MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines - Acting on mining at election time

Published by MAC on 2016-03-07
Source: Statements, PDI, CNN, Manila Times, Davao Today (2016-03-07)

The much-commemorated anniversary of the 1995 Mining Act has collided with the 2016 elections. Mining activists have used the 21st anniversary (on 3rd March) to launch a "Zero Vote" campaign, warning voters against candidates with “clear track records of promoting, supporting and owning large-scale mining operations in the country.”

During the final days of Aquino's presidency, activists had emphasised that his term was the deadliest for environmentalists, especially indigenous leaders. At least 56 Lumad (indigenous peoples), including children, were killed in Mindanao under Aquino’s term.

Two presidential candidates, Poe and Duterte, used a Mindanao People’s Mining Conference to volunteer support to indigenous 'anti-mining' victims.

The Mining Act commemoration was also used to mobilise support for residents in Zambales province, who are barricading a national road to prevent mining companies from moving ore to a local port. Police have arrested 11 protestors, but so far the barricades remain as local people complain about the impacts of large-scale mining on their health, property and environment.

Residents in Palawan have been resisting rehabilitation work on an abandoned mine, fearing it will impact on their livelihoods. The Environment Secretary, Ramon Paje, has declared there would be no new coal-fired power plants in the province.

The communist New Peoples Army has said it will target coal mining companies in the Caraga region, given the companies' negative impacts on local communities.

In the last update we reported on the death of activist of Teresita Navacilla (see Philippines: Murderous mining). The local mining company, which has announced plans to start operations, has denied any part in her murder.

An expert report  predicts there will be ground subsidence in magnetite mining areas in North Luzon. In the nearby Cordillera region, communities have requestedthat  Benguet Corporation rehabilitate mine tunnels after there has been significant subsistence.

Finally, a number of miners have lost their lives in a tunnel collapse in the gold mining area of Diwalwal, Compostela Valley in Mindanao.

On Mining Act Anniversary Week: Groups call for ‘Zero vote’ against pro-mining candidates

Kalikasan PNE Press release

1 March 2016

As the 21st anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995 approaches, environmental groups under the Green Vote 2016 Campaign called on the public to deliver a ‘Zero Vote’ against election candidates who have clear track records of promoting, supporting and owning large-scale mining operations in the country.

“We environmentalists, scientists, and mining-affected communities will campaign for a ‘Zero Vote’ against these pro-mining candidates. If these candidates will be elected, we expect an increased entry and operation of foreign and big mining companies who will further grab our lands, destroy our ecosystems, and plunder our resources. Instead of radically changing our defective mining policy and program, these electoral aspirants will allow greater foreign control of our mineral resources and graver ecological devastation,’ Bautista explained.

“The Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas, who is Aquino’s anointed presidential candidate, has proven the most rabid apologist to big mining interests among all presidentiables. He is a shareholder in seven different mining corporations. He continues to receive millions of pesos in campaign contributions from mining companies, including the recently infamous San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI) that is a known repeated offender of environmental laws in the CARAGA region,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, one of the convening organizations in the campaign.

In his 2012 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), Mar Roxas declared PHP120 million worth of shares in Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, Manila Mining Corporation, Philex Mining Corporation, Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation, Mindanao Mother Lake Mines, Samar Mining Company, and Western Minolco Corporation. Meanwhile, SRMI owner Miguel Gutierrez was recently exposed to have freely lent his private jets to Mar Roxas for his campaign sorties. Liberal Party (LP) spokesman Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, spokesperson of LP, used to be owner of SRMI and business partner of Gutierrez in mining.

“Vice President Jejomar Binay is also a pro-mining presidentiable. He received campaign funds from mining companies during his electoral campaign in 2010. Binay’s platform aims to give more economic incentives to mining companies,” Bautista added.

The groups noted that all candidates aspiring for both the presidency and vice presidency have expressed either weak, inconsistent, or supportive stances on mining that generally subscribed to the concept of ‘responsible mining’ floated by the large-scale mining industry.

“Among the VP hopefuls, we found that UNA’s Gringo Honasan was an advocate for the formation of paramilitary groups to guard mining interests as early as 2011. Bongbong Marcos and Alan Peter Cayetano have both expressed pro-large-scale mining industry sentiments over past mining conferences held in the country,” noted Bautista.

Among the senatorial candidates, the LP senatoriables and the United Nationalist Alliance’s Martin Romualdez have the clearest records of supporting large-scale mining in the country. Richard Gordon, a guest candidate in both UNA and Team GP, is currently an independent director in Atlas Mining.

“Martin Romualdez is the former chairman of Benguet Corporation and brother of Benjamin Romualdez who is now the President of Chamber of Mines. The Romualdez family is known as a mining clan in the country. Meanwhile, the LP’s common stand is to continue the policy of the Aquino administration, which includes the worsening mining liberalization,” explained Bautista.

“The unmentioned national candidates should stand with the people against mining plunder, if they do not want to be included in the ‘Zero Vote’ campaign,” said Bautista.

Local candidates

Provincial and regional organizations have also joined the Green Vote campaign to expose local officials who support large-scale mining and other environmentally destructive projects and programs. The Movement for the Protection of the Environment, Livelihood and People’s Safety (MOVE Now), one of the organizations currently barricading against nickel mining projects in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, shared their views during the press conference.

“In Zambales, municipal and provincial officials are inutile to stop the destructive operations of big mining that have caused much misery and hardship for Zambalenos. Flashfloods and massive siltation which buried houses and farms during typhoon Lando last year are the direct effect of nickel mining operations in the province,” said Benny Cayanan, convenor of MOVE Now.

The environmental advocates shared that local officials in municipality of Sta Cruz and Zambales provincial government failed to act against mining in the province. They also noted that Governor Hermogenes Ebdane is also indicted of graft and corruption in relation to mining operation in the Zambales.

A scientific investigation by the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC) noted that nickel mining operations has caused massive sedimentation, lower agricultural productivity, water pollution, decreasing fish catch in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. These results were validated in a recently conducted National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission in the area an at the people’s barricades over the previous weekend, in which Green Vote organizations participated.

Reference: Clemente Bautista - 0905 432 5211

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[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Green groups campaign against ‘pro-mining’ candidates

By Eimor P. Santos

CNN Philippines

1 March 2016

Groups under the Green Vote 2016 Campaign are warning the public against Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay and other "pro-mining" national candidates in the upcoming May 9 polls

Metro Manila — Environment groups urged the public not to vote for “pro-mining” candidates in the 2016 elections, tagging Liberal Party (LP)’s standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay as among the pro-mining presidential aspirants.

In a news release on Tuesday (March 1), groups under the Green Vote 2016 Campaign warned the voters of candidates with “clear track records of promoting, supporting and owning large-scale mining operations in the country.”

“If these candidates will be elected, we expect an increased entry and operation of foreign and big mining companies who will further grab our lands, destroy our ecosystems, and plunder our resources,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, one of the convening organizations in the campaign.

The groups kicked off what they dubbed as the "Zero Vote" campaign days before the 21st anniversary of the country’s Mining Act of 1995 on Thursday (March 3).

Bautista said among the presidential candidates, Roxas “has proven the most rabid apologist to big mining interests.”

He explained that Roxas is a shareholder in seven different mining corporations, based on his 2012 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

CNN Philippines looked into Roxas’ 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) which reveals that up until December 31, 2014, Roxas has business interests and financial connections in the following mining companies:

* Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
* Manila Mining Corporation
* Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation
* Mindanao Mother Lake Mines, Inc.
* Philex Mining Corporation
* Samar Mining Company, Inc.
* Western Minolco Corporation

Bautista also alleged that Roxas also receives millions of campaign contributions from mining companies, including the San Roque Metals, Inc. (SRMI).

Recently, presidential contender Rodrigo Duterte accused Roxas and the LP of backing SRMI owner Eric Gutierrez who allegedly leases his planes to Roxas for free.

The SRMI was also under investigation for the alleged illegal shipment of nickel ores amounting to P28 billion, and Roxas' name has been tagged in controversies as favouring Gutierrez.

Roxas’ camp earlier dismissed Duterte’s allegations as “baseless controversy.”

The groups said United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)’s Binay “is also a pro-mining presidentiable.”

They alleged that Binay received campaign funds from mining companies for his vice presidential bid in 2010, but CNN Philippines cannot independently verify this claim.

“Binay’s platform aims to give more economic incentives to mining companies,” Bautista said.

The groups mentioned LP senatorial candidates and UNA’s Martin Romualdez as having the “clearest records of supporting large-scale mining.”

They also tagged senatorial candidate Richard Gordon for being affiliated with Atlas Mining as independent director.

“The unmentioned national candidates should stand with the people against mining plunder, if they do not want to be included in the ‘Zero Vote’ campaign,” Bautista warned.

The groups also noted that all national candidates have expressed “either weak, inconsistent, or supportive stances on mining that generally subscribed to the concept of ‘responsible mining’ floated by the large-scale mining industry.”


Be wary of pro-mining plunder presidential candidates, green groups warn

Green Vote press release

17 February 2016

Environmental advocates under the ‘Green Vote’ campaign once again reminded voters to be watchful of pro-mining track records and platforms of presidential candidates, reacting to recent exposure of a mining corporation funding the campaign of Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas.

“The continuous and contentious issue of big mining under the Aquino administration did not bring genuine development but rather billions in damages, disasters, and casualties. Now that the open secret that Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party has long been funded and supported by nickel miner SR Metals Inc. has been publicly outed, the voting public should be conscious of the platforms and track records of the presidential candidates on addressing mining plunder,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), a convening organization of Green Vote.

The Green Vote, a campaign of various environmental organizations seeking to have a ‘clean and green’ May 2016 Elections, said that voters should deny votes from candidates that will have the same implemented policies and programs as the previous administrations such as the Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79 (EO 79). Conveners of the campaign commented on the current presidential aspirants.

“It is no wonder that the platform of Mar Roxas on mining is only to continue Aquino’s ‘Tuwid na Daan’ dogma, and we expect no significant change to take place if he is elected as president. Binay has also been vocal about pushing for greater mining liberalization in the country and in opposition to increasing taxes for mining companies,” said Bautista.

The groups warned that a presidency under the two aspirants would ensure a continuity of the current destructive and pollutive mining regime.

“Rodrigo Duterte, as mayor of Davao City, implemented a mining ban in the city during his term, but recently expressed support for the controversial concept of ‘responsible mining.’Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile,also subscribed to ‘responsible mining’ but pushed for a more transparent disclosure of records of mining companies. Sen. Miriam Santiago, on the other hand, pursued a senate investigation on some illegal small-scale mining sites,” said Kim Gargar, spokesperson of Mindanao-based alliance Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao.

The groups furthered that in spite of the track record of the three presidential aspirants, the current efforts are insufficient to halt the current adverse impacts of foreign and large-scale mining in the country.

“We are urging Duterte, Poe and Santiago to have firmer stands on the issues of mining. They should support the call of the people to scrap the Mining Act of 1995, the root cause of mining plunder in the country, and seek to reorient country’s current policy on mining towards people’s needs and environmental safety. Only through this way that the plunder of our natural resources will end and mining can genuinely deliver development to the Filipino people,” ended Bautista

The Green Vote said that they will release a comprehensive study on the platforms of presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates’ track record and in the standpoint of the environment in the coming March.

