MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining-related violence ignites protests in the Philippines

Published by MAC on 2015-10-31
Source: Statements, Vice, CNN, Business Mirror, Reuters (2015-11-01)

The dominant story around mining in the Philippines continues to be the - mining associated - violence being perpetrated on the Lumad (indigenous peoples) of Mindanao (see: Philippines - Miners accused of fuelling violence in Mindanao).

Various protests have taken place - some coinciding with All Hallows Eve and some around a march of Lumads from Mindanao to the capital Manila (dubbed a Manilakbayan, or "journey to Manila"). Leaders of indigenous peoples held a rally in front of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) building, accusing the NCIP of continued inaction over the abuses.

The protests, which often focus on the historical violations at the proposed Tampakan mine, will continue, building up to Human Rights Day on 10th December. The Philippine Chamber of Mines has condemned the killings in Mindanao, saying that the mining industry had nothing to do with the deaths. Yet the link to mining has been made via recent charges brought against five top Philippine police officials in connection with firearms intended for mining security and paramilitaries that have instead been sold illegally to communist rebels.

The other national level protests have been about climate change in the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference, especially as Semirara Mining has been allowed to resume mining operations following a two-month suspension and another powerful typhoon ("Lando") has led to the deaths of miners and mine-related flooding in Zambales. The issue will also be raised at the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in the Philippines.

The Government has supported two worthwhile initiatives around small-scale mining, one on developing mining without the use of mercury and cyanide, and one to support families so that children do not need to work in mines.

In Zambales arguments have continued over how far mining has caused pollution, while a group of concerned citizens has laid graft charges against Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government officials over the damage allegedly brought about by mining there.

Finally, the link between mining and violence also manifests itself through kidnappings. A Canadian ex-employee of TVI Pacific, John Ridsdel, is being held for ransom after being taken by an armed group from a holiday resort. It is not clear if there is a direct link between Mr Risdel's role and his kidnapping. Elsewhere a Filipino mining executive was released by his captors - also on Mindanao - after allegedly paying a ransom for his release.

Escalating Violence and Mining Encroachment Spark Protests in the Philippines

By Hilary Beaumont

Vice

28 October 2015

Hundreds of sombre indigenous protesters marched through the dark streets of Manila Sunday nightafter travelling for days to the Philippine capital. They held banners and signs calling on the government to end the escalating violence and killings of Lumads in the mineral-rich southern Mindanao region.

The Lumads, an indigenous group with traditional land in the Mindanao, say the government is sanctioning military and paramilitary operations on their land in order to displace them and allow mining companies, including those with Canadian, Australian and British interests, to enter the region.

In recent months, increased violence and murders of Lumads in the Mindanao region has forced thousands to evacuate communities and schools. On Aug. 18, five Lumads were killed, allegedly by government soldiers, according to Human Rights Watch, and on Sept. 1, three leaders of a Lumad community were allegedly killed by a paramilitary group. Bishop Modesto Villasanta told Filipino newspaper Sun Star that soldiers stood by and did nothing as the paramilitary murdered them.

That's why hundreds of Lumads led a caravan called a Manilakbayan from the Mindanao area to Manila, stopping to hold rallies along the way, to bring attention to the murders.

The government, meanwhile, has denied any responsibility. In early September, Philippine president Benigno Aquino said "there is no campaign to kill Lumad people. We are serving the people … Serving the people does not mean killing its citizens."

350.org has accused mining companies including UK-based Philex, Swiss company Glencore, which has a Canadian mining arm, Japanese company Sumitomo, Australia's Red 5 Limited, and Canadian-linked Toronto Ventures Incorporated (now known as TVI Resources Development) of "land grabs" in the Mindinao.

Speaking to VICE News at the Manila protest, Vennel Chenfoo, chair of the Panalipdan Youth Mindanao Organization, accused mining companies including SMI, Xtrata and TVI of contributing to conflict in the region.

"These mining companies are the ones which are funding the paramilitary groups that are attacking the communities, schools, and the leaders of the indigenous peoples that do not want the entry of these large scale mining," Chenfoo said.

"So this Manilakbayan is also calling for an end of the entry of these large scale companies and especially these mining companies that are entering Mindanao."

TVI Pacific is a Canadian mining company based in Calgary. A corporate presentation on the TVI Pacific website dated October of this year says the company, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, holds a 30.66 percent interest in TVI Resource Development (Philippines) Inc., "a private Philippine production and development company seeking to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2015, [a] listing [that] is expected to enhance TVI's investment and market value considerably."

In the presentation, TVI Pacific calls itself the "successful operator of the Canatuan gold-silver/copper-zinc mine, the first foreign-invested mine to reach production after the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995." Mining watchdog MiningWatch has accused the Canatuan mine of displacing the Indigenous Subanons in the region. However, TVI Pacific reportedly closed the mine in January 2014.

The company did not respond to request for comment. VICE News could not find any direct link between either TVI Pacific or TVIRD and the Lumad killings in the Philippines.

This week, the Canadian chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is sending a letter to the Philippine government with nearly 100 signatories, including Canadian unions, church leaders, environmental groups, and university professors.

The letter asks the government to pull paramilitary and military forces from the Lumad region, stop its counter insurgency programs, and resume peace talks with the insurgent groups.

"The killings and the military operations are reportedly conducted to move out the Lumads from the area where there are mining concessions," said Bern Jagunos, the coordinator for the group's Canada chapter. "The Lumad are resisting that because they have been moving forever, since the time of the Spaniards they have been moving forever. And they are up in the mountains, they have nowhere to move, that's their land … and that's the source of their livelihood, so they are resisting this."

She said it's very difficult to link Canadian companies to mining in the region because their subsidiaries are often registered under different names in the Philippines, "but certainly Canadian companies together with American, Australians, British companies are the major countries that have mining interests in the Philippines."

She said it's important for both the Philippine government and these countries to recognize the rights of the indigenous people to their traditional land.

"[The government should] respect the right of indigenous people including the Lumad in the Mindanao to determine their own path to development," Jagunos said. "That means that if they see that mining or resource development in their own territory, in their ancestral land, is not good for their community, that their right to refuse such plans be respected."


Human Rights Advocates Demand Justice for Indigenous Killings this Undas

Joint press release

30 October 2015

Quezon City – “On Undas, let us remember the dead, pray for the souls of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) brutally killed, and demand justice from the government.”

This is the call of the human rights advocates and environmental groups who trooped to Camp Aguinaldo, carrying mock coffin and funeral wreaths bearing the names of some of the IPs killed during the Aquino administration.

“As Pres. Aquino remembers his own dead loved ones this Undas, we also urge him to remember the names of numerous IP children, women and men who were brutally killed under his administration. Among them are Jordan and John Capion, B’laan boys aged 13 and 8, killed along with their mother, Juvy, by the military men under the command of 27th Infantry Batallion,” says Judy A. Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). “But we also urge him to bring justice to these poor souls.”

The killings of the B’laan family, known as the Capion Massacre, happened three years ago, in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, while the family was in their hut, early morning, with the family still sleeping. Thirteen soldiers strafed the hut, even as Juvy was shouting to stop as there were children inside. The AFP maintained that it was a “legitimate encounter.”

The soldiers were relieved from their post because of “operational lapses”, and investigations are still ongoing. But according to Max de Mesa, chair of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA), “Thorough and extraordinary due diligence was not given to the investigation to obtain the truth of the Capion massacre. The technical exoneration of involved security forces has led more to entrenching injustice and impunity.”

“The killing of the Capion family was closely linked with the B’laan struggle against the Tampakan Mining Project within their ancestral domain. Indeed, mining kills,” Pasimio said.

Aside from the Capion family, several indigenous leaders have been killed because of their defense of their right to their ancestral domain, and from extractive industries such as mining: Timuay Leoncio Arig, a Teduray from Upi, Maguindanao; Datu Fausto Orasan, a Higaonon from Cagayan de Oro, both were shot dead last year for their strong position against mining encroachment in their lands. Sheryl Ananayo, Ifugao from Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, was killed in 2013 because of land conflicts brought about by the Oceania Gold Mining. The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) puts the number at 32 of indigenous leaders within its network killed under the Aquino administration because of their struggle to protect their resources.

