Philippines: A new hope for mine-affected communitiesPublished by MAC on 2016-07-11
Source: Statements, InterAksyon, Nordis, Bulatlat, ABS-CBN
It has been a busy time in the world of Philippines mining, since the last update - Philippines: Is the mining industry feeling lucky with Duterte Harry?
The appointment by the new President of a self-confessed environmentalist - and 'anti-mining advocate' - to the ministerial post of Secretary to the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seems to heralrd a new dawn to those impacted by mining.
The move has coincided with a victory for the people of Didipio, whose barricade has forced OceanaGold to withdraw from further exploratory drilling close to their current mine. The newly elected Provincial Governor, Carlos Padilla, has supported their activities.
However, the new Secretary has also corresponded with the killing of an anti-coal activist in Bataan, which is the first killing of an environmental activist under the new President. The presentation of the many issues around women impacted by mining in the Philippines at the recent session of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has also acted as a reminder of the scale of the problems.
There has been violence perpetrated by armed security forces against local protestors at Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC)'s mine site in Zambales. The residents have been blockading the company since May 2016 (see: Philippines - "We would rather die fighting"), and on 21st June had gained Supreme Court restraining orders (so-called "writs of kalikasan") against five mining companies operating in Zambales, including ZDMC. One of the first actions of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary has been to suspend the licenses of four of the named companies, following the order.
The appointment of Lopez is seen as an incredibly bold move, that has brought plaudits from some (including anti-mining activists), but has caused widespread concern in the industry. Ms Lopez has called for "responsible mining", often defined as attaining ISO 14001 standard. The industry, through the Chamber of Mines, support this call.
Yet there continues to be much argument over what "responsible mining means". It has been pointed out that Philex, which claims this status and is ISO 14001 certified, was still responsible for the largest tailings spill in recent Philippines history (see: Philippines: A flood of mining problems). It should also be noted that many of the companies that claim compliance are ones with on-going clashes with communities, including Lepanto, Benguet, OceanaGold and Hinatunan Mining.
Despite this certification it has been noted that a there are still a large number mining companies who violate environmental laws, although the exact number is disputed. Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo L. Jasareno is quoted as saying that half of 44 metal miners “frequently violate environmental rules.”
The newly appointed DENR Secretary has labelled open pit mining ‘madness’, and called for a comprehensive review of mining claims in the Philippines, threatening to cancel any projects found to be environmentally damaging. She noted “I will not allow any activity that disadvantages our farmers and fishermen. Food security and the quality of life of our people are the topmost priority.”
Many community groups have appealed to her, from Romblon to Caraga, while workers have gone on strike at Citinickel in Palawan over alleged contactualization, union busting and illegal termination of workers.
Philippine mining stocks has sunk in response, and the global mining press have raised concerns that the mining industry may be doomed. However, there have been attempts within the government to reassure investors, and Lopez is likely to face signficant battles within the new cabinet, particularly with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez who has interests in the controversial Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato.
Nueva Vizcaya IPs claim victory as mining firm pulls out drilling gear
By Aldwin Quitasol
28 June 2016
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- The indigenous people of Nueva Vizcaya claimed victory, albeit one they acknowledged could be temporary, when their three-day barricade in Sitio Camgat, Barangay Didipio, Kasibu prompted a mining firm to halt its drilling operations.
“We will continue to be vigilant against the company’s dirty tactics of sneaking in drilling equipment in the area,” Erenio Bobola, chairman of the Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Mangagawa at Magsasaka Inc. (SAPAKMMI), said after Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. withdrew its drilling equipment.
SAPAKMMI, together with the Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association, or DESAMA, and the Didipio barangay council spearheaded the barricade against Oceana Gold.
Explaining the need for vigilance, Bobola recalled that previously, Australian-owned Oceana Gold “sneaked in their equipment when the community was busy attending a wedding and a funeral.”
Immediately after the barricade was lifted, Didipio residents reported that Oceana Gold called with a meeting with village officials to discuss new amendments to their Environment Compliance Certificate, which is the basis of the firm’s entry into the area.
But DESAMA board member Myrna Duyan said: “We already signed a resolution in 2012 that the community will not allow any mining activity in the area. The company did not respect that by asking the approval only from the landowners (of the areas) where the drilling machines were situated.”
“We still need to consolidate the landowners and the barangay council to remain steady in their anti-mining stand and not be coopted by the company’s offers because even though it is their land, the effects of the operation will affect all of us in the barangay,” Bobola said.
Last week, Governor-elect Carlos Padilla visited the barricade and vowed to help the residents stop the drilling and exploration of Oceana Gold.
But the Didipio folk are hoping for an even more formidable ally – President-elect Rodrio Duterte.
“President Duterte, ipasardeng yo koma ti Oceana Gold. Naramanan mi ti impact na nga madi iti aglawlaw, pangkabiagan ken salun-at mi. Ipatungpal yo koma ti ibagbaga yo nga nu dakayoti mangabak, mapasardeng dagiti makadadael nga kumpanya. (President Duterte, please stop Oceana Gold. We have experienced its negative impacts on our environment, livelihood and health. Please make good on your promise that you will stop the operations of destructive mining companies once you are in power),” Bobola said.
Victory! Oceana Gold Pulls Out Drilling Operation after people’s barricade
Joint press release
28 June 2016
BAGUIO CITY - Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. pulls out their drilling operations in Sitio Camgat, Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu Nueva Vizcaya last Saturday, June 18, three days after anti-mining residents barricaded the entrance to the site.
The Barangay Council and anti-mining residents under DESAMA and SAPPAKMI decided to stop the barricade after OGPI pulled-out their equipment in the area stating that the victory of the people is only temporary.
“We will maintain to be vigilant towards the company’s dirty tactics of sneaking in drilling equipment in the area. Last time, they sneaked in their equipment when the community was busy attending a wedding and a funeral,” said Erenio Bobola, chairperson of SAPPAKMI.
According to reports from the residents, immediately after the barricade, OGPI called for a meeting with the Barangay to discuss the new amendments of their Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) which is the basis of their entry.
“We already signed a resolution in 2012 that the community will not allow any mining activity in the area. The company did not respect that by asking the approval only from the landowners where the drilling machines were situated,” said Myrna Duyan, a board director of DESAMA.
“We still need to consolidate the landowners and the Barangay Council to steady their anti-mining stand and not be co-opted by the company’s offers because even though it is their land, the effects of the operation will affect all of us in the Barangay,” Erenio Bobola, chairperson of SAPPAKMI updated through a phone interview
Last week, the barricade was visited by incoming Governor Carlos Padilla who vowed to help the residents stop the drilling and exploration of OGPI.
