Philippines - "We would rather die fighting"Published by MAC on 2016-04-04
Source: MoveNow,Zambales!, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS), Manila Times, Mining-technology.com, Christian Science Monitor, Ucanews.com, INQUIRER.net, Mindanews.com
The local civil society group representing residents in Zambales barricaded a national road to prevent mining companies moving ore because of environmental concerns. Following the breaking down of the barricade and arrest of protestors, the local community has sworn to continue its struggle, declaring: "We would rather die fighting than die helplessly from another minng disaster". (For previous reports see: Philippines - Acting on mining at election time).
In the province of Nueva Vizcaya, the Governor has vowed to continue her attempts to block fresh large-scale mining. As for current projects within the province, construction of the British-owned Runruno mine remains halted after typhoon damage last year. However, OceanaGold has had its licence to explore around its current mine extended (a licence that also extends into Quirino province).
The Catholic Church continues its advocacy around mining concerns, specifically addressing Intex's proposed nickel project on Mindoro, and black sand mining in Pangasinan (where the governor has been charged with graft over black sand leases).
Fisherfolk in Surigao have blamed nickel strip mining for their dwindling catches, while in Palawan the sinking of a barge resulted in over a thousand of tons of nickel ore ending up in the nearby sea.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance has criticised Benguet Corporation following its being awarded ISO 14001:2015 certification on Environment Management, and pointed to many ongoing issues being associated with the company's activities.
A kidnapped Canadian ex-mining executive, John Ridsdel, has made another call for his release by his captors, alleged to be Abu Sayyaf.
The Philippine government has investmed in trying reducing the use of toxic chemicals by small-scale miners, while an artisanal miner has been asphixiated in a mining tunnel in Benguet province.
Pressure continues to mount on electoral candidates from civil society groups (see: Philippines - Acting on mining at election time), alongside a direct appeal to the current President to halt coal expansion in Batangas.
We would rather die fighting than die helplessly from another mining disaster
MoveNow, Zambales! Press Statement
18 March 2016
Residents of Bayto and Sta. Cruz vow to rebuild the barricade and continue the struggle against large-scale mining
The residents of Barangay Bayto put up a barricade on January 19, 2016 against trucks of mining companies of Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, Inc,(BNMI), Eramen Minerals, Inc. (EMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc. and Zambales Diversified Metals Corpo (ZDMCI) hauling nickel ores from the mountains of Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Since then, they were able to successfully stop mining trucks from passing through the roads to bring ores from the mining area to the ports.
However, on March 10, a few days short of marking the 2-month barricade, 500 heavily armed police and military forces were deployed to the area to tear down the barricade. To prevent a bloody confrontation, the residents decided to temporarily dismantle the barricade.
According to the residents, the barricade was put up to break the deafening silence of local and national government and build greater awareness of people’s demand for justice over the worsening impacts about the mining operations in their town, especially when Typhoon Lando hit the town in October 2015. The typhoon caused massive and unprecedented mudflows bringing logs and rocks from the mountain that affected almost all of Sta. Cruz and even nearby towns. Seven lives were claimed at the height of the storm, thousands were displaced from their homes, properties that took years to acquire were washed out, farmlands and fishponds, people's source of food and income, were covered in thick mud and houses were completely destroyed that the residents of Bayto swore off that such a disaster should never be allowed to happen again.
The barricade started with two people blocking a hauling truck and not letting it pass. This caused a commotion and nearby residents started to flood the streets and refused to let other mining trucks to pass. Since then, the residents dealt with several negotiations from mining representatives who urged the residents to let the trucks pass but the residents stood their ground. They would not be moved from their position, “No to mining in Sta. Cruz!” They persisted to block the trucks instead of risking another Typhoon Lando-like disaster.
There had been several attempts by the police to tear down the barricade. A few residents are now facing charges for obstructing mining operations, and a number has reported physical harassment and injuries done by the police in attempts to break up the community’s resistance. Still, the people resisted. They learned that they need to strengthen their line for a possibly long drawn struggle not only against the mining companies but also from government troops who apparently have chosen to side and serve and protect the mining companies than the community’s right to live free from harm,destruction and risks from mining operations.
Yet, on March 9, news came out that the drivers of the mining companies were preparing to travel and were just waiting for some signal and police escorts. This alerted the residents and they waited all night before the first batch of police mobile carrying almost 30 heavily armed police men came at around 3 am of March 10. The community then found out that policemen from all of the towns of Zambales are to reinforce the first batch. The people who are in charge of the barricade decided to dismantle the tent and secure the materials instead of being confiscated or being destroyed by the police.
At around 5 am, the police from Botolan, Palauig, Iba and other towns came. There were 13 police mobiles, on top of the two 6x6 military truck carrying almost all of the forces from other precincts. The employees of the mining companies, security guards and even private armies also came, totalling to around 500 heavily armed personnel, outnumbering the residents who were unprepared for such force at such an early time.
The improvised alarm bell to warn the community was sounded. The residents came out but were oriented not to do anything because the police are just waiting for an excuse to exercise force against the residents.
Past 6 AM, empty mining trucks were allowed to pass to see if anyone would dare to block the trucks and be arrested, but the community did not move and did not give in to the taunting of the police and mining companies.
After the dry run, mining trucks that are loaded with ores and escorted by armed and uniformed personnel passed and the people could not do anything. It seemed like martial law according to the residents. Guards would ask them where they are going and would reprimand them if they are caught talking in groups. There was also incessant picture taking by the police, they would even brazenly go up to residents for a close up. Children did not go to school during that day because they would be accosted by the police. During the night, the police remained and even put up a bright spotlight used by mining corporations during their operations.
On March 11, around 30 heavily armed police men stayed in the area, to guard the passing mining trucks. Each truck is escorted by uniformed military men with long firearms.
When the police were asked what they are doing in the area, they said they are maintaining a COMELEC checkpoint. Deputy Chief Inspector Ferrer said that they are keeping the peace and order and the picture taking is just for community relations.
All this time, the governor, mayor and barangay captain has been mum during the whole barricade until they ordered their armed forces to side with the mining companies. However, when asked, they could not produce a mission order and most of his men even removed their nameplates. The residents challenged that if was a simple COMELEC checkpoint then why are the mining companies lending their spotlights, generators and even sending their employees to guard with the police.
The people of Bayto, may not have the governor, mayor and some barangay captains, the police and military on their side. But they have the support of the ordinary citizens of Sta Cruz and the rest of Zambales, including, nongovernment and peoples organisations around the country, the parish of Sta. Cruz, the Diocese of Zambales, enlightened local, regional and national political officials who continue to express solidarity and condemn the continuing repression of human rights of the people in the municipality. They vow to persevere in the struggle for justice and overcome the challenges!
Zambalenos, support groups call on DENR chief to stop mining in Sta Cruz and cancel mine permits
Joint Press Release
11 March 2016
Representatives of mining-affected communities from Zambales, human rights and environment advocates demanded environment and natural resources chief Secretary Paje to stop mining and implement the Zambales Resolution against mining operations.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is questioned for its prioritization of extractive industries or the exploitation of our natural resources instead of giving greater importance to the conservation and protection of the environment.
Dr Benito Molino of Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), “Zambales, especially our towns Candelaria and Sta. Cruz, is very devastated because of nickel and chromite mining since almost a decade ago. Suspensions of operations were issued in the past two years but corporations seem to get away with it by negotiating with government agencies, and so they blindly let mining destroy our province. Clearly the environment and human rights is not recognized.
The people set up barricades to implement the moratorium but mining companies resorted to militarizing our towns with local police and private guards. Now if MGB and DENR cannot do their job to implement local policies against mining and stringent environmental policies, they should just resign! The government should serve the people!”