The Green Vote campaign was initiated by the AGHAM – Advocates of Science & Technology for the People, AGHAM Youth, Amianan Salakniban, Ban Toxics, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Defend Ilocos, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Kalikasan PNE, Kalikasan Youth, Katribu, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Panalipdan- Southern Mindanao, PoliSEA, Protect Sierra Madre, Religious of the Good Shepherd – JPIC, Save Freedom Island Movement, UP Saribuhay, and 350.org Pilipinas.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista 0905 432 5211

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[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Wannabes challenged: Take stand on mining

by Nelson S. Badilla, Reporter

Manila Times

14 February 2016

A RESEARCH group identified with the leftist “national democratic” movement has urged the five presidential candidates to come up with a plan that will put an end to large-scale mining in the country since it has made no substantial contribution to the economy.

Ibon Foundation said what large-scale mining has done to the country are “destruction, poverty and attacks on mining-affected areas.”

Large-scale mining has “done little for the economy,” Ibon argued.

Ibon’s statement was issued after the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) recently expressed hopes for a mining rebound in 2016 because of the seemingly “mining-friendly” roster of presidential candidates.

CMP said it prefers a President who will uphold the Mining Act of 1995 and ensure the benefits of mining investors.

The five presidential candidates are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe, former Interior chief Manuel Roxas 2nd, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

According to Ibon, the large-scale mining industry has “only contributed an annual average of 0.4 percent of total employment in 1997-2014 and 0.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1998-2014.”

The AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM) and the Philippine Climate Justice Movement (PCJM) also believe that the mining industry has made little contribution to the country’s economy.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM, said, “If we compute the government data itself from 1995 where the mining industry [officially] started up to this date, its contribution to the economy, that is to GDP [gross domestic product], is less than 1 percent. That is the average per year for 20 years.”

“In other words, [the mining industry] made no significant contribution to the economy,” Garganera added.

PCJM president Liddy Nacpil told The Manila Times that the industry’s contribution to the economy was extremely smaller than what the mining firms have been accumulating from the country’s mineral resources, which form part of the country’s wealth.

Checking with data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), The Manila Times found that the contribution of the mining industry to the country’s GDP last year alone was pegged at 0.7 percent.

The same figure was recorded for in 2012 and 2013 but for 2011, the contribution to GDP was reported at one percent, according to the MGB.

In terms of employment, MGB noted that the mining industry has provided as many as 255,000 jobs (in the 2nd quarter of 2015) and as low as 211,000 jobs (in 2011). These figures were only 0.6 percent of the total employed workers in 2015 and 2011.

In terms of taxes, fees and royalties, MGB revealed that the highest collective amount paid by the mining industry to the government (national government, local government units, Bureau of Internal Revenue, DENR and MGB was recorded last year at P27.9 billion and the lowest was in 2012 with P19.44 billion.

According to Ibon’s chief researcher Rosario Bella Guzman, the MGB data have clearly proven three things: that the mining industry contributes very little to the Philippine economy, contributes abundantly to the economy of other countries and yielded high profit to the mining firms.

Guzman pointed out that the poor or small contribution of the mining industry to the country’s economy was not only during the past five years but since after the Mining Act of 1995 was implemented 20 years ago.

Ibon argued that “the 2016 elections is an opportunity for presidential hopefuls genuinely concerned with national development and industrialization to rethink the country’s mining liberalization policy.”


Groups to track poll candidates’ stance on environment issues

by Jonathan L. Mayuga

http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/groups-to-track-poll-candidates-stance-on-environment-issues/

3 February 2016

PROENVIRONMENT groups on Wednesday vowed to mainstream the issue of environment in the 2016 national election and vowed to unmask candidates with bad environmental track record.

Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) said most candidates set aside the issue of environment during the campaign.

Likewise, Bautista said voters are more concerned on other issues such as employment, food security, education, health and other issues, which indicate that the low level of awareness about environmental issues.

“We are tracking the platforms of national candidates. Right now, puro motherhood statement,” he added.

He said green groups will weigh the candidates based on their track record and stance on at least 10 major environmental issues.

“Si Roxas, definitely pangit na ang record sa amin. His pronouncements so far has no critique of the track of the current administration, which is not pro-environment,” he said, referring to Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Araneta Roxas II.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, on the other hand, appears to be promising and even vowed to support large-scale miners, which the environmental groups say would lead to massive destruction of ecosystems, Bautista said.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, on the other hand, has a good policy when it comes to mining, Bautista said, but added that the tough-talking mayor is pro-coal-fired power plants.

On Tuesday along with other environmental groups, Kalikasan-PNE launched the “Green Vote Campaign 2016,” which aims to scrutinize the current crop of electoral candidates from the presidential to the senatorial levels.

Bautista said they will conduct a background research on the track records and enjoin candidates to take a survey.

“We want to know who among the candidates have proenvironment platforms. We want to know their position on critical environmental issues,” Bautista added.

The 10 major environmental concerns that they will challenge candidates to take on as their platforms are big mining; large-scale logging; solid waste and air pollution; free trade and transboundary waste; GMO crops; land-use conversion, such as reclamation projects and plantations; climate change and extreme weather events; coal and other destructive energy; rights of environmental defenders; and corruption in environmental governance.

Bautista said they will also shame candidates who continue to harm the environment even during the campaign, such as the excessive use of plastic campaign paraphernalia; nailing posters on trees; and receiving campaign funds from environmentally pollutive and destructive corporations.

Aside from Kalikasan-PNE, the Green Vote 2016 Campaign was initiated by the Agham—Advocates of Science & Technology for the People—party-list group, Agham Youth, Ban Toxics, Center for Environmental Concerns—Philippines, Defend Ilocos, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Kalikasan-PNE, Kalikasan Youth, Katribu, Kilusang Mayo Uno, PoliSEA, Protect Sierra Madre, Religious of the Good Shepherd-JPIC, Save Freedom Island Movement, University of the Philippines Saribuhay and 350.org Pilipinas.


Poe, Duterte share stand on mining in Davao forum

Maria Patricia C. Borromeo

Davao Today

3 March 2016

DAVAO CITY — Two Presidential candidates expressed support to the Lumad mining victims and anti-mining advocates during the Mindanao People’s Mining Conference held here on Wednesday, March 2.

Resource persons and representatives from different tribes and anti-mining advocates gathered at Finster Building, Ateneo de Davao University to conduct the Mindanao People’s Mining Conference in commemoration of the 21st year of the signing of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 today, March 3.

The conference was spearheaded by Panalipdan Southern Mindanao (SMR), Panalipdan Mindanao, Kalumaran, Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), Buklurang Atenista (BUKLAT) and Ateneo de Davao University.

The conference challenged the presidential candidates in the 2016 elections to listen to the demands mining-affected communities and other concerned sectors in Mindanao.

According to the organizers, the conference committee sent letters to all Presidential candidates requesting them to give their stand on mining through a video message that was presented in the Mindanao People’s Mining conference. But among the five Presidentiables, only two sent their video messages – Senator Grace Poe and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In her video message, Senator Poe sent her support to to the ongoing conference, but did not expound her stand on the mining situation in the Philippines.

“Binabati ko ang lahat na kalahok ng Mindanao People’s Mining Conference, naway magkaroon kayo ng makabulohang pagtitipon para sa ikabubuti ng ating bayan,” Poe said in her 12 second video.

Mayor Duterte on the other hand stated he does not allow mining activities in Davao City because of the dreadful effects it does to the environment. He also added that mining is good when it is done according to a set of standards.

“My view in Davao City is I do not allow mining, not because I do not allow it but I have yet to find the standard to impose on doing business in mining. For most is the protection of the environment and so as not to contribute to the footprints of carbon, destruction of ecology, which is really terrible, it cannot be repaired in just one generation, two or three,” said Duterte.

He added: “It will take a lifetime to ponder on this thing and so we have to be really careful.”

“Mining is good when it is done according to the standards, the best there is. But mining as it is now, is practically destroying just like what’s happening in Tubay, Agusan del Norte. These are the irresponsible people making the Filipino a victim in is own land,” said Duterte.

Conference objective

Panalipdan-SMR, Kim Gargar, said that the objectives of the conference is to unify all mining affected communities and anti-mining advocates all over Mindanao, it also highlights the people’s mining bill proposed by the mining advocates.

He said the first item for their mining agenda is the call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995.

In a statement, Panalipdan- SMR also said that “the signing into law of the Philippines Mining Act of 1995 of the 3rd of March 21 years ago marked the start of a long struggle of the Filipino people against foreign-dominated large-scale mining.”

“The 21 years of the law has resulted to mining plunder and environmental disasters. Clearly, the Mining Act violates the Filipino people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology,” it said.

Ateneo de Davao University stands against mining

The Ateneo community also condemned the extra-judicial killings and harassment that were inflicted on the Indigenous peoples who are opposing foreign large-scale mining. Human rights advocate and Ateneo de Davao University president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ expressed his support to the Lumad victims of mining in the conference.

“We oppose the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Under this law a lot of negative things happened to our country especially to our indigenous brothers. The law has allowed our resources owned by the Filipino people, owned by the indigenous communities in their ancestral domain, are brought to other countries at almost no cost,” he said in Filipino.

The Philippines has one of the world’s richest mineral deposits, especially in Mindanao where the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) estimated a value reaching $1.4 trillion in mineral reserves of gold, copper, nickel, aluminum, and chromite.

The conference carried the theme: “Mindanao People’s Mining Conference: Strengthening Mindanao people’s unity in the defense of Mindanao patrimony and ancestral lands against foreign mining plunder.”

After the conference, the participants, who are composed of small-scale miners, indigenous peoples, and students marched towards the Mines Geosciences Bureau office here to stage a protest. (davaotoday.com)


Aquino’s presidency is deadliest for environmentalists

by Clemente Bautsta, Kalikasan PNE

Bulatlat - http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/02/27/aquinos-presidency-is-deadliest-for-environmentalists/

27 February 2016

Racking up 56 cases of political killings of environmentalists in its nearly six years of rule, the Aquino administration has already surpassed the record set by the preceding decade-long Arroyo presidency in being the deadliest.

A 2014 study by international watchdog Global Witness corroborates this claim to infamy, noting that the Philippines is the second most dangerous place in the world for environmental advocates, and is in fact the deadliest in Southeast Asia.

Kalikasan PNE started to monitor the killings of environmentalists in the Philippines in 2001. Since then, it has recorded 92 cases. There may be more out there that remains undocumented.

We have not yet included the killing of Nelbert Esguiran, president of the reforestation group United Canlusong Upland Reforestation and Development in Negros Occidental in November 8, 2015, and of French national Jean Marc Messina, his wife Jewelyn Venturillo and their son last January 26, as police or independent investigations have yet to clear the motive of their cases.

Killings under Aquino down the wire

The attacks on environmental advocates continue under President Aquino. This early 2016, suspected military forces committed a series of killings and other human rights violations (HRVs) among enviornmental advocates.

A 15 year-old Lumad student, Alibando Tingkas, was killed by suspected members of paramilitary group Alamara, a known defender of mining and plantation interests in the Davao region. Christopher Matibay a 43 year-old local leader of Barug Katawhan, an organization of typhoon Pablo (Bopha) survivors in Southern Mindanao, was killed in January 18.