This coming presidential inauguration in Metro Manila on June 30, SAPPAKKMI will voice out their calls to President elect Duterte to stop the Australian mining giant from destroying their community.
“President Duterte, ipasardeng yo koma ti Oceana Gold. Naramanan mi ti impact na nga madi iti aglawlaw, pangkabiagan ken salun-at mi. Ipatungpal yo koma ti ibagbaga yo nga nu dakayoti mangabak, mapasardeng dagiti makadadael nga kumpanya. (President Duterte, please stop Oceana Gold. We experienced its negative impacts to our environment, livelihood and health. Please realize your promise that you will stop the operations of destructive mining companies once you are in power),”Bobola pleads to the president.
For queries please contact:
* Fernando Mangili - Amianan Salakniban Spokesperson - 09174676337
* Erenio Bobola - SAPPAKKMI Chairperson - 09178197064
Didipio IPs Barricade Oceana Gold Drilling Exploration
Joint News Release
15 June 2016
Anti-mining residents launched a barricade in June 15 to stop the drilling operations of Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) in Sitio Camgat, Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya which started in the first week of June.
“They are greedy. Still not satisfied with the vast open pit they dug in our land they still want more while we residents are suffering from the negative effects they brought. We want them to pull-out. Stop their operations. Our lives are at stake,” Lholet Guimpayan, a resident in the barricade said.
Residents under peoples organizations of DESAMA (Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association) and SAPAKKMMI (Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Mangagawa at Magsasaka Inc. ) joined forces to stop the 400 meter drilling operations which they believe will affect the potable water system of the community and pollute the rivers with the chemicals used in drilling operations.
“We have experienced this in the Sitio Magasin, just above the Dinkidi mining site, wherein the residents abandoned their homes because the groundwater source was depleted since the mining company started its operations in 2012,” Ernesto Bobola, chairperson of SAPPAKKMI narrated.
He added that the chemicals used in drilling exploration may affect the water systems even the downstream areas once it leaks through the soil and the river. Barangays that may be affected are Didipio, Alimit, Tubo, Alicia, Naguigui, San Benigno, Aglipay and barangays in Jones, Isabela.
According to Fernando Mangili, spokesperson of Amianan Salakniban, an Environment and Human Rights Network in Luzon, based on the experience of mining in his province in Benguet, all stages of mineral production from exploration to extraction have detrimental effects to the water systems of the land.
“Mines damage, deplete and pollute water systems at every stage of their lifecycle, from prospecting, operating to closure. And sometimes its effects are felt centuries after. My hometown, Benguet is a dead proof that mining is detrimental to our ecosystems.”
OGPI, a subsidiary of the Australian-Canadian transnational mining company, Oceana Gold was given a 5 year extension of their Free Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) exploration by the Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB) last March. In their corporate press release, target areas for exploration which covers six kilometers of drilling are Upper Tucos, Mogambos and Papaya which are covered by the Free Technical Assistance Agreement FTAA-001 granted by the government in 1994. Their exploration methods include geologic mapping, soil sampling and ground geophysics has commenced but the drilling is yet to commence in the third quarter of 2016.
However, according to residents, OGPI is already drilling in the area with their machines. The residents immediately united to form a barricade to stop the exploration.
According to Myrna Duyan, one of the Board of Directors of DESAMA, all of the 10 families in Sitio Camgat that are directly affected by the drilling are opposed to the drilling operations. No consent from the community was ever given to the company to start the operations.
“In fact, we passed a Barangay Resolution in 2012 to the company that we will not allow mining and drilling operations in the remaining areas that Oceana Gold have not destroyed yet,” Duyan added. “Our free prior informed consent is being violated in this act.”
Residents claim all of them did not approve the entry of the mines in the first place but because of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the FTAA component of the law, their rights to their livelihood and water sources are continuously being violated because the company has all the rights to their land. And even though Nueva Vizcaya declared itself a no-mining zone under EO79, OGPI is still being allowed to operate and expand its operations.
“We also plead to the President-elect Duterte to change the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which brought large-scale mining to our lives,” Duyan added.
“We call on President Duterte to help us stop the operations of Oceana Gold here in Didipio. It has brought nothing to the community but suffering to us residents. The continuous destruction of our environment is leaving us with no hope for the future generations,” Bobola pleaded. ###
International film on Didipio goes back to community
By Sandra Ferwelo
3 July 2016
BAGUIO CITY — Around 70 residents of Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya attended the launching of an international documentary film featuring the Didipio’s indigenous peoples struggle against Australian mining giant, Oceana Gold, last June 19.
“In Defense of Life”, a 30 minute documentary made by film maker Jess Philmore and funded by the Gaia Foundation, follows the challenges and victories of the people in Colombia, Philippines, South Africa and Romania as they fight against big mining corporations that threaten to destroy their environment, land, life and livelihood.
The stories of the communities in the film reveal that despite the odds and dangerous consequences, the only thing that can save their land and life is their continuous resistance.
In iMfolozi, South Africa, the Zulu indigenous peoples are fighting for their ancestral territory and sacred sites against Ibutho coal mining company that threatens to displace thousands and pollute the water and air.
“They think they have power over us, they did not even come to sit and talk about it with us. It has come to harm us, our children and their progenies. It will harm our generation,” Magubane a local resident.
The same sentiment is echoed by the Ifugaos of Didipio, Philippines. Resident Lorenzo Polido shares his view on their culture that puts importance in their practice of preserving the land for the use of the future generations and in contrast to the practice of the company.
“I don’t think they (the company) have culture. I think the culture of the company is to destroy the environment. That is their practice,” Polido said. “They started in one gold deposit in the Dinkidi Mountain and it destroyed half of the Barangay. Then later, Barangay Didipio will be destroyed. That is the worry of the community. Instead of an improved life, it is like we have been left with no hope for the next generation. That’s why we are fighting.”
The anti-mining struggle in Didipio continues to grow and expand with the formation of the people’s organization Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Mangagawa at Magsasaka Inc. (Sapakkmmi) which aims to kick Oceana Gold out of their lands. They are organizing and linking with national and international organizations to mount protest actions and to lobby the law that caused all their troubles – the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
“(Because of the law), the companies have water rights. They have all these rights. They have more rights than our people,” Sister Stella Matutina of Panalipdan Minadano explained.