The inaction of DENR and Mines and Geosciences Bureau along with local government representatives in Sta Cruz and Zambales is one of the grounds for a case filed by communities in the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The Aquino government has not learned from the past. In adopting the Arroyo regime’s mining policy, it only perpetuated the destruction of lands, forests and waters and the violations against communities. But this only makes us more determined to continue our struggle against mining, the policies and the implementors that allow it,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
CCOS, ATM, Sanlakas and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice are one with the Zambalenos in calling the cancellation of the Mineral Processing Sharing Agreements or mining contracts of the four mining firms—Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), Eramen Minerals, Inc. (EMI), LnL Archipelagic Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation/DMCI—operating there. They also echo the call of mining-affected communities to revamp of the DENR leadership and for the proper implementation of environmental laws.
Garganera concluded: “Now that the May elections is coming, let us be critical. Vote for candidates who will champion our calls for a moratorium on mining operations, for the repeal of the current mining law and the enactment of a minerals management law.”
ATM has recently launched its campaign against pro-mining candidates and is part of a growing coalition that seeks the commitment of national and local candidates to have an environmental and human rights agenda.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0917) 549.82.18 <nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net>
Doc Ben Molino, CCOS Chairperson (0916) 372.71.84 <ben696molino[at]yahoo.com>
Farah Sevilla ATM Policy Research and Advocacy Officer (0915) 331.33.61 <policy[at]alyansatigimina.net>
CSO Statement Against Mining Operations in Zambales
3 March 2016
For five years, the people of Zambales have suffered the consequences of destructive and inhumane practices of the ongoing large-scale mining operations in the province. The increased risks to the safety and health of people from affected communities; the deterioration of land, air and water resources upon which the Zambalenos rely for their livelihood and sustenance; and the amplified vulnerability of the people to natural and man-made disasters, are only a few among the numerous threats which the residents of Zambales have had to endure.
Within this period, the sharp sentiment harbored by the people of the province against the four giant mining companies who have profited from such operations was not absent. They have expressed with undying determination - through a barrage of barricades, protests and appropriate legal actions - their united strength in order to protect the environment, their lives and their collective rights and dignity.
The proud people of Zambales have remained an unstoppable force in fighting for their survival and their home. And yet, the mining giants have remained immovable objects. Hiding behind the threat of arms and the veil of legitimacy provided by the Aquino government, DMCI, ZDMC, BNMI, and Nickel Mining, have continued to prosper at the expense of the Zambalenos.
Most recently, the provincial government has issued a moratorium against mining in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. In spite of this, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has failed to act on the persisting mining operations. To add insult to injury, in response to the barricade set up by the residents of Sta. Cruz to stop the hauling trucks from the companies refusing to respect the moratorium, eight leaders of this resistance were taken in by police authorities for “obstructing traffic” and “illegal assembly.”
We, concerned citizens and sectors, in recognition of the Zambalenos’ experience of injustice and struggle, and in response to the conspiracy between the national government and the mining companies profiting from raping nature, express solidarity with the residents of the affected communities in Zambales.
We stand in condemnation of government inaction from the Capital on the moratorium suspending the mining operations in the province. We condemn further the government-sanctioned harassment of advocates of ecological justice and human rights who stand with the affected communities.
We challenge the Aquino government – as a final, although overdue, act of respect to the power of the people – to side with the people of Zambales by ultimately ending large-scale mining operations in the province.
We urge the people of the Philippines to unite against the destructive and inhumane practices undertaken by large extractive corporations against indigent communities, indigenous peoples and the citizens of the country as a whole. We urge further that we as a nation ensure that the endorsement of this environmental rape by the government will not carry over to the next administration.
STOP LARGE-SCALE MINING ACTIVITIES IN ZAMBALES!
JUSTICE FOR AFFECTED COMMUNITIES!
STAND FOR ECOLOGY, LIVELIHOOD AND HUMAN RIGHTS!
Candelaria, Zambales Police curtails freedom of locals, detains nine activists
1 March 2016
Candelaria, Zambales Police curtails freedom of locals, detains nine activists
Candelaria, Zambales – Days after the commemoration of EDSA People Power, local police harassed locals and accused them of illegal assembly on Monday morning. The police forced the people out of the way to allow the passage of trucks used by Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI) towards the port in Brgy. Binabalian were the ores would be transported to China.
Many people were hurt and nine (9) were detained. Currently detained at the Candelaria Police Station are Marlo Murciano, Elmer Manamtam, Cristhene Manamtam, Bitoy Ednalan, Roy Edejer, Baba Edejer, Jojo Excio, Charm Jad Barrera with three others.
Doc Ben Molino, chairperson of the Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz (CCOS) said: “The case of illegal assembly against Charm Jad Barrera and the group contravenes with our freedom of assembly. The people are still in shock after their experience with the police who harassed them instead of acting on their mandate to protect the people.”
The people of Brgy. Uacon were peacefully guarding their barricade when the incident happened. The barricade was set up Feb 28 to stop the operations of four large-scale mining firms in nearby Sta. Cruz. Candelaria and Sta Cruz were heavily flooded in October because of the impacts of logging and mining operations of BNMI, Eramen Minerals, Inc. (EMI), LnL Archipelagic Minerals, Inc. (LAMI), and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation/DMCI. A barricade in Brgy. Bayto, Sta. Cruz is in place to stop the hauling of ZMDC/DMCI.
“This is clearly an abuse of power the government officials who instead of serving the people are providing assistance to the mining companies. We demand the release of the detainees and the peoples barricade be respected!” Molino concluded.
The police also confiscated the campaign materials and other equipment of the locals manning the barricade.
Video taken on Feb 29, grabbed from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marissa.pulido.92/videos/vb.100010244880003/222064788145016/?type=2&theater
For more information, contact: Doc Ben Molino, CCOS Chairperson, 0916.372.71.84 <ben696molino[at]yahoo.com>
Vizcaya stops entry of mining firms
by Leander C. Domingo
1 April 2016
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The provincial government here is pursuing its advocacies to stop the entry of more large scale mining companies in collaboration with allied organizations.
Gov. Ruth Padilla said she will continue to collaborate and tap the support of organizations such as ABS-CBN Foundation, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Tanggol Kalikasan and Bantay Kita-Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to stop the entry of more large scale mining in the province.
At least two foreign large scale mining companies in the province – Australian OceanaGold Corporation with its Didipio Gold and Copper Project in the mountain town of Kasibu and British FCF Minerals, awaiting approval of its commercial operation with its Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project in the town of Quezon.
Padilla said that one of her major courses of action is the lobbying for national support on the proposed Mining Free Zone Bill that will stop further destruction of the environment.
The governor’s husband, Rep. Carlos Padilla, who is finishing his three terms as congressman and now running for governor filed House Bill 1298 that seeks to prohibit “all mining operations” in the province and to declare the province as “mining free zone.”
The bill was originally filed in the 15th Congress as House Bill 5800 which was approved by the House on Nov. 28, 2012. However, the Senate failed to act on this measure and was refiled in the 16th Congress.
In the proposed bill, the congressman cited Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) report on the mining situation in the country which described the experience as “has been more debilitating and scaring” and that “mining operations have always been equated with environmental destruction-deforestation.”
He said that the organization’s report showed that mining have resulted in slope destabilization, soil erosion, desertification, water resource degradation, defertilization, crop damages, siltation, alteration of terrain and sea bottom, increased water turbidity and air pollution.
Meanwhile, the provincial government reported an increased collection of mineral tax among small-scale miners in the previous year under the Revised Revenue Code (RRC).