Next, anti-large-scale mining activist Teresita Navacilla of Save Pantukan Movement in Compostela Valley, was killed in January 27. A day after, Alex Josol was clobbered almost to death by suspected members of the Philippine Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion on Jan. 28. Josol is the chairperson of Indug Kautawan, the organization of Pablo survivors in Compostela Valley.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), aided by private security forces of the notorious environmental criminal DM Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) Holdings, tried to dismantle the barricade put up by residents of Bayto village in Sta. Cruz, Zambales in their bid to bar the passage DMCI trucks into their community.

DMCI, along with three other mining companies, is extracting and shipping out nickel ore from Zambales. These mining operations have already caused widespread environmental destruction and negative health impacts to the communities.

Some 11 community protesters were arrested and charged by the PNP for obstructing the mining operations. Several more were hurt by the police during the crackdown. The community barricade still holds.

Beating the Oplan Bayanihan deadline

The continuing killings and human rights violations of environmental activists under Aquino fully demonstrated the fascist and anti-environment character of the current administration. This deplorable impunity toes the line of the widely criticized and detested anti-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan (Operational Plan Collective Endeavor).

Oplan Bayanihan, euphemistic on paper and brutally frank in practice, aims to weaken people’s resistance to government and corporate programs and projects in the countryside. These include the operations of large-scale mining, commercial logging, agricultural plantations, and big dams and other infrastructure.

No wonder then that most of the killed environmentalists that we recorded, which account for 79 percent of the total, are anti-mining activists opposing big mines.

In Palawan, dubbed as the country’s last ecological frontier, people opposing environmentally destructive projects such as large-scale mining, palm-oil plantations, coal power plants, illegal logging, and other forms of ‘development aggression’ have been consistently harassed and threatened with harm.

A major factor in this perpetuating impunity is the failure of government to resolve the mounting human rights violations. Aside from one case with a watered-down decision, all recorded killings have yet to be solved by the Aquino government. Almost all identified suspects and perpetrators of these killings, majority are state forces, remain at large.

Fighting for justice

The prevailing human rights situation tells us that state authorities and the legal justice system are skewed in favor of the rights violators and environmental criminals. But like those barricading in Bgy. Bayto, the Filipino people are beginning to understand that justice can only be attained in the Philippines by fighting for it tooth and nail.

A reality that has flourished amid the state-sponsored impunity is that there are venues outside the system to claim justice that enjoy popular support.

The growing revolutionary government represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA), both under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has enforced its own system of justice within their territories.

On January 14, 2016, the NPA implemented their death verdict to William Versoza in Bgy. Patitinan, Sangay Camarines Sur. On February 7, the NPA gunned down Bernabe Abanilla in Bgy. Doroluman, Arakan, Cotabato province. Both were members of the government paramilitary group CAFGU.

Abanilla, according to the NPA, was behind the killing of known anti-mining activist and Italian priest Fr. Fausto ‘Pop’ Tenorio last October 17, 2011. Versoza, on the other hand, was tagged by the NPA as the murderer of Menchie Alpajora, who was an anti-illegal trawl fishing advocate killed in July 29, 2015. The NPA said these two perpetrators were punished as part of their revolutionary justice.

NPA is also known to punish operations of large-scale mining and agricultural plantations in the Philippines, and disarm and attack military and paramilitary groups defending these destructive projects. Only this month the NDF Northern Eastern Mindanao (NEMR) Region banned coal mining in CARAGA and ordered the NPA “to carry out punitive actions to prevent coal mining companies from operating in the areas.” This they do by destroying the mining companies’ equipment, preventing its agents or administrators from entering the area and attacking its armed troops. Last December 2015 it warned giant agrocorporations like Dole and Del Monte to stop aerial spraying saying they will shoot at crop dusters aircrafts.

Revolution rages on in the countryside. It is a concrete manifestation of the people’s rejection of systemic impunity in the Philippines. The killings and other HRVs have indeed caused much loss for the people, but it has also galvanized their defense of their communities, environment and natural resources. It has not deterred the advocates and communities from asserting their rights and working toward the protection of the environment.

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Clemente Bautista is the national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment in the Philippines. He is also the regional coordinator of the Oil Watch – Southeast Asia, and the Yes to Life, No to Mining Network.For comments, email him at secretariat@kalikasan.net.


Are indigenous Filipinos being murdered for anti-mine activism?

How paramilitaries rule by fear in Mindanao

By Lennart Hofman

http://www.irinnews.org/feature/2016/02/26/are-indigenous-filipinos-being-murdered-anti-mine-activism

26 February 2016

DAVAO - Kailo Bontulan sat in front of a cluster of thatched bamboo huts next to a humble Protestant church in Davao, a city on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. About 700 members of his indigenous community fled there almost a year ago following deadly attacks by paramilitary groups.

“In the camp I feel safe. The army can't abduct me that easy, like back home where I can disappear without a trace,” said the community leader. “Here we are together and strong, and able to tell the world what is done to us by the army.”

Bontulan spoke too soon. Weeks later, on 24 February, unidentified men set the makeshift camp on fire, burning two buildings to the ground and injuring five people.

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines said in a statement that Lumads, a collective term for the numerous indigenous peoples of Mindanao, continued to be harassed even after fleeing their villages. In December, the displaced community camping around the church received threats that their temporary dwellings would be burned down.

“The threats have been executed, and, once again, the Lumads have been harmed,” the church said.

The Lumads find themselves caught in the middle of a violent struggle between an array of armed groups. The Philippine Army is battling the New People’s Army, which has waged a Maoist guerrilla struggle since 1969. The government army has allegedly drawn on indigenous communities to form paramilitary groups, which are accused of some of the worst abuses.

Paramilitary links

After a 1 September attack allegedly committed by the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group that killed three indigenous leaders in the town of Lianga in Surigao del Sur, the province’s outspoken governor Johnny Pimentel said in a statement: “The military created a monster.”

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, has expressed concern about links between the army and paramilitaries. The Philippine human rights group Karapatan says it has documented the relationship between the military and the Alamara, another Mindanao paramilitary group, going back to 2002.

Military officials routinely deny such allegations.

But the circumstantial evidence is so strong that former justice secretary Leila de Lima announced last September an investigation into violence against Lumads and promised to probe the role of “paramilitary groups”, which are by definition connected to the army.

Since that statement, however, the ministry has released no further information about the investigation, and de Lima was replaced in January. Officials at the Justice Ministry did not respond to phone calls or emails.

Mining violence

There is an economic element to the plight of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. The area is rich in minerals and the province of Surigao del Sur has been designated by the government as the “mining capital of the Philippines”, Human Rights Watch has noted.

After Wednesday’s arson attack, the church said: “The Lumads live in mineral rich areas coveted by foreign mining companies. There is massive militarisation in these areas to protect foreign mining interests.”

It is a common enough allegation, but it’s hard to prove a direct connection between the individual acts of violence and mining interests.

However, anti-mining activists like Bontulan often receive death threats from members of the military. “They told a family member they would skin me alive if they ever saw me again in the village,” he told IRIN.

Bontulan takes the warning seriously. Targeted killings are common in Mindanao, and although the assailants are rarely prosecuted, the victims are disproportionately Lumads and often involved in anti-mining activities.

On 9 February, two Lumads were killed and others wounded in Compostela Valley Province, where the Compostela Farmers Association has opposed mining. The human rights group Karapatan said one of the victims killed by an unknown assailant was the sister of a CFA activist, while the second person was killed when the army bombarded the village of Sitio Diat.

Local media quoted an army spokesman saying the bombardment occurred during a battle with the NPA, but Karapatan denied that NPA elements were in the area at the time and accused the army of indiscriminately bombing the village. IRIN requested comment from the army on this incident and its alleged support for paramilitaries, but a spokesman did not reply before publication.

Karapatan also documented the extrajudicial killings of four people in Compostela Valley and Davao del Sur provinces in January.

Despite the continuous attacks, indigenous leaders say they will not be driven from their lands.

Sabello "Tatay Bello" Tindasan, a CFA member, fled to Davao after a soldier shot at his son-in-law in November but missed. That followed a hail of bullets on his home from a nearby army base after he participated in a roadblock last June to prevent a mining company from bringing heavy equipment into the area.

In January, Tindasan decided to return home despite the risks. Standing by his house, which is still pockmarked by gunfire, he told IRIN: “This is my ancestral land. It belonged to my father and it will belong to my son. I have no other choice than to stay and defend it.


Philippines: Stop the Lumad ethnocide!

Cordillera Peoples Alliance press release

4 February 2016

In these most difficult times, the Igorots in the north express their solidarity with the Lumad in the south.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) calls for an immediate stop to the continuing attacks against the Lumad in Mindanao in the guise of national security and development. The attacks against the communities and organizations of Lumad especially in the provinces of Bukidnon; Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Compostela Valley is leading to ethnocide, humanitarian crises and lawlessness. But what is deeply disturbing and calls for the strongest condemnation is the escalation of attacks against children and students of Lumad alternative schools.

At least 56 Lumad including children were killed in Mindanao under Aquino’s term. More than 20,000 individuals fled their communities, half of which are children. They continue to live under dehumanizing conditions in evacuation centers. Other cases include 99 cases of harassment, 9 incidents of community bombings, 54 cases of forced evacuations, rape, enforced disappearances.

In January this year, at least two children were killed by the Alamara, a paramilitary group created and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and big foreign mining corporations. Not contented with their killing spree, the AFP is also filing trumped up charges against members and leaders of Lumad communities and their organizations. Dulphing Ogan, Secretary General of Kalumaran, a confederation of different indigenous tribes in Mindanao and partner of CPA, was charged with a trumped up case along with 52 others. Earlier, another 190 members of peoples organizations were also filed with similar trumped up charges.

These are not simply ordinary and isolated cases. In fact, these are planned and systematic violations with impunity which clearly aim to silence the opposition of the Lumads. This is ethnocide.

The biggest mining operations in Mindanao and the vast commercial plantations covering a total of roughly 631,775 hectares, is situated within or near Lumad ancestral lands and communities. History instructs us that for indigenous peoples, land is a source of life. For the Lumad in Bukidnon; Davao del Norte and Surigao del Sur and elsewhere in Mindanao, their strong and organized resistance denies the entry of destructive projects into their ancestral lands. In response, President Aquino deployed at least 50% of the AFP in the early months of 2015 in Mindanao, especially in areas where there is strong people’s opposition against mining, plantation, logging and other forms of development aggression. Since then, AFP in cahoots with the dreaded paramilitary groups committed grave crimes against the Lumad and humanity in their objective to silence the Lumad and pave way for the entry of destructive projects.

The Aquino regime cannot simply deny and ignore this. Aquino must be held accountable for these crimes against the Lumad. Being the Commander-in-Chief, he allowed his men on the loose and became mercenaries and killing machines for the big mining and plantations in Mindanao. And despite local and international uproar on the Lumad killings, Aquino is playing deaf. The terror in Lumad communities continues with impunity.

Like the Lumad, the Igorots share the same story and enemy in the name of development aggression and militarization. Like the Lumad, our people have been subjected to brutal State repression in their continuing struggle for the defense of land, life, resources and rights. Like the Lumad, the Igorots suffered under the Aquino regime with at least 10 victims of extrajudicial killings. Aquino’s term is ending within few months but still no justice for the Ligiw family, William Bugatti and all the victims in the region.