The film also depicts the deceptive tactics employed by mining companies to mine for gold, whatever the consequences. It clearly exposes a pattern that in extractive industries the violation of human rights goes hand-in-hand with environmental destruction.
In Rosia Montana, Romania, the community has been opposing the Canadian multi-national Gabriel Resources that threatens to mine Apuseni Mountains which residents fear will produce 196 million tons of cyanide waste in the neighboring valley and forcibly evict 2,000 residents.
“The company doesn’t have a mother or a father and doesn’t care about anything, the people of the community, the environment and the land. Its only interest is profit,” a resident of Rosa Montana said out of fear that their village will suffer the same fate as the neighboring village, Geamana, which is now submerged in a toxic lake caused by the mine operations.
Rosia Montana gained national attention by exposing the wrong doings of the company in social media. The community organized themselves and the whole Romania rallied for their cause.
Ethnic tribes in Yagoje Apaporis, Colombia was able to protect their rain forests from Canadian mining multi-national Cosigo Resources by uniting and together they declared their territories as national parks guarded by them. They lobbied the national government to give them the legal right to protect their land, and in 2015, their hopes were granted.
‘In Defense of Life’ clearly depicted the truth about mining through the experiences of the communities affected by it. Even though the subjects were geographically distant and the mining companies are different, their struggles, their fears and their hopes are the same – to protect their land for the future. And a global solution to plunder of extractive industries is presented clearly to the audience – to fight for the future at all cost.
As Sister Stella Matutina points out in the film, “We have hope. But in our situation, hope has to be struggled for. We have to work for it and we have to sustain our hope for change, and our hope to fight for justice.” # nordis.net
An Appeal for Support for Gloria Capitan – Coal-Free Bataan Movement, Philippines
by Bob Burton
6 July 2016
We are from the Coal-Free Bataan Movement, writing to seek your earnest support for our slain leader, environmentalist and anti-coal activist, shot and killed by two still unidentified motorcycle-riding men in Brgy. Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan in her home last Friday, July 1, 2016.
Gloria Capitan is 57 years old, mother of 5 children and a doting grandmother to 18 grandchildren. Her husband, Efren Capitan, who suffered a mild stroke in the past, is a barangay councilor at present.
Like a big sister (or ‘ate’), Ate Glo is a warm and kind-hearted woman to every colleague in the anti-coal movement. Her positive character and perseverance has brought hope in the struggle of the people of Bataan against the huge enemy that is coal. Her untimely demise will surely be felt in the anti-coal movement in the province.
“Titigil lang ako pag pikit na ang mata ko! Ano pa ba ang magagawa ko e patay na ako. Hindi ito para sa akin, kundi para sa mga apo ko, masakit ang loob ko kapag nakikita ko silang nagkakasakit”. [I will only stop when my eyes close! What else could I do when I am dead? This is not for my sake, but for my grandchildren, my heart breaks whenever I see them sick!]
Aware of the threats to her life, Ate Glo’s words best describe her struggle against the coal storage in her village in Brgy. Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan.
The Worsening Coal Problem in Bataan
Bataan being a peninsula, covers 137,298 hectares and has a population of around 760 thousand and is home to two coal power plants and two open coal storage facilities: a 140 MW plant owned by Petron in the town of Limay and a 600MW plant owned by Ayala and Sithe Global in the town of Mariveles.
Two open coal storage facilities are in Mariveles. One is in Barangay Sisiman, which Seasia Nectar Port Services, a tandem of Filipino owned Seasia Logistics Philippines and London-based Nectar Group owns. The other is in Barangay Lucanin where Ate Glo resides, and is owned by Limay Bulk and Handling Terminals and Sea Front Shipyard Port Services Inc.
Aside from these facilities, expansion is well underway: 1,200 MW for GN Power Mariveles, 600 MW for San Miguel Global Power in Limay and another 1,200 MW for San Miguel in the town of Mariveles.
Many believe that the open coal storage is the main culprit in the heavy dust and severe pollution the community is suffering from, causing skin allergies and other diseases. Residents say that when pay loaders move coal so much dust and debris spread causing an alarming spike in upper respiratory tract infection cases. This has also caused destruction of the coastlines and sea bed.
Standing Up Against Dirty Energy
Ate Glo chose to speak up against open coal piling and the coal-fired power plant in their community in the face of overwhelming local government support for coal energy and a national policy favoring the same. Together with Coal-Free Bataan Movement, Ate Glo led her community in the campaign, soliciting signatures for a petition, filing cases and initiating other public actions directed against the open coal storage owned by Limay Bulk and Handling Terminals Inc. located inside the Sea Front Shipyard Port Services compound in Brgy. Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan.
Gloria’s life, though short, left an indelible mark in advancing the welfare of the people of Bataan in the struggle against coal and has contributed in building a broader base of support at the community level.
In some trying times, some parties dangled tempting bribes to weaken her resolve, but this self-employed grandmother steadfastly resisted. Offers of bribes later gave way to subtle and overt threats against her and her companions and she proved her steely resolve.
It is in this light that we ask for your help during this difficult time.
Lend you/r organization’s voice in our quest for justice by sending letters of concern to the Philippine Government and related agencies (see below):
Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Police Superintendent Ronald M. Dela Rosa
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame,
Fax +632 7248763
Mr. Vitaliano Aguirre II
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Telefax: +632 523-9548
For further queries and details, please feel free to contact us at email address nfbmsecretariat[at]yahoo.com or kilusan.bataan[at]gmail.com mobile numbers +639478922831 or at the address stated above.
Thank you. Mabuhay kayo!
NFBM /Coal-Free Bataan Movement
Anti-coal mining activist killed
3 July 2016
MARIVELES, Bataan: An anti-coal mining activist here was gunned down on Friday night and her family is appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to give her justice.
Two unidentified motorcycle gunmen fired gunshots to the victim Gloria Capitan, 57, president of the cause-oriented group Kilusang Pambansang Demokratiko (KPD) in Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan, Philippine News Agency reported.
The victim’s husband Efren Capitan, 58, said his wife sustained three gunshot wounds from caliber .45 revolver, two in the neck and one in the arm.
He said one of his grandchildren, aboard a motorcycle, tried but failed to catch up with the gunmen who fled toward Balanga City on a motorcycle.
“To the new President, my wife had no known enemies,” he appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte that was cut short with sobs, reported PNA.
Their eight-year-old grandson suffered a scratch from stray bullet on the arm. The boy said he was seated on a plastic chair near the videoke when a man shot his grandmother, who was fixing the curtains of the videokehan.
