 28 environmental activists including three (3) children have been victims of mining-related killings in the Aquino administration alone. All killings up to this date remain to be unresolved.

 “People are literally dying to protect their lands against the mining companies which want to savage their environment. Most of these people are from the Indigenous groups, one of the most vulnerable sectors here in our country.”  Garganera said.

“It such a shame that those who are fighting for the integrity of creation are the ones who are being hunted down. It is downright wrong that those who are fighting for ecological integrity are the ones who are living in fear of their lives and the lives of their loved ones.” he added.

Aside from the unresolved cases of killings, ATM also lambasted the government’s lack of action in the rehabilitation of damages caused by mining.

To date, there are 800 abandoned mines in the Philippines that simply fell into disrepair and neglect.

Mining tragedies, such as the 1996 Maguila-guila Dam disaster also remain to be unresolved. 21 years after the calamity, affected communities are still struggling for justice.

Currently, a case instituted by the affected residences of Baranggay Magpua and Bocboc in the RTC Branch 38 is being heard as local organizations continue to seek justice for the destruction brought by the collapsed of Maguila-guila Dam.

Anti-mining communities have also experienced reversal of victories in the Aquino administration’s last year.

Reversals of anti-mining victories include the reinstatement of INTEX’s Environmental Compliance Cerificate (ECC), NCIP regions XI and XII’s complete disregard of anti-mining communities in Tampakan for non-Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) coverage, the lifting of suspension orders of four mining companies in Zambales(also read Envi groups oppose resumption of Benguet Corp. operation in Zambales), the non-compliance of Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) of their Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) in Surigao del Sur, the resumption of hauling activities of Hinatuan Mining Corporation in Manikani, Eastern Samar, and the expansion of Oceanagold Philippines (OGPI) in Nueva Viscaya despite the communities’ lack of consent.

ATM also strongly opposed the government’s claims that mining has played a big role in the country’s economic development as the group claims that most mining-host communities have the highest and most consistent poverty rates. (http://www.nscb.gov.ph/poverty/defaultnew.asp)

“The Aquino administration has done almost nothing to alleviate the worsening situation of the environment and the mining-affected communities.” said Garganera.

“Even Executive Order 79 (EO79), the highlight of the administration’s contribution to the Philippine mining situation proves to lack substance and efficiency with its glaring gaps in ensuring environmental and ecological protection and preservation and upholding human rights.” he added.

For the group’s final call for the activity, ATM demanded that the Aquino administration put a moratorium on all extractive activities until a more efficient mining law has been established.

Alyansa Tigil Mina also called for the SCRAP of RA7942 also known as the Mining Act of 1995 and the ENACTMENT of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill—a new minerals management law that prioritizes the protection, conservation and proper utilization of mineral resources.

--

AlyansaTigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of POs and and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.


Mining sector frets over declining investments

Only $693M chalked up in 2014, 76% short of $3-B target

Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

16 September 2015

Mining investments have fallen far short of forecasts, raising grave concerns over the sector’s future among mining executives.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recorded a total of $693 million in mining investments in 2014, 76 percent short of its original projection of $3 billion.

“We need to help overcome this declining trend,” said Benjamin Philip Romualdez, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) president, in his opening speech Tuesday at the Mining Philippines 2015 Conference & Exhibition.

“The Philippines is lagging behind its Asean neighbors in terms of foreign direct investments. Had the big-ticket (mining) projects in the pipeline pushed through, we would have obtained almost $20 billion in investments, and thousands of people would have been employed, with more businesses established to meet the needs of these new mines,” Romualdez added.

The huge decline in mining investments was attributed to President Aquino issuance of Executive Order 79, which forbids the signing of new mineral agreements until a new mining revenue sharing scheme is legislated.

Romualdez said the last five years have not been encouraging for the country’s mining industry.

“Yes, we continued with our respective company activities but beyond that, there were no significant industry news except for the operation of Nickel Asia’s second HPAL (high pressure acid leach) project,” he said.

While mining permit issuances are on hold, the government is mulling over the possibility of increase mining taxes by as much as 71 percent, the highest among Asean countries.

“On the global scene, with Europe still struggling to recover from the debt crisis and China’s economic slowdown affecting demand for commodities, the prices of copper, gold and nickel have been steadily going down in the last two years. There are forecasts that prices will rise in 2019 but we only hope this will come soonest,” Romualdez said.

The elections next year provide some optimism, he said.

“We hope to have a more pragmatic vision and plan for the mining industry and a doable action plan,” he said.


Perpetrators of the Lianga massacre must be punished, and the war of plunder against the Lumad must end

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement

2 September 2015

In what may very well be one of the most depraved and deplorable attacks on the lives of environmental defenders in the Philippines, the paramilitary group Magahat, a group attached to the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, publicly massacred Emerico Samarca, the executive director of the Lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), along with tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo early last Tuesday morning in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

We join the widespread condemnation of this ruthless massacre and the demands for justice for Samarca, Campos, and Sinzo. Beyond that, we demand an end to the militarization and impunity towards various Lumad communities across the Mindanao region, clearly part and parcel of the Aquino administration’s war of plunder against mine-affected communities.

The establishment of ALCADEV by the Lumads in CARAGA region was a groundbreaking and award-winning alternative education program for the Lumad communities accredited by the Department of Education. ALCADEV was also a concrete assertion of the Lumad’s opposition to destructive large-scale mining and other forms of development aggression, as it sought to develop sustainable agriculture and resource management practices and inculcate cultural pride linked with ecological consciousness among young Lumads.

Emerico Samarca was in fact a recent delegate to the International People’s Conference on Mining held in the Philippines last July 31 to August 1, where he was joined by more than 170 participants from over 29 countries in extensively discussing the global mining situation and sharing people’s concrete solutions. The ALCADEV had been a model grassroots initiative in providing a basic social service, preserving local indigenous culture and practices, and establishing an alternative economy in mining-affected indigenous people’s communities.

The Lianga massacre brings the number of killings of environmental advocates we recorded under the administration of Pres. Noynoy Aquino to 49, which has far exceeded the 36 we recorded through almost a decade under the previous Arroyo regime. Eighty percent of all these cases involved anti-mining activists, and almost all of the cases were perpetrated by military ‘investment defense forces,’ company-sponsored paramilitary groups, or private security forces.

More cases may have likely remained undocumented. According to United Nations special rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, 100 indigenous people were killed protecting their ancestral lands and environment over the past three years alone.

The recent rampaging ethnocide by military and paramilitary forces in Mindanao had caused large-scale rights violations, including the forced evacuations of thousands of Lumads across different parts of the region, and the filing of trumped-up harassment charges against the various anti-mining and human rights advocates.

It is no coincidence that Mindanao is the ‘mining capital of the Philippines’ where majority of all mining projects in the country can be found, and that more than 60 percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ combat troops have been deployed largely in various mine-affected areas in Mindanao.

The Aquino government has had five years to act on the highly militarized large-scale mining industry that is almost inextricable from bloody counter-insurgency operational plans such as Oplan Bayanihan. Aquino himself has long been challenged to reverse his permission of Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary or SCAA units for mining corporations. Aquino and his military attack dogs continue to miserably fail to address their atrocities, and they all must be held to account for their grave sins to the people and the environment.

But the urgent people’s demands still falls on the Aquino administration even during its last, dying days: all military investment defense forces must be pulled out from the mine-affected areas. All paramilitary groups must be disbanded. Swift justice must be delivered by immediately arresting and prosecuting the Magahat paramilitary forces and their superiors in the 36th IBPA. Las but not the least, all anti-people, anti-environment, foreign large-scale mining operations, especially those with track records of human rights violations, must be stopped.


Head of tribal school, lumad leader slain by militia in Surigao del Sur

InterAksyon.com

1 September 2015

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3 - 2:56 p.m.) In what may be the worst in a series of recent attacks on indigenous people in Mindanao, militiamen allegedly murdered the head of a tribal school, the chairman of a lumad organization and one other person in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur early Tuesday morning.

Josephine Pagalan, spokesperson of the Kahugpungn sa mga Lumad-Caraga or KASALU, a regional federation of indigenous people’s organizations, told InterAksyon.com by phone that Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Bello Sinzo, were executed at KM16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon in front of hundreds of residents of at least six sitios who had been ordered out of their homes by gunmen of the Magahat militia around 4 a.m.

The executions were also witnessed by teachers and students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV, who had been roused from their dormitories at the school and ordered to join the residents at KM16.

When the militia withdrew after killing the two, the teachers and students returned to the ALCADEV compound to find the school’s executive director, Emerito Samarca, who had been ordered to stay behind, dead in a room, his throat slit and stabbed in the stomach, his hands and feet bound with rope.

Two days before the killings, troops of the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Regiment arrived in Diatagon on August 30, just two days after ALCADEV celebrated its 11th founding anniversary, occupying the school and village, as well as another school run by the  NGO, Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur, or TRIFPSS.

Karapatan-Caraga said the Magahat, said the human rights group, arrived August 31 and immediately burned the MAPASU cooperative and fired their weapons, sending residents and school staff fleeing to KM16. However, they detained Samarca.

Pagalan, who was having the incident recorded at the Lianga police station when interviewed, told InterAksyon.com that early Tuesday morning, Magahat gunmen went around their communities, "kicked the doors of houses, ordering the people out and telling them to gather at KM16.”

Pagalan said she herself had been staying with a daughter at KM16 who had just given birth.

When the residents had gathered there, she said, the militiamen “ordered us to stop supporting the NPA (New People’s Army) if we did not want to die.”

Campos was then ordered to sit down outside her daughter’s store where “he was shot in the head,” followed by Sinzo. “Silang tanan nagpaputok (They all fired their guns),” Pagalan said.

She said the Magahat then “warned us to leave our place within two days or we would be killed when they returned.” They confiscated cellular phones and cameras of residents before withdrawing.

Pagalan said the residents of Diatagon have agreed to flee and head to the provincial capital, Tandag City, to seek help from the government. Currently, Karapatan-Caraga said an initial 40 families from KM 16 and Han-ayan are on their way to Tandag with the bodies of the three victims.

In the wake of the murders, the human rights group said, the 38th IB and Special Forces troops "are conducting their usual patrols but no other actions are being taken as of this time."

Samarca, 54, left behind a wife and four children.

He had been with ALCADEV since its founding and became executive director in 2012. Before this, he worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a lumad support institution in Caraga from 1990-1998 and with the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte or UMAN, an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in the 1980's, Karapatan said.

He had recently attended the International People's Conference on Mining held in Metro Manila from July 30 to August 1.

Lawmakers from the Makabayan block immediately condemned the killing and demanded justice for the victims.

"There is a systematic operation to harass and kill lumad leaders. It is alarming," Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan said.

Ilagan said that the opposition to mining activities in the area could be behind the attacks.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said "killings and human rights violations" have become the Aquino administration’s legacy to the lumad.

"The government's upkeep of paramilitary organizations is sustaining the state of impunity in our country. We denounce this recent killing of lumad leaders to the highest degree. We demand swift justice for these killings," he said.

"This new spate of lumad killings by paramilitary groups and suspected elements of the military is the result of President Aquino's extant policy of militarization of the countryside. This latest incident further highlights the continuing culture of impunity in a country with a very dismal record of protecting human rights," Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon said as he called on the House committee on human rights to act motu propio (on its own initiative) and investigate the killings.