The struggle for land, life, resources and rights is just and legitimate. Like the Lumad, we will never be cowed thru the use of force and deception from the State and multinational companies. Like the Lumad, we call for the pullout of military troops in our communities and the disbandment and dismantling of paramilitary groups such as Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army. Like the Lumad, we will continue to draw strength from our forefathers and martyrs to continue the struggle for a just society where the rights of indigenous are respected.

For reference:

Windel Bolinget
Chairperson


Green groups storm DMCI office, demand closure of its Zambales nickel mine

Kalikasan PNE press release

3 March 2016

MAKATI City—Today on the 21st Anniversary of Philippine Mining Act of 1995, environmental advocates from Metro Manila, Zambales and Batangas amassed outside the office of the DM Consunji (DMCI) company. The protesters aired their demands for the stoppage of the destructive mining and pollutive power projects of DMCI.

“DMCI operates several mining, power, and logging operations across the country, most having long records of forest denudation, water pollution, community displacement, and human rights violations. They are a clear example of the irresponsible brand of mining promoted by the current Mining Act. The Aquino government should suspend the DMCI’s operations, especially their mines in Zambales, Palawan and Antique,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

DMCI’s nickel mines in Zambales and Palawan, and its coal mine in Semirara have been suspended repeatedly due to environmental violations over the past years. In July 2015, 9 mine workers were killed when part of DMCI Semirara coal mine collapsed. Just last month, communities in Sta. Cruz, Zambales have put up barricades to stop DMCI’s Zambales mine operations. Scores of barricading residents have been arrested and slapped with mining obstruction charges by DMCI.

DMCI’s Berong Mine in Palawan, meanwhile, also has a record of environmental violations. It was fined Php120 million by the Palawan Provincial Mining Regulatory Board in March 2015 for illegal road construction and river destruction.

“Our homes and farm lands are buried because of the flash-floods aggravated by nickel mining. Mine wastes and chemicals have polluted the rivers and the sea in Sta. Cruz. Our children and elders are suffering from hunger and ailments. When we responded with protests well within our rights, the police harassed us and impeded us with legal cases. The government should be protecting us, not these pollutive mining companies,” said Allan de los Santos, a resident of Bgy Bayto, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Petti Enriquez, secretary-general of the Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan sa Batangas (Bukal Batangas) said that “DMCI, which owns the oldest coal power plant in the country, have also caused pollution in the province of Batangas. The Calaca power plant uses the dirty coal that comes from Semirara. The plant has caused massive water and air pollution in its surrounding communities.”

“There is scientific evidence that the plant has been emitting harmful and toxic materials in the air and water bodies for several decades. Studies have also shown that these pollutants have caused negative health impacts, especially among young children. Cases of birth defects and diseases like cancer are alarmingly increasing in number. Batanguenos have long been calling for the shutdown of the coal power plant,” Enriquez further explained.

The protesters hit the human-size poster of DMCI Chairman Isidro Consunji with hammers, to dramatize their anger and disgust over the company’s violations.

The green groups also challenged the incumbent administration and the current crop of electoral aspirants to start working towards the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and the passage of the People’s Mining Bill (currently House Bill 171) in Congress.

“Shameless environmental criminals like DMCI remain unpunished or lightly penalized for their violations under the Mining Act. We should radically change our mining law and enact a new one. A mining law that will ensure erring mining companies like DMCI will be held accountable for their violations and will be barred to continue operating in the country,” Bautista said.

The protest at DMCI is part of the Green Flag Day activities of the Kalikasan PNE, a campaign that aims to highlight mining issues and people’s struggles on the 21st Anniversary of Mining Act of 1995. Other mobilizations and activities were also simultaneously held in the provinces of Zambales, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, and Davao City.

Reference: Clemente Bautista – 0905 432 5211

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[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Rights violation and health impacts due to big mining, confirmed, says green groups

Kalikasan PNE Press release

27 February 2016

Police brutality and land grabbing are some of the human rights violations recorded during the 2-day National Fact Finding Mission (NFFM) in Sta. Cruz, Zambales led by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE). Aside from the widespread ecological degradation, worsened health conditions were also suffered by the residents due to several nickel mining operations in Zambales.

“Zambales PNP Provincial Command deployed Municipal police personnel from Sta. Cruz and Malimanga upon the request of the mining company David M. Consunji Incorporated (DMCI). The police employed excessive force against the barricaders which resulted 17 protesters hurt. The protesters have video and testimonies to prove this,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

During a focus group discussion (FGD), the barricaders in Brgy. Bayto account their experience about the police harassments and intimidation. Also, cases of land-grabbing by local government officials were recorded. A barangay official from Lucapon South who is also involved in mining operation in Sta. Cruz has land-grabbed hectares of forest areas for nickel mining.

“Large-scale nickel mining operations in Zambales are proven detrimental not only to our environment but to people's rights and safety as well,” Bautista added.

Four (4) mining companies with Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSA) are currently operating in the municipality covering more than 12,000 hectares of land, extracting Nickel and Chromite. These are Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI), Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp. These corporations are doing surface mining which strip the mountains of forest and vegetation in Sta. Cruz to get nickel laterites. These laterites are hauled and exported to China. These companies were into various issues last year due to violations in environmental standards and were suspended by the DENR.

“Community members have confirmed to us that there is an increase in the prevalence of upper respiratory infection especially among children. According to them, dusts from hundreds of trucks passing by their communities loaded with mined soils may have caused this trend,” said Rhea Candog, Environmental Researcher of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC).

The groups noted that during a medical study on December 2015 and February 2016, diseases such as cough and asthma were the most numerous cases observed among residents of the said municipality. Local health workers have also confirmed the spike of these kinds of diseases concomitant to the operations of mining.

“We will use these data in our campaign to stop mining in Zambales. We will protest and file legal complaints to hold DMCI and other mining companies accountable. We are campaigning zero-vote on May election against Zambales provincial officials and candidates who are obviously failed to protect the health, safety and livelihood of Zambalenos from destructive mining, primarily against current Zambales Governor and former PNP Chief Hermogenes Ebdane,” Bautista ended.

Among the groups that joined the mission is Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Redemptorist Church, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Central Luzon (BAYAN–CL) and Move Now!–Zambales.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 0905 432 5211

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[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Anti-mining barricade continues in Zambales; cops arrest 11 protesters

By Allan Macatuno

Inquirer Central Luzon

1 March 2016

OLONGAPO CITY—Residents in the towns of Candelaria and Sta. Cruz in Zambales province have been barricading a national road to prevent mining companies from hauling extracted nickel ore to a local port.

Josephine Ignacio, coordinator and convenor of Defender of the Environment for Genuine Development of Zambales, said around 400 protesters blocked a portion of the national highway in Barangay (village) Uacon in Candelaria to stop every passing truck of the mining firms from shipping nickel ore to a port in Sta. Cruz.

The protesters, who carried banners filled with anti-mining messages, also picketed the Candelaria municipal hall at around 2 p.m. on Monday as they urged local officials to put an end to large-scale mining activities in the province, Ignacio said.

She said policemen dispersed the protesters and arrested 11 of them.

Chief Insp. Richard Asis, Candelaria police station commander, declined to comment on the incident.

From last Saturday to Sunday, environmental advocates and church groups held a solidarity mission to support the community barricade against the mining companies.

The protesters were blaming the mining companies for the floods that submerged several villages in their town during the onslaught of Typhoon “Lando” last year and Typhoon “Labuyo” in 2013.

Representatives of the four mining firms—Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.—could not be reached for comment.

In the past interviews, they denied the allegations, stressing that their operations fulfill “proper environmental standards.” In a previous statement, BNMI said it observes the “strict enforcement of mining regulations and the monitoring of compliance with remediation in the past several months by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Environmental Management Bureau and the local government.”

In November last year, the MGB Central Luzon office said the ponds, silt traps and perimeter canals of the four Zambales mining companies showed “no signs of breach or collapse” after Lando hit the province. The barricades were started last Jan. 4.

Last Feb. 7, the police arrested two women as they tried to disperse the protest line manned by around 500 residents of Sta. Cruz. They also handcuffed four other protesters who blocked the access road to the port in Barangay Bayto in Sta. Cruz, Ignacio said last month.

The Sta. Cruz police said they had to intervene because the picketers created a massive traffic jam in the area. Those arrested may be charged with blocking a legitimate business operation, which, police said, violates a provision of Republic Act No. 7942 (the Philippine Mining Act of 1995). RAM


Zambales town folk want big mining companies out

Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat - http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/02/28/zambales-town-folk-want-big-mining-companies-out/

28 February 2016

Sta. Cruz villagers said they do not want another deadly “red flood” to happen.

STA. CRUZ, Zambales – Residents of various villages in this town are calling for a stop to large-scale mining operations, whose destructive open-pit mining in the past 10 years, they said, culminated into the deadly flood last year.

Some 200 protesters led by the Movement for the Protection of the Environment (MOVE Now!-Zambales) gathered outside the North Central Elementary School in Sta. Cruz town proper on Feb. 27, and denounced the continued destruction of the environment by extractive companies.

All the protesters were victims of the flashflood last year. People passing by expressed support to the calls to stop mining.

In October 2015, Typhoon Lando (Koppu) sent nickel-laden mud and waters raging down the mountains laid bare by mining, overflowing into rivers and destroying houses, farms and properties. The floods left seven people dead, and 13,790 residents affected in Sta. Cruz.

There are six large-scale mining companies with Minerals and Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), covering 12,000 hectares in Sta. Cruz. Four are operating: the DMCI subsidiary, Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI), Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp.

The protesters also lauded the ongoing barricade by residents in Bayto village, who had successfully blocked trucks hauling nickel ore, forcing the haulers to take the longer route from the mountains to the port. On Feb. 6 and 7, dozens of villagers were hurt and two were briefly detained by police, who tried to disperse the villagers to make way for the trucks servicing the mining companies. Despite the violence against them, the Bayto villagers had maintained their barricade.

Sta. Cruz parish priest Fr. Noel Montes of the St. Michael Parish spoke at the protest, quoting from Pope Francis’s Laudato Si, which called on people to protect Mother Earth, “Our Common Home.” Montes also praised the Bayto residents who took courage to stand against mining.

“We should not be afraid, because if we keep silent, what will happen is even more frightening,” he said. “There is vigor, there is hope when we act. And God does not lack in giving graces to those who fight for the good of the people,” he said.

Montes also joined the call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995.

Among the protesters were members of Disaster Preparedness Committees and environmentalist groups in communities.

Dinabel Mesia of the Samahan ng Kabataan Para sa Kalikasan (Youth Organization for the Environment) of Malabago village said the youth are taking part in opposing the continued destructive mining in their town.

“We should join our parents in fighting to protect the environment, because we are the ones who will inherit it. Do we have to wait until many more die?” she said during the protest.

The Sta.Cruz residents were joined by Central Luzon progressive groups and Manila-based environmentalists.


Nickel mining aggravates impacts of natural calamities in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, says green group

Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines press release

1 March 2016

Massive losses in livelihood and worsening health conditions of residents were recorded by the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines and other local and national organizations during their 2-day fact-finding and solidarity mission last November 6-7 2015.