"The IP killings expose the real risks and threats faced by communities who resist mining. We hold the government accountable for its failure to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and we reject the government policy on endorsing the deployment of police, military and para-military to protect mining investments," says Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of ATM. “We demand that Aquino immediately cancel all mining contracts particularly those that have documented cases of violence, human rights violations and killings of IPs. To this end, we demand Congress to immediately pass a new mining law such as the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) to address the issues and concerns of IPs related to mining."

The AMMB has its version both in the lower house of Congress and Senate. While Aquino expressed support to this bill during his presidential campaign, this has not been certified as urgent, nor has been endorsed by Malacanang.

Rene Pamplona, Justice and Peace Coordinator, SAC Diocese of Marbel, said, “The mindset of the government is to utilize all untapped minerals for economic development. This runs contrary to the IP concept of development – watershed protection, abundance of forest resources, respect to the right to self-determination and customary laws. For the IPs, this kind of development is worth dying for. But the government continues to mindlessly invade IP territories in the name of development aggression.

The protesters lay down the coffin in front of the gate of Camp Aguinaldo, and said prayers for the dead. They also shouted for justice.

Edel Garingan, anti-mining campaigner of Phil. Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) says, “We are hoping that impunity, injustices and IP Killings will not be part of the things that PNoy will hand over to the next administration.”

“As he leaves the Malacanang office, Aquino should pave the way in bringing justice to the victims of IP killings.

ATM, LILAK and PAHRA are members of the Tampakan Forum, a network of groups supporting the struggle of the B’laan community and the campaign of the Diocese of Marbel’s social action center against the mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato. The PMPI serves as the network’s secretariat.

For more information please contact:

ED GARINGAN, PMPI Project Officer for Anti-mining Campaign, 0922.850.1875, egaringan.pmpi[at]gmail.com

PRIMO MORILLO, PMPI Advocacy Officer, 09228501874, primo.pmpi[at]gmail.com

JUDY PASIMIO, LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights), 09175268341, judy[at]lilak.net

CHECK ZABALA, ATM Media and Communications Officer, 0927.623.5066, checkzab[at]gmail.com


Group: Justice remains elusive for slain antimining advocates

by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

19 October 2015

A NETWORK of antimining groups said that justice remains elusive for members of the B’laan tribe killed by suspected military and paramilitary forces in Bong Mal, South Cotabato, more than three years ago.

On October 18, 2012, alleged members of the 27th Infantry Batallion (IB) raided the house of a B’laan tribe leader, Daguil Capion, a known antimining advocate who strongly opposed the operation of the Tampakan Gold Project, to arrest him for his alleged link to the New People’s Army.

Capion was not in the house during the attack, but the operation led to the death of his wife, Juvy and their children Jordan and John Mark, who were then 13 years old and 8 years old, respectively. According to reports, the military fired shots at the house of Capion to flush the alleged rebel out, but the bullets hit his wife and two sons instead.

Tampakan Forum, a campaign network of support groups to the struggle of B’laan community and the campaign of Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel against the Tampakan Gold Project in South Cotabato, the police has not arrested any of the perpetrators of the crime.

In October 2013 the provincial prosecutor of Davao del Sur dismissed the criminal case filed against members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s 27th IB on the grounds that evidence filed was “circumstantial and insufficient to establish probable cause of murder.”

Five other B’laans were killed since then: Kitari and Diyo Capion in an alleged military encounter on January 29, 2013; Sonny Boy Planda during a military ambush on June 28, 2013; and Anteng Freay and Victor Freay during a raid conducted by alleged military personnel on August 23, 2013. Tampakan Forum said all the victims were known antimining advocates who strongly opposed the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project. In 2013, a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) led by German-based Institute for Peace and Development recommended, among others, the cancellation of the project due to increasing risks of human-rights violations. The HRIA linked the mining project to the volatile peace and high-risk security situation.

Tampakan Forum believes the human-rights violations perpetrated against the B’laans will continue unless the mining project is canceled and until Sagittarius Mines Inc., the operator, pulls out from Tampakan.

A flagship project of the Aquino administration, the project was met with stiff opposition by local communities despite its promised benefits, because of its potential adverse impact to the environment and livelihood of thousands of farmers and upland dwellers who fear losing their forests and its bounty to mining.

The South Cotabato provincial government had passed an ordinance banning the open-pit mining method in the province. Open-pit mining is preferred by large-scale mining companies in extracting mineral ores because it is faster and safer, but means massive deforestation of targeted sites.

Tampakan Forum said “the Aquino administration has remained indifferent and oblivious to the conditions of indigenous peoples and the rural poor. It has consistently utilized state violence against peoples’ struggles for their individual and collective rights and freedoms, which in recent times, has been manifested by the Aquinoadministration’s approval for companies to beef up security by hiring paramilitary groups to protect mining and logging firms from alleged attacks. This
has strengthened Executive Order 546, Series of 2006, issued by former President Gloria [Macapagal-] Arroyo authorizing the use of security forces to support in counterinsurgency efforts,” Tampakan Forum said.

Worse, Tampakan Forum said the Aquino administration has denied justice to victims of human-rights violations and abuses as it failed to hold accountable state agents for both their action and inaction.


Groups demand “Stop Lumad Killings and End Impunity!”

Tampakan Forum Statement

18 October 2015

STILL no justice three years after Capion massacre in Tampakan

Three years ago today around 5 o’clock in the morning, members of the 27th Infantry Battalion in an alleged operation strafed the home of staunch B’laan anti-mining leader Daguil Capion. But Daguil was not there at that time. Sleeping then in the house located in the target mine site of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) were his wife, three children and nephew.

Murdered in this military operation were Daguil’s wife Juvy, also a strong anti-mining advocate, and two of their children, Jordan and John Mark who were 13 years and 8 years old then. To the military they are collateral damage. For Reesa, the 4-year old daughter who survived, this was a tremendous loss of her mother, and her brothers. No one has been put to trial for the massacre.

Today justice is not yet served. Justice is still far from reach.

On October 2013, the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Sur dismissed the criminal case filed against members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 27th IB on the grounds that evidence filed are “circumstantial and insufficient to establish probable cause of murder.” Meanwhile the Court Martial convened and held several hearings on the case. Three years after, we heard news that the case is already for closing, its resolution either still pending issuance or not publicized.

Five other B’laans were killed after the incident on October 18, 2012. They were Kitari and Diyo Capion in an alleged military encounter on January 29, 2013; Sonny Boy Planda during a military ambush on June 28, 2013; Anteng Freay and Victor Freay during a raid conducted by alleged military personnel on August 23, 2013.

All these victims of human rights violations had one thing in common: They were all anti-mining advocates who strongly protested against SMI’s Tampakan Copper-Gold Project that will displace them from their ancestral domain. In 2013, a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) led by German-based Institute for Peace and Development (INEF) recommended, among others, the cancellation of the project due to increasing risks of human rights violations. The HRIA linked the mining project to the volatile peace and high-risk security situation.

Tampakan Forum believes that these human rights violations will persist until the mining project is cancelled and until SMI pulls out from Tampakan. The B’laans will continue to stand steadfast in their struggle against large-scale and destructive mining and in the defense of their right to ancestral domain, which from the perspective of indigenous peoples is essentially the right to life.

Unfortunately, the Aquino regime has remained indifferent and oblivious to the conditions of indigenous peoples and the rural poor as evidenced by the national government’s policy towards the extractive industry and foreign investments. It has consistently allowed the massive destruction of the environment and sources of livelihood of indigenous peoples and agricultural communities. It has consistently utilized state violence against peoples’ struggles for their individual and collective rights and freedoms which in recent times has been manifested by the Aquino government’s approval for companies to beef up its security by hiring paramilitary groups to protect mining and logging firms from alleged attacks. This has strengthened Executive Order No. 546, s. 2006 issued by former President Gloria Arroyo authorizing the use of security forces to support in counterinsurgency efforts.

Furthermore, the Aquino government has denied justice to victims of human rights violations and abuses with the persistence of impunity in our society. It has failed to hold accountable state agents for both their action and inaction detrimental and violative of peoples’ rights. The case of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), which is the national agency, tasked to ensure the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights glaringly illustrates government’s non-compliance with its human rights obligations and commitment to rights-holders. Unfortunately, the NCIP plays a role in the continuing marginalization of the B’laans by facilitating the rigged “free, prior and informed consent” process for mining companies despite the position of the former against mining, its inaction and silence while the B’laans seek for justice, and the lack of response to the many letters and petitions submitted by the indigenous peoples whom they should serve.