This would be the second mass evacuation of residents from the lumad communities of Diatagon since last October when some 1,800 Manobo fled their homes after the murder of MAPASU council member Henry Sarsona Alameda, who was executed in front of his family allegedly by soldiers and militiamen, and Aldren Dumaguit.

The murder of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo happens on the heels of the reported evacuation of more than 300 lumad families in San Miguel, also in Surigao del Sur, after Bagani gunmen allegedly killedbrothers Crisanto and Ellie Tabogol in their home the evening of August 28.

Benedictine nun Stella Matutina, who is slated to receive a human rights award from Weimar, Germany for her work with indigenous people and peasant communities in Mindanao, said the San Miguel evacuation had brought the number of internally displaced families in San Miguel to 480 following the earlier evacuation of 45 Manobo families from another village.

The Surigao del Sur incidents are the most recent human rights violations against lumad in Mindanao allegedly committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups associated with them that followed the controversy surrounding last month’s attempt to force hundreds of Manobo refugees out of a church compound in Davao City where they have sought refuge and back to their villages.

Among the other incidents are the alleged massacre of five Manobo clansmen, including a blind 72-year old and his 14-year old grandson, in Pangantucan, Bukidnon; the arrest in Gingoog City of two Manobo brothers, including a former volunteer teacher of a tribal school; and the arrest of 14 persons, including officials of lumad and farmers’ groups and a 12-year old boy, in Kitao-tao, Bukidnon.

ALCADEV is one of several schools set up by nongovernmental and religious organizations in lumad communities where educations opportunities used to be non-existent. However, these schools have openly been accused by the military of advocating support for communist rebels.

Late last year and early this year, teachers and students from the tribal schools, including ALCADEV and TRIFPSS, went to Metro Manila to seek national government help to stop the occupation of the learning centers by soldiers and militiamen and attempts to shut them down.  (with a report from Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com)


CHR condemns slay of ‘lumad’ educator

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5 September 2015

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the killing of a lumad (indigenous) educator and two tribal leaders in Surigao del Sur province on Tuesday.

“Tribal leaders, executive directors of schools, must be protected from harm. The reports we have seen so far show prima facie violations of fundamental rights,” CHR Chair Chito Gascon told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, members of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani allegedly gunned down Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development; Dionel Campos, chair of the Mapasu indigenous group; and his cousin, Belio Sinzo.

An advocacy group, Save our Schools (SOS) Network, reported the killings in a press statement.

“Of course, now we have to find out … who the perpetrators are. If, in fact, [they] are members of the paramilitary group receiving support and encouragement from our armed forces, then, of course, we will ask the military to explain this matter,” Gascon said.

He said he had already directed the CHR’s office in the Caraga region to investigate the matter. “But … even prior to receiving the full report, we strongly condemn these killings,” he said.

“We demand justice for this blatant human right violation,” said Kharlo Manano, spokesperson of the SOS Network. “Perpetrators of this gruesome crime should be prosecuted.”

Manano called for the pullout of “all military and paramilitary troops in the countryside.”

Gascon said that though “schools must be protected and respected,” the CHR could not comment on “operational matters of security forces in areas of conflict.”

“There are, of course, guidelines that must be respected in terms of the way they operate in areas of conflict. And if there are clear violations of human rights, we will ask the military to explain and, ultimately, we will hold them to account for them,” he said.

The Army’s 4th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over Surigao del Sur, also “condemned the crime committed by [the] armed group.”

“It is very unfortunate that this situation has happened considering that the government is already gaining ground on its peace advocacies in these conflict-affected areas,” Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, division commander, said in a statement.


After killings, Manobo families abandon villages

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4 September 2015

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Imelda Belandres’ father has just died and she was praying during his wake on Monday night when heavily armed soldiers entered her village in Diatagon, Lianga in Surigao del Sur province.

“The soldiers … were looking for a chairman. We politely replied that there are many chairpersons here like those of the purok, sitio and other organizations,” Belandres, a Manobo resident of Sitio Han-ayan, said in a phone interview.

When they started looking for the datu, a relative, the family said no one can talk to him right now because he was in grief and that his privacy must be respected as is the custom of the tribe, the woman narrated. “They agreed and encamped 5 meters away,” she said.

Tension escalated when more soldiers, who introduced themselves as members of the Army’s 36th and 75th Infantry Battalions (IBs), and the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group, massed up in the village around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

“This group was more agitated and scary. They went inside the houses without requesting permission from residents and went through our belongings. The soldiers then ordered everyone to gather near our father’s wake,” Belandres said.

While they were being herded by the armed men, screams were heard from students who had just entered the compound of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), to tell its director, Emerito Samarca, about the commotion outside.

The body of Samarca was found, hogtied and with a single stab wound, inside one of the classrooms. He was last seen being taken away by Magahat members on Monday after he ordered all of the teachers to leave amid a threat of being massacred by a ragtag gang of bandits.

The day before, armed men burned a cooperative building adjacent to Alcadev, a privately operated but government-regulated learning institution that provides basic and technical education to lumad (indigenous) children in communities rarely reached by government services. The school won the National Literacy Award in 2001 and 2005 and was a finalist in 2014.

“When we heard the students screaming, we tried to run to their direction, but the armed men stopped us,” Belandres said. The intruders ordered the residents to abandon the place.

“They ordered us to walk towards Kilometer 16 and we have to follow because they were armed. We were scared that they will kill us,” Belandres said. On the dirt road, they were surrounded by the soldiers and militias.

“When we reached Kilometer 16, they told us not to move an inch or we will be killed. One of the soldiers introduced himself as a certain Bebot Bigante Brital of the 75th IB and he lectured us that we should not complain about mining companies coming in our lands because they will give us money,” Belandres said.

She said the soldiers accused them of being members of the communist New People’s Army and that they were the reason the companies cannot operate in the area.

“Many of the residents tried to argue explaining that we were civilians. While this was happening, they suddenly grabbed Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo. It happened too fast. They opened fire not far from us. It was very close to our feet. So we dove for cover. After the firing stopped, we saw the dead bodies. There were blood, flesh and human brain on the ground. They killed them,” Belandres said.

Dialogue

Campos was the chair of the Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod. He was very vocal in his advocacy for the protection of ancestral lands and in calling for an end to human rights abuses.

At least 10 sitios in the village of Diatagon are now deserted. Some 2,000 residents are staying in an evacuation center in Tandag City after walking for hours.

On Wednesday, Gov. Johnny Pimentel convened representatives of the local government unit, police and civil society groups for a dialogue to arrest the situation. Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said Pimentel had wanted charges to be filed against members of the Magahat-Bagani force but that they should be named.

Karapatan, a militant human rights group, said the charges should not be limited to the paramilitary group as it accused the military of orchestrating the operation. The military denied the accusations and vowed full support of the investigation and efforts to stabilize the situation.

In a statement, Col. Isidro Purisima, commander of 402nd IB, said more troops had already been deployed “to closely coordinate and assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) in the investigation of the burning and killing incidents” and to “go after the perpetrators.”

Peace programs

“We shall not let these criminals roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur. We will let them face the crimes they’ve committed,” Purisima said.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said the incidents had affected the peace programs of the provincial government. “We condemn the crime committed by this armed group. It is very unfortunate that this situation happened considering that the government is already gaining grounds on its peace advocacies in these conflict-affected areas,” he said.

“Governor Pimentel and Mayor (Roy) Sarmen are already on top of this incident and have taken measures to stabilize the situation. We will support and participate in the conduct of this fact-finding mission and the ongoing investigation by the PNP to give justice to the victims of this crime,” Lactao added.

Eliza Pangilinan, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga, said the statements of the military were meant to save face over its “tactical blunder” in the area.

“The Magahat-Bagani group was with the military during the incident. And it was the military who created, armed, trained and funded this group. Will the military go after its own men?” Pangilinan asked. The group has about 20 members armed with automatic firearms.

Karapatan said the militia unit started recruiting members as the military implemented its “Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.”


Philippines: Killing of human rights defender

Front Line Defenders statement

3 September 2015

On 1 September 2015, human rights defender and director of an education initiative for the Lumad indigenous people, Mr Emerito Samarca, was killed, allegedly by members of a paramilitary group. He was found dead in one of the classrooms in the school compound in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Emerito Samarca was the director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a self-initiated school for the Lumad indigenous people. The school provides secondary education to members of the indigenous community, supporting the development of their communities and raising awareness of indigenous people. Emerito Samarca had worked for ALCADEV since it was founded in 2004 and became executive director in 2012.

In the early morning of 1 September 2015, the body of the human rights defender, who was reportedly stabbed to death, was discovered inside one of the classrooms of the school. He was allegedly killed by a paramilitary group known as the Magahat militia which, the night prior to the killing, had ordered the rest of the staff members, teachers and students to leave the Han-ayan area and to go to Kilometre16 village, which is three kilometres from Han-ayan.

Two days prior to the killing of Emerito Samarca, members of the state Magahat/Bagani Force and of the 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Regiment had occupied and carried out a patrol of the area, including within the ALCADEV school compound, the Han-ayan village and another school run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS). Subsequently, the Magahat militia, which is reportedly backed by state forces, warned staff and students at the school, as well as community members, that if they did not leave the area within two days, they would massacre the entire community.

On 31 August, the majority of the ALCADEV staff, as well as residents of Han-ayan, left the village out of fear for their safety and went to Kilometre 16 village. Later that night, members of the Magahat militia raided the houses in Kilometre 16 village, forcing the residents to go to a local community centre. During the raid, members of the paramilitary confiscated all cellphones and cameras belonging to Han-ayan residents and ALCADEV staff.

Following this raid, at approximately 4 am on 1 September 2015, around the time it is believed Emerito Samarca was killed, many of those who had fled Han-yan witnessed the killing of Mr Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), an organisation campaigning against large-scale mining in Surigao del Sur and representing the indigenous people. His cousin Mr Bello Sinzo was also killed. Members of the Magahat militia executed them in front of hundreds of residents in Kilometre 16 village, before leaving the scene.

The situation which defenders of indigenous rights face in the Philippines continues to deteriorate, particularly in the Mindanao region. On 18 August 2015, army troopers belonging to the 1st Special Forces battalion killed five members of the Manobo Farmers Association, a local organisation of Lumad peasants in the area.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of Emerito Samarca and other members of the Lumad indigenous community. Front Line Defenders believes that Emerito Samarca was specifically targeted on account of his peaceful work in defence of indigenous rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Philippines to:

1.      Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into killing of Emerito Samarca, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2.      Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of ALCADEV staff members, students and community residents;

3.      Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.


Karapatan outraged by the killing of Lumad school exec and leaders in Surigao del Sur

Karapatan Press Statement

1 September 2015

"This is reminiscent of the Arroyo’s war against the Filipino people, at a time when it was reeling from its isolation from the people and at the same time in a scurry to beat the deadline of its counterinsurgency program. Killings continue to go up," Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said upon receiving initial report on the killing of three persons in Surigao del Sur this morning, September 1. "And, just like the Arroyo administration, BS Aquino is expected to cover up these crimes and avoid this issue like it has not happened at all," Palabay said.