Padilla said the RRC amendments redounded to the implementation of stricter regulation on the extraction of minerals improved its collection of mineral tax from more than P3.3 million in 2012 to more than P6.6 million in 2015.
“We have also apprehended 146 violators of mining laws and policies and the issuance of cease orders to illegal small scale mining activities in the province,” she said.
Vizcaya’s mining works on hold
by Leander C. Domingo
12 March 2016
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The commercial operation of a British-owned mining firm in Quezon town remains suspended this month on orders of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) until rehabilitation is completed on its facility damaged by a typhoon last year.
MGB regional director Mario Ancheta ordered in October last year the suspension of construction and development work on the FCF Minerals Gold-Molybdenum Project in Runruno village after the onslaught of Typhoon Lando.
The MGB has directed the mining company to implement rehabilitation, clean up the area and submit its action plan, which is still reportedly being reviewed.
“We cannot allow a mining company to go on with its commercial operations due to lack of compliance with the requirements based on existing mining laws and regulations,” Ancheta said.
The MGB report showed that the residual storage impounded (RSI) of FCF Minerals failed to contain the volume of runoff water brought about by heavy rains, which overflowed, causing soil erosion.
But until the MGB issues a clearance for the firm, its expected resumption of operations this month remains uncertain.
With a capital cost of $149.3 million and an estimated average annual operation cost of $46.2 million, FCF Minerals expects to produce an average of 96,700 ounces of gold per year over a mine life of 10.4 years.
According to FCF country manager Craig Watkins, the company has at least 672 employees in the mining project.
OceanaGold secures extension for FTAA exploration permit in Philippines
30 March 2016
OceanaGold has secured a five-year extension to the exploration period of its financial or technical assistance agreement in the Philippines (FTAA exploration permit).
The extension will allow OceanaGold to conduct exploration activities in the broader region surrounding Didipio.
OceanaGold president and CEO Mick Wilkes said: "We are very pleased to announce that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the Philippines has granted the renewal of the company's FTAA exploration permit.
"We are now reviewing and prioritising targets and expect to provide clarity around the planned exploration programmes in the coming weeks."
The FTAA covers around 158km² in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
OceanaGold said that previous geochemical sampling over the past few years has identified several gold and copper soil anomalies close to the Didipio operation.
The company plans to re-examine and prioritise its drill programme for the FTAA bounded area soon.
Wilkes added: "The company already has a significant mineral endowment and through an extensive exploration programme, we are seeking to significantly extend that endowment from our highly prospective exploration tenements in New Zealand, the Philippines and United States."
OceanaGold completed the acquisition of Romarco Minerals in October 2015, adding the Haile Gold Mine to its portfolio.
In May 2015, the company invested in junior exploration company Gold Standard Ventures, which is exploring in the prolific Carlin Trend.
In February 2016, OceanaGold said that construction activities at its Haile gold mine in the US was progressing and first ore is expected by the end of this year.
End of Eden? Mining push in Philippines ends isolation of islanders
Activists say government permits for mining companies threaten the way of life of the Mangyan indigenous people on the island of Mindoro.
Christian Science Monitor By Ralph Jennings
15 March 2016
A path cut through a forest hillside outside this resort town is no ordinary road. It will soon connect the modern world to an indigenous tribal group that until now has lived mostly in pre-modern isolation.
Does this road represent the end of a lifestyle and of farming and food sources that villagers have relied on for millennia?
Ask Gabayno Uybad. He grew up in a typical indigenous Mangyan village on Mindoro Island, far from the developed coastline. The community, where people farm both for themselves and the collective, lies seven miles from a modern highway.
Mr. Uybad, a Roman Catholic priest, shares the concern of many tribals here that the road could enable large-scale commercial mining on an island that is rich in copper, iron, and nickel. Recent studies have shown significant ore deposits, and just last year a major mining project got approved here.
Roads for miners would end the prized seclusion of many Mangyan people who populate a network of isolated villages and farms here in the center of the island – and take away the soil and water they need to survive.
“The activities are quite strange for us,” says Uybad, a Mangyan who has a master’s degree from a college near Manila. “In open-pit mining, they strike the whole mountain and in some cases the water might be polluted. We care for the environment and produce food, not necessarily for money, but for our consumption.”
Mindoro is divided into two provinces. Some 14 years ago the government of Oriental Mindoro banned large-scale mining; the other province, called Occidental, has not taken a position.
Yet it is the central government in Manila that has authority to issue crucial mining permits.
More Mining Permits Issued
President Benigno Aquino’s administration has stepped up the issuing of mining permits, seeing a path to economic development in a nation where one quarter of the population lives below the poverty line.
Now tribal advocates here fret that after Mr. Aquino steps down in May his successor as president could be even more aggressive.
Last year an alliance of Philippine indigenous peoples called Katribu launched a Facebook page for the Mangyan cause, saying tens of thousands will be displaced. In 2011 some 500 Mangyans protested the research of sites by three foreign firms. Yet what clout the tribals can actually muster in Manila is unclear.
“The national government has moved to invite or attract foreign investors,” Mr. Uybad says. “We the Mangyan are asking the government to protect our lands. But the government is very slow.”
Among the current candidates running for president of the Philippines, “none have strongly opposed mining,” says Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Manila. Mining firms “look forward to a new administration,” he says.
The Philippines is the world’s fifth richest mineral nation, with reserves of about 14.5 billion metric tons. IHS, a market research firm, has identified five major iron reserves on Mindoro: three areas with copper, and two with nickel deposits.
In the past, mining projects in the Philippines have been held up by environmental opposition and squabbles over how to divide proceeds. Analysts say that permits on Mindoro would likely be issued piecemeal rather than as a flood.
Authorities on Mindoro did not respond to requests for comment on mining permits. Officials in Manila referred only to a set of older policy documents.
If change is to come, it is likely to start in Occidental Mindoro, the province without a ban. Yet the biggest new mining permit, for nickel, and granted last year to a Norwegian-invested company, was rammed through by Manila.
Norwegian-invested Intex Resources says it’s in the “development phase” of its project, which was first proposed in the 1990s. It was initially resisted since its proposed 44 square miles of operation would take place near drinking water supplies. Now it has an environmental compliance certificate from Manila.
Intex says it will respect the tribes. “The indigenous tribes which will be affected are treated as stakeholders and as such, their legal and social rights are respected through the observance of all the requirements under law,” company President Joselito Bacani says.
Likely to break up indigenous culture
Development will bring change. Some of the island’s 100,000 to 200,000 Mangyan people have never seen Philippine modernization and the development on the coast. Many males still use loincloths as clothing. Some Mangyan people prefer that isolation.
“They’re not so organized on the Occidental side, so mining companies can use that vulnerability,” said Edwin Gariguez, a fellow priest who lived with the Mangyan people from 1993 to 2010. The US-based Goldman Environmental Foundation gave him an award in 2012 for resisting a proposed nickel mine.
Mining is likely to would break up the Mangyan culture, Mr. Gariguez says.
“They will be displaced because when mining projects come they will excavate,” he says. “Mangyan people say ‘the land is life for us.’ They’re really unlike others, who can apply for employment at various companies.”
At a Mangyan village in Puerto Galera, a few dozen families in stilt-raised bamboo houses tend chickens and scratch a living from selling handicrafts to a trickle of travelers. Some don't speak the dominant Philippine language Tagalog.
“Generally Mangyans are very subdued,” says a resort operator near Puerto Galera. “They usually will go with the flow. If there is mining, they will adjust to it."