“Majority of the population of Sta. Cruz relies on agriculture, aquaculture and fishing for livelihood, but because of the mudflows during the typhoon, most farmlands and fishponds were covered with thick amount of ‘red’ mud. The coasts were also affected by the sedimentation which covers nearby coral reefs. The problem is also causing lesser catch for fisherfolks.”

In a case study, a 1.8 hectare farmland located in Brgy Guisguis was covered with an approximate of 4,723 cubic meters of mud. This amount is even enough to fill almost 675 truck loads. Fishponds were also covered with mud.

Since the commencement of the operations in 2006, most of the people are experiencing rapid decrease in their income. For farmers, from the average net income of P44,000-60,800 (100-120 cavans of rice) per cropping in 2009, it is now only P7,000-P10,800 (75-80 cavans). For middle-scale fisherfolks, from the average fishcatch per day of 50 kilograms in 2000, the fisherfolks are only catching 0-5 kilograms per day. Many fisherfolks are already selling their equipment because bankruptcy.

“The residents and local health workers also confirmed an astonishing increase in the prevalence of respiratory diseases such as asthma and colds. These are caused by the 200-300 trucks containing the stripped nickel laterites passing two-three times a day on the town’s main roads.” Rhea Candog, Researcher of Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC).

Four mining companies with Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA) are currently operating in the municipality covering more than 12,000 hectares of land. These include the Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC; also owned by the DMCI Mining Corp.), Filipinas Mining (LAMI), Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp. These corporations are doing surface mining which strip the mountains in Sta Cruz of forest and vegetation to get nickel and chromite. These laterites are hauled and exported to China for processing.

“The current ecological destruction in the mountains of Sta. Cruz is aggravating the impacts of Typhoons such as Lando. Because of the deforestation on stripping off of the topsoil, the soil is losing its natural absorbing capacity causing flash floods into low-lying areas where most Sta. Cruz communities are located. The unprotected loose soils were also carried by the heavy rainfall causing sedimentation problems in the rivers.” Candog said.

A study conducted by MGB in 2013 confirmed that two mining companies’ – the DMCI and BNMI – “lack of silt curtains and de-silting devices/measures to regularly de-silt the silting traps, ponds, and dams on the mine sites proved that the current mitigating measures are less-effective”. And this have caused the release of nickel laterite into the farmlands and coastal area.

“These mining companies have the historical records of violating environmental standards such as levelling of a mountain in Bolitoc Port without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and nickel laterite contamination in agricultural areas, fishponds and even the coasts. There is a huge possibility that the operations have contributed to the massive mudflows experienced by communities during Typhoon Lando.” she added.

“The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (PMA) tolerates impunity of these mining corporations. The past 21 years have proven that this country’s mining industry is a failure by continuing mining plunder which leads to environmental degradation and human rights violations in affected communities. It is urgent that we stop mining liberalization, scrap PMA and enact People Mining Bill (PMB), which was crafted to reorient the mining industry towards national industrialization and local development, while ensuring the protection of the environment and upholding respect for human rights and the well-being of communities,” Frances Quimpo, CEC Executive Director ended.

Reference: Rhea Candog – 09496204084

Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
+632 920 9099 | info[at]cecphils.org | www.cecphils.org


Church groups condemn arrest of anti-mining protesters

Activists say detritus from mine has killed residents, disrupted livelihoods

Joe Torres

http://www.ucanews.com/news/church-groups-condemn-arrest-of-anti-mining-protesters/75183

9 February 2016

Manila, Philippines - Church groups and environmental activists in the Philippines condemned the violent dispersal and arrest of several people who were trying to stop mining operations in the northern province of Zambales in the past three weeks.

"The police has once again sided with the large-scale miners despite these companies' repeated environmental and health impacts upon the people," Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, told ucanews.com.

Police arrested several residents of Bayto village in Santa Cruz town as more than 200 people barricaded a road to prevent trucks from transporting nickel ore from the mine site to the seaport.

Some 30 policemen carrying anti-riot shields and more than a 100 workers of a mining company tried to disperse the residents on Feb. 7, after 26 trucks were stopped by the people.

Benito Molino, chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, told ucanews.com that armed policemen used force in an attempt to disperse the barricade.

On Feb. 9, at least 11 residents were charged for involvement in the barricade.

Molino, who has been tagged as one of the leaders of the protest, said the barricade, which started Jan. 19, is the "culmination of the people's frustration to the effects of mining."

The doctor claimed that at least seven residents were killed and millions of pesos worth of livelihood, like farms and fishponds, have been destroyed by mud and water that flow from the mine sites.

"What frustrated the people even more is the statement of local government officials summarily dismissing the liability of mining companies regarding the disaster," Molino said.

Residents barricade the road from the mines to prevent trucks from hauling nickel to the seaport. (Photo courtesy of Ben Molino)

The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., a network of about 300 church groups, people's organizations, and Misereor, the development arm of the Catholic Church in Germany, noted that it is common for mining companies to bully environmental activists by filing civil and criminal complaints.

"We consider these arrests and trumped-up charges as forms of harassment meant to quell the people’s resistance to mining operations," said Primo Morillo, its advocacy officer, in a statement to the media.

The government suspended mining operations in the town of Santa Cruz in April last year due to violations of environmental standards, but operations resumed after three months.

Bautista said mining operations in the province of Zambales have caused chronic water, air, and noise pollution to communities in proximity to their operations and roads.

A report made by the Center for Environmental Concerns noted that Typhoon Koppu, the worst to hit the country last year, caused sediments to flow from the mine sites to the lowlands, affecting more than 13,790 families.

The report noted that approximately more than 1,000 hectares of vegetation have already been cleared due to mining operations.


Violent dispersal, illegal arrests in community barricade vs Zambales mining condemned by green group

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

9 February 2016

The environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) condemned today the violent dispersal and illegal arrest of two community members in an ongoing people’s barricade against four different mining operations in the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales province.

“We condemn the violence inflicted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) upon the people of Sta. Cruz to pacify their just demands against the destructive mining operations in Zambales. The police has once again sided with the large-scale miners despite these companies’ repeated environmental and health impacts upon the people of Zambales,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Residents of Bayto village in Sta. Cruz barricaded the roads to prevent the passage of the miners’ trucks that carried the extracted soil. This paralyzed the operations of the said mining companies, namely Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI) , Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp.

The PNP aggressively dispersed the barricade just this February 7, resulting in the injury of residents that resisted the dispersal, and the illegal detention of two barricaders.

The mine sites were suspended in April last year due to violations of environmental standards, but eventually resumed operations after just three months after having supposedly complied with regulations of authorities.

“Mining operations in Zambales have caused chronic water, air, and noise pollution to communities in proximity to their operations and roads. They have worsened the destruction brought by Typhoon Lando in October last year, where locals witnessed red mud flows from the denuded mountains flooding their homes and rice fields,” explained Bautista.

The group cited a fact finding mission conducted last year by the environmental non-government organization Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC), which reported sediments flowing from the excavation sites due to strong rains brought by typhoon Lando. The disaster affected more than 13,790 families, resulted in four casualties, and incurred massive damages to livelihood.

CEC noted that approximately more than 1,000 hectares of vegetation have already been cleared due to mining operations.

Kalikasan PNE said the temporary suspension orders were stop-gap measures that did not give a permanent solution to the consistent violations of environmental and health laws perpetrated by the mining firms.

“We are tired of watching the ceaseless cat-and-mouse games of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) suspending these mining firms in Zambales, only to allow them to reopen after a nominal fulfillment of regulations. We demand the MGB to permanently close down these repeated offenders who have done nothing but cause harm towards the local communities and ecosystems,” Bautista ended.#

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[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net


Zambales mining standoff continues

by Patrick Roxas, Correspondent

Manila Times

6 February 2016

SANTA CRUZ, Zambales: Police escorted a line of trucks loaded with nickel ore from a mining site in Barangay Bayto, but failed to break through a horde of protesters who have been barricading the road for the past two weeks, The Manila Times learned.

Dr. Benito Molino, chairman of Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, told The Manila Times that about 30 police officers and over 100 workers from the Zambales Diversified Mining Company faced off with more than 200 residents of Barangay Bayto.

Molino said the town police chief, who he identified only as Reyes, tried to mediate and convince the people to let the trucks pass.

The protesters were adamant against leaving though, appealing to the police officer’s sense of obligation to keep the peace and to respect the peaceful struggle of the people to defend their rights.

The situation became tense at about 3 p.m. when ZDMC officials began dispatching workers to the area with apparent orders to agitate the protesting residents, an action believed to have had the support of municipal officials.

Molino pointed out that policemen dressed in civilian clothes were reportedly seen riding in the mining company’s pick-up truck.

“This is bad . . . the mining companies together with local officials are using mining workers against affected people. This is a blatant violation of human rights,” Molino said.

But vigilant residents stood their ground and prevented the trucks from passing through their barricade forcing them to return to the mining site.

A woman identified as Luisa, one of the protest leaders, was allegedly picked up by a policeman identified only as Siquig, Molino said.

Protesting residents, headed by village councilmen Raul Ecleo and Louie Mirador started barricading the highway last month in protest of the continued operation of mining firms in the province.

Locals are blaming the mines for causing flooding and massive destruction to the environment.

Supported by affected residents from nearby villages, residents of Barangay Bayto successfully prevented about 26 trucks of ZDMC from transporting nickel ore from the mine to the port.

Molino acknowledged that ZMDC offered to negotiate with the residents but last week but the parties agreed on nothing specific.

The mining firm said it will invite other mining companies to attend another next meeting.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee chairman for legal matters Renato Collado told The Manila Times in a phone interview that the lack of quorum in the last two sessions has kept the council from taking up the problem.

Mudflows flooded Santa Cruz in October last year as an aftermath of Typhoon Lando that severely affected a number of barangays, including Bayto. Two people died as red mud destroyed homes, wasted appliances and killed farm animals.

The seeming inaction by local officials to the problems has spurred residents to initiate anti-mining protests.


Bayto, the village that stood up against mining

Dee Ayroso

Bulatlat.com - http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/03/01/bayto-the-village-that-stood-up-against-mining/

1 March 2016

“It’s better to die fighting, than to die helplessly.”

STA.CRUZ, Zambales –It was an ordinary morning of January 19, but something extraordinary was about to happen in Bayto village, Sta. Cruz town in Zambales province. A chilly breeze was blowing, but the handful of villagers from Purok 4 were all heated up as they came out on the road with one thing in mind: to stop the trucks hauling nickel ore from their mountains to the port.

At a shed along the national highway, people began to gather, halting trucks laden with nickel ore, while letting other vehicles pass through. As morning turned to noon, more people came out as the trucks piled up, and it became a full-blown barricade against mining trucks.

“Stop the mining – that is our demand,” Jose Morello, 66, a Bayto resident told Bulatlat. He said remnant of the red-orange mud from last year’s neck-deep flood is still stuck to the floor of his house. This reminder motivates him to sit with other residents by the road every day, blocking mining trucks.

“It’s better to face the trucks, than to stand helplessly by when the waters come rushing in,” said Morello.

The destructive “red” flood in October last year became a collective, unifying experience, as the affected communities turned their eyes to its source: the mountains, laid barren by 10 years of open-pit mining. As Bayto village stood up against mining, many are inspired to also fight for their lives and the environment.