"We call on all peace-loving Filipinos and the international community to press for the immediate dismantling of paramilitary groups involved in this dirty war against the Filipino people. We also demand the immediate pull out of the 36th Infantry Battalion in Lumad communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur," Palabay said.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a self-initiated school for the Lumad, was found dead on September 1 with a stab wound inside one of the classrooms in the school compound in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Also killed in Km. 16, some three kilometres from Han-ayan, were Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin, Bello Sinzo.  The two were shot by members of the Magahat/Bagani force in the presence of their community members in Km. 16.

Two days prior to the killing, the Magahat/Bagani Force and elements of the 36th IB encamped at the Alcadev school compound and occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds. During the encampment, the Magahat group threatened the school's faculty members, staffs and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days.

August 31, the MAGAHAT group burned down the community cooperative store of MAPASU while indiscriminately firing around the community. Samarca, according to initial report was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed.  He was last seen tied around the neck, his hands and feet were also tied. He was brought to one of the classrooms.

On the evening of August 31, the Alcadev faculty and most of the residents in Han-ayan went to Km. 16 for safety.  At around 4 a.m., Magahat Forces went from house to house in Km. 16 and ordered the residents to get out of their houses and go to the center of the community. That was when Campos and Sinzo were met by a volley of gunfire from brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.

Magahat members also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

As of this writing, the residents of Han-ayan, with the remains of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo are on their way to Tandag, Surigao del Sur.

"The Bagani paramilitary and the 36th IB has long been accusing self-help Lumad school ALCADEV as NPA school, killings the teachers and organizers in the community, consequently depriving the Lumad of their education,” Palabay said.

Magahat group was also involved in the killing of brothers Crisanto and Ely Tagobol on August 28 on Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel, Agusan del Sur.

"With so much blood in the hands of BS Aquino, the regime cannot simply wash away its stench. The mounting call for justice for those killed will not be silenced," Palabay said. "BS Aquino and the AFP’s attempt to cover up does not work. More Filipinos will hold them accountable for their blood debts," Palabay said. ###

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
                  Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.


KARAPATAN URGENT ALERT - ALCADEV EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TWO LUMAD LEADERS KILLED BY AFP UNITS AND ITS PARAMILITARY GROUP; COMMUNITY MEMBERS FORCED TO EVACUATE


UA Date                                  :           September 3, 2015

UA Case                                  :           Extrajudicial killing, frustrated killing, threat and harassment,

forcible evacuation, use of schools for military purpose, torture, divestment of property, destruction of property, indiscriminate firing

Victim/s                                   :

EMERITO SAMARCA, 54, married with four children, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); he was staff member of ALCADEV since its founding and became executive director in 2012. From 1990-1998, he worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a Lumad support institution in Caraga. He was also staff of the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN) - KMP in the 1980's.

DIONEL CAMPOS, of legal age, married, resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Chairperson, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU or Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation); He is the cousin of JALANDONI CAMPOS, a Lumad leader who has been falsely charged with criminal offense.

BELLO SINZO, of legal age, member of MAPASU and resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur

About 260 families/2,000 community members and residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur; and about 307 families from 10 communities in Diatagon, Lianga; three communities in Buhisan, San Agustin; and, one community in Caras-an, Tago, all in Surigao del Sur.

26 Faculty and staff members of ALCADEV and TRIFPSS (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur)

Place of incident         :           ALCADEV compound in Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon,

                                                Lianga, Surigao del Sur

Date of incident          :           September 1, 2015 at around 4 a.m.

Perpetrator/s              :           Elements of the 36th IB-PA under Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Akas
                                                (who turned over command to Lt. Col. Randolph Roxas September 1);

Elements of the 75th  Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army; Elements of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales group identified by eyewitnesses as Bobby Tejero and Loloy Tejero, among 18 others

ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:

On September 1, at around 4 a.m., members of the AFP’s paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group opened fire at Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo and a staff member of ALCADEV Belen Itallo in the presence of the community members in Km.16, Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Campos and Sinzo died instantly, while Itallo survived. The back of Campos’s head was blown off, as some witnesses believed armed men used M203 rifle to shoot him.

In the same morning, Emerito Samarca’s dead body was found in one of the classrooms in school compound of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development). Samarca is Executive Director of ALCADEV. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged from ear to ear.

The killing happened the day after the same paramilitary group burned down the community’s cooperative store.

Background of the case

On August 30, 2015, about 40 soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, Special Forces, and known members of the paramilitary group—who call themselves Magahat-Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group—occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds of the Aternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

It was the day after the commemoration of the school's Foundation Day. While there were visitors who stayed behind after the event, most of the visitors had already left. Those who stayed behind saw for themselves the soldiers and members of the paramilitary group in the community.

During the military and paramilitary encampment, elements of the 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA, SF, and members of the Bocales group threatened the school's faculty members, staff, and the community members that they will be massacred, unless they leave in two days. Soldiers also asked community members of the whereabouts of Reynaldo Campos, ALCADEV coordinator; Norma Ampis, TRIFPSS executive director; Dionel Campos, MAPASU Chairperson; and, two other TRIFPSS teachers. The armed men also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

The following day, on August 31, the community cooperative store of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) was burned down by the paramilitary group. The soldiers also fired indiscriminately around the community.  Thus, on the same day, the residents decided to go to the nearby community in Km. 16 to bring their family to safety. Late afternoon of the same day, half of the soldiers were seen leaving Han-ayan going towards Km. 16.

As residents and teachers were leaving Han-ayan, 25 soldiers in full battle gear of the 75th IBPA and three to five members of the paramilitary group, remained in the community.

The armed men took and detained Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV. The people who were leaving the community last saw Samarca tied around the neck, hands, and feet. He was brought inside one of the classrooms in the ALCADEV compound. A community member, who initially accompanied Samarca, was forced to run after the armed men beat him.

By the evening of August 31, ALCADEV faculty members and most of the residents were already in Km. 16.  At around 4 a.m. on September 1, soldiers went from house to house and ordered residents to get out of their houses and to proceed to the center of the community.

Campos and cousin Sinzo, ALCADEV staff Belen Itallo, who were at the house of Josephine Pagalan, were ordered to sit at the foot of the stairs. Pagalan is spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga or Organization of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Caraga).

Some members of the paramilitary group said Itallo was seen in the company of the NPA in the mountains. Itallo, crippled by polio since childhood, reasoned out by showing her feet and saying it is not true because she has difficulty in walking. The armed men ordered Itallo to sit beside Campos. The community members were then ordered to “drop”. Immediately after, Bobby Tejero and brother Loloy Tejero, known members of the paramilitary group shot Campos on the head. Sinzo was also shot dead. Some 20 armed men fired indiscriminately around Campos, Sinzo and Itallo.

The community members saw the killing. Itallo, who ducked and just kept her eyes closed during the shooting, survived. The back of Campos’s head was blown off.

Later in the morning, the community members who went back to the ALCADEV campus found Samarca’s dead body. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged almost from ear to ear, his face bruised and almost unrecognizable.

At the time of the incident, most of the elements of the 36th IBPA and Special Forces were in Km. 9.

As of this writing, around 307 families of about 2,000 individuals have evacuated to Tandag City. They brought with them the remains of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo. They are awaiting assistance from the local government to act on the spate of killings perpetrated by the 36th IB-PA’s Magahat/Bagani Forces in their community and nearby barangays.

Since 2005, members of Mapasu and ALCADEV, who are active in the defense of Lumad ancestral lands against incursion by big business, have been victims of red tagging, trumped-up criminal charges, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and forced evacuation.

ALCADEV was established in July 19, 2004 as an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth -the Manobo , Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa – who live in the mountains of Surigao del Norte and Sur, Agusan del Norte and Sur. ALCADEV is born out of the joint efforts of indigenous peoples organizations in CARAGA region. MAPASU is a regional organization of indigenous people in Caraga and is well known for its strong stance against intrusion of mining companies in their communities.

The paramilitary group of Marcos Bocales, called Task Force Gantangan during the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya, may have changed its name into Magahat-Bagani Force. Despite the change in name however, the group continues to be armed and used by the military to sow division and terror among the Manobo-Lumad, using a worn-out trick of divide-and-rule. In 2014 alone, the group, under the auspices of the 36th IB-PA, was responsible for the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit; the burning of the vehicle of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur (KAMASS) – KMP; and, the burning of the cooperative store and school in Kabulohan, Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on the BS Aquino government to:

1.      Immediately pull-out the 36th, 75th IB-PA and Special Forces from the Lumad community and dismantle the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force.
2.      Create an independent body to investigate on the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the 36th and 75th IB-PA and its paramilitary forces, the Magahat/Bagani Force.
3.      Persecute the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and other human rights violations committed against the residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 in Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
4.      To withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians.
5.      Remind the Philippine government that it is bound to observe, promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it is a signatory to and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments.

We also call on all human rights advocates to extend humanitarian support to the 2,000 evacuees who are now in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

You may send your communications to:

1.      H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

2.       Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

3.       Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Philippines
Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

4.       Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction[at]karapatan.org; karapatan[at]karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org


King Of Ore: Despite Nickel Asia's Raids, Zamora Did Not Retreat

Forbes Asia

26 August 2015

Special Reports - This story appears in the September 2015 issue of Forbes Asia.

“To put it simply, we armed ourselves,” says Zamora.

Jose Anievas still remembers Oct. 3, 2011 quite vividly. Early in the morning that fateful Monday, the chief operating officer of [prisoners of war] was seized by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who raided the company’s sprawling open-pit mining site in Claver, Surigao del Norte in Mindanao. “We were being lectured on how POWs [prisoners of war] should behave when we noticed thick smoke rising in the sky,” recalls Anievas, then the resident manager at Nickel Asia’s Taganito mine, the Philippines’ biggest nickel producer last year: About 200 NPA men and women descended on the mine and burned construction cranes, hauling trucks, barges and four buildings.

The rebels did a lot of damage–about $11 million worth of assets went up in smoke. But they failed to destroy the foundation and steel framework of the nickel refinery being built by Sumitomo and Mitsui & Co. in partnership with Nickel Asia. The NPA members took hostages, including Anievas, an experienced mining engineer who was forced to march with the rebels deep into the forest. The hostages were used as human shields to keep away pursuing government troops. Their agony lasted almost ten hours. It was nightfall when they were released in a densely forested mountain ridge.

The NPA raid threatened the Philippines’ single biggest mining investment in decades. Costing an initial $1.3 billion, the Taganito High Pressure Acid Leach Plant (THPAL) project allows the company to process mining wastes and low-grade nickel ore into high-value nickel compounds. The refinery’s output will go into the production of stainless steel and other alloys that can resist many corrosive substances.

The refinery was expected to help cement the Philippines’ position as one of the world’s leading sources of nickel. From 13th place in 1998, the Philippines rose to become the third-highest lateritic nickel ore-producing country in the world after Indonesia and Russia in 2011. In 2014, following Indonesia’s decision to ban the export of unprocessed nickel ores and sanctions against Russia’s biggest nickel miner, the Philippines became the top nickel producer, accounting for 18% of global supply.

THPAL is the world’s third such facility; two of the three HPAL plants are found in the Philippines and both are owned by Nickel Asia and its Japanese partners, Sumitomo and Mitsui & Co.

The attack tested the business and political mettle of Manuel Zamora Jr., the Filipino businessman and occasional political fundraiser who founded and chairs Nickel Asia, now the country’s second most valuable mining company. He is one of the country’s pioneer nickel miners after being one of the major incorporators of Rio Tuba Mining in 1969 and ranks No. 32 on our list of the Philippines’ richest.