JUSTICE is what Tampakan Forum seeks. JUSTICE is what the Aquino government owes to the Capion family and the B’laan people.

We demand immediate government action for the B’laan people! We call for justice for the Capions, Freays, and many indigenous peoples and anti-mining advocates who were killed as they fought for their rights and their lives. We demand the government to STOP LUMAD KILLINGS. END IMPUNITY!

--
Tampakan Forum is a campaign network of support groups to the struggle of the Bla’an community and the campaign of Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel against the Tampakan Mining project. Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) serves as the secretariat of the network. The list of members include Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOE), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS), and the London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines.

For more information: Fr. Gillarme Joy Pelino, – Social Action Center Diocese of Marbel Director, 09106338181Rene Pamplona – Social Action Center Diocese of Marbel Advocacy Officer, 09183809923Primo Morillo – PMPI Advocacy Officer, 09228501874


Groups condemn killings of indigenous people in southern Philippines

Roundup: Groups condemn killings of indigenous people in southern Philippines

by Alito L. Malinao, Xinhua

Global Post

3 October 2015

MANILA -- A regional organization and several local religious groups have condemned the recent killings of indigenous people, locally called lumad, in the southern Philippines.

In a statement, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) blamed the government for not doing enough to protect the country's indigenous population, particularly those in the far-flung areas in Mindanao, the second largest island of the Philippines.

The AIPP, whose secretariat is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a regional organization founded in 1988 by indigenous peoples' movements. The group, with 47 members in Asia, is committed to promoting and protecting indigenous peoples' rights.

The AIPP called on the government of President Benigno Aquino III to promptly conduct an independent and transparent investigation into all the extrajudicial killings under the current regime.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which is composed of Roman Catholic bishops, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), a non-Catholic religious group, have also urged the government to resolve the killings and put an end to the "militarization" of the areas where indigenous people live.

"We call on authorities to bring to justice the death of our lumad brothers ... and permit the conduct of independent fact finding missions," the religious groups said in their statement.

At a recent forum, President Aquino III categorically denied that "there is campaign to kill anybody in the country," adding that he has already ordered the Department of Justice to investigate the reported killings of indigenous Filipinos in Mindanao.

On Aug. 18, soldiers in the province of Bukidnon allegedly killed five members of a lumad family, including children aged 13 and 17. On Sept. 1, armed groups also killed Emerito Samarca, director of a tribal school in Surigao del Sur, and two others.

On Sept. 28, another indigenous people, identified by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines as Lito Abion, 44, was killed by armed groups in the adjacent province of Agusan del Sur.

At least 13 human rights defenders and community members, including two children, have been killed in five incidents of extrajudicial killings and four massacres in the past eight months.

Some 4,000 indigenous people, who have fled their mountain villages, are now housed in town centers in the province of Surigao del Sur.

The killings of indigenous people are mainly in the landlocked provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao, some 1,000 km from Manila.

The lumads, also called cultural or tribal communities, are the Manobos, Mamanwas, Aetas, Bagobos and Higaonons. They, along with Filipino Muslims, have inhabited a large swathe of Mindanao even before the advent of the Spanish era.

Human rights groups said government troops, who are alleged " protectors" of mining and logging companies, are responsible for harassing and killing leaders of indigenous inhabitants who are against the exploitation of their natural resources.

But some are saying that the indigenous people are being caught in the crossfire between government forces and armed guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA).

According to the AIPP, the killings of innocent indigenous people in Mindanao at the hands of paramilitary and security forces are gross violations of human rights.

The group said it was "deeply alarmed" that the reason behind heavy militarization of lumad communities in Mindanao is allegedly to protect the interests of mining companies and other corporate entities in plundering the mineral resources in the ancestral homes of the indigenous people.


Mindanao tribal people start 1,000-km protest walk

Demonstrators intend to camp outside economic summit

Joe Torres

UCANews

23 October 2015

Manila - Hundreds of indigenous people from the southern Philippines have launched a 1,000-kilometer walk to the national capital, Manila, to dramatize their call against attacks on tribal communities in troubled Mindanao.

The protest march, dubbed "Manilakbayan" or "journey to Manila," is expected to reach the capital on Oct. 26 and set up a "people's camp" during the duration of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November.

Jomorito Goaynon, a Higaonon tribal chieftain and spokesman for the protesters, said the tribal people of Mindanao are "determined to show to the international community what is happening in our communities."

Vencer Crisostomo, of the youth group Anakbayan, said many students in the capital will leave their classes on Oct. 26 to meet the demonstrators and hold a weeklong sympathy protest.

"We are calling on the students and the Filipino people to open our doors and our hearts to our [indigenous peoples] who travelled to Manila and help them send their call for justice and peace," said Crisostomo in a statement.

On Oct. 23, faith and civil society groups held a rally outside the offices of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, or NCIP, in Manila to protest the agency's alleged inaction on the killings of tribal leaders in Mindanao.

"Today, we have a list of indigenous peoples killed because they were defending their rights and promoting the interests of their communities," said Judy Pasimio, national coordinator of Lilak-Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights.

"Sadly, the list is getting longer. And so we ask, where is the NCIP in all of this? Its silence is deafening," said Pasimio.

Ed Garingan, campaigner of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., said the killings of tribal leaders and attacks on indigenous communities were directly linked to mining.

"We have yet to hear strong protests from the side of the NCIP whenever the military tries to encroach on tribal areas," said Garingan.

Crisostomo said the killing of tribal leaders is part of the government's "dirty war" targeting activists, environmentalists and leaders of minority groups, especially in Mindanao, to further the interests of big foreign businesses.

Continued harassment

Crisostomo also condemned the reported harassment done by military intelligence personnel at the University of the Philippines campus, where the indigenous people are scheduled to set up camp on Oct. 26.

Six soldiers were caught inside the campus on Oct. 21 spying on youth leaders.

Katribu, a national alliance of Philippine indigenous people, said at least 70 tribal leaders, most of them lumad from Mindanao, have been killed since June 2010.

The group also recorded 99 cases of harassment, 22 cases of arrests of tribal leaders, nine incidents of bombing of communities and farmlands, and 54 cases of forced evacuations in Mindanao tribal communities.

The issue has come under a renewed spotlight this year after the September killings of two indigenous community leaders and the head of a school. Activists have blamed a paramilitary group for the deaths.


IP leaders stage protest at NCIP

By Rhodina Villanueva

The Philippine Star

24 October 2015

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of indigenous peoples and environment advocates held a rally in front of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples building in Quezon City yesterday, accusing the NCIP of continued inaction on killings of IPs around the country.

“The NCIP’s mandate is to protect and promote the interests and well-being of the indigenous peoples. Today, we have a list of indigenous peoples killed because they were defending their rights and promoting the interests of their communities. Sadly, the list is getting longer. And so we ask, where is the NCIP in all of this? Its silence is deafening,” said Judy Pasimio, national coordinator of Lilak-Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights.

She said during the Aquino administration alone, about 30 people have been killed for defending the IP’s ancestral domain.

“This list includes at least two women and four minors, a proof how inhumane and wanton the state-sponsored violence against the IPs is,” Pasimio said.

Ed Garingan, anti-mining campaigner of civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI), said the IP killings, even in the past, are related to mining on IP land.

“The NCIP also has something to explain about this, as a number of free prior informed consent (FPIC) processes of some mining projects are very questionable,” he said.

Garingan said the NCIP should be alarmed by the continuing militarization of ancestral domain areas in the countryside.

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said what they are demanding is “an NCIP that stands for the IPs against all odds.”

Lilak and ATM are members of the Tampakan Forum, a network of groups supporting the struggle of the B’laan community and the campaign of the Diocese of Marbel’s social action center against the mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato. The PMPI serves as the network’s secretariat.


More guns to kill more IPs

by Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J.

Manila Times

19 October 2015

FUNDAMENTALLY, the indigenous peoples (IPs) want to be left alone. They want to work their lands according to their customs and traditions, see to the education and welfare of their children, and be happy within the national fold of Filipino peoples.