From a handful of residents, the Bayto barricade increased, as they were joined by people from other villages who are also fed up with the adverse effects of the large-scale mining operations.

Deadly flood

Mining started in Sta. Cruz in 2006. At present, six companies hold a Minerals and Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), covering 12,000 hectares. Four large-scale mining companies are operating: the DMCI subsidiary, Zambales Diversified Mining Corp. (ZDMC), Filipinas Mining (LAMI), Benguet Nickel Mining Inc., and Eramen Minerals Corp. The companies extract the nickel ore and transport them in trucks to a loading bay in Sta. Cruz.

People blame the open-pit mining by these companies, when the rains brought by Typhoon Lando (Koppu) on Oct. 17, 2015, brought mud and dead wood, overflowed the rivers and destroyed homes and farms. The flood left seven people dead and 14,000 Sta. Cruz residents affected.

The companies have denied responsibility for the flooding.

Ruth-Ann Elauria, 17, recalled that the water was rushing knee-deep as she, her mother and two younger siblings went out of their house at 10 p.m. during the typhoon. Their house was high up near the river, which by then had overflowed to a deadly level. As they made their way in the darkness, the storm howled, and stones rolled under their feet in the strong current.

“I thought, ‘Will I still be able to return here?’” Ruth-Ann told Bulatlat. She recalled shivering in fear and cold, as they spent the night drenched in their clothes in a hut in the hills.

As the flood subsided the next day, her mother Annabel went back to find their house still standing, but everything else was laid waste. “I was shocked when I saw our house. I didn’t know what to do,” said Annabel, 41.

Two gaping holes run through and through the sides of the house where the water crashed. Furniture, appliances and household items were all jumbled up to one side. Knee-deep mud covered the floor, where all their clothes were buried, no longer usable. So were all their electronic appliances, except for the TV and one electric fan. The children’s books and school materials were all ruined.

“’I wasn’t able to save anything,’” Annabel recalled telling her husband Ronaldo, who works abroad. “It’s okay,” he assured her, grateful that everyone was safe. She said she always prepares emergency packs for her family whenever there is a typhoon, except for that time when Lando came. She was at least able to save their IDs and important documents.

Soon, Ruth-Ann’s classmates were texting her, offering to help clean up their house. Some neighbours volunteered to wash clothes. They shared whatever food they had, until government relief aid came. But they did not receive any assistance from the mining companies.

Flood of support

Just as how they helped each other out during the time of disaster, Bayto residents received much needed sympathy and support. Lyn Layno, 67, Bayto resident and pastor of the Assembly of God, said she automatically joined her neighbors in the barricade, and gave whatever support she can.

A kitchen was put up behind a wall by the road, and people volunteered vegetables, fish caught in the river and other food. Food support came from other villagers, even strangers. Layno recalled a passing bus stopped and the conductor handed them a bag of pandesal, saying, “For your breakfast.”

“The people’s humanity came out…people showed kindness and support for each other,” she told Bulatlat. She said since the barricade, she got to know many village mates whom she never had a chance to meet before.

One of the biggest supporters was the Catholic church, led by Fr. Noel Montes of St. Michael’s Parish in Sta. Cruz. “This is the new Balintawak,” the priest called the Bayto villagers’ stand, in reference to Filipino revolutionaries who tore up their cedulas in the Cry of Balintawak, which signalled the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonizers.

As the barricade impeded the mining trucks, it opened the floodgates of kinship and community spirit among many who are fed up with the effects of the mining.

‘On whose side is the police?’

In the afternoon of Feb.6, the trucks did not come alone: they were escorted by more than a hundred policemen – toting Armalite rifles — from Sta. Cruz and Candelaria towns. After two weeks of the barricade, 25 trucks had lined up on the side of the road.

Traffic piled up to several kilometers when the road was closed off to all vehicles, as the villagers defended the barricade. Police pushed against the people as the trucks inched their way through. Police then started grabbing the men, handcuffing them and loading them into the police open van. The women linked arms to keep the blockade, and the police reportedly pushed against them, and grabbed at their breasts.

A 38-year-old housewife who requested to only be called “Layla,” said she saw the police grabbing the women’s breasts, so she turned her back to them, and was then hit hard at the back by an Armalite barrel. She said she incurred abrasions in her back, while many women had bruises on their chests.

Police ran after a resident, Jerome Merano, 34, who tried to resist the handcuffs. Two policemen pushed his face against a trash bin, and punched him. By this time, hundreds of residents have come out, summoned by the clanging of the batingting, a make-do “bell” made of an old truck wheel and metal hammer.

Many even blocked their vehicles on the road. They helped those who had been handcuffed and took them out of the police vehicle, including Merano. They continued to block the road in spite of threats by the armed police. After three hours, the police retreated so the road can be opened to other vehicles. A female resident was arrested.

The people were enraged to see the police escorting the mining trucks, instead of taking the side of the people. But not all policemen were aggressive, as some were also victims of the red flood.

The same scene was repeated the next day, Feb. 7, only this time the police carried batons and shields. Police retreated but had arrested another resident. On the third day, villagers scattered large rocks on the road. Police again tried to push against the human barricade to clear the way for the mining trucks, but still to no avail. Eventually, the police lost steam and gave up. The two arrested residents were eventually released after brief detention.

“Panalo kami,” (We won) Morello recalled. The people rejoiced.

“The police said it was just ‘their job.’ But for us, we’re fighting for our lives,” said Layla.

‘Scrap the Mining Act’

The Bayto barricade may have impeded the hauling trucks servicing the mining companies, which are forced to take the circuitous and more costly route to the port, yet the extraction continues.

In a forum on Feb. 27 during the National Fact-finding and Solidarity Mission led by and Move Now!-Zambales, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, lamented that the October 2015 flooding in Sta. Cruz was not considered a mining disaster.

Bautista called on anti-mining residents of Sta. Cruz to elevate their calls to scrapping the Mining Act of 1995. “We oppose not only the operations, but the policies and the law. We can stop one mining company, but another will just replace it, as long as the law exists,” he said.

The call to scrap the Mining Act is supported by the Sta. Cruz church and Fr. Montes.

‘A fighting chance’

“It’s better to die fighting than to die helpless without a fighting chance,” said Benny Cayanan, church worker of St. Michael Parish and Bayto resident. He said this became the axiom for the villagers, as they made a stand against mining and faced the risks that go with it.

On Feb. 9, policemen charged seven people with obstruction of traffic, public disorder and illegal assemblies and association. Only two of those charged were Bayto residents and had actually been in the barricade. Cayanan said they were optimistic that the complaint will not prosper.

Amid the flow of support, Cayanan calls on those who would like to give material or financial aid to Bayto to course their support through the St. Michael’s Parish church. He lamented that some opportunist groups had been soliciting cash from abroad through social media, but none of such support had reached Bayto.

Many Sta. Cruz residents are still afraid to openly oppose the mining companies, but the disasters that are getting worse every typhoon season are slowly giving them courage to take control of their fate.

They have a long road ahead, but Cayanan is hopeful that Bayto villagers will overcome the challenges. “The people are determined to stand their ground. We will continue to fight whatever happens until the mines are shut down,” he said.(http://bulatlat.com)


Residents resist mine rehab in Puerto Princesa over displacement concerns

By Joy Tabuada, Puerto Princesa-based journalist

CNN Philippines

28 February 2016

Puerto Princesa — As part of its mandate to rehabilitate mined–out areas in the country, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGS) in Region IV-B has started restoration activities in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa, specifically in an area mined by Palawan Quicksilver Mine, Inc. (PQMI) from 1954 to 1975.

The mining left a pit measuring almost three hectares and 30 meters deep. The pit later became a lake, and a source of livelihood for surrounding communities.

However, rehabilitation efforts face resistance from some 116 families who have settled in the surrounding area a few years after the mine stopped operations. The families are concerned that rehabilitation activities will displace them.

According to Leonardo Malindin, president of Milagros Neighborhood Association of Brgy. Sta. Lourdes, the area where they are settled is titled — hence their resistance.

“Mayor Lucilo Bayron said that no one will be displaced that is why we did not sign the Memorandum of Agreement stipulating that 20 meters from the edge of the lake will be taken from our area. We were settled here before they come in because the title was issued prior to the operation of PQMI,” Malindin said.

Maindin clarified that they are not against the project because it is for the protection of the surrounding community. However, he asked: “If they are going to displace us, to whom is the protection?”

The residents fish for tilapia in the man-made lake, which they sell to their neighbors and to customers at the public market of Puerto Princesa City.

Malindin reasoned that it is necessary to catch tilapia from the area because the number of fish in the lake is increasing rapidly, which may result fish kill.

However, PQMI Rehabilitation Project Manager Melvin Requimin explained that there is a need to remove the community in the area as they are exposed to the risk of mercury contamination.

Amid community resistance, MGB continues its fencing activities to protect the community. Fishing from the lake has likewise being stopped.

Based on a risk assessment by Tetra Tech EM, Inc., the mine was ranked a second priority for rehabilitation efforts out of six priority abandoned mines, from a list of forty-four (44) abandoned sites nationwide.

According to the soil and water analysis of MGB, the mercury level in the soil has exceeded the standard of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The standard for mercury is .05 mg/kilogram and but samples taken in the area it is 3.5 mg/kilogram.

The P15 million DENR-funded project is composed of 3 phases. Phase 1 is the pit lake outer perimeter fencing, the second one is the inner perimeter fencing, and the last phase includes construction of pit benches, including engineering and landscaping, slope protection and vegetation and construction of a three-meter “hike-jog-bike” pathway with park lighting.

According to MGB Regional Director Roland De Jesus, the rehabilitation project is part of MGB’s mandate. “Sa new mining law kasi kailangan ang mga minahan ay mag-rehabilitate ng lugar after nila minahin, pero sa old law kasi wala ito (rehabilitation),” De Jesus said.

[Translation: "Miners are required to rehabilitate their areas under the current mining law. This does not apply to the old law."]


Paje freezes ECC issuance for coal plants in Palawan

by Jonathan L. Mayuga

Business Mirror

11 February 2016

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on Wednesday declared that there will be no new coal-fired power plants in the province of Palawan under his watch.

Speaking during the First Philippine Environment Summit at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief said he will not grant any more application for environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) for such development projects to protect and conserve the province against coal.

As a coterminous Cabinet appointee, Paje is expected to remain to his DENR post until President Aquino steps down from the Palace in June.

“There will be no more coal power plants in Palawan. Or at least, I will not sign any ECC for coal plants in Palawan,” he said. Paje made the remark, as he reported to the participants the state of the Philippine environment, where he underscored the need to sustain the gains of proenvironment policies initiated by the Aquino administration.

In an interview, he said there are several applications for ECCs in Palawan which, he said, will not be granted by the DENR, at least under his watch.

“First, the people of Palawan strongly oppose coal. LGUs [local government units] and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] oppose it. Second, this policy is to protect and conserve Palawan’s environment,” he said.

In Mindanao it is understandable to construct coal-fired power plants, because of the energy requirement, Paje said.

“Sa Mindanao, it is okay to put up coal [power plants], because of the energy requirement. Kailangan naman talaga,” he said, adding that Palawan needs to be protected, being the country’s last ecological frontier.

Palawan’s natural forest remains intact, even as other provinces in many parts of the country have suffered from decades of environmental destruction mainly because of illegal logging.