Although Nickel Asia owned only 22.5% of the Taganito nickel refinery–Sumitomo Metal Mining owned 62.5% and Mitsui & Co. 15%–Zamora, as the politically savvy local partner, was regarded by many as the de facto guarantor of the refinery’s safety. Nickel Asia itself poured almost all of the $100 million of the proceeds of its initial public offering in 2010 into THPAL Nickel, the company that operates the Taganito nickel refinery project.

The project site is near one of the remaining strongholds of the NPA, but the Japanese took comfort in knowing that Zamora’s mining companies have been operating in the area since the 1980s. The mining company has been “coexisting with the NPAs for 30 years without any incident,” says Zamora.

The raid overturned whatever arrangements were in place that kept Zamora’s mining businesses undisturbed by the NPA in Surigao del Norte. To his mind, the communist rebels attacked the refinery as a political statement following the collapse of peace talks between the government and the rebel leadership and increased operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the area. “The NPA chose us because we are the biggest and there was a large construction there. I guess they decided to have a show of force,” he says. He rejected speculation that the company had been paying off the rebels and refused to pay up after the guerrillas demanded more protection money.

Zamora insisted the project should go ahead despite the attack. It would be a “disaster” if the raid derailed their plans. His Japanese partners agreed. During a meeting at the Malacanan Palace, the Philippine president’s official residence, Nobumasa Kemori, Sumitomo Metal Mining president at that time, assured President Benigno Aquino III that they would still proceed with the refinery. However, he added that another attack would prompt the Tokyo head office to review the project.

In the wake of the attack, Nickel Asia agreed to organize a militia unit called Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) to beef up security for the refinery and mining site in Taganito. SCAAs were introduced by the Philippine Army to augment its undermanned units in protecting remote, economically valuable sites such as mines, timber concessions and plantations from rebel and terrorist attacks. Members of the militia unit are paid by private companies but are armed, trained and supervised by the Philippine Army.

“To put it simply, we armed ourselves,” Zamora says matter-of-factly while sipping his espresso at the penthouse of Nickel Asia’s headquarters in Bonifacio Global City. He explains that setting up the militia was necessary to assure mine workers and civil works contractors that it was safe to go back. “It’s difficult to bring workers to Surigao,” he says. Even though Nickel Asia was forced to halt construction work on the refinery for three months, it still had to pay full salaries to some 3,000 workers.

On Sept. 4, 2013, almost two years after the NPA attacked Nickel Asia’s mine, the Taganito nickel refinery was inaugurated, with senior Philippine and Japanese dignitaries in attendance. Zamora and his Japanese partners’ determination has paid off. In 2014, the first full year of THPAL Nickel’s operations, the Taganito refinery produced 45,619 dry metric tons of nickel-cobalt sulfides, worth $200 million, all exported to Japan.

Nickel Asia posted revenue of over $500 million last year, more than double the year before. Profits rose 316% to just under $200 million, earning a spot on FORBES ASIA’s Best Under A Billion list. A significant part of the revenue and profit growth came from its nickel mine and refinery in Taganito.

For a while, investors rewarded Nickel Asia, pushing up its share price, though recent woes of the mining sector have brought it back down. Zamora himself is off 27% in this year’s wealth count, at $450 million. The firm’s market capitalization still exceeded $1.3 billion in August, the second highest among mining companies listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, and the gains since 2013 continue to put two other stockholders–Philip Ang and Luis Virata–on our richest list as well.

Good fortune favored the bold. What happened after THPAL Nickel started operations in late 2013 is beyond what the company did or imagined. In January 2014 mineral-rich Indonesia imposed a ban on the export of raw minerals in hopes of stimulating its refining industry. Nickel prices started climbing in the second quarter, peaking at a high $21,625 per metric ton in May. Global attention, including that of China, the world’s biggest nickel consumer, turned toward the Philippines. Nickel ores from the Philippines, China’s second-biggest source of the metal, are of a lower grade, containing lesser traces of nickel, compared with Indonesia’s. But China has a giant appetite for nickel, given its infrastructure and real estate boom. Nickel miners in the Philippines, large and small, increased their output to fill the void left by Indonesia. In 2014 the Philippines accounted for up to 82% of nickel ore imports to China.

Nickel Asia ramped up sales to China, which accounted for 63% of the company’s revenue in 2014. Chinese demand was largely behind Nickel Asia’s sales of 17.8 million wet metric tons of nickel ore, a 28% increase from the same period the year before. This continued in the first quarter of 2015, when Nickel Asia recorded a 32% increase in ore shipments from a year ago. From January to March shipments of ore to China rose almost fourfold from a year ago.

Zamora was only 28 years old and had no business experience when he entered the mining industry in 1969. He was asked to be president and major incorporator of a small mining company called Rio Tuba Mining by Leonides Virata (father of Luis), a longtime executive of the Philippine-American Life & General Insurance Co. Virata had planned to form the company to explore and develop nickel deposits in southern Palawan but was asked by then president Ferdinand Marcos to be his trade secretary in 1969. Geologists had accidentally discovered the deposits while scouting for a possible logging concession near the Rio Tuba river.

Zamora was a Virata family friend who worked at the Program Implementation Agency, an elite economic planning and coordinating unit under the Macapagal administration that would later become the National Economic & Development Authority.

At Rio Tuba Mining, Zamora found his true calling as a businessman rather than as a technocrat. He contributed 60% of the mining company’s initial subscribed capital. American copper mining company Calumet & Hecla invested about $800,000 for a 40% stake. Shortly afterward the American company sold its entire stake for $4 million to Rio Tuba’s first Japanese partners, Pacific Metals Co. and trading firm Nissho Iwai. The Americans earned a fat profit but would have made more money if they had stayed, Zamora says.

It took Rio Tuba 11 years from the time the ore deposits were discovered to load its first nickel shipment to Japan in 1977. “The mining business requires a great deal of perseverance and deep, deep pockets,” he says. “Finding a mine is astronomically difficult. The odds are really against you.”

Takanori Fujimura, a Japanese geologist who represents Sumitomo in THPAL Nickel, recalls how remote and malaria-infested Rio Tuba was when he first visited the place in the 1970s. Getting to Rio Tuba from Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, meant an eight-hour land trip, then a four-hour boat ride to a landing along the river. The mine site was another 5-kilometer hike on a muddy trail.

The metal’s wild price swings seem to reflect the word’s origins. Nickel comes from a Germanic word that refers to a demon, goblin or rascal. The metal takes the prize as the most volatile of all commodities in the past decade. “When prices are high, everybody floods into new projects. Eventually, what was a supply-deficit situation is transformed into a surplus, so prices fall again. My theory is that you go into big investments when prices are low because the project takes about four or five years to finish. The odds are prices will be up by the time the project is complete,” he says.

That was the case with Coral Bay Nickel, a joint venture between Zamora and Sumitomo that operates the country’s first nickel refinery and the first large-scale HPAL facility in the world. It is adjacent to the Rio Tuba mine of the Zamora group in southern Palawan. Construction started in 2002, when prices were low, and was up and running by 2005, around the time nickel prices were on the rebound. “We recovered our capital in Coral Bay in less than one year,” beams Zamora. From an investment of $180 million, Coral Bay HPAL was expanded to produce 24,000 tons of processed ore a year.

Zamora enjoys an occasional excursion into politics, the world of his younger brother Ronaldo Zamora, one of the country’s longest-serving congressmen and former president Joseph Estrada’s executive secretary.

Manuel was Estrada’s chief fundraiser when the former movie actor ran for president in 1998. In 2010 he supported businessman-turned-politician Manuel Villar, who lost to Aquino. Another brother, Salvador, who is also a successful businessman, supported Aquino in that presidential contest.

In some circles, Zamora is known as a Marcos crony. “The story was that I was very close to them,” he says. He denies any links to the late dictator, adding it was his brother Ronaldo who was close to Marcos. Ronaldo was Marcos’ deputy executive secretary for legal affairs in the early 1970s and ran for a seat in the Interim Batasang Pambansa (national parliament) in 1978 as part of a slate headed by Imelda Marcos. When asked if Marcos had any money in Rio Tuba, his denial is emphatic. “No, none at all. No government whatsoever. The deal was straight.”

Meantime, the business empire that Zamora has built is transforming with the times. Nickel Asia, born in 2006 as a vehicle for raising additional funds, has brought under one roof most of Zamora’s mining businesses in Rio Tuba, Taganito and two other locations. Sumitomo took its relationship with the Zamora group a notch higher by acquiring a stake in Nickel Asia, now at 19%.

Zamora retired from day-to-day management of Nickel Asia in 2008 and handed over the reins to veteran mining executive Gerardo Brimo. “As a publicly listed firm, we need to grow and find new sources of growth,” says Brimo. Part of the plan is to diversify beyond nickel. “We’re fairly big because we have four nickel mines. But mining is our business; why stick to just nickel? It’s logical for us to expand to other metals,” says Brimo, Nickel Asia’s president.

After decades of surviving in the wild and volatile world of nickel, perhaps the 76-year-old Zamora is yearning for a bit of stability.


Communities tell OceanaGold to abandon Didipio mine

http://www.yestolifenotomining.org/photo-story-communities-tell-oceana-gold-to-abandon-didipio-mine/

27 August 2015

Philippines - On the 24th August more than 300 members of local communities from Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, and their allies gathered to demand that Australian mining multinational Oceana Gold ceases operations at its Didipio mine and leaves the area.

Oceana Gold (Philippines) (OGPI) has been operating its Didipio gold-copper mine in the area since 2013. Its activities have been dogged by controversy. In 2011 the Commission for Human Rights in the Philippines found that OGPI had violated numerous human rights in the area, including local peoples’  Right to Residence, Adequate Housing and Property Rights; to Freedom of Movement; to Security of Person and to Manifest Culture and Identity, amongst others.

During a recent learning and solidarity mission to the area, community members reported numerous continuing complaints about the mine to delegates from the International People’s Conference on Mining. The community alleged that OGPI’s operations are responsible for the pollution of local water sources resulting in agricultural losses; air pollution causing respiratory problems including bronchial-pneumonia; stress and property damage caused by mine-blasting and broken promises over compensation.

Responding to these continuing challenges, local people from Didipio and surrounding barangays are intensifying their resistance under the banner of SAPAKKMMI, a nascent local organisation. Since its founding just 5 months ago, SAPAKKMMI’s membership has grown from 12 to over 115 individuals.

On Monday 24th September, members of SAPAKKMMI staged their latest action, descending through Barangay Boulevard to gather outside Oceana Gold’s gates in open protest. With banners drawing attention to Oceana Gold’s alleged violations the people denounced the company’s activities in the area. With others reading ‘PALAYASIN’ (Get Out) they made their demand clear.Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.35.01

Despite the havoc caused by Typhoon Ineng just days before the protest the people of Didipio were joined by allies from Aglipay in neighbouring Quirino Province, who bolstered the protest and brought numbers to a reported 300 people.

Many of those gathered, and who now call Didipio home, are Ifugao Indigenous Peoples whose traditional territories lie further north in the Philippine Cordillera. During the late 20th Century many Ifugao were displaced by hydro dam projects and moved south to Didipio and other areas. At the protest both Ifugao elders and young leaders spoke out against the mine as yet another mega-project that threatens land they were re-settled on and which they have developed a close connection to.