That desire is their right. The law guarantees it. It says: “The State shall protect the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to ensure their economic social and cultural well being and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain” (Sec. 2b, Chapter 1, RA 8371).

But the IPs are sitting on minerals which others want. Or they are living on land that others covet. Big money and big profits are involved, or the messianic illusions of a religious leader. The driving force is huge private profit. Or the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The ideological justification is the economic welfare of the country, or the will of God. Both are lies: Mining has not brought about national prosperity. God creates land; he is not a landgrabber.

To any development project, the IPs are supposed to give their “free and prior informed consent “ (FPIC). Otherwise, clearly, the development project ought not proceed. The law defines FPIC carefully. It means: “the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.” (Sec. 2g, Chapter 1). But FPIC is roundly manipulated. “Consensus” is division prior to conquest, “free from external manipulation” is unabashed bribery, “free from coercion” is the imposition coming ultimately from the State that has decided illegally that the exploitation of natural resources justifies setting aside the rights of the IPs. So, when the IP still refuses to give his FPIC, he is killed.

Here the State can impose its intent on the National Commission on ICC/IP (NCIP), “the primary government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to promote and protect the rights and well-being of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as the rights thereto” (Sec. 38, Chapter VII). Instead of protecting the rights of the ICC/IP, the NCIP mediates the interests of the State, including the interests of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which chooses – lamentably – the exploitation of natural resources over its mandate to protect the environment. Of course, it is unfortunate that in this work-in-progress for the good of the country, the IPs are killed.

The companies deny the killings. The religious leader denies the killings. The military deny the killing. Yet, accounts of the killing of the IPs abound.

The military do not free the IPs from the mining intrusion and the murders; they do not enable them to live according to their rights under the law. Neither do the national police.

The National People’s Army (NPA) take on the cause of the IPs. Initially, the IPs ally with the NPA; they think the NPA can help them defend their ancestral domains. But in time the IPs learn that the NPA revolutionary agenda to topple the Philippines’ democratic government is different from the agenda of the IP just to live quietly in peace on their ancestral lands. The IP withdraw from the alliance. But not with impunity. The IP are killed in withdrawing from the alliance.

Meanwhile the NPA and their allies insist on taking on the IP struggle and embed it in their communist rebellion and their international socialist struggle; of this the IPs have no understanding. They have no understanding of the importance of the NPA struggle for the so-called ultimate humanization of humanity in communism. The NPA presume the IPs accept this, whether they give their FPIC to it or not. Their protection is their humanitarian mission.

So the NPA recruit many IPs to its noble cause: full understanding of this is not necessary; raw readiness for battle is sufficient. The military reject its nobility and oppose their rebellion. The IPs are sucked willy-nilly into the NPA-military conflict. The military clash violently with the NPA, militarizing whole neighborhoods, disturbing the work on the fields and the learning in the schools. The IPs flee the militarization for their lives. They flee the conflict. In fleeing, they are killed.

Not being able to tolerate the armed rebellion of the NPA the AFP defends the state in fighting the NPA. Seeing that many of the NPAs are IPs, the IPs take on the face of the NPA. So IPs are killed.

Militarized zones. Schools are disturbed. Villages caught in cross fire. IPs killed. IPs flee militarized areas. Where they flee, they are killed. All in the context of the national recognition of the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Meanwhile President Aquino, far from keeping his campaign promise to be rid of Pres. Arroyo’s E.O 546 arming civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs), has approved the military proposal for a Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) unit in Surigao del Norte to protect the interests of the Taganito Mining Corporation of the Nickel Asia Corporation and the Sumitomo Metal Mining Corporation after allegedly 3 billion pesos worth of mining property has been destroyed by the NPA. Even more disturbing is the reported approval of the military’s request for more budget to arm the Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographic Units (CAFGUs), the SCAAs and the private armed groups in the area.

Fundamentally, the IPs want to be left alone. They want to live their lives as they judge fit. More guns won’t help.


Mining chamber slams lumad slays

by Macon R. Araneta

Manila Standard

14 October 2015

THE Chamber of Mines of the Philippines on Tuesday condemned the lumad killings in Mindanao, saying that the mining industry had nothing to do with the deaths.

“We call to task some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and anti-mining groups that were quick to link the entire minerals development industry to these acts of violence and intimidation,” said the chamber’s vice president for legal and policy, Ronald Recidoro.

“They should be more careful in their pronouncements, specifically in their blanket condemnation of the mining industry. We ask them to be more circumspect and responsible in their statements and not take advantage of unfortunate incidents as another opportunity to denigrate the whole mining industry,” Recidoro added.

Recidoro said the chamber and its member-firms recognize the rights of indigenous people to live peaceably in their ancestral lands and to decide whether or not mining projects will be allowed to operate within those lands.

“The killing of Emerto Samarca, Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo, and the violent displacement of thousands of lumad families from their homes are heinous crimes that have no place in civil society and whose perpetrators must be made answerable to the law,” Recidoro said.

“We call on the government to take immediate action to capture those responsible and ensure the safety and security of the affected indigenous communities to a degree that would allow them to return to their homes,” he added.

Recidoro noted that indigenous peoples’ communities largely benefit from the operations of mining companies.

Citing data from last year’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report, Recidoro said that in 2012 alone, 20 mining companies operating in ancestral domains paid their host communities P340 million in royalties.

“We reiterate our commitment to uphold and promote the inalienable rights of all stakeholders from both tribal and non-tribal communities,” Recidoro said.

“We call on the government to expedite the investigation into these killings and bring those responsible to justice. We will cooperate fully with police authorities and provide whatever assistance may be necessary to conclude the investigation,” Recidoro added.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday called on the government to immediately disband the paramilitary groups operating in Mindanao, saying the issue of who between the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police would hunt down those involved in the recent lumad killings must be resolved at once.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, condemned the killings of lumad leaders that have caused thousands of indigenous people to flee their homes.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of the lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, and community leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, were believed murdered by members of paramilitary groups on Sept. 1.

Quoting an internal report by the 4th Infantry Division of the Army, Pimentel said there are at least eight armed groups operating in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur that are accused of human rights violations against tribal communities in Mindanao which the AFP and the PNP should immediately disband.

Reports said that more than 6,000 indigenous people have already fled their homes because they are not being given protection from atrocities and threats allegedly perpetrated by the paramilitary groups, including the Jomar Bocales and Tejero-Belandres groups, suspects in the Sept.1 killings.


Philippine Activists Call for End to Foreign Mining

Jason Strother

http://www.voanews.com/content/philippine-activists-call-for-end-to-foreign-mining/2987241.html

1 October 2015

MARINDUQUE, PHILIPPINES - The Philippines has suffered numerous disasters from its mining industry over the decades, creating a legacy of health problems that continue to the present day. Now there is a proposal to reopen one foreign-owned mine with a checkered history, and the backlash from activists who are trying to stop it.

When a typhoon or heavy rain hits Marinduque island, many residents along the Mogpog River are evacuated to higher ground.

That is because the Philippine government says an upstream dam that holds back toxic waste from an abandoned copper mine is deteriorating and could overflow or burst, just like it did in 1993.

When that happened, the river was silted over with heavy metals and other debris, or tailings, from the mine.

Sordid history

Farmer George Hayno, 53, lives alongside a branch of the Mogpog, and he said the polluted river cost him his right foot.

He said he used to walk back and forth across the river. In 2012 he noticed a cut on his foot that would not heal. A doctor determined it was infected with arsenic and needed to be amputated.

Another leak at the Marcopper mine of millions of tons of tailings in 1996, led to the pullout of its Canadian operator, ending three decades of mining on the island.

Compensation for the environmental clean up was never received, say national and local government officials.

Adeline Angeles, a member of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns and a provincial legislator, said mining never delivered the wealth that it promised.

“After decades of mining, Marinduque is one of the poorest provinces in the entire archipelago," said Angeles. "At the same time our waters are silted, the rivers cannot be used for irrigation and our farmers are poorer.”

In June, a court in the U.S. state of Nevada dismissed Marinduque’s lawsuit against the company that bought out the mine’s former operator on jurisdiction grounds.

For some environmental advocates, Marinduque is an example of why foreign mining firms should be banned from the Philippines.

Lack of accountability

An international anti-mining conference recently was held in Manila. Participants say that multinational corporations devastate communities across the developing world and are rarely held accountable.