End Corporate Greed, Stop Harassing Environmental Defenders
Human Rights Online Philippines
10 June 2016
A non-government organization working against the destructive large scale mining is being indicted for Internet or e-libel through a resolution by the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office.
The Hinatuan Mining Company (HMC) earlier filed charges against Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) for issuing a press release about the mining operations in Guiuan town of Manicani Island in the Province of Eastern Samar.
The resolution submitted by Deputy City Prosecutor Patrick Noel De Dios which was approved by City Chief Prosecutor Archimedes Manabat recommends that PMPI National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra and three other staff be held responsible.
PMPI maintains that the complaint of the HMC is a form of strategic legal action against public participation and plain harassment for our organization and human rights defenders that have been helping the resistance of the community who are instrumental for the suspension of mining operations in Manicani Island.
Aside from Article 3, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, the right to freedom of expression is protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Philippines is a state party. The Philippines also joined 126 other states at the UN General Assembly in adopting General Assembly Resolution 70/161, which recognizes states’ responsibility to protect human rights defenders. The UN Human Rights Council’s 21 March 2016 resolution on human rights defenders similarly recognizes the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders to express their views, concerns, criticisms and dissent regarding government policy or business activities and underlines the need for governments to take necessary measures to safeguard such dialogue.
We now insist that the Philippine government must fulfill its obligations under international law to ensure human rights defenders are protected, not punished. Our country must decriminalize libel or e-libel, which international law considers a disproportionate form of punishment for defamation-related charges. The Philippine Human Rights community is also urging HMC including concerned legal institutions to drop all unwarranted charges brought against human rights defenders.
Apart from these, the government should also effectively investigate numerous cases of violence committed against human rights defenders and hold perpetrators to account.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate. In line with this, businesses in Philippines must respect the rights of human rights defenders who exercise their fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression. Businesses should further engage in meaningful consultation and dialogue with relevant communities and stakeholders in order to identify, prevent, and address any potential adverse human rights and environmental impacts related to their activities.
PMPI 4In support to PMPI 4 (co-HR Defenders) against the Internet-Libel case filed against them by the mining company, we urge everyone to change and use the attached profile picture today. Please help spread. Thank you.
Mining affects indigenous women human rights, Phil women’s groups said at 64th CEDAW session
Alyansa Tigil Mina Press Release
5 July 2016
Geneva, Switzerland – Mining projects which encroached upon IP territories without our genuine consent causing a web of women human rights violations has been one of the statements issued by indigenous women and women’s rights advocates from the Philippines in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 64th Session. The Philippines country report on CEDAW is under review on July 5, 2016
Kakay Tolentino, from the Dumagat indigenous community, spoke on violence against indigenous women.
Tolentino represented the BAI (National Network of Indigenous Women). She said, “We would like to bring to the attention of the members of the Committee the increasing number of deaths, escalating human rights violations, intensifying poverty, and heightening of vulnerabilities of indigenous women.”
She pointed out that despite the passage of the RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) and the RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, laws containing provisions on equality and the protection of rights of indigenous women, the government has yet to fulfill its obligations to protect them and their communities from different forms of violence, including harassments and extrajudicial killings.
Based on their documentation, ninety (90) indigenous women and men became victims of extrajudicial killings, from July 2010-April 2016, under the Aquino administration. Most of those who have been killed are defenders of their rights from the corporate and state projects such as large-scale mining.
The killing of Juvy Capion was raised in the dialogue with the members of the CEDAW committee. Capion, a B’laan woman leader who was strongly opposed to the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI)-Xstrata Mining project in their ancestral domain, was killed by military men last October 18, 2012, along with her two young sons.
The groups also raised the patriarchal structure of leadership within indigenous communities and how it has the tendency to exclude women in decision-making processes.
“Active participation of women in decision-making regarding mining projects in their ancestral domains is shunned by the manner in which information is transmitted and consultations are conducted. No serious measures are being taken by the State to ensure indigenous women’s consent as part of the decision-making processes. On the other hand, mining corporations are not held accountable for their failure to do so.” Judy A. Pasimio, Coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) shared to the members of the CEDAW committee during the Philippine lunch briefing.
Pasimio added, “The Philippines national development framework geared towards the maximum utilization of the country’s natural resources for profit gives preferential treatments to foreign investments, whereby women human rights are being sacrificed. Gender biases and discrimination, patriarchal structures, and violence against women are being institutionalized to further the interests, particularly of the mining corporations.”
The shadow report jointly submitted by the Franciscan International, Franciscan Solidarity Movement for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (FSMJPIC), LILAK and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) focused mainly on the different forms of violations of women human rights brought about by the development framework which is exploitative, extractive and profit-oriented.
Other major concerns raised in the shadow report include the impact of mining on right to food – rural and indigenous women’s main source of livelihood dependent on forest, land and water, the right to health, and violence against indigenous women human rights defenders,
There were two other shadow reports focusing on the different forms of indigenous women human rights violations by the Philippine State submitted jointly by Tebtebba Foundation, Asia Indigenous Women’s Network, Bai (National Network of Indigenous Women), Teduray Women’s Group (TWG) and the Silingang Dapit sa Sidlakang Mindanao.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Photo from CEDAW 64th session can be accessed at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-SCEYNN-_aeazdIN0hkdEVBRUU&usp=sharing Please credit all photos to LILAK.
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:
Judy Pasimio, LILAK Coordinator – judy[at]lilak.net
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator 09175498218 – nc[at]alyansatigilmina.net
Karl Isaac Santos, ATM Media and Communications Officer 09173011934 – media.comms[at]alyansatigilmina.net
Mining violence in Zambales: ZDMC-DMCI shooting against protesting Acoje residents condemned
Kalikasan PNE Press release
8 July 2016
Residents protesting mining operations in Sitio Acoje, Sta. Cruz, Zambales were dispersed violently by armed security of the Zambales Diversified Minerals Corporation (ZDMC), a subsidiary of the DMCI corporation, last Tuesday. Environmental groups condemned the shooting and continuing harassment against the residents.
“ZDMC-DMCI’s shooting against the residents of Acoje is deplorable. This is an alarming spike in the continuing violation of people’s rights by the mining firm. When we visited the area just last Saturday, we saw continuing operations of backhoes in the residents’ sole water source and the presence of heavily armed men who questioned us upon entering and leaving the area,” said Joey Marabe of the Diocese of Iba Advocacy Desk (DIAD).