A traditional Ifugao war dance was performed as a warning to Oceana Gold that the people won’t accept them. The dancer brandished a flag reading ‘NO to Mining, YES to Life!’

Famed for their skills as terrace building rice farmers, the Ifugaos of Didipio also performed a Magasaka (peasant/farmer’s) dance to honour the agricultural heritage they fear the mine is damaging, and will continue to damage.

During the protest members of SAPAKKMMI documented an increased military presence in the area surrounding the mine.

Despite this the people were able to observe their action successfully and in a spirit of solidarity, delivering a crystal clear message to Oceana Gold.

To see footage from the protest, more photos and to stay up to date, visit SAPAKKMMI’s Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/people/Sapakkmmi-Didipio/100009600993469


“Tampakan Massacre” suspects should be in jail –Congressman

John Rizle L. Saligumba

Davao Today

18 August 2015

DAVAO CITY – The Army suspects of killing a pregnant mother and two of her children last October 2012 must be in jail, said a partylist representative during a Congressional inquiry on alleged human rights violations last Friday.

“If information is already filed in court, there is no way that a warrant of arrest is not issued and the suspects must be in the provincial court of jurisdiction,” said Silvestre Bello III, representative of 1BAP partylist.

Karlos Ysagani Zarate, Bayan Muna partylist representative, asked Brigadier General Benjamin Madrigal who represented the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the hearing, on the updates of the case.

“What has happened to the court martial proceedings General? It has been three years, the family of the victims has been yearning for justice,” said Zarate.

Madrigal said the suspects “are undergoing court martial proceedings at the headquarters of the Philippine Army, and the next hearing is on August 27.”

Juvy Capion, 28, and her sons Jordan, 13 and John Mark, 6, were killed by elements of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion on October 17, 2012 in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Juvy is the wife of Blaan tribal leader Dagil Capion, who allegedly led the attack against the mining company Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI), killing three company guards.

The Army said their operation was against Dagil and other armed men allegedly inside the house during the incident.

Juvy’s father Sukim K. Malid filed cases against Lieutenant Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo, 27th IB commander, Lieutenant Dante Jimenez who headed the operation and 14 others.

“The complaint was dismissed by the Provincial Prosecutors Office for failure (of) insufficient circumstantial evidence to establish probable cause but the DOJ (Department of Justice) conducted the investigation and reversed the decision,” said Madrigal.

Madrigal said the DOJ “told the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office to file information for three counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder and violation of International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity or RA (Republic Act) 9851.”

Bello said the charges manifested by Madrigal are “unbailable offense.”

Bello asked if the charged individuals are in detention, Madrigal said he was informed they are under detention at the General Headquarters of the Philippine Army.

“I have to disagree with that procedure because under civil law, they should be detained upon order of the court where the case is pending and you cannot decide where they should be detained and ordinarily it must be in the provincial jail of Davao del Sur,” Bello said.

Madrigal said he was informed that there has already been an arraignment, but Bello said “an arraignment is not needed.”

“The moment the information was filed, automatically the court where the information is filed issues the warrant for the arrest of the accused,” said Bello.

Madrigal said they will “inform the higher office”, but Bello said that it was “not the proper action as a warrant of arrest cannot be refused and the court should be followed.”

Bello said it is called “civilian supremacy.”

The Army’s legal counsel who was present said that that they were also only “informed” of the matter.

“You are misinformed, as lawyers if someone tells us that if there is information filed in court and yet there is no warrant of arrest we should say you are fooling me. I am a lawyer do not fool me,” Bello said repeating his previous point.

He told the Army’s legal counsel “do not misinform the general (Madrigal).”

Meanwhile, Surigao Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr, chairman of the Congress committee on human rights, said he understands the same as explained by Bello.

“If we say that they are at the headquarters (of the Army), the people would say that we might be coddling these people (suspects),” he said.

Romarate said the suspects would “be back to (military) service anyway should they be found not guilty.”

On March 23, 2015, the Digos City Regional Trial Court issued the Information for murder charges against the suspects after finding probable cause, three years after the incident said human rights group Karapatan.

Karapatan quoted the court’s decision which said the accused were “conspiring confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, with treachery and taking advantage of their superior strength, armed with guns, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot,” the victims.

However, the exclusion of Lt. Col. Bravo in a resolution of the DOJ in 2013 did not sit well with Karapatan.

“This practice completely disregards the principle of command responsibility and good governance. High officials should be held accountable for violations of their units directly under their command,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general.(davaotoday. com)


Gibo Teodoro now Sagittarius Mines board chairman

Insiders are hoping that the former defense chief will give SMI a fresh start after years of failure to operate the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper and gold project

Edwin Espejo

Rappler

20 August 2015

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Former defense secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro Jr is the new board chairman of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI).

This development followed the completion of the sale of the majority stake previously held by Glencore International to Filipino-owned Alsons Prime Investment Corporation early this month.

Manolo Labor, SMI corporate communications officer, said Teodoro was elected as the new SMI chairman in a meeting of the new set of company board of directors last week.

Labor did not give further details of the new board composition.

Insiders are hoping that Teodoro will give SMI a fresh start after years of failure to operate the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper and gold project.

Teodoro, topnotcher of the 1989 bar examinations with a masters of laws degree from Harvard, ran for president in 2010 but lost to cousin President Benigno Aquino III. Mining reforms and eco-tourism were part of his presidential campaign platform.

The 3-term Tarlac representative served the Arroyo administration prior to his presidential bid. He attracted a considerable following among students and the youth in the 2010 presidential elections, but has since shied away from public life.

As defense chief, Teodoro chaired the then National Disaster Coordinating Council when Mega Manila was hit by Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) in 2009.

In April 2014, he was appointed as an independent director of the Henry Sy-led Banco De Oro.

Beleaguered

Ownership of SMI might also revert back from publicly listed companies to a privately owned corporation.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the Glencore-Alsons Prime deal for the 62.5% stake of the world commodities giant at SMI was worth $290 million. But the quoted amount also include proceeds for the sale of two other Glencore-owned mines.

The SMI deal is believed to be at a very large discount and is below the pre-sale value of Glencore’s stake at SMI.

Alsons Prime earlier gained foothold in SMI when it acquired the 37.5% minority shares of Australian exploration firm Indophil Resources NL in the copper and gold company for AU$361 million ($265 billion) – paid in cash.

Among the biggest hurdles of SMI is the refusal of the South Cotabato provincial board to lift its ban on open mining. The main mineral resource of SMI is located in the mountainous heartland of Tampakan in South Cotabato.

The Catholic church in the Diocese of Marbel (formerly of Koronadal City in South Cotabato) has expressed concerns over the environmental impact of the project, and the presence of a foreign mining company in the province. (READ: Indigenous groups: Solve Tampakan mine issues)

Glencore started disengaging from the Tampakan Project months after it took over copper giant Xstrata PLC stating a policy of reluctance to finance greenfield projects – meaning mining operations that have not commenced commercial operations.

In 2013, at the behest of Glencore, SMI "downgraded" its operations and largely confined them to maintaining community presence and a skeletal office after it failed to obtain the critical nod of the provincial government for its Tampakan project. (READ: SMI has fallen on hard times)

It laid off close to 1,000 workers and employees in the last quarter of 2013 following the decision of Glencore to downscale its operations in Tampakan.

Its predecessor, Xstrata PLC subsidiary Xstrata Copper, is said to have already spent more than $350 million for the exploration and feasibility study stages of the project.

The Philippines has missed out on billions of potential revenues and foreign investments when the Aquino administration imposed a freeze on new mining permits and threatened to hike mining taxes, The Wall Street report likewise said.

Mining companies have since adopted a wait-and-see attitude and are believed to be just temporarily sitting it out until the new administration is elected next year.

The Philippine mining sector is hard pressed to recover following a worldwide slump in the demand and prices of metallic products.

Copper is now at a 6-year low at below $5,000 in the futures market as the Chinese economy, the largest copper market, began to slow down.

Copper prices peaked at $9,631.75 per metric ton on the London Metal Exchange in 2011. – Rappler.com


Marinduque gov’t urged to sue mine firm

Philippine Daily Inquirer

31 August 2015

CATHOLIC prelates have joined calls by civil society groups to urge the provincial government of Marinduque to pursue a multimillion dollar class suit against a global mining firm over the 1996 Marcopper spill.

Local pressure for the Marinduque government to refile the case mounted after the Nevada state Supreme Court on June 11 threw out the case against the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp.

In a copy of its 13-page ruling, the US state high court upheld the February 2011 decision of the Nevada district court to dismiss the case for “forum non conveniens,” meaning the United States was a wrong jurisdiction to hear the case.

It said the case “lacks any bona fide connection to this state, adequate alternative fora exist, and the burdens of litigating here outweigh any convenience to the province (Marinduque).”

The US courts believed a judgment “could be more readily enforced against Barrick in Canada than in Nevada” since the company was incorporated and based there.

The Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (Macec) slammed the provincial government’s slow action to pursue the case in Canada.

“It’s been two months (since the Nevada ruling) yet there seems to be no movement at all, not even talks (in the Marinduque government),” said Macec executive director Elizabeth Manggol in a phone interview on Friday.

The Marinduque provincial government filed in October 2005 in the Nevada district court a $100-million class suit against Placer Dome Inc. The Vancouver-based Placer Dome, later absorbed by Barrick Gold, was the parent company of Marcopper Mining Corp. that was responsible for the mine tailing spill on the province tagged the Philippines’ worst mining tragedy.

Barrick Gold offered a $20-million settlement but the Marinduque provincial council in 2014 turned down the amount, which it felt was not enough to compensate the damages to the province.

The Catholic Church has stepped in, as environmentalist groups lobby for the Marinduque council to pursue the case in Canada.

In an August 10 circular, Boac Bishop Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit Jr. enjoined the faithful in praying for “environmental justice” through the inclusion of two petitions in all Eucharistic celebrations. These intercessory prayers were for Marinduque to be declared a mining-free province and for the provincial government to have enough strength and inspiration in pursuing the case against Marcopper, Placer Dome and Barrick Gold.

In a separate phone interview, Marinduque Vice Gov. Romulo Bacorro Jr. said the province’s executive and legislative bodies had yet to meet with Marinduque’s legal team to finalize its next move regarding the case.

But pursuing the case in a new forum “is not that easy” as it involves “millions of dollars” for the litigation fees, he said.


“We are killing each other over mining”

http://www.asianpacificpost.com/article/7116-%E2%80%9Cwe-are-killing-each-other-over-mining%E2%80%9D.html

1 September 2015

Catholic prelates have joined calls by civil society groups to urge the provincial government of Marinduque in the Philippines to pursue a multimillion dollar class suit against a global mining firm over the 1996 Marcopper spill.

Local pressure for the Marinduque government to refile the case mounted after the Nevada state Supreme Court on June 11 threw out the case against the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp, reported the Inquirer.

The Marcopper Mining Disaster occurred on March 24, 1996 on the Philippine island of Marinduque, a province of the Philippines located in the Mimaropa region in Luzon. It remains one of the largest mining disasters in Philippine history.

A fracture in the drainage tunnel of a large pit containing leftover mine tailings led to a discharge of toxic mine waste into the Makulapnit-Boac river system and caused flash floods in areas along the river.