Camilo Mano, with the Manila based anti-mining group Ayansa Tigil Mina, said the Philippines has long been a victim of foreign greed.

“Since the birth of the Philippines, foreign countries, foreign nationals or foreign corporations go here because of rich minerals,” said Mano.

Mano noted this plundering began with the Spanish and then American colonizations of the Philippines.

Today, Chinese, Australian and Canadian companies mine for gold, nickel and other precious metals.

His organization is backing a bill that calls for current mining laws to be replaced with more environmentally sustainable regulations. That includes restricting the types of minable minerals, as well as a ban on exports.

“We don’t want our minerals brought outside the Philippines, we want our minerals used here in the Philippines,” said Mano.

The Philippine government still wants foreign companies to develop local mines.

Roland De Jesus, a director at the Mines and Geoscience Bureau in Manila, said mining is safer than it used to be.

“I am confident we have a good mining law, one of the best in the world. Before there was a lack of transparency, but now we have a multipart monitoring team,” he said.

Competing interests

He added that these laws prevent environmental disasters, like the one on Marinduque, from happening again.

As for the island’s old copper mine, De Jesus said one option to rehabilitate the damaged ecosystem is to allow another, more responsible mining firm to resume operations there, and clean up the mess that was left behind.

Marinduque environmental advocate Adeline Angeles called that proposal unacceptable.

“We cannot take another risk. It’s just like trying to address a victim of rape by opening itself for possible rape again,” she said.

Angeles said the province is not giving up their fight. It now is considering launching a new lawsuit in Canada.


Green groups set to raise coal, mining globalization issues in upcoming ‘People’s Campaign against APEC’

Kalikasan PNE Press release

24 September 2015

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) announced in a press conference today their plan to join upcoming protest mobilizations during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit this coming November. The environmental activist network said they will raise concerns on the current state of the Philippine environment as a result of decades of globalization in extractive and pollutive industries such as coal power and large-scale mining.

“Under the auspices of neoliberal globalization, the APEC has facilitated decades of natural resource plunder, environmental degradation, and wholesale land-grabbing in the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries. The 2015 APEC Summit seeks to ‘greenwash’ the continuing wholesale of the region’s vast natural wealth, the destruction of their environments, and the intensification of chronic mass poverty and inequity, with such flowery slogans as ‘building sustainable and resilient economies’,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The APEC, composed of 21 member economies representing 60 percent of the world’s total GDP and 3 billion of the world’s total population, is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to promote globalization policies across the Asia-Pacific region.

The forum also represents 70 percent of global mining production and consumption, and 60 percent of world energy demand, making its adopted economic, social and environmental thrusts globally pivotal.

“With the Philippines as host to APEC, Pres. Noynoy Aquino will most likely trumpet the massive energy privatization and mining liberalization trends that he has pushed over the past five years, but will systematically omit the dirty details. Mining liberalization increased the number of large-scale mining operations from 17 to 46 over the past 20 years, but promoted a criminally negligent policy regime that caused on average an annual significant mine spill or full-blown mine disaster over the same time period,” Bautista explained.

“Energy privatization, meanwhile, has led to a 348 percent increase in the installed generating capacity of dirty coal power plants from 1997 to 2012, mainly through foreign investments. This coincides with the alarming trend of the top global polluter countries simply shifting their fossil fuel investments towards Third World economies such as the Philippines to avoid the carbon emission caps in their respective domestic industries,” Bautista furthered.

The environmental group noted the two industry trends alone had a major impact on the worsening vulnerability of grassroots communities in the Philippines to the intensifying impacts of global warming and climate change.

“The increase in foreign capital-driven coal production and consumption in the Philippines means the top polluter countries are still on a ‘more business than usual’ trend, jeopardizing the urgent needs for deep and drastic cuts in global carbon emissions to curb the climate crisis. On the other end of the climate crisis, the increasing number and severity of extreme rainfall events and typhoons induced by climate change will most likely be amplified by toxic spills, forest denudation, and other adverse environmental and socio-economic impacts of liberalized large-scale mining,” said Bautista.

Buildup activities by 2015 APEC Summit have already shown glimpses of what the economic forum has in store for these controversial industries. A new APEC fund was launched last August with an initial USD 958,000 contribution from member country Australia, which aimed to fund projects that will further the mining liberalization policy regimes across the region.

Meanwhile, the latest statements of the APEC Energy Working Group are focusing on liberalizing green energy technologies through tariff cuts, but are deathly silent on the need for actual cuts in fossil fuel consumption and ensuring state control and regulation to address the effects of power privatization.

“The APEC clearly promotes profit over the interests of people and the entire planet. The lives, livelihood and environment of the majority of the Filipino people and the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region at large is what’s at stake here, and it will take our united people’s struggles to take back our economies and policies away from imperialist and corporate interests,” ended Bautista.

Kalikasan said they will be mobilizing under the People’s Campaign against APEC and Imperialist Globalization (PCAIG), a broad, multi-sectoral and global campaign gearing to challenge the economic and policy thrusts of the 2015 APEC Summit.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 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) 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Philippines allows top coal producer Semirara to resume mining

Reuters

21 September 2015

Semirara Mining and Power Corp , the Philippines' biggest coal producer, said on Monday the Department of Energy had allowed it to resume mining operations following a two-month suspension.

Semirara, a unit of Philippine conglomerate DMCI Holdings Inc, was forced to halt coal exports following a suspension imposed from July 17 after a landslide at Semirara's Panian mine in central Philippines buried nine workers alive.

In a Sept. 17 letter to Semirara President Victor Consunji, a copy of which accompanied the firm's disclosure to Manila's stock exchange, Department of Energy OIC-Secretary Zenaida Monsada said Semirara has "substantially complied with the conditions...resulting in a marked improvement in the level of safety in its mining operations."

Click on (bit.ly/1iqQiE8) to view Semirara's disclosure and the DOE letter.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Ed Davies)


3 Itogon miners die; mudflow torments Sta. Cruz

by Zaldy C. Comanda & Larry P. Fabian

Manila Bulletin

23 October 2015

Itogon, Benguet — Three pocket miners who had ignored government warnings of typhoon “Lando” raising the risks mining in this area were found dead last Thursday.

Police said miners Sabado Maliongan, 22, single; Igan Lomebyang, 25, single; and Ricky Licawen, 28, married, all residents of Barangay Luneta, Loacan, this town, likely died of gas poisoning.

Even before Lando lashed across Northern Luzon last Saturday, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan already ordered all pocket mining operations to cease.

A fellow miner, Francis Dagayon, told probers that the three had entered their mining area at 10 p.m. last Wednesday.

When the three had not returned to their camp by 6 a.m. of Thursday, Dagayon decided to search for them inside the mine and found them all dead.

He called for help and by 1 p.m., the bodies of Maliongan, Lomebyang, and Licawen were claimed by their respective families at the Bahay Damayan Funeral Homes in Baguio City.

Mining blamed for mudflow

Meanwhile, nickel mining has been blamed for muddy flash floods tormenting several barangays in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, during and after the Lando’s onslaught.

Concerned citizens of Zambales claimed that the thick red mud attributed to nickel mining continue to flow through the streets and into their homes four days after Lando whipped the region.

They said the mud flood was caused by the alleged destruction and failure of settling dams of four nickel mines — the Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., the Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc., the Eramen Minerals Inc., and the LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.

Benito Molino, chairperson of Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS), sent a message to the Manila Bulletin, stating: “With the rain that poured in our province, flooding was highly possible, but the volume of red mud is a different case. We think nickel laterite may have mixed with the waters that flood parts of the province now.”

In press interviews last Monday, Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. denied mining was to blame for the incident, saying torrential rains and water releases from dams caused the muddy flash floods. (With a report from Liezle Basa Iñigo)


From the gold mine to the classroom

Government, NGOs launch programme to bring miners’ children back to school

GulfNews

10 October 2015

Manila: Parents who toil in gold mining communities that dot ore-rich parts of the Philippines are being encouraged to moonlight for additional income so that their children do not end up working in dangerous mines like them.

In recent times the government and non-government organisations are assisting their children to stop working dangerously at mining pits, return to school, and get a better education for a brighter future.

About 75,000 young children who work as gold miners across the country have parents who also grew up as gold miners when they were young, according to the labour department which made a profile-study of child-miners from 2014 to 2015.