“We are one with the residents in calling for the stoppage of mining operations in their area and in the entirety of Sta. Cruz. Despite the recent filing of Executive Order 1 by Governor Deloso, the temporary environmental protection order by the Supreme Court, and the order of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to suspend their operations, the ZDMC-DMCI is relentless in violating the rights of the residents and the court and executive orders against their operations,” said Meggie Nolasco, Zambales field office coordinator of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC).
The CEC has been implementing disaster risk reduction and sustainable livelihood programs for the mining-affected communities in Sta. Cruz.
Acoje, situated in the eastern mountainous side of Sta. Cruz, became a settlement area of Igorot communities when mining operations started in the province in 1945. Since 1997, more mining companies have taken interest in Acoje’s mineral-rich mountains, including ZDMC in 2007. DMCI eventually acquired ZDMC and continued its operations.
In March this year, the company violated their agreement with residents not to disturb the community’s only water source, spurring the locals to barricade the main roads to prevent the access of ZDMC-DMCI trucks and their other equipment.
“The community barricaded against the mining operations because ZDMC-DMCI threatened to mine over their water source. The company continues their operations despite a court ruling demanding that they temporarily stop until the case we filed against them is resolved. When the residents protested their persistence in encroaching into the forests, heavily armed guards fired upon them and continue to terrorize the community,” said Cristeta Sison, of Move Now, a local alliance of people's organizations in Sta. Cruz.
Acoje residents earlier filed a case against the ZDMC-DMCI and sought the help of other local organisations, the parish church, and other environmental groups to support their struggle.
The residents of Sta. Cruz, together with the various supporting groups, have long been demanding for a 25-year mining moratorium in the affected areas until the municipality recovers from the massive environmental destruction that are adversely affected the livelihood, health and lives of the local people.
“The people’s barricades must continue to resist the impunity of ZDMC-DMCI and other mining firms, and to pressure our public officials to address the repeated violations of mineral and environmental laws by these plunderers. Let us hold our public leaders accountable to their promise of change,” said Sison.
“We join the local people’s movement in calling on Environment Sec. Gina Lopez and Gov. Deloso to immediately enforce the stoppage of the ZDMC-DMCI operations. We challenge our public officials to permanently close all large-scale mining operations of these chronic violators in Zambales. This will set the tone for President Duterte’s promise to crackdown on repeated offenders of mining and environmental laws,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
Reference: Meggie Nolasco, Zambales Field Office Coordinator, Center for Environmental Concerns Phils., 09227695010.
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net
Green groups decry continued operations, shooting by suspended mining firm in Zambales
8 July 2016
MANILA – Various environmental groups have condemned the continued operations of a company in Sta. Cruz, Zambales in spite of suspension orders issued by government agencies. This week, protesting residents were reportedly shot at by the company’s guards.
On July 5, armed security guards of the Zambales Diversified Minerals Corporation (ZDMC) reportedly fired at barricading residents of sitio (subvillage) Acoje in Lucapon village, Sta. Cruz.
ZDMC, a subsidiary of the DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), is one of the nickel mining companies whose operations were ordered suspended by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez today, July 8.
“Despite the recent filing of Executive Order 1 by Governor Amor Deloso, the temporary environmental protection order by the Supreme Court, and the order of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to suspend their operations, the ZDMC-DMCI is relentless in violating the rights of the residents and the court and executive orders against their operations,” said Meggie Nolasco, Zambales field office coordinator of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC).
The residents have set up a barricade since May 14 to block ZDMC’s trucks hauling logs from Acoje’s forest area, which is also the main source of water for the village and surrounding communities. A Manila Times report said that although the hauling trucks have been barred entry, the cutting of trees inside the watershed continued.
“When we visited the area just last Saturday, we saw continuing operations of backhoes in the residents’ sole water source and the presence of heavily armed men who questioned us upon entering and leaving the area,” said Joey Marabe of the Diocese of Iba Advocacy Desk (DIAD).
“ZDMC-DMCI’s shooting against the residents of Acoje is deplorable. This is an alarming spike in the continuing violation of people’s rights by the mining firm,” said Marabe.
The Diocese of Iba has supported the Sta. Cruz residents’ call to halt mining in the town, as they attribute last year’s devastating floods to the 20-year-old mining operations.
Environment Secretary Lopez ordered the suspension of mining operations in Zambales, following the writ of kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court.
Aside from ZDMC, also ordered suspended were: Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI), a subsidiary of Benguet Corp., Eramen Minerals Inc. (EMI), LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI).
ZDMC is one of the five mining companies in Sta. Cruz, Zambales that was the subject of a writ of kalikasan petition filed by the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS). In its decision, the SC ordered the Court of Appeals to start hearing the case. Aside from the four suspended mining firms, the group’s petition also included the operations of Shangfil Mining and Trading Corporation (SMTC).
A halt to mining in Zambales was also the subject of the first executive order of newly-elected Governor Amor Deloso, who said the environmental destruction in the province must stop.
Environmentalist groups have also supported the Sta. Cruz residents’ campaign to stop mining in the town.
“We join the local people’s movement in calling on Environment Sec. Gina Lopez and Gov. Deloso to immediately enforce the stoppage of the ZDMC-DMCI operations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
“We challenge our public officials to permanently close all large-scale mining operations of these chronic violators in Zambales. This will set the tone for President Duterte’s promise to crackdown on repeated offenders of mining and environmental laws,” Bautista said.
Govt suspends 4 mining firms, says DENR's Lopez
8 July 2016
MANILA – Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez said Friday she suspended four mining companies as she cracked down on firms that don’t comply with environmental safety standards.
BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. and Eramen Minerals Inc. were suspended also because of separate writs of kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court, Lopez said.
Lopez said the four companies were accused of “environmental degradation, denudation of forests and lack of funds for progressive rehabilitation.”
“They need to get their act together,” Lopez told ANC’s “Market Edge with Cathy Yang.”
“Business interest must operate within the principle of the common good. You can’t earn money by causing suffering, its not good, it’s not within the law,” she said.
Asked if more suspensions were forthcoming, Lopez said: “It depends on the audit. We’re just following the law.”
The mining sub-index fell 1.21 percent in early trading on Friday. The main index was up 0.24 percent to 7,772.32 points.
SC orders Zambales mining firms to stop operations
The Temporary Environmental Protection Order comes with the writ of kalikasan issued by the High Court, which has found merit in the petition filed by the residents of Zambales
21 June 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday, June 21, issued a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) against 5 mining firms operating in Zambales.