Philippine bishop warns against black sand mining
Study shows communities 'sinking' as a result of excavation activities
11 March 2016
Tuguegarao City, Philippines - A Catholic bishop in the northern Philippines has urged Catholics to oppose black sand mining following the release of a study, which says coastal communities in the region are slowly sinking.
The study, conducted by the State University of New York and the University of California, revealed that several areas in the northern Philippines "are projected to be underwater" in 30 years.
"The study is a confirmation of a warning made as early as 2009 when black sand mining operations started," said Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao.
The study titled "Characterization of Black Sand Mining Activities and their Environmental Impacts in the Philippines Using Remote Sensing" was released in January.
It warned "several coastal areas will be at sea level … in a few decades due to rapid subsidence."
"Since subsidence likely continues to affect areas even decades after the cessation of mining activities ... temporal coverage will be critical to mitigate environmental and societal effects of black sand mining activities," the study said.
It concluded that, "rapid subsidence results in high exposure to flooding and seasonal typhoons, and amplifies the effect of climate change–driven sea level rise."
Archbishop Utleg expressed dismay that authorities "never cared to listen ... because of greed for money and thirst for power."
As of early March, there were 54 existing mining tenements in at least four provinces in the northern region of Cagayan Valley.
"We call on our politicians to exercise their duty and be at the service of their constituents," said Archbishop Utleg.
He told ucanews.com that government officials initiated the mining operations six years ago "in the guise of dredging for sand and gravel."
"The coastal areas of Cagayan Valley will have to suffer the indifference and lack of concern of local authorities," Archbishop Utleg said.
Some 110,130 hectares of land are covered by approved mining tenements in the region, according to the archdiocese's Commission on Social Action.
The Catholic Church "strongly seeks to cancel all existing mining permits that only plunders our natural resources,” said Father Manuel Vicente Catral, head of the church's social action body in Tuguegarao.
Utleg urged Catholics to be "constantly vigilant, critical in stance, and to unite to voice their concerns" on issues that affect their lives.
Pangasinan governor charged with graft over black sand mining
By Marc Jayson Cayabyab
15 March 2016
STATE prosecutors on Tuesday formally charged Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. with two counts of graft for allegedly issuing permits to two unqualified mining companies to mine black sand in Lingayen.
According to the graft sheet, Espino in 2011 issued two permits to Xypher Builders Inc. and Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc. to conduct soil remediation and magnetite and mineral extraction in Barangay Sabangan, Lingayen.
Prosecutors accused Espino of authorizing the issuance of mining ore export permit, gratuitous permit, and small scale mining permit to the mining firms even though these were not lawfully entitled to conduct mining activities because the companies were not registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board.
The mining activities of the companies also allegedly lacked the requisite area clearance from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the prosecutors added.
In the case of Xypher, the prosecution alleged that Xypher caused undue injury to government for selling to DH Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd. export materials to China worth P10.75 million.
Meanwhile, Alexandra allegedly did not obtain a business permit from the Lingayen municipal government.
Charged along with Espino are provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, and Provincial Housing and Homesite Regulation officer Alvin Bigay.
Also charged with graft from the Xypher Board of Directors are Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar, Avery Pujol, Cynthia Camara, Lolita Bolayog, as well as Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Lolita Bolayog, Denise Ann Sia Kho Po, Annlyn Detera, Cynthia Camara, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista from Alexandra Board of Directors.
Espino, whose local party is affiliated with the Liberal Party, has endorsed the Daang Matuwid coalition standard-bearer Mar Roxas for president.
Espino is fielding his son Amado “Pogi” Espino III to run as governor against former Pangasinan congressman Mark Cojuangco, who meanwhile is endorsing Jejomar Binay for president.
Meanwhile, the elder Espino would run for a congressional seat against Cojuangco’s wife incumbent Rep. Kimi Cojuangco. AC
Fisherfolk in Surigao town blame mining for dwindling catch
By Roel Catoto
2 March 2016
GIGAQUIT, Surigao del Norte — Fisherfolk in this town have blamed mining as the chief cause of why they have been getting lesser catch these days.
“Before we get 10-20 kilos of fish a day, but now we are lucky if we could get five kilos,” Cresencio Neuda, president of Barangay Alambique Fisherfolk Association, said in the vernacular.
Neuda pointed to siltation of the seabed caused by mining operations in neighboring Claver as the source of their problem.
He said the sea water has turned murky, and the corals and seaweeds are covered with laterites.
“Our lives are now more difficult compared to previous years, when we could catch fish just near the village,” he said.
Junvic Guiritan, a local fisherman said a recent study noted that sediments in the sea have increased.
He said he used to get cray crabs, giant tiger prawns and shrimps.
“In 2007-2011, I could get a bucketful of lambay or blue crabs, but today I’m lucky if I could get five kilos,” he said.
He noted that shells and other fish have been gone.
Local fishermen admitted that illegal fishing activities also contributed to dwindling catch but emphasized that siltation is the biggest problem.
Claver town hosts several mining companies such as Adnama Mining Resources Inc., Taganito Mining Corporation and Platinum Group Metals Corporation.
In Nagubat Island, Alambique, a fisherman named Vincent Catulmo said their catch has decreased as a big portion of the sea has become silted.
Engr. Alilo Ensomo Jr., regional director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Caraga said they have received a report about the problems allegedly caused by siltation.
He said they will conduct separate investigation and tell the mining companies to remove the silt if the report turned out true.
He said Caraga State University has conducted a study on the siltation in Gigaquit and its impact on the marine ecosytem and fish catch.
He added the MGB will also check if sand and gravel quarrying operations along Baoy River in Gigaquit also contributed to the siltation.
Nerio G. Casil, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-13 did not comment on the issue. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)
1,120MT of nickel sinks in Palawan
Environment office sends team to check as water reported to turn red
18 March 2016
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—A barge loaded with 1,120 metric tons of nickel ore sank off the pier of Berong Nickel Corp. (BNC) in Quezon town in Palawan province on Thursday, a report reaching the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Friday said.
Roland de Jesus, MGB regional director in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan or Region IV-B), said a report from the mining company confirmed that one of its barges, already loaded with laterite ore, sank in waters off the company’s Pier One in Quezon, more than 100 km south of this Palawan capital.
“We have dispatched a team to assess the situation there,” De Jesus said.
He said the company’s report showed the vessel had been loaded with laterite ore when water penetrated its hull.
“We had been told that the company is trying to contain the affected area using coconut [logs] and geotextile fabric,” he added.
In statement on Friday, BNC said its chartered landing craft transport, Marc Jason, was repositioning when it was hit by an unexpected heavy swell at 4 a.m. on Thursday.
Marc Raymund Zamora, BNC acting operations manager, said the company’s initial investigation showed that no person was hurt when the landing craft “ran aground” and “there was nil oil spillage.”
Reports from a local environmental group said water near the pier had turned “reddish” following the accident. The group did not provide details.
But Zamora said water discoloration was “localized.”
“The Quezon Coast Guard has likewise completed its investigation and affirmed our earlier findings. Moreover, it declared that the area is contained,” Zamora said in the statement.
De Jesus said the MGB would wait for its team’s report before it decides whether a sanction or a fine would be imposed on the company.
BNC, Palawan’s biggest nickel mine operation, is also facing a P120-million fine from the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) for allegedly illegally constructing a road as part of its expansion, said lawyer Teodoro Matta, PMRB vice chair.
Company officials are silent on that issue.
Nickel is a silvery-white metal that is widely used in industrial, military, transport or aerospace, marine and architectural applications for its high resistance to corrosion, strength and toughness at high temperatures and durability.
It is mostly used in making coins and producing stainless and heat-resistant steels.
Nickel may be released to the environment from the stacks of large furnaces used to make alloys or from power plants and trash incinerators.