One out of five households in mining communities has a child working as a gold miner. Parents who grew up as gold miners never encouraged their children to go to school, but allowed them instead to work dangerously as gold miners, according to the Ecumenical Institute for Labour Education and Research, Inc. (Eiler), a European-backed programme aimed at bringing young miners back to schools.

The government and several non-government organisations are intensifying efforts to help Filipino parents and their children in mining communities survive from being socially doomed while working dangerously for high-earning mining companies in many ore-abundant places in the country, said HRW-CR associate director Juliane Kippenberg.

Cycle of poverty

Noting the ironic cycle of poverty at the heart of many gold-mining sites, Kippenberg said, “Children from very poor families who go into the mines to work there have extremely little chance to break out of that cycle of poverty, get proper education, and get a safer, better-paid job. The main cause of this situation is poverty at the house level.”

Eighty-four per cent of households earn below 5,000 pesos (Dh416.66) a month, equivalent to 192.30 pesos (Dh15.69) a day (for 26 days a month) per household of more than five people, according to the Human Rights Watch’s Children’s Rights division which interviewed 135 people, including 65 children aged 9 to 17, in Camarines Norte, southern Luzon and Masbate, central Philippines from 2014 to 2015.

Young miners breathe using small tubes when they go underwater for hours in mining shafts. The mercury they use to refine ore could damage their nervous system and kill them at an early age.

In response, the labour department launched a programme to give livelihood and additional income to miners to stop them from forcing their children to work dangerously at mining pits for little money.

Eiler also launched a back to school rehabilitation programme for young miners, said Eiler’s executive director Anna Leah Escresa.

Out of the 337 Eiler-sponsored students, 20 passed the Alternative Learning System Accreditation and Equivalency Test; and 90 adjusted to formal education after five months. Returning graduates were either enrolled at their real academic level or elevated to vocational schools.

“The young ones who worked as miners for two to six years could hardly adjust to the programme. Their ingrained concern for their parents prevented them from focusing on their studies,” said Escresa.

“A majority of those who were sent to Eiler’s boarding facilities succeeded in studying well. Those who remained with their parents in mining communities were tempted every day to go back to the mining pits.”

The Philippines is a signatory of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) campaign for the eradication of child labour worldwide. The global number of children in child labour declined by one-third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million. More than half of them or 85 million are in hazardous work, down from 171 million in 2000. Asia and the Pacific has the largest numbers, almost 78 million or 9.3 per cent of the child population.


Catholic Church raises objection to mining

by William B. Depasupil

Manila Times

3 October 2015

THE Catholic Church, through its social action arm, has reiterated its strong objection to mining activities in the country, saying they bring no development but rather exploit only the country’s natural and human resources, particularly children.

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, on Friday pointed out that the use of minors, some as young as 9 years old , as workers in illegal small-scale mining has been in existence for a long time but the exploitation continues.

“It belies the claim that mining brings development. On the contrary, mining oppresses the poor,” Gariguez said.

He was reacting to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based human rights group, that the Philippine government has not done enough to protect children from hazards of child labor, which put their lives under extreme danger.

The report’s author Jilian Kippenberg, associate children’s rights director of HRW, said Filipino children are working in absolutely “terrifying conditions” in small-scale gold mines.

“Although the government has ratified treaties and enacted laws to combat the worst forms of child labor, it has largely failed to implement them: The government barely monitors child labor in mining and does not penalize employers or withdraw children from these dangerous work environments,” the HRW report said.

“The government’s lack of concrete action reflects not only insufficient staff and technical capacity, but also a lack of political will by national and local officials to take measures that will not be well-received by the local population in impoverished areas, or by mine owners and traders that rely on child labor,” the report added.

According to a 2011 child labor survey, about 3 million children work in hazardous conditions in the Philippines brought about by poverty.

The HRW report was based on field research conducted between November 2014 and June 2015 in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Masbate.

The Philippine government, it pointed out, should improve its child monitoring and protection systems and do more to children who dropped out of school, address the ill-effects of poverty and enhance its social support programs.

It called on the government to support the creation of a legal, regulated, child-labor free, small-scale gold mining sector that helps rural families thrive, and also introduced mercury-free processing methods and taking special steps to protect children from mercury.

Furthermore, it said, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as well as international gold trading and refining firms, should also put in place robust safeguards to oblige their supplier to source only child-labor-free gold and monitor child labor.


Green mining now possible sans use of cyanide, mercury

by Edd K. Usman

Manila Bulletin

14 October 2015

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) stepped up its program on environment-friendly mining with the inauguration of the gold-copper processing plant in Itogon, Benguet.

DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo led the inauguration that signaled the department’s seriousness in providing small-scale miners a vehicle for responsible mining activities without harming themselves and the environment with poisonous substances, such as cyanide and mercury.

He cited the importance of the plant for the extraction of “green” gold and copper through the technology developed with the assistance of DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).

The plant is located in Barangay (Village) Gumatdang, Itogon. Montejo, Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan and Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan jointly inaugurated the processing plant.

The governor said the processing plant is like shooting two birds with one stone because it protects the health of the miners and the environment.

DOST-PCIEERD funded the research and development of the green mining technology by the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman, Quezon City.

DOST is also establishing other gold and copper processing plants in other areas of the country, including in the Bicol Region and CARAGA Region in Mindanao.

The UP-Diliman’s team leader in the five-year development of the technology, Herman Mendoza, said at the inauguration they developed it to help small-scale miners as well as protect the enviroment.

He said the technology combines flotation and gravity concentration in processing gold and copper.

In the unveiling of the technology in March, 2014, Mendoza voiced excitement, saying their technology was expected to benefit the 300,000 small-scale miners in the country, who are known to produce 70-80 percent of the gold production of the Philippines.

“It is very clean. It is also pro-poor because it is for small-scale miners who can avoid dong the old process using mercury and cyanide, which, aside from being destructive to the environment, is also hazardous,” said Mendoza then.

He added that the technology was planned for deployment in Baguio, Bicol, and two areas in Mindanao.

Comparing the traditional milling process that small-scale miners use in recovering gold, Mendoza said new technology with 90 percent gold recovery is better than their usual 40 to percent recovery.

He said this was shown in their pilot testing of the technology.


Governor bats for mining blueprint and safe, sustainable practices

by Jonas Reyes

Manila Bulletin

23 September 2015

Iba, Zambales – The Philippines, with its vast mining potential and mineral deposits, must soon develop a blueprint of mine sites and ensure sustainable development, Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. emphasized during the recent Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) summit in Parañaque City.

Ebdane took into account the country’s rich mineral resources, particularly gold, copper, nickel, aluminum, and chromite, amounting to $1.4 trillion when he cited the need for a holistic and well-rounded approach to sustainability.

He suggested that mining companies establish a blueprint of the mining sites with sustainable development for communities.

“The rehabilitation of post-mining areas is very important to ensure that after termination of the (mining) agreement, the community will be able to sustain its existence, given the fact they (miners) have benefitted from the site development,” he emphasized.

He added that the mining operators must strictly exercise sustainable mining practices, energy and water conservation, recycling, environment-friendly disposal of industrial wastes, safety practices and socio-economic development of the communities, and provision of road infrastructure and scholarship grants as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The governor, however, expressed disappointment over the negligence of some mining firms in minimizing or mitigating the environmental impact of mining activities.

“Unfortunately, in the report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, it claimed that project proponents failed to undertake mine rehabilitation or maintenance,” he lamented.

He said that a mine rehabilitation fund should be established.

“This, aside from the proposed sustainable development, bond fees should also be collected from mining companies in anticipation of possible negative impact of mining in the community,” he suggested.


MGB confirms no nickel contamination in Zambales

Manila Bulletin

17 October 2015

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) OIC Regional Director Danilo U. Uykieng supported the earlier findings of local geologists that there is no nickel contamination in the rivers of Zambales.

In a Senate hearing held last September 23, Uykieng said, upon questioning by Environment and Natural Resources committee chairman Francis Escudero, “… For the record, Your Honor, there is no actual nickel contamination in Zambales. However, there is impact on the sedimentation because of natural erosion …”

Such pronouncement echoes the findings of local geologists who said earlier that what caused the color of the Zambales rivers to turn reddish-brown was soil erosion which occurs during heavy rains. They claimed that the soil in the mining areas is rich in Nickel Laterites which render the area inhabitable by large trees. Trees are a natural deterrent to soil erosion as they rein in the soil they are planted on, saying that even without mining, the soil will cascade downstream causing the waters to turn reddish-brown. This phenomenon has been going for centuries and cannot be attributed to mining, they said.