The TEPO comes with the writ of kalikasan issued by the High Court, which found merit in the petition filed by the residents of Santa Cruz town in Zambales, a province north of Manila. Joining them in the petition are residents of the neighboring towns Candelaria, also in Zambales, and of Infanta, which is part of Pangasinan province.
The writ of Kalikasan may be sought to deal with environmental activities that threaten to bring damage to life, health, or property of residents in at least two localities. It is a legal remedy that is supported under the 1987 Constitution.
Section 16, Article II, says the "state shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."
On May 20, the residents, led by anti-mining advocate Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS), filed before the SC a petition for writ of kalikasan against the following mining firms:
* Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Incorporated
* Eramen Minerals Incorporated
* LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated
* Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation
* Shangfil Mining and Trading Corporation
Also named as respondents are environmental and local officials.
The petitioners said mining operations have caused much destruction in the mountains, watershed, forests, farmlands, water systems and livelihood of all residents of Sta. Cruz and posed continuing threat to their lives.
The petitioners cited the destructive impact of a number of typhoons in the past few years due to unsystematic mining operations in the town.
Specifically, the resident accuse the 5 mining firms of the following:
* Destruction of the ecosystem in Santa Cruz, Zambales, and its neighboring municipality of Candelaria, Zambales, extending up to Infanta, Pangasinan
* Water, air, and soil pollution
* Heavy laterite siltation of river systems, coasts, farmlands, fish ponds, and residential areas
* Forest denudation, resulting in soil erosion
* Exacerbated flood problems during typhoons and heavy rains
* Destruction of irrigation system in Santa Cruz, Zambales, which severely reduced the palay production of the rice granary of Zambales
* Heavily affected the livelihood of residents
The SC referred the complaint to the Court of Appeals, which will hear the pleadings of parties involved. It ordered the respondents to submit to the CA their verified return within 10 days upon receipt of the SC order. – Rappler.com
Zambales anti-mining activists win big
by Patrick Roxas
26 June 2016
SANTA CRUZ, Zambales: A sudden turn of events that appear to them like manna from heaven–the Supreme Court issuing a Writ of Kalikasan against five mining firms in the province, the incoming governor announcing his first executive order will be a moratorium on mining activities in Zambales and the appointment of a new Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary that is known for her staunch opposition to irresponsible mining–has put anti-mining advocates here on an upbeat mood.
“We fought against injustice in several arenas, we lost. The Supreme Court gave us hope. I hope they will not dampen, but give us eternal flame,” Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz (CCOS) chairman Dr. Benito Molino told The Manila Times recently.
Molino and his companions have been fighting against what they call irresponsible and destructive mining operations in the province of Zambales, particularly in the northernmost towns of Candelaria and Santa Cruz.
Residents of the two towns have even tried to put up barricades to stop hauling trucks of mining firms to transport nickel ore from the mine sites to the pier but these only resulted in the arrests of some residents and others facing charges in court.
Their persistence against the difficult odds, however, seemed to have paid off lately with the Supreme Court issuing a Writ of Kalikasan against five mining firms, namely: Benguet Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI); Eramen Minerals Inc (EMI); LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. (LAMI); Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC); and Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp. (SMTC) operating in Zambales.
“The court found the petition sufficient in form and substance to merit the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan,” said the tribunal in a full-court session.
The High Court also ordered the Court of Appeals (CA) to look into the petition against mining operations in the province.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said the SC referred a petition filed by CCOS to the CA “to receive the appropriate pleadings and conduct hearings hereon.”
Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that provides for the protection of one’s right to a “balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” as provided for in Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution.
Newly-elected Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso, who will assume office on July 1 this year, said his first executive order is to issue a moratorium on all mining activities in the province.
Deloso’s declaration affirms his adherence to the SC’s issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan to the five mining companies.
Deloso said once a Temporary Environmental Protection Order is issued, mining operations in the town will be suspended.
If it can be done in Santa Cruz, he added, it would be better to suspend mining operations in other towns in Zambales as well.
“We don’t want Santa Cruz to be submerged in mud again during this rainy season. The safety of the people and the protection of the environment will be first on my agenda, not mining, “ Deloso said.
Molino’s group also rejoiced upon learning that the DENR post has been given to ABS CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation chairman Regina “Gina” Lopez, who has been supporting CCOS in their anti-irresponsible mining struggle in the province.
It has met with Deloso and gave suggestions for the green development of the province.
Aside from a province-wide mining moratorium, other suggestions given are: conduct of an environmental audit; compensation for the damage to livelihood and environment; rehabilitation of damaged areas; review and revision of the Environmental Code of Zambales; and push for green development and concrete plan and action to achieve this.
IP agenda readied for Duterte
6 June 2016
GROUPS in the Cordillera region are pushing for an indigenous peoples agenda for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) with other indigenous organizations in the country under Katribu, a national alliance of indigenous peoples, will submit the Indigenous Peoples (IP) Agenda to Duterte this month.
Components of the IP agenda include the titling of ancestral lands and domain, the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Indigenous Peoples, the GRP and the MILF Peace Talks and the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and the GRP and the NDF Peace Talks, human Rights violations, mining and other development projects, and conflicting laws.
The prepared agenda has called on Duterte to give special attention to the plight of Indigenous Peoples in terms of poverty reduction and eradication measures, and improvement of basic social services.
The IP Agenda reiterates the call on both parties, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to recognize the peace pacts forged through history between different Indigenous Peoples and Muslims in Mindanao. It also calls on the GRP, MILF and NDF to establish or create an appropriate body to ensure the effective participation of indigenous peoples across the country.
Members of this body should be selected by Indigenous Peoples themselves, added the agenda.
Duterte is also being asked to declare a moratorium on large-scale mining and conduct a review of existing mining policies in the country.
It further calls on the government to exclude indigenous people's sacred sites, critical watersheds and sanctuaries from mining and other development projects.
The IP Agenda also called on the incoming President to require mining companies to rehabilitate degraded and mined-out areas, and compensate indigenous peoples affected by landslides, erosions and sinkholes.
Furthermore, the IP Agenda calls for the government to ensure a genuine free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples be obtained before other development projects such as mega hydroelectric dams are brought into their communities. (Maria Elena Catajan
Heed the people’s ‘Eco-Challenge for Change’, environmental groups to Duterte
Kalikasan PNE press release
22 June 2016
A week before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assumes office, several organizations announced in a press conference the formation of the ‘’Eco-Challenge for Change’ coalition that will present a list of 16 immediate environmental demands doable within the first 100 days of the new administration.