Palawan is also rich in potential renewable-energy sources, and environmental activists are pushing for the development of hydropower and solar-power projects in the province rather than “dirty coal.”

Palawan is home to unique species of flora and fauna, but is one of the country’s biodiversity hot spots, as well, because of illegal-wildlife trade.

Two of the country’s most famous tourist attractions—the Tubbataha Reef and the Puerto Princesa Underground River—are in Palawan. Both have been declared as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.

Palawan is being eyed as host to several nickel-mining projects, which call for the construction of coal-fired power plants to support the power requirements of mining operation.

During a brief talk, the DENR chief said the Aquino administration has succeeded in reversing the trend of environmental degradation as far as forestry is concerned, owing to the total log-ban policy of the Aquino administration and the successful implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP).

He urged summit participants to help sustain the gains of Executive Order (EO) 23, that bans harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests; and EO 26 which establishes the NGP. The NGP, he said, has gained recognition for the Philippines by the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Office for being No. 5 worldwide among countries reporting forestry gains from 2010-2015, at an average of 240,000 hectares per year representing 3.5 per cent of the 2010 forest area.

“Sana kahit iba na ang DENR secretary, ituloy pa rin ang total log ban. Kayo ba papayag na ma-lift ang total log ban?” he asked participants.

Paje said he supports the move to strengthen the policy against illegal logging through legislation.

From 2010, the time the Aquino administration took over, he said the number of illegal logging hot spots has also gone down from 197 to just 23, owing to the intensified operation of the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force created by virtue of EO 23.

Through the NGP, Paje said the Aquino administration has so far reforested over 1 million hectares and planted more trees than any administration over the past 40 years.

Likewise, Paje also supports the idea of legislating the policy declaring “no-go zones” for mining under EO 93.

President Aquino’s mining policy has made 84 percent of the country total land area “off limits” to mining, and such policy, he said, should stay to protect the country’s protected areas against destructive mining activities.

While proud of the DENR’s accomplishment in terms of forestry and fighting the illegal-logging menace, Paje expressed dismay over the DENR’s poor performance in implementing the Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act.

He said the DENR is now in the process of readying charges against LGUs for failing to shut down open dumps and controlled dumps within their jurisdiction. Combined, he said, there are still 440 open dumps and 180 controlled dumps in various parts of the country that need to be shut down.


NPA attacks on Caraga coal mining firms ordered

Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano

Davao Today

18 February 2016

DAVAO CITY — The National Democratic Front has declared war against coal mining companies in the Caraga region and ordered the New People’s Army to mount attacks.

In an emailed statement, Maria Malaya spokesperson of the NDF’s Northern Mindanao command, said the region is currently the target of largest coal mining in Mindanao.

“In total, more than 110,000 hectares of Caraga’s land are being targeted for coal mining. This means further destruction of forests and mountains for mining. This will dislocate and destroy the livelihood of thousands of people and worsen the rapid climate change of the planet,” Malaya said.

The NDF said the New People’s Army in the region has commanded all units within its territory “to carry out punitive actions to prevent coal mining companies from operating in the areas, by destroying their equipment, preventing their agents or administrators from entering the area and attacking their armed troops.”

“The more than 110,000 hectares of land have been allocated among mining capitalists. More than 20,000 hectares of land in the region have been awarded by the government for mining to the capitalists Abacus Coal Exploration, Great Wall Mining, Benguet Corp. and Bislig Ventures,” said Malaya.

The mountainous region of Caraga represents 6.3 percent of the country’s total land area and 18.5 percent of Mindanao’s. The region has four provinces and three cities with a land area of 1,884,697 hectares.

Meanwhile, seven companies have been allowed to appropriate more than 30,000 hectares for exploration, while another 62,000 hectares are being offered by the government.

Malaya said coal mining will cause significant damage to the environment and people that would intensify the destruction resulting from nickel mining and agricultural plantations in Caraga.

“The coal will feed the power plants or coal-fired power plant (CFPP). These plants will discharge hazardous emissions that would aggravate global warming and contribute to climate change. This problem is escalating as shown by the increase and intensity of typhoons likeYolanda, Pablo and Sendong,” she added.

She added dislocation of Lumads and farmers will ensue as their ancestral lands and farm lands cover the mine-rich areas.

“This also means militarization to brutally suppress those who oppose, harass and drive away residents from the area that the capitalists will mine, like what has been done to the more than 6,000 residents of six municipalities of Surigao del Sur,” said Malaya.

In September 1, anti-mining tribal leaders of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) and a school director were killed by members of the paramilitary troops. The incident resulted to the evacuation of more than 3,000 individuals who are still staying at the Tandag City Provincial Sports Complex.

“This is in contrast to the land reform program implemented by the revolutionary movement. The reactionary government is instead strengthening land monopoly of big capitalists instead of solving landlessness of farmers,” said Malaya.

Local businesses warned

Malaya has also warned local businessmen and contractors to refrain from doing business with coal mining companies to avoid the destruction of their equipment and business.

Two coal power plants are operating in Mindanao at present, one in Misamis Oriental and another in Davao City. Another three plants are being contracted in Maasin (Sarangani), Sta. Cruz (Davao del Sur) and Phividec (Misamis Oriental).

According to the website of Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 13, the revenue collection from mining operations in 2014 has totaled P15,060,866.70. (davaotoday.com)


King-king mines expected to start operations by 2017: Nadecor exec

By Maya M. Padillo, Correspondent

Business World Online

21 February 2016

DAVAO CITY -- The National Development Corp. (Nadecor) and its partner St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. (SAGCL) are aiming to start by 2017 the development of the King-king copper and gold project in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

In an interview last Friday, Nadecor Operations Manager Petronilo V. Cancino said the Certification Precondition issued last month by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is one of the major requirements that they have been waiting for in order to move forward with the project.

“[We are] eyeing to start operation next year,” Mr. Cancino said of the project which is considered to have one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world with measured and indicated resources amounting to 962 million tons.

Nadecor also received the Declaration of Mine Project Feasibility (DMPF) from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau last month.

The United States-based SAGCL, in a statement issued from its Hong Kong corporate headquarters last Jan. 6, said the DMPF “is the last major permit required to initiate development, construction and operation of the King-king Mine.”

Nadecor holds a mineral production and sharing agreement (MPSA) in the King-king mine, which is due for renewal next year.

The NCIP certification, on the other hand, was issued through NCIP’s En Banc Resolution No. 06-03-2016 Series of 2016 No. CCRXI-16-01-76, on Jan. 14.

“That’s for the Mansaka tribe since the ancestral domain is theirs, so we need the FPIC (Free and Prior Informed Consent) from them because they are the affected IP (indigenous people) community,” Mr. Cancino said.

The FPIC represents the IP community’s consent to operate from the chairman of each barangay, namely: Kingking, Tagdaunga, Magnaga, and Napnapan, located in the municipality of Pantukan.

“The [certificate] is a genuine manifestation of Nadecor’s earnest and respectful relationship with the Mansakas, Kagans, and other IPs,” said Nadecor president Conrado T. Calalang in a statement issued Friday.

“We have endeavored not only to comply with the conditions enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and the FPIC Guidelines of 2012,” said Mr. Calalang.

The King-king tenement covers 1,656 hectares with the measured and indicated mineral resource consisting of “5.4 billion pounds of contained copper and 10.3 million troy ounces of contained gold,” based on Nadecor’s Web site. -- with a report from Carmelito Q. Francisco


Mining firm denies link to activist’s slay

Alexander D. Lopez

Manila Bulletin

6 February 2016

DAVAO CITY – The mining company that was recently implicated by a human rights group in the killing of an anti-mining advocate in Compostela Valley province has denied the accusations, saying that the blames were meant to malign the company.

The Nationwide Development Corporation (Nadecor) and its technical partner, the St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. (SAGCL), said there was no basis dragging their names into the killing of Teresita Navacilla.

Jonathan Banez, the community development manager of Nadecor and SAGCL, told the media here that Navacilla was an ally of the companies in communities in Pantukan town.

“The accusation was baseless and malicious because Bebeng (Navacilla) was our partner, being the purok leader in our project site,” Banez said.

He added that Navacilla was an active member of their technical working group in the area and had helped the mining company being the purok chair in Gumayan, one of the development sites of Nadecor and SAGCL.

“Navacilla is our staunch supporter. In fact she also allowed the development of the road project in the area.”

The mining companies, Banez pointed out, have expressed grief and sadness over the killing of Navacilla.

Navacilla was shot by still unidentified gunmen last January 27 in Gumayan, Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

She died three days later while being treated in a hospital in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

In a statement issued on 30, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao (Karapatan-SMR) secretary general Hanimay Suazo denounced the killing, saying “the only persons set to benefit from Navacilla’s demise are the mining corporations deadly eager to plunder mineral wealth and displace entire civilian communities, along with the military units paid by these corporations to bulldoze the people’s resistance to these corporate land grabbing.”

The military also earlier denied involvement in the killing as they presented a special police report claiming personal grudge was the motive behind the killing of Navacilla.


Magnetite mining in NL will drown coastal communities in 30-70 years, US experts say

Amianana Salakniban Press Release

28 February 2016

BAGUIO CITY - US experts predicts ground subsidence in magnetite mining areas in North Luzon using high-tech “remote sensing” in a published article on January 28, 2016.

In their article titled Characterization of Black Sand Mining Activities and their Environmental Impacts in the Philippines Using Remote Sensing, geologist Estelle Chaussard of the State University of New York and political scientist Sarah Kerosky of the University of California, have proven that through Remote Sensing, data can be gathered “to monitor, control and respond to black sand mining activities and their environmental and societal impacts.”

Remote Sensing is a method analyzing data from remote satellite images to “sense” a change in the geophysical maps of target areas. The study uses the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to assess which communities with black sand mining activities are most vulnerable to sea level rise and impacts of climate change. For years, InSAR has successfully detected ground deformations linked with many geohazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and land subsidence due to groundwater extraction.

The study targeted existing 20 black sand mining sites that need focus from the data verified from MGB data, news, and reports of peoples’ organizations. They also enlisted the help of local environment organizations, Amianan Salakniban conveners - Defend Ilocos and Federation of Environmental Advocates in Cagayan (FEAC) to confirm the existence of black sand mining activities in target areas.

According to their data from 2010 up to 2013, there have been 28 black sand mining operations in Cagayan and 18 in Ilocos Sur. Most of which are illegal.

In the results of their study, “sites with subsidence rates of 1.8 and 3 cm/ a year are projected to be underwater in 50-70 years (while those with) subsidence rates of 4.3 and 4.6 cm/ year are projected to be underwater in 30- 40 years.”

Critical areas they have detected to have been experiencing land subsidence from 2007 to 2013 are Lingayen (4.8 cm/yr), San Marcelino (1.3 cm/yr), Candon City (3.0 cm/yr), Santa Lucia (4.3 cm/yr), Dagupan (4.3 cm/yr), Santa Maria (2.5 cm/yr), Masinloc (1.8 cm/yr), and Balanga (2.6 cm/yr).