It would be recalled that the operations of LnL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., Benguet Corp Nickel Mines, Inc. and Eramen Minerals Inc. in the municipalities of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria were shut down as precipitated by the supposed mineral leakage from these companies such that the color of downstream river has turned into reddish-brown.

As a precondition to their re-opening, Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje required them to chip in to the cost of building haul roads.

But with MGB saying that there is no nickel contamination of the Zambales rivers, such pre-condition becomes irrelevant, geologists say.

The Philippine mining industry could be the world’s most regulated industry and yet government’s help, if the industry needs it, has been dismal if not utterly disappointing. Mining firms are left to fend for themselves in cases where they are harassed and given the circuitous rounds by local government units in which they operate or explore for minerals.

The Philippine Mining Act has enough teeth to ensure that these mining companies toe the line. But too often, provisions of this law become inferior to the ones enacted by anti-mining LGUs thus, frustrating the industry’s effort to maximize the economic benefits the country could get from the industry.

Also these firms are not required by law to build these roads. They are already heavily invested in building infrastructure and taking care of the indigenous people. The mining sector in Zambales is now in a quandary on why they were closed twice, if indeed there was no contamination as confirmed by the MGB in the first place.

What is happening in Zambales is not an isolated case. Local laws – even if they are directly opposed to the spirit of the Philippine Mining Act (which is supposed to be superior to local ordinances) – have been constricting the growth of the country’s minerals industry. Not only is the industry heavily regulated; it is also heavily taxed: Corporate, excise, withholding, customs duties, value added, and mineral reservation royalty, among others.

The Philippines is just like a poor man sitting on a pot of gold. It is estimated that the country could extract over U$1.4 trillion worth of minerals from identified mining areas. But as long as the national government remains helpless to implement what has been touted as the most comprehensive mining law, mining companies will be left at the mercy of misguided, if not corrupt local government officials.


22 face graft complaint over mining

by Reina Tolentino

Manila Times

3 October 2015

A group of concerned citizens from Zambales raised graft charges against Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government officials over the damage allegedly brought about by mining.

Included in the complaint are: DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno, Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Municipal Mayor Consolacion Marty, former Municipal Mayor Luisito Marty, and several others.

The complainants – Josephine Astadan, Salvador Cortez Jr., Berto Merced and Edgardo Obra – filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday. The group identified themselves as residents of Sta. Cruz, Zambales and members of the group Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS).

The respondents were charged with violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Sections 16, 389, 444, 465 and 484 of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines, among others.

“We are filing a case for the environmental destruction brought [about] by mining and the non-implementation of environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Solid Waste Management Act among others by the DENR and local government officials,” said CCOS Chairperson Dr. Ben Molino in a statement.

“We have had enough of their inefficiencies and their empty promises. We want justice for Zambales and its people,” Molino added.

Likewise named respondents were Lauro Garcia who leads the MGB Region 3 Multi-Partite Monitoring Team and lawyer and Central Luzon MGB Regional Director Danilo Uykieng.

The DENR Secretary, Regional Director, and the MGB Director approved the mining permits of Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines (December 2007), David M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI) (2008), Eramen Minerals, Inc. (April 2005), Filipinas Mining Corporation, Inc./LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc. and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation from 2005 onwards, the complainants noted.

“Since the operations of the abovementioned mining companies, there was a widespread gradual destruction and pollution of the land and waters of our beloved town. The damage to the environment of Sta. Cruz, Zambales by mining is well documented,” they said in the complaint, which cited a 2009 Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) article entitled “Mining turns Zambales river into color of blood.”


Seeking easy wins, task force targets black sand quarrying

By Vince Alvic A. F. Nonato, Reporter

Business World Online

22 September 2015

THE FIRST REPORT of the interagency Fact-Finding Committee on Illegal Mining launched on Tuesday tackled mostly small-scale mining and rampant illegal black sand quarrying, in order to score easy wins before moving on to bigger violators.

Secretary Leila M. de Lima said since its inception in October 2012, the joint fact-finding team by the Departments of Justice (DoJ), Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) focused on the more rewarding task of dismantling illegal operations.

Details of the FFC’s investigation and recommendations on these illegal small-scale mining along eight coastal provinces were detailed in the 137-page book, Philippine Mining Unearthed.

The book flagged the quarrying of magnetite black ore, or black sand, as the most common form of illegal mining in the country.

Ms. de Lima said disrupting illegal small-scale operations was first priority ahead of big-ticket extraction projects that may be operating unlawfully and causing environmental damage.

“We are not yet there, because we focused on the fundamental. We prioritized [black sand mining] because it is easier,” she said in Filipino on the sidelines of the launch.

She noted that it was easier to confront black sand mining because operators were in no-go zones to begin with, and can be caught in the act. This meant the FFC can take down illegal structures without the need for a court order.

“At first, there would be resistance; they would send lawyers to question our operations,” Ms. de Lima told reporters, but added that ultimately the team faced no legal challenges. Instead, it filed 13 cases against black sand miners, which are now pending before the courts.

Meanwhile, the DILG was tasked to look into reports of local officials and police found supporting or tolerating illegal mining and quarrying, she said.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo G. Jasareno said during the ceremony that “the presence of illegal mining is one of the big reasons why many people still don’t understand why government has to (support) mining.”

“Many have the impression that mining... destroys, rather than builds communities,” Mr. Jasareno said. “There are so many misconceptions about mining, so much so that there are more of those who would not want mining to be pursued as a development option (compared with) those supporting mining.”

He said that the convergence of the DENR, DoJ and DILG enabled the government to confront illegal mining, as Ms. de Lima noted that operators tend to defy cease-and-desist orders issued by the MGB.

The report listed the following findings:

• The need to check the integrity of evidence and train law enforcement authorities on proper handling and custody;

• The shortcomings of local chief executives in properly managing their resources, leading to the need for national government intervention;

• The lack of transparency in public records;

• The need for coordination among regulatory agencies;

• The need to regulate the participation of foreigners hired as technical personnel, as well as report their presence;

• The need to monitor investors’ capacity to rehabilitate and maintain biodiversity; and

• The need to institutionalize interagency mechanisms on illegal mining.

The 137-page book said black sand mining is rampant in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Cagayan, Pangasinan, Zambales, Pampanga, Camarines Norte, Davao Oriental and Agusan del Sur.

It found that miners were able to secure permits from the Department of Public Works and Highways, supposedly to conduct dredging activities. Yet others have permits to do sand and gravel quarrying, but not extract black sand.

“The mining companies claim that the extraction of black sand is incidental in the course of their dredging operations. The presence of heavy equipment like magnetic separators, however, would belie such claim,”

Aside from illegal mining, many foreign-registered vessels have been sighted in various ports nationwide. Classified as cargo vessels or dredgers, they serve to transport minerals like black sand to China.

In 2012, President Benigno S. C. Aquino’s Executive Order No. 79 directed a moratorium on granting mineral agreements, including those covering black sand mining operations.


Philippine police chiefs charged over AK 47 purchases

By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Gulf News

21 October 2015

Manila: Authorities have formally filed charges against five top Philippine police officials in connection with the improper purchase of firearms that turned up in the hands of communist rebels.

Police directors Gil Meneses of the Civil Security Group, Napoleon Estilles of the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) and Chief Superintendents Raul Petrasanta, Tomas Rentoy III and Regino Catiis were cited in court papers filed by ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Wednesday.

An investigation conducted by the Ombudsman, the government anti-graft prosecutor, revealed a web of organised corruption in the issuance of licences to private entities for the purchase of weapons used for defence purposes.

The involvement of the five top police officials underscored the corruption in the Philippine National Police as well the will of the government to prosecute erring men in uniform.

Apart from the five senior police officials, seven other people, including two officers and three other non-uniformed personnel were also indicted.

“Respondents were found to have conspired in facilitating, processing and approving the applications for firearm licences of Caraga, Isla Security Agency (Isla), Claver Mineral Development Corporation and JTC Mineral Mining Corporation despite incomplete or falsified applications and supporting documents,” Carpio-Morales said.