“The Eco-Challenge for Change will closely monitor and keep in check the incoming Duterte administration if it will truly serve the interest of the Filipino grassroots communities , and will work for the protection of our environment and natural resources,” said Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the conveners of the Eco-Challenge.
Eco-Challenge for Change, a nationwide campaign of 28 environmental organizations from Luzon to Mindanao, have the following among their demands:
· Take action on outstanding toxics issues by banning chemical aerial spraying nationwide, returning the Canadian toxic waste illegally dumped into the Philippines, immediately ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and Minamata Convention on Mercury, and formulate a national policy on electronic waste;
· Impose a moratorium on the new construction and expansion of coal-fired power plants, cancel the 25 approved coal power projects in the pipeline, and initiate a national energy policy review towards a just renewable energy pathway;
· Order the stoppage of large-scale, illegal and destructive mining in environmentally critical and agricultural areas; immediately suspend all erring mining companies; indemnify victims affected by mining projects; and rescind the Executive Order 79 of the Aquino administration to ‘harmonize’ all relevant policies to the mining liberalization thrust of the Mining Act of 1995;
Large-scale mining is a top priority of the group as they see it as among the number one cause of forest destruction and water pollution in the country.
“Various communities have long suffered the ferocious impacts of mining. As a staunch anti-mining advocate during his term as Mayor in Davao City, Duterte is expected to replicate this on a national scale. He and the DENR should immediately respond to the call of barricading communities in Nueva Vizcaya and in Sta. Cruz Zambales to immediately suspend OceanaGold, Acoje Mines, and other mining companies operating on their communities. He is urged to declare environmentally critical and massively biodiverse Mt. Lobo in Batangas, which is also adjacent to global marine biodiversity center Verde Island Passage, free from all forms of mining,” Bautista reiterated.
The groups urge the incoming government to intervene in the expansion of coal power plants on the same province. The Consunji-owned DMCI corporation, in partnership with Pangilinan-owned Meralco, is planning to add 700 megawatts (MW) of coal power in Calaca, Batangas, while Gokongwei-owned JGSHI plans to put up a 600MW in Batangas City.
“Batangueños have already endured the pollution from Calaca, Batangas for 31 years. We can’t afford to continue to suffer with the added brunt of DMCI’s planned expansion and another pollutive coal in Batangas City. President Duterte should refrain from resorting to coal for energy sources and should instead seek a pro-environment and pro-people energy alternative,” Petti Enriquez, spokesperson of Batangas based environmental group Bukluran Para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL).
“We are open to discuss with President Duterte long-term reforms beyond 100 days that will effect significant change such as a change in the mining and energy policy regimes of the government, such as the Mining Act of 1995 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). As long they will prioritize first the welfare of the people and integrity of our ecosystems, we can work together in developing and implementing programs that wisely utilize our natural resources while respecting the rights of the communities and not sacrificing our environment,” Bautista explained.
President Duterte imposed a ban on mining in Davao City in 2015, while his recently appointed DENR Secretary Gina Lopez joined the campaign for scrapping the Mining Act of 1995, among their various track records on the environment.
“Now is the time for Duterte to prove his progressive pronouncements. The people are expecting a lot from him as a ‘maverick’ president and break the interest of the oligarchs. He should hear the people’s clamor for genuine change and reverse current anti-people and anti-environment policies of the Aquino administration. The ‘Eco-Challenge for Change’ will be a litmus test if the Duterte administration is indeed an eco-friendly leadership,” Bautista ended.#
Eco-Challenge Unity Statement signed by 27 environmental organizations
THE ECO-CHALLENGE FOR CHANGE
With over 16 million votes garnered in the 2016 elections, president-elect Rodrigo Duterte will have a strong public support for his administration. This support could be used by the new president in changing and instituting meaningful reforms in the government environmental policies and programs.
Based on his record as Davao City mayor, Duterte has decisively implemented local ordinances which favor environmental protection and the health safety of his constituents. Among these are the banning of aerial chemical spraying and large-scale mining operations in Davao City. He had supported several campaigns of indigenous peoples against corporate land-grabs and disaster victims for climate justice.
On the other hand, Duterte failed to present a comprehensive platform on the environment during the presidential campaign. He also holds a track record of supporting the construction of a coal power plant and the establishment of palm oil plantations in Davao City.
We see the transition period between the outgoing and the new Duterte administration as crucial to measure and analyze if the new administration will live up to its premise of instituting meaningful changes towards ecological revival and natural resource conservation in the country.
In this context, we the undersigned have come together to present the Eco-Challenge for Change to president-elect Duterte, an environmental agenda and a call for a comprehensive national environmental program of action. We unite to deliver the following seventeen immediate demands that can serve as a starting point for the president-elect to immediately act upon:
1. Order the stoppage of large-scale, illegal and destructive mining in environmentally critical and agricultural areas, immediately suspend all erring mining companies, and indemnify victims affected by mining projects;
2. Take action on outstanding toxics issues by banning chemical aerial spraying nationwide, returning the Canadian toxic waste illegally dumped into the Philippines, immediately ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and Minamata Convention on Mercury, and formulate a national policy on electronic waste;
3. Ensure food security and biodiversity through the promotion of sustainable agriculture production practices (i.e., organic farming, diversified integrated farming systems, among others) over conventional chemical farming. Towards this end, ban genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) propagation in Philippine farms including their use as feeds and processing for food; impose a moratorium on the establishment and expansion of agri-industrial plantations that encourages mono-crop farming and competes with sustainable production for food security; impose a moratorium on conversion of agricultural lands and coastal areas for tourism; and, the implementation of genuinely re-distributive land reform program;
4. In the context of our recent ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, impose a moratorium on the new construction and expansion of coal-fired power plants, cancel the 25 approved coal power projects in the pipeline, and initiate a national energy policy review, including the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and the Renewable Energy Act, and the Philippine Energy Plan, among others, towards a just renewable energy pathway;
5. Deliver immediate, sufficient and appropriate recovery assistance to the victims, and lay down and implement a disaster risk management plan on the incoming La Nina phase;
6. Hold accountable government officials involved in the criminal neglect and corruption of recent typhoon and El Nino victims, and fast-track the Commission on Human Rights investigation on the country’s top climate polluters for human rights violations resulting from catastrophic climate change;
7. Cancel all reclamation projects operating without an enabling national policy such as the Laguna Lake Expressway Dike Project, Manila Bay reclamation projects, the Cebu reclamation projects, and the Leyte Tide Embankment project;
8. Ensure the formation of the Department of Fisheries with a clear mandate on pro-people, pro-environment utilization of our fisheries;
9. Rescind the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, review and abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement, and stop joint military operations especially in sensitive ecosystems such as Oyster Bay, Palawan and Carabao Island, Cavite;
10. Investigate the land-grabbing and corruption issues in the PHP5.9 billion reforestation program of DENR and prosecute involved high government officials in DENR;
11. Enforce the implementation of the logging ban especially vis-à-vis rampant illegal logging operations, and review current and proposed forestry policies;
12. Jail and immediately prosecute suspects in killings of environmental activists, particularly the cases of the Dr. Gerry Ortega assassination, Kananga Three massacre, the Lianga killings, the murder of Engr. Delle Salvador, and the Kidapawan carnage, and the release and dropping of charges against illegally-detained and charged environmental activists;
13. Resume peace talks with rebel groups and prioritize discussion on the joint management of our remaining natural resources and the protection of our environment;
14. Appoint progressive environmental leaders that will advance an agenda for meaningful change within the Duterte administration;
15. Review current and proposed legislations on environment on key issues such as mining, fisheries, energy, forestry, reclamation, toxics, pollution, climate change, disasters, and foreign militarism
Towards this end, we commit to collectively challenge the Duterte administration to address these major environmental concerns, support any concrete, positive solution that the administration pursues, and exert constant vigilance over any anti-people, anti-environment action that may occur under the administration.