In their conclusion, they highlighted the threat posed to coastal towns nearby black sand mining sites. “Rapid subsidence results in high exposure to flooding and seasonal typhoons, and amplifies the effect of climate change–driven sea level rise. We show that several coastal areas will be at sea level elevation in a few decades due to the rapid subsidence. Since subsidence likely continues to affect the areas even decades after the cessation of mining activities due to the disruption of the sediment budget, characterization of the temporal evolution of land subsidence with longer SAR temporal coverage will be critical to mitigate environmental and societal effects of black sand mining activities.”

Amianan Salakniban, the widest network of environment and human rights groups in Northern Luzon calls for the halt of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan and Ilocos to solve this problem.

“The outcome of their study is very disturbing (nakakatakot). We know the negative effects of black sand mining as experienced by the communities based only on observation, but seeing proof based on a high tech scientific study with our own eyes should really bother us even more and challenges us to act to change this alarming future,” said Fernando Mangili, Amianan Salakniban Spokesperson.

According to Mangili, most black sand mining operations in NL coastlines are illegal, foreign and backed by political dynasties in provinces.

“If our government especially the LGU of areas mentioned in the study will not address this problem, a great catastrophe is very likely to happen,” Mangili added. “We should act now before we have another Yolanda in Northern Luzons’ coasts. Let us protect the future of our people in the coastal areas by stopping large-scale magnetite mining in the Philippines.”

They also called for government agencies such as MGB to use this technology to find illegal mining activities in North Luzon and apprehend them immediately.

“A lot of times, illegal mining activities continue even though the communities report it to authorities. This is true in the case of illegal Chinese mining in Cordon Isabela that up until now, the MGB hasn’t stopped it despite the community’s protests. People in Cordon still report that illegal mining is very much alive in the area.”

Reference: Fernando Mangili
Amianana Salakniban Spokesperson
#09291349449


Mine firm asked to fix tunnels

By Maria Elena Catajan

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/baguio/local-news/2016/02/14/mine-firm-asked-fix-tunnels-457210

14 February 2016

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Virac village is asking Benguet Corporation to rehabilitate mine tunnels.

Virac village chief Noel Bilibli, in a resolution, is enjoining the mine company to rehabilitate the old and new diversion tunnels at Ambalanga, Vegas at Balatoc, and the three new diversion tunnels at Batuang.

“It has been three months since the cave in -- sinkhole at Sitios Camanggaan and Batuang but still the damaged portion of the old diversion tunnel number 2 is not being rehabilitated,” Bilibli said.

Last year, a sudden collapse of a portion of a mountain slope, including a major portion of a local road, happened in sitio Camanggaan and Upper Batuang, Barangay Virac, causing displacement of residents.

“It is with high urgency to rehabilitate the old and new diversion tunnels at Ambalanga, Vegas at Balatoc and the three new diversion tunnels at Batuang in order to protect the communities from impending disaster,” Bilibli added.

The village chief said the unpredictable weather and the impending rainy season have forced the community to make the resolution.

Official report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau concluded the subsidence was triggered by the abnormally high rainfall brought about by Typhoon Lando, recording 775.4 millimeter of rainfall for a single day equivalent for one month of rain.

The resolution is backed by the entire council of Itogon and has been forwarded to the Provincial Board for comment.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 14, 2016.


Diwalwal gold tunnel collapse: 4 bodies retrieved, 3 still missing, and 6 rescued

By Lilian C. Mellejor

Philippines News Agency

1 March 2016

DAVAO CITY -- The search and rescue team in Mt. Diwata, Monkayo, Compostela Valley province on Monday retrieved three bodies inside the Australia Tunnel that collapsed after a water source exploded, causing underground flash flood.

A police report from the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 11, revealed the identities of the fatalities as Gelbert Bayot, Reynate Gimeno, and Reymart Pegaret. The body of Ernesto Loquina was first retrieved with the help of the residents hours after the tragedy on Sunday morning.

Police reported that six miners have been rescued while three are still trapped. Those rescued were Alberto Agyang, Oliver Uganap, Aljun Dumalaga, Carlito Morado, Angelito Tonio, and Pepe Mendoza. Still missing are Bryan Monsoon, Roel Dacaldacal, and Richard Monsoon.

The Australia Tunnel Management and Barangay Captain Pedro Semillano reported the incident to the authorities.

The initial information revealed that a water source exploded and flowed into the Las Vegas Tunnel in Sitio Depo, Upper Ulip, Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

The barangay continues to conduct search and rescue operation for the three miners still missing.


Mining tunnel collapses in Philippines, kills 4

Mindanao Examiner

29 February 2016

DAVAO CITY – Rescuers were searching Monday for a group of miners after a tunnel collapsed in Compostela Valley’s Monkayo town, reports said on Monday.

It said four people were killed in the tragedy that occurred in the gold-rush mountain village called Depot over the weekend. Conflicting reports said as many as 5 people were trapped inside the tunnel.

It was not immediately known why the tunnel collapsed, but illegal gold mining activities continue unabated in Monkayo.

The province Philippine province had been the site of deadly mining tragedy in the past years and despite the dangers and hazards pose by illegal mining, the government failed miserably to control the nefarious activities.

In May 2009, at least 5 dozen people had died and many more injured after mining tunnels collapsed due to landslides triggered by heavy rains in Pantukan town. And this was followed by several more landslides during that year that buried miners in tunnels in the towns of Maco and Monkayo.

Two years later, more than two dozen miners were also buried alive in landslides that hit the village of Panganason also in Pantukan town where small-scale miners erected tunnels in mountain slopes. (Mindanao Examiner)


Compostela Valley mining mishap's death toll rises to 4

GMA News Network

1 March 2016

The death toll from the collapse of a mining tunnel in Monkayo, Compostela Valley on Saturday night has risen to four.

A report on GMA News' "News To Go" said a total of four miners have been confirmed killed in the collapse of the Australia Tunnel in Sitio Depot, Barangay Upper Ulip in Monkayo.

Authorities have yet to identify the latest confirmed fatality.

The three other fatalities earlier confirmed by the police were identified as Ernesto Loquena, 46, Gelbert Bayot and Reynante Gemino.

Tek Ocampo of RGMA Davao reported that three more miners identified as Bryan Monsoon, Roel Dacaldacal and Richard Monsoon remained trapped inside the collapsed tunnel.

Those who have been rescued were Pepe Mendoza, Aljun Dumalaga, Oliver Uganap, Carlito Morado, Alberto Agyang, and Angelito Tonio.

Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the mining tunnel's collapse.

Efforts to rescue the trapped miners continue. —ALG, GMA News


Miners back permanent disclosures under EITI regime, warn vs high taxes

By Keith Richard D. Mariano

Business World Online

16 February 2016

THE GOVERNMENT should institutionalize the disclosure of payments oil, gas and mining companies make to the government, according to the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI).

Members of the multi-sectoral group (MSG) governing the implementation of the global EITI in the Philippines pushed for the institutionalization of policies and processes for publishing tax payments, licenses, contracts, production and other information on resource extraction.

“We would like to see legislation put in place that would really institutionalize participation by companies as well as government agencies in the EITI process,” Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa S. Habitan, who represents the government in the MSG, said in a briefing held on the sidelines of the 2016 PH-EITI National Conference in Manila yesterday.

Ms. Habitan, along with PH-EITI National Coordinator Marie Gay Alessandra V. Ordenes, cited the need to ease confidentiality provisions in certain laws covering tax returns and other information concerning oil, gas and mining companies.

“Where we want to have some legislation in place is to hurdle the confidential provisions, for example, in the National Internal Revenue Code and also with regard to how incentives are being reported, for example, by the Board of Investments and PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority),” Ms. Habitan said.

Chamber of Mines of the Philippines board member Gerard H. Brimo, who represents the industry in the MSG, expressed support for the institutionalization of the EITI process to ensure full compliance from all concerned companies.

“The industry wants and desires to be transparent. And if the report is not enough, for sure the Chamber of Mines will support the move to institutionalize EITI,” Mr. Brimo, president and chief executive officer of Nickel Asia Corp., said during a panel discussion.

In its “Second Country Report” published in late December, the PH-EITI saw compliance from companies accounting for 97% of the total reported sales of extractive industries, compared with the 95% coverage in the 2014 report.

Non-compliant companies included Semirara Mining and Power Corp., the country’s biggest and lone coal producer with net sales exceeding P1 billion, according to PH-EITI.

The latest PH-EITI report showed the government received P40.7 billion from the extractive industries in 2013. Of the total, the oil and gas sector contributed P35.32 billion while the mining sector accounted for P5.38 billion.

“The government received P5.6 billion [from mining companies] but total industry income is P30.8 billion. So what is the share of the government [in] the total income of the sector -- that’s 18%,” Bantay Kita/Publish What You Pay Philippines National Coordinator Cielo D. Magno, civil society organization representative in the MSG, said during the press briefing.

Ms. Mago noted the latest findings of the PH-EITI affirmed the need to increase taxes levied on mining companies. But Mr. Brimo said raising existing tax rates would weigh on the country’s competitiveness in attracting mining investments.

A measure seeking a bigger share for the government in the revenues of mining companies is pending at the House of Representatives. The proposed law filed as House Bill No. 5367 requires miners to give up 10% of their gross revenues or 55% of their adjusted net mining revenues to the government.

“As a member of the industry, I can tell you categorically that no matter what financial measure you use to evaluate that tax structure it is way too high,” Mr. Brimo said.

Levying higher taxes on mining companies would particularly discourage large-scale operations, which are better placed to practice responsible mining, the executive noted.

“It’s harder to ensure responsible mining for very small mining companies; it’s a lot easier for big companies with resources and know-how and proper safety policies and environmental policies and so forth.”

Thus, the government must take into account duties imposed by other countries on mining companies before considering higher tax rates for the extractive industry, Mr. Brimo said.

“If government is going to ask for 80% of our revenues as tax... no one will come here, we will not see investments going to that sector because it’s too expensive. They’d rather go elsewhere.”


Ex-Cebu mayor, 7 others in theft case

by Reina Tolentino, Reporter

Manila Times

8 February 2016

The Office of the Ombudsman has charged former Consolacion, Cebu Municipal Mayor Avelino Gungob Sr. and seven others with theft through illegal quarrying committed in 2009.

Likewise facing charges before the Sandiganbayan were then-job order employees—Glecerio Galo, Leonardo Capao, Joeboy Dayon, Juanito Gerundio, Beda Comeso, Nicarter Yray, and Dionito Mangilaya.

Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Gerald Varez accused the respondents of minerals theft defined and penalized under Section 103 in relation to Section 49 of Republic Act 7492 or the Philippine Mining Act, which requires a quarry permit before extraction of minerals is conducted.

The charge sheet alleged that the respondents “mutually helping one another and using the municipality’s dump trucks, backhoe, bulldozer and other resources, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally extract, take, gather and remove minerals consisting of three (3) truckloads or approximately thirty (30) cubic meters of limestone and/or diorite from Barangay Garing, Consolacion, Cebu, which minerals belong to the Government, without a valid permit required under Republic Act No. 7492, to the damage and prejudice of the Government.”

Cebu City police stopped three municipal dump trucks loaded with limestone or diorite and driven by Gerundio, Comeso, and Mangilaya while Yray, Capao, and Dayon were caught in the act of quarrying the minerals without permit, it said.

The Ombudsman further said, the suspects admitted they were following the instructions of Galo, allegedly upon orders of Gungob Sr., to quarry and transport the minerals.

A P12,000 bail was recommended for each of the respondents.

 

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