One village, Barangay Hinapulan, was buried in six feet of muddy floodwater, causing the displacement of 400 families. Twenty other villages had to be evacuated. Drinking water was contaminated killing fish and freshwater shrimp. Large animals such as cows, pigs and sheep were overcome and killed. The flooding caused the destruction of crops and irrigation channels. Following the disaster, the Boac River was declared unusable.

In a copy of its 13-page ruling, the US state high court upheld the February 2011 decision of the Nevada district court to dismiss the case for “forum non conveniens,” meaning the United States was a wrong jurisdiction to hear the case.

It said the case “lacks any bona fide connection to this state, adequate alternative fora exist, and the burdens of litigating here outweigh any convenience to the province (Marinduque).”

The US courts believed a judgment “could be more readily enforced against Barrick in Canada than in Nevada” since the company was incorporated and based there.

The Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (Macec) slammed the provincial government’s slow action to pursue the case in Canada.

“It’s been two months (since the Nevada ruling) yet there seems to be no movement at all, not even talks (in the Marinduque government),” said Macec executive director Elizabeth Manggol said.

The Marinduque provincial government filed in October 2005 in the Nevada district court a $100-million class suit against Placer Dome Inc. The Vancouver-based Placer Dome, later absorbed by Barrick Gold, was the parent company of Marcopper Mining Corp. that was responsible for the mine tailing spill on the province tagged the Philippines’ worst mining tragedy.

Barrick Gold offered a $20-million settlement but the Marinduque provincial council in 2014 turned down the amount, which it felt was not enough to compensate the damages to the province.

The Catholic Church has stepped in, as environmentalist groups lobby for the Marinduque council to pursue the case in Canada.

In an August 10 circular, Boac Bishop Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit Jr. enjoined the faithful in praying for “environmental justice” through the inclusion of two petitions in all Eucharistic celebrations. These intercessory prayers were for Marinduque to be declared a mining-free province and for the provincial government to have enough strength and inspiration in pursuing the case against Marcopper, Placer Dome and Barrick Gold.
Marinduque Vice Gov. Romulo Bacorro Jr. said the province’s executive and legislative bodies had yet to meet with Marinduque’s legal team to finalize its next move regarding the case.

But pursuing the case in a new forum “is not that easy” as it involves “millions of dollars” for the litigation fees, he said.

The Marcopper case comes in the wake of a global investigation into hundreds of the world’s mineral mines which concludes that the legacy of the global mineral boom is social conflict, human rights violations and environmental devastation across Asia, Latin America and Africa.

A new atlas of 600 international mining and oil companies has identified more than 1,500 ongoing conflicts raging over water, land, spills, pollution, ill-health, relocations, waste, land grabs, floods and falling water levels.
The EU-funded report by academics at 23 universities and environmental justice groups in Africa, India and Latin America has identified 142 disputes involving gold mines, 130 at coal mines, 96 at copper mines and 73 at silver mines, with India, Colombia, Nigeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and the Philippines having the most. They ranged from longstanding legal disputes to armed conflicts.

The companies whose mines have attracted the most accusations of human rights abuses and environmental conflict are some of the largest in the world, mostly listed on the London stock exchange, reported the Guardian.

They include AngloGold Ashanti, Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata and Newmont Mining. Between them they are involved in 75 conflicts in countries ranging from Colombia, Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the US, Zambia and the Philippines, says the database.

“Much of the Philippines has now been militarised to defend the companies,”, says Benedictine nun Sister Stella Matutina, a community worker in Mindanao province who has been targeted by the government for opposing mining companies.

In the last year she has been charged with kidnapping, human trafficking and illegal detention for opposing Canadian, Australian and British mining companies and for looking after tribal people displaced by mining.

Mining in the Philippines has exploded from only 17 operations in 1997 to nearly 50 mega-mines today. “We have found that mining divides our people, it kills them, it does not help us. It destroys our values. Mining and militarisation are twins. Where there is big mining there is always militarisation, because the government has to ensure that foreigners can invest in our country. People are resisting, are taking up arms against the entry of these mining companies. We are killing each other over mining,” she said.

Canadian mining companies have some of the worst records for human rights violations, according to a report submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2013. It found Canadian companies were involved in more than 100 human rights and environmental disputes in Latin America.

Pierre Gratton, director of the Mining Association of Canada, said: “We don’t deny that there is conflict everywhere but feel we are leaders in setting standards and are doing a better job than anyone else. There’s a much higher level of awareness and sensitivity now, and an ability to raise issues which in the past might have been overlooked. The industry is more active [than it used to be] in Asia, Africa and the Americas and is working in countries with weak governance. These [mines] are multibillion-dollar investments. The money flows to the capitals, and [impacted] communities say ‘what about us?’”

According to PwC, one of the world’s top four industry auditors, government intervention and conflicts have mushroomed as commodity prices slump. “The gloves are off for the industry with widespread government intervention, internal industry conflicts and rising shareholder activism,” it said in its annual report.


Philippine town celebrates victory over mining firms

More and more communities winning fight against large-scale mines

http://www.ucanews.com/news/philippine-town-celebrates-victory-over-mining-firms/74114

20 August 2015

Faith-based groups in Manila have welcomed the decision of a Philippines congressional panel declaring a small northern tribal town free from large-scale mining.

"It is a strong demonstration that mining in many rural communities is not acceptable," said Ed Garingan, head of the anti-mining campaign of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI).

PMPI is a social development network of about 300 people’s organizations, faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany.

Garingan said the growing number of "No-Go Zone bills" in the Philippine Congress shows a recognition of the voices of people in tribal communities.

The Committee on Natural Resources in the House of Representatives last week approved a proposal to declare the town of Kibungan, in the northern Philippines' Benguet province, a "mining-free zone".

"Large-scale mining causes ground sinking, various illnesses due to pollution ... and destruction of the environment as a whole," said Representative Ronald Cosalan, author of the proposal in Congress.

The town of Kibungan, which has been declared an ancestral domain of the Kankana-ey indigenous peoples, supplies indigenous rice and highland vegetables to the national capital.

"This is a welcome development," said Tony Abuso, program coordinator of the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the bishops' conference.

"The Kankana-ey people deserves this tactical victory in their quest for a more balanced ecology in their town," Abuso said.

"We are happy to know that, although slowly, the voice of the people of Kibungan is being heard," said Oswald Panggayan, vice chairman of the Palina Indigenous Peoples’ Community Association in Kibungan.

In March last year, the villagers of Palina declared their village free from all forms of large-scale mining. After a month, the town council of Kibungan endorsed the declaration.

"Now, even the House of Representatives felt the need to consider our demands," said Panggayan


Typhoon Goni leaves 15 dead, 12 miners missing in Philippines

The Associated Press

23 August 2015

Typhoon Goni blew out of the northern Philippines on Sunday after leaving at least 15 people dead and several others missing, including a dozen miners whose work camps were buried by a huge mudslide in a mountain village, officials said.

Goni was last tracked at sea about 430 kilometres northeast of Basco town in Batanes province on the archipelago's northernmost tip. It has sustained winds of 140 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 170 kph and was forecast to lash southern Japan within 24 hours, government forecasters said.

While approaching the country's mountainous north, Goni dumped heavy rain for three days then battered already-sodden upland villages with fierce winds, triggering landslides, officials said.

In the hard-hit mountain province of Benguet, landslides killed at least 12 people, including four gold miners who were pulled out of a huge mudslide that buried three work camps in far-flung Taneg village in Mankayan town. A dozen miners remain missing and more than 100 policemen and fellow miners dug through the muddy heap Sunday amid fading hope that survivors would be found, officials said.

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said days of pounding rain and a swollen creek saturated a mountain slope, which cascaded down the gold-mining area at dawn Saturday.

"They were sleeping when a huge chunk of the mountain came down and buried their work sites," Fongwan said by phone. "We're still hoping that we'll find survivors. We're still calling it a search and rescue operation."

Three people died elsewhere in the north after being hit by a landslide, a fallen tree and drowning in a river, while three others were missing after being separately swept away by river currents, according to the Office of Civil Defence.

More than 32,000 people abandoned their homes for safer areas at the height of the typhoon, which damaged nearly 1,000 houses, said Alexander Pama, who heads the government's disaster-response agency.

Several flights and ferry trips were cancelled and classes were called off in several towns in metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces as the typhoon battered the north and intensified monsoon rains on the main northern island of Luzon.

Goni is the ninth of about 20 storms and typhoons that are expected to batter the Philippines this year. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, devastated large areas of the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.


Climate vulnerable Philippines plans huge bet on coal

By Ed King

http://www.rtcc.org/2015/08/17/climate-vulnerable-philippines-plans-huge-bet-on-coal/

17 August 2015

The Philippines is planning a huge expansion of its coal power plant network, despite calls for the climate vulnerable nation to help lead efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker, 52 new coal power units are in the process of being constructed across the country, each with an estimated lifetime of 35 years.

Local activist Gerry Arances, from the Philippines movement for climate justice, says the number could be as high as 59, a figure based on permit applications lodged with the energy department.

“It’s ironic given we are at ground zero of climate change the government has approved over 50 coal power plants,” he told RTCC.

In an article for RTCC, Philippines climate commissioner Heherson Alvarez said he feared the energy department was already planning for a high carbon energy future.

“One tell-tale sign is that Philippine emissions per capita, according to the DOE, is projected to rise by over 31% over a 20-year period, from 1.6 tons in 2010 to 2.1 tons in 2030,” he wrote.

“At the moment, a major difficulty is that many of our policymakers appear to be swayed by conventional macroeconomic goals dependent on coal and fossil fuels.”

The Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries in the world to extreme weather events. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed over 6000 and left an estimated 4 million homeless.

Severe tropical storms have long hit the country’s sprawling network of islands.

Scientists do not think climate change is making these events more frequent, but there is research suggesting warming oceans could make hurricanes and typhoons more intense.

Accordingly, Manila has led calls for the international climate target to be tightened, from the agreed 2C warming limit to 1.5C. The stricter goal is seen as technically possible but politically implausible.

Report: Rethink 2C climate goal, urge world’s most vulnerable

And the country’s impending UN submission outlining how it will contribute to this year’s planned global climate deal is likely to focus heavily on plans to adapt to these extremes.

Emissions data from 2010 – when it contributed 0.31% of the world total – suggests that will not be a deal breaker.

But for Alvarez, the fact the country is so vulnerable to storms, rising sea levels and flooding means it should be an “exemplar” in leading on poverty and emissions reduction.

“The official attitude seems to be that, since the Philippines is not a significant emitter, the crucial pledges should be made by the industrial nations,” he said.

Yeb Sano, until 2014 the country’s top climate negotiator and now a campaigner for global climate justice, takes the same view as Alvarez.

“[The Philippines] must galvanize global public opinion towards the right side of this issue,” he told the InterAksyon website.

“It must also be a leader for strong domestic climate action that protects its communities, builds resilience, and fosters inclusive and sustainable development.”

Access to energy

Still, the government faces a considerable dilemma, with an estimated 30 million citizens, around 30% of the population, lacking grid access to electricity.

Even those with good connections face erratic supplies, some relying on diesel generators to fill the gaps, while others are paid by the government to reduce peak demand.

In 2014, President Benigno Aquino used emergency powers from Congress to channel more capacity to the Luzon – the country’s largest island – which was suffering from regular blackouts.