The scheme was brought to the knowledge of authorities after the military seized several AK 47s from fallen New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Mindanao.

When investigators traced the origins of the firearms, it was found out that the weapons were originally issued to mining firms.

The mining firms had been allowed by the PNP Civil Security Group and the Firearms and Explosive Units to buy automatic weapons.

Under Philippine law, only the military, police and security agencies accredited by the PNP can purchase automatic weapons in large quantities.

Mining firms had been allowed to purchase automatic weapons on the assumption that they would be used to secure their business.

But as it turned out, corruption had led to the weapons that the PNP allowed mining firms to purchase, being used by the rebels against government personnel, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP itself.

Investigators discovered, among other irregularities, that Caraga was issued firearms on the basis of an expired licence.

The processing of Caraga’s applications without verifying the number of firearms already issued to it, resulted in the issuance of licences beyond the limit allowed by regulations.

Authorities allege Meneses even wrote notes by hand to the relevant officials to expedite the processing of firearms licences to the firms, among other anomalies.


Two Canadians among four abducted in Philippines

Nathan VanderKlippe and Sunny Dhillon

The Globe and Mail

21 September 2015

BEIJING and VANCOUVER — A Canadian mining consultant is among four people abducted from a small island in the Philippines by armed men who descended on a resort marina late Monday night.

Calgary-based TVI Pacific Inc. confirmed that John Ridsdel was among those taken from a new waterfront development on the Island Garden City of Samal, which boasts white sand beaches and diving stunning enough that local promoters have said it could one day eclipse other famous holiday destinations like Boracay.

Mr. Ridsdel is a TVI consultant, though he is semi-retired. A spokeswoman said Mr. Ridsdel previously served as a senior vice-president and chief operating officer with TVI Resource Development, a company subsidiary.

The others abducted included another Canadian, identified by local authorities as Robert Hall, the Filipino wife of one of the Canadians and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

The kidnappers appeared to target those they captured, regional military spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber told the Associated Press, adding that the gunmen escaped on a motorized outrigger, despite efforts from others at the resort to intervene. Capt. Caber said navy ships have been dispatched around the island to block the way to Basilan Island, a stronghold maintained by Abu Sayyaf, a terror group that has over 15 years kidnapped dozens of people, many of them targeted in hopes of extracting ransoms.

Filipino kidnappers have conducted numerous raids on holiday resorts, often demanding $1-million (U.S.) for foreign victims; Abu Sayyaf was blamed for a 2001 hostage-taking attempt at Pearl Farm Beach Resort, also on Samal Island. The extremist group has ties to al-Qaeda, and its leaders have also recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, but the Samal region “is not their real area of operations,” said Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. who has studied the group.

Other militant groups are more active in the area, Prof. Abuza said, although Abu Sayyaf has also “been in moneymaking mode,” and has recently conducted a spate of kidnappings.

However, Graceli Ayuste, who owns another nearby resort and serves as an adviser to the Samal City Resort Association, pointed to local concerns as a potential motive, saying she suspects anti-government forces who “don’t want development” in the area.

Connie Vergara, a local property marketer, said Mr. Sekkingstad is the husband of the late Ellen Lee Kwen, whose powerful local family owns resorts and ferry ships on Samal. The couple had lived in Vancouver, according to several online blog postings, before leaving on a sailboat in August, 2002. They sailed to New Zealand, and moved to Samal in 2007, where they were both involved with the creation of the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort, a waterfront subdivision at the northern tip of Samal.

Samal is located to the southeast of Davao City, an important urban centre on the southern island of Mindanao. It is reachable only by boat.

Ms. Lee Kwen died in 2013, and construction on the resort had not yet been completed, according to Ms. Ayuste. Those managing its construction have been living in yachts at the resort’s marina, she said.

That marina, the Holiday Ocean View Marina, is the only one in the area that can accept large motor yachts, and Ms. Lee Kwen had “had been a driving force in developing and promoting awareness of Samal Island … as a safe and secure, typhoon-free cruising destination,” sailor Luc Callebaut wrote in an online obituary.

The Island Garden City of Samal has fallen under a broader national tourism development plan in the Philippines that has seen heavy spending to improve local infrastructure. On Sept. 9, president Benigno S. C. Aquino III travelled to the island to inaugurate a partially completed ring road that promises to dramatically speed the movement of cars.

“This road network will make an impact on the region’s economy given that every tourist who comes to the Philippines can create one job following the multiplier effect,” Mr. Aquino said at the time, according to local press reports.

Local authorities have also begun studies toward construction of a bridge that would provide a permanent link between Samal and Mindanao, the adjacent and much larger island where Davao City is located.

But the development push has angered some local residents, who accuse resort owners of cutting off beach and water access to maintain privacy for their guests, in violation of local laws. Those owners have pushed back at local government efforts to reopen beaches, requesting an exemption to public access laws and refusing to pay fines. Guests value privacy, the local chamber of commerce has warned, and some resorts would be forced to close if locals are allowed in.

Local leader Armando Tejano Jr. blamed developers for barring local residents and fishers from their own shorelines, and “forcibly relocating” thousand of families, according to a media report from 2014.

“When the shorelines are cleared of coastal communities, they then fenced the shorelines, and developers cornered these including the mangrove areas,” he said.

It’s not clear how Mr. Ridsdel, the Canadian mining consultant, became involved in the Oceanview development.

“I am still learning more about the situation so I am unable to comment further,” the TVI spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.

Mr. Ridsdel’s LinkedIn page identifies him as president of TVI Minerals Processing Inc., another subsidiary, in the Philippines.

A company profile says Mr. Ridsdel has more than three decades of experience in resource industry management and has worked in Algeria, Myanmar, and Pakistan, among other places. The profile says Mr. Ridsdel has degrees from the London School of Economics, as well as the University of Toronto.

A 2012 obituary in the Victoria Times Colonist for Mr. Ridsdel’s mother says he was residing in the Philippines and has one sister.

A sailing blog kept by Mr. Ridsdel does not appear to have been updated since 2010. Under nationality, he wrote “complicated.”

With reports from Tu Thanh Ha and Wendy Stueck


Samal Island kidnapping: Mining consultant could be primary target

By Ben O. Tesiorna

CNN Philippines

26 September 2015

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Canadian mining consultant John Ridsdel could have been the primary target of the kidnappers.

This seems to be the new angle that the authorities are now looking into, after two witnesses claimed that they were released by the kidnappers after getting Ridsdel on the night of September 21, when the incident happened.

In the latest development report released on Friday evening (September 25) by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Oceanview, investigators discovered that American Steven Tripp and wife Kazuko Shibata Tripp were the first ones captured by the kidnappers

The couple claimed that they fought back and sustained injuries in the process. The Tripps said the abductors, however, left them behind inside their yacht for no reason at all.

The kidnappers then accosted Ridsdel and forcibly dragged him out of his yacht. Canadian Robert Hall with his Filipino girlfriend Marithes Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad went out of their respective rooms when the commotion happened. They were abducted as well.

Sources who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak about the matter, said Ridsdel could have made some enemies in his work as a mining consultant for a multinational mining corporation operating in Zamboanga and Compostela Valley.

According to TVI Pacific, Inc., a Calgary-based mining group, Ridsdel is a semi-retired consultant of their company.

Tracing the location

The SITG Oceanview's latest report also revealed that the kidnappers took the iPod and iPhone of the Tripp couple. Authorities said the gadgets have simpacks with them that could be traced to help determine their location.

According to the task group, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is also coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


Mining kidnap victim released by captors

By Liza Jocson

CNN Philippines

21 October 2015

Zamboanga City (CNN Philippines) — After being held captive for nearly six months, a mining executive was released by his captors Tuesday afternoon (October 20).

Philippine National Police (PNP) sources in Jolo identified the victim as Nonong Garcia, finance manager of Tumbagaan Mining.

According to reports, Garcia was released to a certain Celso Apolinario by an unidentified female at the Jolo port at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Sources said that the victim was released after reportedly paying P1.3-million in ransom.

Garcia reportedly departed for Zamboanga aboard a commercial vessel and is expected to fly to Manila Wednesday (October 21).

Garcia was abducted last May 3 in Tawi Tawi province.

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