A considerable amount of it ends up in soil or sediment where it strongly attaches to particles containing iron or manganese. Under acidic conditions, nickel is more mobile in soil and might seep into groundwater.
The most common harmful health effect of nickel in humans is an allergic reaction, such as skin rash on the site of contact. People who are exposed to nickel by inhalation can have asthma attacks. Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon with a report from Rafael Antonio, Inquirer Research
Cordilleran group slams ISO award for Benguet Corp
Bulatlat.com - http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/03/29/cordilleran-group-slams-iso-award-for-benguet-corp/
29 March 2016
MANILA – An indigenous group in northern Philippines lambasted the awarding of an environmental management certificate to the oldest and one of the biggest mining companies in the country, the Benguet Corporation which has operated in the region for more than a century.
The ISO 14001:2015 certification on Environment Management was granted last week to BenguetCorp. Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI) and Benguet Gold Operations (BGO) by TÜV Rheinland, an international testing service provider based in Germany. BenguetCorp is the first mining company in the country whose operations were awarded the 2015 version of the ISO certificate, a report said.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) called the awarding of the certification “an insult to the environment and communities destroyed by Benguet Corp.”
“Despite its claim of world-class mining operation, Benguet Corporation left permanent destruction and scars on the surface and beneath the earth; caused rivers to become biologically dead and its mine wastes pose threats and concrete effects to people’s lives and communities,” said Santi Mero, CPA deputy secretary general.
The CPA said the ISO award overlooked BenguetCorp’s long record of environmental disasters in its century-long mining operations in the Cordillera region. The Benguet provincial government also threatened to sue the company for violation of the environmental compliance certificate, as, it said, BenguetCorp has not relocated the victims of the sinkhole incident last year.
Land and water subsidence
The CPA attributed a number of land and water subsidence to BenguetCorp’s underground tunneling, surface and open-pit mining.
The land subsidence, which occurred on October 22, 2015 in Virac village, Itogon town in Benguet province, is one such disaster, Mero said. The incident “is not an isolated case,” but a result of the company’s underground tunneling, he said.
“Benguet Corporation cannot just wash its hands on this disaster. Their long history of mining activities such as underground tunneling in the area is a hard fact that can explain the land subsidence,” Mero said.
The sinkhole swallowed six houses and displaced 166 residents. In the past decades, the Virac sinkhole had been preceded by various ground sinking in the company’s mining areas through the decades.
A few years back, residents of the same village had complained about BenguetCorp’s mining refinery, which, they said, had adversely affected their health.
Mero also cited the 1937 incident in Gumatdang, the oldest rice-producing village in Itogon, where BenguetCorp’s underground tunneling for the mining vein, Atok-Big Wedge, dried up the streams and irrigation canals. This was repeated in 1962, when the company dug up a drainage tunnel between its Kelly mine in Gumatdang and its mines in Antamok, which drained the sources of irrigation and dried up the rice fields.
“Today the residents of these communities suffer the lack of water supply. The water tables have subsided as deep mining tunnels and drainage tunnels disrupt groundwater paths. Tunneling often leads to a long-term lowering of the water table,” Mero said.
He added that the tunneling also resulted to denudation of the surrounding watershed. Worse, the various mining companies in the region had privatized water sources for their own huge consumption.
The group also blamed BenguetCorp for having “flattened the mountains of Antamok in Loacan village and Keystone in Ucab, Itogon thru its open-pit mining operation.”
“Open-pit mining is the most destructive, as it requires removing whole mountains and excavation of deep pits. Generally, open pits need to be very big – sometimes more than 2.5 kilometers long. In order to dig these giant holes, huge amounts of earth need to be moved, forests cleared, drainage systems diverted, and large amounts of dust let loose,” Mero said. (http://bulatlat.com)
Philippines: Despite ISO certification, BC is still guilty of environmental destruction
22 March 2016
The ISO must be joking when it awarded Benguet Corporation’s Gold and Nickel Mines the ISO 14001:2015 certification on Environment Management. This is totally absurd and an insult to the environment and communities destroyed by Benguet Corporation. Aside from the recent violations of Environmental Compliance Certificate, BC should have been awarded with the most irresponsible mining of the century.
We should remember that for more than a century, Benguet Corporation extracted gold and other minerals in Itogon, Benguet since its establishment on August 12, 1903. Despite its claim of world class mining operation, Benguet Corporation left permanent destruction and scars on the surface and beneath the earth; caused rivers to become biologically dead and its mine wastes pose threats and concrete effects to people’s lives and communities.
Benguet Corporation as the oldest mining corporation in the country is responsible for the open pit mine site, underground tunnels, waste dump sites, mill, diversion tunnels and tailings dams in Itogon. And as proven by the experiences of communities, these mining activities of Benguet Corporation and Philex Corporation in Itogon led to series of environmental disasters that claimed lives of the people and destroyed properties.
The land subsidence on October 22, 2015 in Virac, Itogon which swallowed several houses is not an isolated case. In fact, it gives us a dangerous picture on the possibilities of similar and bigger disasters caused by large scale mining. Benguet Corporation cannot just wash its hands on this disaster. Their long history of mining activities such as underground tunneling in the area is a hard fact that can explain the land subsidence.
In 1937, a disaster hit Gumatdang, Itogon’s oldest rice-producing village. Atok-Big Wedge drove in two gigantic tunnels on opposite sides of the village, immediately draining the water from its most abundant irrigation sources. In 1962, Benguet Corporation drove in another drainage tunnel that stretched between its Kelly mine in Gumatdang and its mines in Antamok. Instead of just draining water from the mines, the tunnel drained the water from a major irrigation source, drying up rice fields. Ventilation shafts have also drawn water away from surface streams, irrigation canals, and pond fields. In addition, the felling of timber to shore up underground tunnels has denuded surrounding watersheds, aggravating water loss.
Today the residents of these communities suffer the lack of water supply. The water tables have subsided as deep mining tunnels and drainage tunnels disrupt groundwater paths. Tunneling often leads to a long-term lowering of the water table.
Not only does mining cause water subsidence, it also deprives farming communities of much-needed water. The industry requires large volumes of water for mining, milling and waste disposal. Mining companies have privatized numerous natural water sources in Itogon and Mankayan for the purpose. Now, the people in many mining-affected communities have to buy water for drinking and domestic use from outside sources through water delivery trucks, or by lining up for hours in the few remaining water sources to fill up a gallon of water.
Mining companies in Benguet is done by surface mining as well as underground tunneling and block caving. Also significant are other surface excavations by the mining companies for the installation of facilities, such as portals for deep mining, lumber yards, ore trains, mills, tailings ponds, power houses, mine administration offices, and employee housing.
On the surface, Benguet Corporation flattened the mountains of Antamok in barangay Loacan and Keystone in Ucab, Itogon thru its open pit mining operation. Open pit mining is the most destructive as it requires removing whole mountains and excavation of deep pits. Generally, open pits need to be very big – sometimes more than 2.5 kilometers long. In order to dig these giant holes, huge amounts of earth need to be moved, forests cleared, drainage systems diverted, and large amounts of dust let loose. According to the Benguet Corporation, “Any open-pit mining operation, by the very nature of its method, would necessarily strip away the top soil and vegetation of the land.” Sure enough, open-pit mining in Itogon by Benguet Corporation has removed whole mountains and entire villages from the land surface.
Abandoned mine sites like Benguet Corporation and Itogon-Suyoc Mines in Itogon have long-term damaging impacts on rivers and their surrounding fields because of the build-up of acidic mine water. Acid mine drainage comes from both surface and underground mine workings, waste rock, tailings piles and tailings ponds. Pollution of this kind can continue long after a mine is closed or abandoned, and the water that leaches into the ecosystem is frequently acidic, killing rivers and posing health risks to local communities.