Mindanao and Visayas, the two other major islands, are blessed with high levels of hydro and geothermal energy, but still rely on coal for 17% and 42% of their supplies respectively.

Recently Aquino said he wanted a “reliable, preferably clean and reasonably-priced” power supply, but a July strategy document from the energy department seen by RTCC suggests coal will dominate.

It says coal and gas will be weighted “more heavily in the mix” in future plans, which stress the need for “ultra-supercritical” (efficient) coal technology to be used.

And what may swing the department’s thinking is the relative ease of accessing funding from the likes of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan’s JBIC and the China Development Bank.

The Philippines is the fifth largest recipient of export credit agency finance for coal power plants, receiving just under $35 billion from 2007-2014.

Only Vietnam, India and South Africa receive more, according to a report from the US-based NDRC.

Mixed messages

The government does have a policy to triple renewables deployment by 2030 on 2010 levels, along with a share of 40% of electricity production from clean energy.

If implemented these could help the country slash emissions 11% on a business as usual scenario by 2020, and 25% by 2030, according to the Climate Action Tracker.

Arances says recent discussions leave him unconvinced officials see clean energy sources as an answer to the country’s requirements.

“The government have not even factored in policy changes to encourage more renewable projects… these are critical issues in terms of our [UN climate agreement] commitments,” he says.

Officials RTCC contacted did not respond, but the government’s top UN climate negotiator Mary Ann Lucille Sering mounted a stiff defence of its planning in a July 29 article.

President Aquino’s omission of climate change during his annual two-hour state of the nation speech on July 27 did not mean “nothing has been done” she argued.

She made no mention of future energy plans, but stressed planning related to flood controls, adaptation and greening programmes were advanced.

“As his Climate Change Secretary, I should feel disappointed, but being in the know of the plans and programs of government, there is no reason to be,” she said.

“Climate change is considered the biggest development challenge of our times due its cross-sectoral impacts.”


Semirara operations remain suspended

Philippine Daily Inquirer

17 August 2015

ILOILO CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lifted its cease-and-desist order (CDO) against Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC), less than a month after nine workers died in an accident at the Panian pit on Semirara Island in Antique province.

But mining operations remain suspended pending the separate investigation being conducted by the Department of Energy (DOE).

In a two-page order dated Aug. 12, the Western Visayas office of the DENR’s Environmentalal Management Bureau (EMB) lifted the CDO it issued on July 21 against SMPC.

In the order issued by EMB Western Visayas Director Jonathan Bulos, the agency granted the motion of SMPC, which said that the mining firm did not violate its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

In a separate three-page order issued on Aug. 10, Assistant Environment Secretary Juan Miguel Cuna, EMB director, also lifted the suspension of the SMPC’s ECC.

It granted the motion of SMPC which said that the accident did not cause damage or impact to the environment.

The SMPC was also implementing additional measures that would be included in its ECC. These included a comprehensive monitoring program on slope movements and groundwater conditions, and installation of an automatic weather station.

The DOE also ordered the suspension of operations of the SMPC on the 5,500-hectare Semirara Island in Caluya town after excavated soil and part of the northern Panian pit collapsed on July 17.

The recovery operations had been concluded after no other body parts of the workers were found.

Zenaida Monsada, DOE officer in charge, said the department’s investigation committee was still evaluating and validating information that had been gathered.

SMPC officials earlier said that the soil could have loosened due to continuous rain days before the accident.

The accident is the second in 29 months after the collapse of the western wall of the Panian pit on Feb. 13, 2013. Five workers died and five others remained missing and were presumed dead.

Sen. Loren Legarda has asked the Senate to investigate the enforcement of safety and environmental standards in mining sites following the death of the workers in Semirara.

In a resolution filed on July 29, Legarda said it was “imperative that concerned government agencies determine whether sufficient safety precautions were being implemented” at mining sites.

The resolution was referred to the Senate committees on environment and natural resources; and labor, employment and human resources development on Aug. 5.

Church groups, especially in Antique, have also called for the permanent closure of the mining operations, citing environmental and safety hazards.

SMPC is the country’s biggest supplier of locally produced coal.


Regulator lifts suspension order vs ore hauling operations of Benguet Corp. unit

Business World online

26 August 2015

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has lifted a suspension order on Benguetcorp Nickel Mines, Inc.’s (BNMI) operations, the listed parent of the miner said yesterday.

Benguet Corp. told the stock exchange that its wholly owned subsidiary received an order from MGB Region 3, “lifting the suspension on its ore hauling operation, subject to continuing compliance with environmental conditions.”

In July last year, the Environment department suspended the company’s operations, specifically the extraction of ores and expansion of mining areas.

The mine could not be reopened until BNMI was found to have implemented a systematic mining and cleanup or relocation of ore to designated stockpile areas.

The July suspension order did not weigh on the company’s operations, as the onset of the rainy season -- July to October -- traditionally slows production.

During the same period, the company also implemented an environmental care and maintenance program for its mining operations.

Last January, the Environmental Management Bureau issued a temporary cease and desist order on BNMI’s hauling operations.

BNMI operates a nickel project in Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Established in 1903, the listed parent Benguet Corp. engages in mine exploration. It produces and markets gold, nickel ore and limestone.

Through its other subsidiaries, the company also provides trucking and warehousing, port and shipping services, and health care services. It also sells industrial equipment as well as develops water resources and real estate projects. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano


Environmental groups oppose resumption of Benguet Corp. operation in Zambales

ATM Press Release

4 September 2015

Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz Zambales (CCOS), a local People’s Organization (PO) spearheading movements against mining companies in the area is outraged after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) lifted the suspension order of Benguetcorp Nickel Mines lnc. (BNMI).

The lifting of the suspension order was upon the formal recommendation of Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane of Zambales sent to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource on August 3, 2015.

In Ebdane’s letter to DENR addressed to Secretary Ramon Paje, the recommendation for the lifting of the suspension order is for the construction of backdoor mining hauling road or one mine haul road.

According to the letter, the purpose of the one mine haul road is to ensure the safety and protection of the host and impact communities from environmental risks that the hauling activities of the mining company might impose.

The one mine haul road will serve as the exclusive passageway for the hauling trucks and other equipment of the mining companies from the mining site to the port.

“Apparently, our Provincial and local government units have sold us out to the mining companies. This endorsement is a clear manifestation of their betrayal towards the people and environment of Zambales.” said Dr. Ben Molino, Chairperson of CCOS.

“How could they ask DENR and MGB to lift the suspension order so that the hauling operations can continue, when none of the conditions in the suspension order has been met.

“The rehabilitation of rivers and coastal areas, and the compensation of fishpond operators and rehabilitation of fish ponds are nowhere near reality.” added Molino.

CCOS also lambasted DENR and MGB for permitting the temporary lifting of the suspension order, calling the move as “a clear injustice to the people of Zambales, especially to farmers, fisherfolks and the unborn.”

“We could no longer swim in our rivers, we no longer have catch too. We have lost our healthy environment and our primary sources of livelihood. We demand from DENR the revocation of the lifting of the suspension order until all conditions have been duly met!” added Molino.

Meanwhile, national environmental coalition Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a partner of CCOS supported the call of the PO for DENR to revoke the lifting of the suspension order.

“The move done by DENR and MGB, lifting BNMI’s suspension despite the mining company’s non-compliance to the conditions stated in their suspension order is an irresponsible move on the part of DENR, MGB and provincial and local government units of Zambales.” said Jaybee Garganera , National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.

“By lifting the suspension order of BNMI, these government offices have showed irrational leniency at the expense of Zambales and its people. We urge DENR, MGB and Zambales’ provincial and local government units to be accountable and do the right thing. Revoke the lifting of BNMI’s suspension order now.” concluded Garganera.

###

AlyansaTigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of POs and and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0917) 549.82.18 <nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net>
Dr. Ben Molino, CCOS Chairperson, (0916) 372.71.84, <ben696molino[at]yahoo.com>
Jonal Javier, ATM Luzon Site of Struggle Officer, (0917) 591.54.72 <atmsosluzon[at]alyansatigilmina.net>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab[at]gmail.com>


Mining projects cleared to expand

By Claire-Ann M. C. Feliciano, Senior Reporter

Business World online

6 September 2015

FOUR APPLICATIONS for expansion of mining areas have been approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) since the government relaxed rules in November last year.
“We have already approved several area expansions,” MGB Director Leo B. Jasareno said in a text message over the weekend.

Such expansion is one of the industry’s activities still open to investments, since action on applications for new projects was put on hold in late 2012 until a revised scheme that will give the government a bigger share of the miners’ revenues is enacted.

A list e-mailed by the official showed that listed Holcim Philippines, Inc. and its premier subsidiary -- engaged primarily in cement manufacturing -- secured approvals for two applications.

Holcim’s mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) in Agno, Pangasinan now covers a total area of 657.8361 hectares (ha), double 328.9 ha initially.

Its MPSA in Mindanao has been more than doubled to 1,406.5704 ha in Davao City and Maasim, Sarangani from an original 642.1537 ha.

Its subsidiary, Holcim Philippines Manufacturing Corp., also secured approval to expand its MPSA covering mining areas in Iligan City and Lugait in Misamis Oriental to 518.0196 ha from 433.4240 ha.

Finally, Adnama Mining Resources, Inc. got the green light to expand its MPSA to 1,086.5043 ha in Claver, Surigao del Norte from 1,012.02 ha.

Mr. Jasareno said MGB is evaluating two more applications for contract area expansions.

“One is from Holcim and one from TVI,” he said.

TVI Resource Development (Philippines), Inc. -- a subsidiary of Canadian miner TVI Pacific, Inc. -- owns 60% of the Agata mine in Surigao.

The MGB in November last year announced the amendment by the Environment department of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order (EO) No. 79. EO 79, signed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III in July 2012, which changed the country’s mining policy in a bid to promote socially and environmentally responsible industry practices and get a bigger share of the sector’s revenues for the government.

The IRR, issued in September that same year, stopped the issuance of new mining permits until a law on the industry’s new revenue-sharing scheme with the government is enacted.

The IRR amendment issued last year allowed the expansion of areas of operating mines, subject to MGB validation of available mineral resources and reserves.

“The order comes at a time when a number of operating mines in the country requires expansion of existing contract areas in order to sustain operations, but faces possible closure because the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster cannot issue the certification that there is imminent and/or threatened economic disruption,” the MGB had said then.

Mining operations throughout the country are governed by MPSAs and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).

Under the Mining Act of 1995, MPSAs -- granted to firms with at least 60% local ownership -- subject mining operations to a 2% excise tax on the actual market value of gross mineral output. MPSAs for areas in mineral reservations are also subject to an additional 5% royalty.

FTAAs -- the only arrangements that permit 100% foreign ownership -- involve a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement with the government.

A new revenue mining scheme that will give the government a bigger share is now being tackled by lawmakers. The inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council last February filed its proposal in Congress as House Bill No. 4367. Under the proposal, the government as “owner of the minerals” gets 10% of the company’s gross revenues or a 55% share in adjusted net mining revenue yearly, whichever is higher; and 60% of any windfall profit above a net revenue threshold. The measure also provides that mining companies will be exempted from corporate income tax, duties on imported specialized capital mining equipment, mayor’s fee and/or business permits, “and other fees and charges imposed by host local government units.” However, mining companies will still have to pay value-added taxes, among many other levies.