Benguet Corporation had denuded the pine forests of Itogon, Baguio, Tuba, and Tublay. When they ran out of timber, the mining company expanded their logging to Bobok in Bokod. Apart from denuding the forests, the company also ruined the groundwater systems of Itogon first with deep exploration drilling and the driving of tunnels then with open-pit mining. And apart from destroying watersheds and groundwater systems, Benguet Corporation also polluted surface water channels, land surfaces, and the air – with sulfurous oxides from the exposure of massive amounts of mineral overburden, acid mine drainage, and huge volumes of mine tailings laden with cyanide, other poisonous ore-processing chemicals, and toxic concentrations of dissolved heavy metals. The sediments and contaminants were transported by rivers through Pangasinan to the Lingayen Gulf where they sometimes caused fish kills. Up to the present, sediments from both active and abandoned tailings dams continue to cause flooding and destruction of rice fields and fishponds in the lowlands. They are also quickly silting up the San Roque dam.
Accompanying mining operations is the construction of tailings dams needed to contain the mine wastes. These tailings dams were built across the river beds in various parts of Benguet. However, most tailings dams are not leak proof and have not been strong enough to withstand torrential currents during the typhoon season, and the major earthquake that rocked Northern Luzon in 1990. Through the years, tailings dams in Benguet have proved incapable of containing the volume of tailings that came from the mills. Time and again, these tailings have breached their dams. Benguet Corporation constructed 5 tailings dams. Lepanto has 5 tailings dams, 2 of which collapsed. Philex has 3 tailings dams, 2 of which collapsed in 1992 and 1994. In 2001, tailings breached another Philex dam. Itogon-Suyoc has 1 tailings dam that collapsed in 1994. Thus we have a situation where burst, broken, weak and leaking tailings dams dot the major river systems of the province – the Abra River, Agno River, Antamok River and Bued River.
Is this the kind of environmental management be awarded? Absolutely, the answer is no. In fact, Benguet Corporation should compensate and rehabilitate the communities affected by its long mining operation.
Deputy Secretary General
Miner chokes to Death in Benguet Tunnel
2 April 2016
ITOGON, Benguet, Philippines – The lack of air flow and ventilation in a small- scale mining work place again resulted in the death of a worker who was choked to death inside a mine tunnel in Itogon town the other day, a belated report by the Benguet police said.
The police identified the victim as Feliciano Oydoc Lis-ig, 44, native of Sabangan town in Mt. Province, a contractual miner at Luneta, Itogon, who was found lifeless eight hours after he and his co-miners entered an “usok” (Ilokano for a small, wet, cramped and gaseous portal) for the day’s work.
Police said that Lis-ig with several others entered the tunnel in the early morning hours and all emerged out of the work site six hours after, except the victim.
Lis-ig’s co-workers said that victim could have entered another mine tunnel and waited for them. But after more than an hour, Lis-ig never came out prompting them to re-enter the tunnel.
His dead body was discovered around 10 AM., said Benguet police director Sr. Supt. Florante Camuyot.
Lis-ig was one in the long list of contractual miners who choked to death inside poorly-ventilated and airless underground mining work areas in the so-called gold rush district in Itogon.
'Green mining' to benefit 300,000 small-scale miners - DOST
25 March 2016
MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Science and Technology says a process it helped develop to extract gold and copper without the use of toxic chemicals will benefit the more than 300,000 small-scale miners in the country.
On March 15, the agency, with local officials, broke ground on the Field Testing of the Integrated Gold-Copper Mineral Processing Pilot Plant in Barangay Katipunan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.
Developed jointly with the Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman, the technology uses the so-called “enhanced gravity concentration-flotation-extraction” process and an integrated tailings disposal and treatment system, which assures that waste materials disposed in the environment are safe and considered non-pollutant, DOTC said in a statement.
The “green mining” technology was developed after five years of research and field testing by scientists from the UPDMMME, it said.
Aside from safety, the DOTC said the process allows a recovery rate of 85-90 percent for gold and other minerals like copper and zinc, way higher than the 40 percent of the traditional method.
“This innovation that the DOST has developed will bring more benefits for our more than 300,000 small-scale miners all over the country because it poses no threat to their safety and to the environment as well because it does not use harmful chemicals like mercury and cyanide,” Science Secretary Mario Montejo said in the statement.
Other pilot plants similar to the one in Compostela Valley have also been set up in other areas where gold, copper and zinc are abundant like Barangay Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet; Paracale in the Bicol Region, and Barangay Del Pilar, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte in the Caraga Region, the DOTC said.
Kalikasan took up Al Gore’s ‘quit coal’ challenge, slams Aquino coal expansion in Batangas
Kalikasan PNE press release
17 March 2016
QUEZON CITY—Environmental groups led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during a protest-dialogue held today to heed the former United States vice president Al Gore’s challenge to end the country’s dependence on coal power.
“Al Gore’s recent challenge to the Philippine government to shift away from coal power is the latest in a growing number of global leaders urging the Philippines to reverse its fossil-fuel addiction. DENR must seriously heed this long-standing challenge both by the Filipino people and the international community at large by imposing a moratorium on coal power plants, and working towards the closure of coal power projects with enduring adverse health and environmental impacts such as the Calaca Coal Power Plant in Batangas,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE.
During his recently concluded visit in the country for a climate leaders training, Gore said that the Philippine government should quit investing on coal energy and make renewable energy accessible to Filipinos.
“BS Aquino is the most coal power-addict president ever. During his term, dirty coal plants became the number one source of electricity in the country. The Aquino administration allowed other 29 corporations to construct more power plants in the country.
Hundreds of local community members and environmental advocates from the province of Batangas joined the protest-dialogue, calling to stop the expansion of the 600-Megawatt Calaca Coal-Fired Power Plant and the proposed construction of Batangas City Coal-fired Power Plant. Calaca Coal Plant is owned by DMCI Power of Consunji while Batangas City Plant is owned by JGSummit of Gokongwei.
In the 2015 study of Harvard University on coal power plants in the Philippines, it estimated that air pollution from coal power plants is causing an estimated 960 premature deaths every year. This could reach up to 3,600 premature deaths a year if the government doubles the existing 18 coal power plants in the country.
“Batangas residents have suffered through the hazards of the Calaca Coal Power Plant for 31 years now since Marcos time, marked by deteriorating amongst communities adjacent to this pollutive power plant. The Aquino government will further add burden to Batagueños by allowing coal expansion in Calaca and the construction of a new coal power plant in Batangas City,” said Petti Enriquez, secretary general of provincial environment group BUKAL – Batangas.
Enriquez noted that in the 2008 state of local governance report by Calaca Local Government, the most prevalent disease experienced by Calaca residents were lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, hypertension at diarrhea, all of which are possible linked to coal pollution.
The Calaca Coal Plant is currently under expansion adding its generation capacity to 1000 MW. The Batangas City Coal Power Project also aims for a total of an additional 600 MW.
“We Batangueños are determined break free from these pollutive coal plants that polluting our air, causing diseases and deaths to our children, and destroying our fishing and agricultural areas. Only the corrupt government officials and the big business are benefitting from the dirt coal plants. Our public officials can expect an escalation of protests if they remain willfully deaf to calls to quit dirty coal,” ended Enriquez.
The groups said that the protest-dialogue is part of various local environmental actions expected to converge into a massive effort for a people’s national environmental agenda on this coming Earth Day 2016 commemoration.