DENR told to dispose Manicani ore stockpile

by Iza Iglesias

Manila Times

27 August 2015

Residents of Manicani Island in Eastern Samar on Thursday appealed to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) to act on the disposal of the waste ore stockpile on the island.

The group ‘True Macanani People’ and residents of the province, including the officials from barangays San Jose, Banaag, Hamorawon were in Manila to appeal to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to allow immediate clear 1,160 hectares of stockpile as this poses as a health hazards to the residents.

The stockpile is waste from the old operations of the Hinatuan Mining Corporation, which suspended mining activities some 15 years ago.

There were several calls made in the past to clear the stockpile, including a resolution issued by the barangay officials while then rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson asked the DENR to have the waste ore stockpile on the island removed as it posed a threat of landslide if a new super typhoon hits.

Last year, the DENR through the mines bureau ordered the removal of the stockpile but the order could only be executed once the MGB issues the Ore Transport Permit and the Mineral Ore Export Permit.

Out of the 2,500 residents in the three affected barangays, more than 300 will be hired for the stockpile removal operation, which is projected to last for two years.

However, the removal operation has been stopped and residents fear that they don’t have any source of income since dynamite fishing has killed the fishing industry in the area.

The officials also asked MGB to release the OTP and MOEP so the removal operations can continue.


Fair Compensation and other Prerequisites to Mining for Development

Cielo Magno

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development - http://www.unrisd.org/road-to-addis-magno

31 August 2015

This contribution is published as part of the Think Piece Series The Road To Addis and Beyond, launched to coincide with the third and final drafting session of the outcome document of this summer's Third International Conference on Financing for Development. In this Series, global experts discuss a range of topics complementary to the UNRISD research project on the Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization on how to fund social development and raise provocative or alternative perspectives that can generate further ideas and debates. Please share your thoughts on this article in the comments space below.

This piece challenges conventional approaches to a country’s economic development by suggesting a departure from the mainstream “mining for development” approach. It suggests that mining ventures should follow a set of preconditions that take into account other significant factors such as fair taxing schemes that benefit the state, clear transparency and accountability mechanisms, and an expanded monitoring scheme that covers environmental and social impacts of extractive activities.

Cielo Magno is Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines’ School of Economics and the National Coordinator of Bantay Kita, the Publish What You Pay Coalition in the Philippines.

Introduction

States engage in the extraction of natural resources to generate capital to finance development. Many nations have benefited from doing this. The temptation to cash in on these resources is difficult to resist. Ironically, there are also many mineral-rich countries that have extracted their minerals and yet are still lagging behind in economic development despite their natural endowments. Apparently, extraction of these minerals does not automatically guarantee development.

Mineral resources are finite and non-renewable and should serve the interests of present and future generations. Using these resources now deprives future generations of these minerals. The challenge of mineral-based development is ensuring that the returns from extraction are invested in human capital and infrastructure to support development and ensure long-term benefit from the activities. Strong government regulations should also be in place to reduce damage to the environment.

The limits to the mainstream approach to mining

The mainstream approach suggests that mining contributes to development by allowing companies to extract minerals in remote and economically depressed areas. It argues that this will trigger economic activities by transferring skills and technology, creating employment, increasing the demand for consumer goods and encouraging the proliferation of small and medium enterprises (Remy 2003). This thinking assumes that extractive companies can lead the development of poor communities which are richly endowed with minerals. The main role of government in this framework is to attract investments by offering competitive fiscal packages.

If this were true, why then do we have countries with huge mining investments but with a low ranking in the Human Development Index? Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan were among the top five sub-Saharan African host countries of inward FDI flow in 2005. They were also the top four sub-Saharan oil exporters. However, these countries ranked very low in the United Nations Human Development Index (see UNCTAD, 2007 for a summary). Contrary to achieving development, the mainstream approach makes countries race to the bottom by continuously reducing their tax rates and providing other fiscal incentives to attract mining investors. This has left countries with very little tax income to finance their development agenda.

This experience is too familiar in the Philippines. The Philippines offers a very competitive fiscal package for mining companies. But the sector contributes very little to national development. The total mining contribution to the country’s GDP was on average 0.7% in 2012-2014 (MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau), 2015). At the same time, mining companies do not significantly contribute to poverty alleviation in the host communities. The following table shows the data on poverty incidence at the national level and in those provinces which host large scale mining activities (NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board), 2012). While poverty incidence in these provinces may have declined from 2006 to 2012, at 30-60 percent it is still higher than the national average of 25-26 percent (except in Benguet and Zambales which host major and critical hubs of urban economic activity).

Figure 1: Poverty Incidence in the Philippines

<see table in original article - http://www.unrisd.org/road-to-addis-magno>

From the Race to the Bottom to Fair Compensation

Mining companies invest in a country because of the mineral deposits in a country. It is location-specific unlike other sectors like manufacturing where investors are more mobile, so it is legitimate to ask to what extent incentives are necessary at all. Competitive taxation combined with fiscal incentives basically makes these countries give away their minerals to companies for almost nothing. Worse, these competitive fiscal packages make extracting raw minerals cheaper than recycling what is already out there. It encourages consumerism and wastage of non-renewable resources. Taxing mines heavily allows governments to optimize the rate of extraction of their non-renewable resources. Having a few mines that are heavily taxed will likely reduce extraction in these areas, allowing governments to preserve some resources for future generations.

What the governments of mineral-rich developing countries should do is formulate fiscal policies that will ensure they get a fair share from the extraction of resources so they can in turn use these to finance the country’s development goals. A fair share should reflect payment for the actual value of the minerals as well as compensation or measures to prevent social, cultural and environmental damage caused by mining. Furthermore, governments should ensure that there is a transparent and accountable mechanism for spending and investing the returns from extraction. Spending and investment and even the social development programmes of companies should be linked to the sustainable development frameworks of national and local governments.

Governments could do more and follow Indonesia’s lead in developing a comprehensive policy that links taxation and incentive policies with the development of a downstream industry in the country. Indonesia is proposing an export tax on raw ore to reduce the over-exploitation of resources and encourage downstream processing of ore. In the mean time, mining companies are required to process raw ore in Indonesia under Mining Law No. 4/2009 and Regulation No. 7/20012 issued on February 6, 2012. The regulation specifies an export duty of 20% of the export price of certain ores and minerals. The country is also divesting foreign ownership of mining activities to varying degrees, depending on the level of mineral processing done by the company (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014). This is a radical but welcome policy framework for the mineral sector as taxation and incentives given to companies and even the right to mine becomes conditional on the setting up of downstream industries in the country. The extraction of mineral resources is now premised on the industrial policy framework of the country.

Indonesia is currently experiencing a lot of pressure from different stakeholders to relax the current policies because of losses in income in the short term, which are resulting in gains for companies operating in other countries in the region. The ban on the export of raw ore in Indonesia, for example, is resulting in windfall income for nickel mining companies in the Philippines. However, Indonesia’s losses in the short run will result in bigger gains in the longer term when downstream processing of minerals is fully established in the country. What the other countries in the region like the Philippines should do is follow suit.

Biodiversity and climate change

With this in mind, we should be careful of recommending “mining for development” to all mineral-rich developing states. In some cases, this can be seen as nothing short of reckless. There are times when mining should not be considered at all. There are other things that are more valuable than the minerals underground. One of these is the country’s biodiversity which should be protected.

The Philippines, for example, sits on an estimated subterranean trove worth close to $840 billion (Minerals Development Council, 2007). But the country is also one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a biodiversity hotspot and a megadiverse country, placing it among the top priority areas for global conservation. A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region that is both a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is threatened with destruction. According to Conservation International, the remaining natural habitat in these biodiversity hotspots amounts to just 1.4 percent of the land surface of the planet, yet supports nearly 60 percent of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. Some key biodiversity areas that are directly impacted by mining in the Philippines are Palawan, Samar, South Cotabato, Mindoro, Romblon, Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Island.

The Philippines has many endemic species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fish and invertebrates. In recent decades, natural and anthropogenic causes have cost the country a considerable number of species. Extraction of minerals is one of the most notable threats of the country’s biodiversity.

Aside from its biodiversity, another consideration is climate change. The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country in the world to weather-related extreme events, earthquakes and sea level rise (Kreft, Eckstein, Junghans, Kerestan, & Hagen, 2014). The country is exposed to typhoons, floods, landslides and droughts (World Bank, 2013). Mining activities can increase the risk of exposure to these extreme events.

Mining Preconditions

In developing countries like the Philippines—a country that has billions of dollars’ worth of minerals and a rich and complex biodiversity—it is difficult to simply pursue mining for development. If we are to do this, mining companies must be taxed heavily to get a fair share from the extraction of minerals. Countries should have mining industrial policy plans to anchor the mining activities and maximize the returns from extraction. Governments have to establish transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure that proceeds from mining contribute to sustainable development. International voluntary mechanisms like the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) are a good place to start but are insufficient to address governance problems in mining given the current state of play. National governments should enact mechanisms like EITI to impose penalties on companies for non-compliance.

Yet EITI should also go beyond finances. A very important consideration in mining is the impact of extractive industries on countries’ biodiversity and their fragile environmental state. EITI should also monitor how companies are complying with environmental standards and how governments are implementing these standards. Environmental and social impact assessments of companies should be commissioned by multi-stakeholder groups like EITI, rather than by the companies themselves to add credibility to the process. Mining projects must be subjected to more rigorous tests and impact assessments that clearly establish that they are not exacerbating the impacts of climate change on and beyond mining-affected communities.

Mining in ecologically fragile and poverty-ridden states cannot be conducted without taking the social and environmental impacts of extraction into consideration. To attain development, we must apply these preconditions to our drive to mine our mineral treasure troves. Otherwise, we delude ourselves into believing that mining is helping us achieve sustainable development when it may actually be having the opposite effect.

References

Kreft, S., D. Eckstein, L. Junghans, C. Kerestan, and U. Hagen. 2014. GLOBAL CLIMATE RISK INDEX 2015: Who Suffers Most From Extreme Weather Events? Weather-related Loss Events in 2013 and 1994 to 2013. Berlin: Germanwatch.

MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau). 2015. Mining Industry Statistics (D. o. E. a. N. Resources, Trans.).

Minerals Development Council. 2007. Investor's Prospectus on Philippine Mining. Republic of the Philippines.

National Statistical Coordination Board. 2013. Philippine Poverty Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 5, 2013, from http://www.nscb.gov.ph/poverty/portal_/

NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board). (2012). 2012 Philippine Poverty Statistics for Basic Sectors. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.nscb.gov.ph/poverty/dataCharts.asp

PricewaterhouseCoopers. 2014. Mining in Indonesia: Investment and Taxation Guide.

Remy, F. 2003. Mining Reform and the World Bank: Providing a Policy Framework for Development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

UNCTAD. 2007. World Investment Report 2007: Transnational Corporations, Extractive Industries and Development: Geneva and New York: United Nations.

World Bank. 2013. Getting a Grip… on Climate Change in the Philippines. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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About the Author

Cielo Magno is Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines’ School of Economics and the National Coordinator of Bantay Kita, the Publish What You Pay Coalition in the Philippines. She represents civil society in the multi-stakeholder group of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and a member of the Global Council of Publish What You Pay (PWYP). She is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms and Social Watch-Philippines. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in economics from the University of the Philippines. As a Fulbright scholar, she earned her PhD in Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University in Boston.

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