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
Activist nun to next President: scrap Mining Act
By Antonio L. Colina IV
5 March 2016
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 March) — An anti-mining activist and human rights defender has called on the next Philippine president to include in their agenda for the next six years the scrapping of the 1995 Mining Act, environmental protection and justice for victims of extra-judicial killings.
Panalipdan Mindanao secretary general Sr. Stella Matutina laid down a five-point agenda at the Mindanao People’s Mining Conference last Wednesday that the next President should prioritize and accomplish.
First, Republic Act 7942, also known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, must be scrapped as it has done more harm than good to both the environment and the Lumads (Indigenous Peoples), she said.
Matutina also called for passage of House Bill 4315, also known as the People’s Mining, authored by Bayan Muna partylist representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.
Congress adjourned on February 3 without passing the law.
“Let’s shout ‘enough with this RA 7942 and enough with corporate plunder!,” she said.
The law has allowed more mining companies to operate in Mindanao, she said, adding the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has approved 381 exploration permits to mining companies as of 2014 in Mindanao.
Section 20 of RA 7942 states that exploration permit “grants the right to conduct exploration for all minerals in specified areas.”
She dismissed claims that government is earning from mining companies through taxes, explaining that the damaging results from mining would always outweigh the gains.
“The contribution of the revenues from the mining companies to the gross domestic product (GDP) is very small but the destruction it has caused to our environment is insurmountable,” she said.
Matutina, a recipient of the 2015 Weimar Award for Human Rights, also demanded justice for victims of extra-judicial killings, most of them advocates and Lumad leaders who joined the movements against mining operations in Mindanao.
Matutina said that under President Benigno Aquino III, there have been 71 extra-judicial killings, 51 of them involving Lumad leaders and environmental advocates.
“Under President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid, the military gladly acts as private armies for foreign mining corporations and guarantees them unrestricted control and exploitation of mineral wealth. Aside from deploying more than 50 percent of AFP forces in Mindanao, the Aquino regime is further exploiting the Lumads by forcing them to become members of paramilitary forces like the Magahat, Bagani, Alamara who have wreaked havoc inside indigenous communities,” she said in a separate statement.
Among the victims of extra-judicial killing were Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, Aurelio SInzo, Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, Juvy Capion and her two children, Eliezer Billanes, and Jimmy Liguyon.
She also called for the pull-out of military troops in Lumad communities and the disbandment of paramilitary groups. She said militarization has displaced several indigenous people (IP) from their communities in the guise of “Oplan Bayanihan.”
The next President “should cancel all militarization policies which are linked to mining operations that are extractive and pollutive,” she said.
“Twenty-one years of liberalization of the mining industry has resulted in massive destruction of the environment through deforestation, loss of vegetation and biodiversity.
Floods, landslide, and other environmental disaster are just natural agents that have triggered the already denuded and eroded natural terrains affecting thousands of farmers and indigenous families in Mindanao,” she said.
Re-file People’s Mining Bill
The 16th Congress failed to approve on third and final reading the People’s Mining Bill before it adjourned last February 3.
But Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis partylist first nominee said the Makabayan bloc has vowed to re-file the proposed measure, along with the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill as well as lobby the National Industrialization Bill in the next congress.
The GARB seeks to dismantle land monopolies and ensure fair distribution of land.
The People’s Mining Bill provides that government and community shares will be increased, including shares of the national government, local government, indigenous cultural communities’ royalty, and scientific research and development fund.
“It allows only mining permits which Filipinos can derive the most benefit from and which will support the strategic and prudent extraction of minerals needed for industrialization. In terms of large-scale mining, it scraps the controversial FTAA (Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement) and EP (Exploration Permit). It retains other permits in RA7942 but considerably reduces their scope and rights,” the mining bill’s primer said.
The proposed law bans open pit mining, which Casilao said is more destructive.. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)
“Take a stand against destructive mining! Pass a new minerals management law!” candidates urged
Alyansa Tigil Mina Press Release
10 March 2016
Human rights and environment advocates visited the headquartes of Presidential and Vice Presidential tandems Mar-Leni, Grace-Chiz and BinGo to challenge them to take a stand against destructive mining and support the passage of a new minerals management bill on Thursday.
Activists wearing green first gathered at the campaign headquarters of the Liberal Party candidates and called on the candidates to reveal their positions on the industry despite their links to mining investments and the support they receive from players in the industry.
“Almost all of the candidates have support from people who have stakes in the industry, the question is, if in case they get elected: What will they do to address the problems with the mining industry and the outdated and flawed policies that allow it? Our demand is for these candidates to genuinely work for the people’s good and not the corporate agenda or the agenda of the elite and powerful,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Mining is inarguably one of the most destructive industries and one that is opposed by many communities and their support groups—environmental and human rights organizations—because of argued negative impacts that outweigh supposed benefits from it. ATM assert that mining will only truly benefit the Philippine economy and communities if we repeal the current Mining Law (RA 7942) and enact the Alternative Minerals Management.
Max de Mesa, Chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said: “The next leaders, who are duty-bearers of human rights, are obligated to give justice for all the victims of mining-related killings and human rights violations. The Aquino administration has acquiesced to impunity against economic,social and cultural rights of people in the areas of mining. The people must vote for those who would determinedly uphold the dignity of every person and guarantee full respect for human rights as embodied in our Constitution.”
On Monday, the ATM and its partners called on the public to vote for pro-environment, pro-people, anti-mining candidates. Independent Senatorial Candidate Walden Bello said in a statement: “I join Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) in calling for transparency in these coming elections and for the candidates to come out with their positions on mining and environment, and their links to mining interests, if any. I echo ATM’s challenge for the candidates to articulate their position on human rights, and environment in their agenda. In May, let us vote for the environment, for our natural resources, for the peoples of tomorrow.”
The group is calling on the next Administration to have the environment and human rights in their agenda and to resolve, among others, the issues with the Philippine mining policy.
Local actions with the same call were also led by Ang Aroroy ay Alagan (4As) in Masbate, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns in Marinduque and Sibuyan Against Mining (SAM) in Romblon.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0917) 549.82.18 <nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla ATM Policy Research and Advocacy Officer (0915) 331.33.61 <policy[at]alyansatigimina.net>
Vote Against Mining, Vote for our Collective Survival
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) - Statement on International Women's Day
8 March 2016
Berta Caceres was an indigenous woman leader of the Lenca people in Honduras, and a mother of 4. She has led opposition to a proposed dam on the Gualcarque river, considered sacred by the Lencas. Last Thursday, March 3, Berta was shot dead in her own home, in La Esperanza in Honduras. While the Honduran police said that it was a failed robbery, everyone knew that it was because of her relentless campaign against the dam, and for the rights of the Lenca people. Berta’s murder reinforces the position of Honduras as one of the most dangerous places for environmental rights defenders.
In 2015, Philippines placed second on a list of most dangerous places in the world for human rights defenders according to human rights group Global Witness. We then remember Juvy Capion, a B’laan woman leader from Bong Mal, Kiblawan Davao del Sur. Like Berta, Juvy was shot dead right at her home in 2012. Juvy was also a mother. But 2 of her 3 children were shot dead with her that day. She too was active in the defense of their rights as indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain, against the large scale gold mining of SMI-Xstrata in Tampakan, covering ancestral domains of the B’laan people. But while the killers of Berta were supposed to be common criminals, the killers of Juvy and her two boys, are soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The murders were initially declared as a “mis-encounter”.
The murders of these two indigenous women leaders expose the kind of development that governments are pursuing – that profit from the commodification of our waters, of our minerals, and the rest of our natural resources are more important than the lives of indigenous peoples.
The impunity with which these horrendous crimes are committed suggests that corporations have become more powerful than governments.
But Berta and Juvy, their lives as leaders and their deaths, underscore the significant role of indigenous women as frontliners in the struggle for land, for human rights, for survival, for life; and struggle against the forces that deprive them of these. For Berta, it was the multi-billion dam project. For Juvy, it was the large-scale open-pit mining project.
In the Philippines, it is the mining industry that is posing one of the largest threats to the environment, the natural resources, and the lives of the indigenous peoples. Almost two-thirds of the ancestral domains are covered by mining tenements. Fifty per cent of the key biodiversity areas and protected areas are impacted by mining.
The Mining Act of 1995 is in its 20th year this March. What does it have to show for? If we look at Didipio, Kasibu Nueva Vizcaya, the first FTAA or Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) issued – the forests were cleared, the rivers shifted, Dinkidi Hill was flattened, agricultural lands are now rendered unproductive. Brgy. Didipio saw at least two killings related to land conflict because of the presence of Oceania Gold Philippines, Inc.
Most of the mining host communities in the Philippines have the highest and consistent poverty rates. We need to realize how deep the connection of the devastated environment and the ravaged state of our natural resources to the poverty that our people are persistently in. Our food producers have been stripped off their lands, the mountains which protect our communities from the deadly floods have been turned upside down. The waters, which are important resources to communities have turned murky or have dried up. Food security has been compromised. As more forests are denuded, and mountains flattened by mining, the impacts of climate change are worsened – on one hand, longer dry spell, and drought; while on the other, more rainfall, and sea level rise. This exacerbates hunger among the indigenous communities and rural poor, and exposes their lives to more risk – flooding, and landslides. And because of discrimination, and gender bias, which still exist in our society today, indigenous women are most vulnerable to these, which make them to be among the poorest, and the hungriest.
We know this. We see this. But the Mining law remains in place and enforced. The proposed alternative minerals management bill has failed to pass again in the 16th Congress.
In Zambales, where there is an ongoing protest against the large-scale mining operations in the province, at least two women were arrested last month. The police said those arrested could be charged with blocking a legitimate business operation, a violation of a provision of Republic Act No 7942 or the Mining Law. (PDI, March 1, 2016)
The Mining Act has been consistently invoked by the government against protests by communities, and against local governments who want to protect their areas of jurisdiction from mining. But the Mining Act has never been used to protect the communities from the impacts of mining; nor has it been used to make the corporations accountable to any human rights abuse; nor has it been effectively used to compel the government agencies to protect the environment and natural resources. Why is this so?
Because the mining corporations have such strong control over our government. We need new set of leaders who will take back control over our own government; leaders who can resist the seduction of money and power from the corporations; leaders who can think beyond their terms in office; leaders who will lead the people towards a more nurturing, respectful, democratic, and equitable natural resource management and our overall national development.
These May elections, let us be critical in analyzing the candidates, let us be radical in our choices. We cannot afford to be less than that.
We owe it to our children. We owe it to the children whose mothers and fathers have been killed as they fought for their land, for their rights. As they fought against mining, against the ravage of our natural resources, they fought ultimately for our collective survival.
Mabuhay ang mga kababaihang ngayong buwan ng Marso. Pagpugay sa mga kababaihang patuloy na nakikipaglaban ngayon para sa ating bukas.
JUSTICE FOR BERTA CACERES, JUSTICE FOR JUVY CAPION AND HER FAMILY. JUSTICE FOR ALL WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS.
Philippines: Foreign hostages plead for lives in video
By Drew Parker
10 March 2016
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Three foreigners suspected of being kidnapped by a Daesh-linked group in the Philippines south nearly six months ago have pleaded for their lives in footage uploaded to the Internet.
A video on the Facebook page of an “Abu Muhammad” on Thursday showed Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad shirtless and surrounded by armed men.
Hall identifies their captors as the Abu Sayyaf.
The three thin, bearded and handcuffed men appeal to their governments for help securing their release, saying that if their kidnapper’s demands are not met they will be killed.
“To the Canadian prime minister and to the Canadian people in the world, please do as needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me, they will execute us,” Ridsel — a Canadian mining consultant — pleads as a long haired man holds what appears to be a machete to his neck.
The video is the second to surface since the trio were kidnapped from a resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September with Filipina Marites Flor.
In the first video, the kidnappers demanded P1 billion pesos ($21,500) for each of the three foreigners.
“The Canadian government has got to get us out of here fast,” Sekkingstad adds in Thursday’s video, saying that they are being held hostage on Sulu Island — an Abu Sayyaf stronghold in the country’s south.
“This is the last message to families, friends and authorities… follow the negotiations and try to meet their demands or we’re all dead,” he adds.
Asked by Anadolu Agency to comment on the latest video, Brig-Gen. Restituto Padilla, Sulu Joint Task Force commander, declined saying he was still to see it full.
The Philippines government has repeatedly maintained a no negotiation or ransom policy with such groups.
The Abu Sayyaf — which has reportedly pledged allegiance to Daesh — is also holding a Dutch man kidnapped more than three years ago in Tawi-Tawi and a former Italian priest seized last year in Zamboanga del Norte.
Since 1991, the group — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
Canadian held hostage 6 months in Philippines begs for Justin Trudeau's help
'Please, do as needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me,' John Ridsdel pleads
By Danielle Nerman, CBC News
11 March 2016
A former Calgarian who has been held hostage in the Philippines for nearly six months with a second Canadian and two others is pleading for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do what's needed in order to secure their release.
"To the Canadian prime minister and to the Canadian people in the world, please, do as needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me," John Ridsdel said in a video released Mar. 10 on a Facebook page linked to Philippine Islamists.
"They will execute us."
Ridsdel — a former mining company executive living in semi-retirement — was abducted along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman on Sept. 19 from an upscale beach resort on an south Philippine island.
In the video, the three men are shown handcuffed on the ground. They are thin and shirtless.
The video was later removed from the Facebook site.
'They are really losing a lot of weight'
Freelance journalist Dean Bernardo, who has seen the video and recently visited the area where the group was abducted, told the Calgary Eyeopener that the hostages are not in great condition.
"They are really losing a lot of weight. They don't seem to be well treated," he said.
Bernardo said their abductors are with the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants who have been active for years in the Mindanao region and are known for kidnapping for ransom.
"These are isolated islands," said Bernardo.
"You know there is no sufficient food or water in those areas."
Ridsdel is the former chief operating officer of mining company TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of the Calgary-based TVI Pacific, where he is still a consultant. Decades earlier, he had worked as a journalist in the 1970s, including with the CBC in Calgary.
'We will do something terrible,' captors warn
The latest video does not specify how much the ransom is, but one of the kidnappers did issue a one-month ultimatum.
"We will do something terrible against these captives," the masked spokesman says in the video.
Samal Island kidnapping
The hostages were taken on Sept. 19 from the Oceanview resort on Samal island, near Davao City, the largest city on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines. (Google)
In a November video released by the Abu Sayyaf militants, Ridsdel said the militants were demanding one billion pesos, or $28 million Cdn, for each of them.
Bernardo expects that price will go down considerably as the April deadline approaches.
"They're hoping somebody will respond. Even if it's a small amount of money."
The Philippine Army is pursuing the kidnappers and say they are closing in.
"We're getting closer to them, hence, they needed to expedite the demand for ransom in order for them to escape from the hands of the law, which is closely catching up," military spokesperson Restituto Padilla told Reuters.
However, Padilla said Philippine authorities will not negotiate with the kidnappers.
The Canadian government told CBC News it is aware of the video that was released this week, but "would not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadian citizens."