Signed June 4, 2016
1. Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM)
2. AGHAM Youth
3. Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK)
4. Amianan Salakniban
5. BAN Toxics (BT)
6. Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL Batangas)
7. CARAGA Watch
8. Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC-Phils)
9. Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)
10. Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos)
11. Green Action PH
12. Greenpeace Philippines
13. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
14. Kalikasan PNE Southern Tagalog
15. Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan Inc. (KADUAMI)
17. Oceana Philippines
18. Panalipdan Southern Mindanao Region
19. PARTS Mindanao
20. Pusod Inc.
21. Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (SAPAKKMI Didipio)
22. Save the Valley, Serve the People – Cagayan Valley
23. Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT)
24. University of the Philippines – Saribuhay (Saribuhay)
25. Small Hands
26. SOCSKSARGENDS Agenda
27. 350 Pilipinas
DENR campaigns for adoption of treaty on mercury emissions
12 June 2016
THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed hope that the next administration would ratify the international treaty regulating the use and trade of mercury, a highly toxic substance that poses threats to human health and the environment.
“The ratification will seal the country’s firm commitment to protect its people and the environment from toxic and even deadly effects of mercury,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje in a statement released by the agency.
The DENR has released a Ratification Dossier on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippines adopted in October 2013. It will be used as reference for Senate in assessing the capability of the Philippines in adopting the treaty on which its ratification is hinged.
The Minamata Convention Treaty, which will take effect 90 days after ratification by at least 50 countries, maps out measures to curb environmental and health damage such as the Minamata disease, which is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.
The treaty aims to address eight major sources and uses of mercury, namely: supply sources and trade; mercury-added products; artisanal and small-scale gold mining; emissions and releases; interim storage of non-waste mercury; mercury wastes and contaminated sites; mercury cell chlor-alkali production; and mercury air transport and fate.
In the Philippines, the use of mercury and mercury compounds is limited as directed by the DENR Administrative Order No. 1997-38 or the Chemical Control Order for Mercury and Mercury Compounds.
Locals only make use of the toxic substance on pharmaceuticals, dental amalgam, mining, electrical apparatus design and management, and, paint manufacturing, among others.
The 24-member Senate is the lone government body tasked to scrutinize and endorse foreign treaties for ratification. The votes of at least 16 senators or two-thirds of the body give the go-signal for a foreign agreement to be ratified. -- Janina C. Li
Senators eyeing mining-sector probe as group calls on DENR to declare Manicani Island ‘no-go zone’
By Butch Fernandez & Jonathan L. Mayuga
7 June 2016
The Senate, taking the cue from President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte’s stand against “illegal and irresponsible” mining activities, is set to firm up initiatives to protect the environment, while ensuring fair and rational sharing of profits among all stakeholders in the mining industry.
“As a starting point, there must be a faithful implementation of the Mining Act and the small-scale mining law,” Sen. Juan Edgardo M. Angara said.
He told the BusinessMirror that the incoming Duterte administration “will be in such a position, as to punish violators who do not fulfill the conditions set forth in their mining arrangements with the government.”
“Perhaps, going forward, Congress can look at how it can further strengthen capabilities for enforcement on the ground,” Angara added.
Senate Deputy Minority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III pushed for a “full-blown” Senate inquiry prior to crafting remedial measures that would merge the interests of business/job creators, represented by members of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) and, on the other, the government’s duty to protect the environment.
“First of all, the Senate Committee on Environment must call [for] a full-blown hearing, which should include all stakeholders,” Sotto said. “Then we can assess the necessary legislation to control and safeguard the different concerns.”
Comebacking Sen. Richard U. Gordon prodded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to quickly assess the reported damage to the environment, “if [there’s] any.”
In a brief interview, Gordon also stressed the need for a regular oversight of all mining operations and, at the same time, assess the kind of support to be extended to key players in the industry.
This, even as big players in the mining industry earlier assured Duterte that they do not condone illegal and irresponsible miners.
The COMP has affirmed it does not tolerate illegal and irresponsible mining, including the supposed “small miners” reportedly being condoned by some local government units (LGUs).
In a news statement issued early this week, the chamber also assured the government it continues to look for ways to provide social development and management programs “to include indigenous peoples and environment enhancement.”
The COMP, which is composed of large-scale mining firms, likewise, affirmed its commitment to work with the Duterte administration in addressing concerns of the mining industry, in order to “promote true inclusive growth” in the country.
Duterte earlier warned major players in the mining industry to shape up and stop harming the environment.
He suggested that the mining industry be run like a cooperative, in which even small players would benefit.
Manicani Island case
IN a related development, the antimining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) on Tuesday urged the DENR to stop mining operations on Manicani Island, in the town of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Stopping the operations of the Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC), according to the ATM, should include the hauling and transport of mineral ores from the island to be processed elsewhere.
The island is part of the Guiuan Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape (GBPLS), a key biodiversity area (KBA), by virtue of Presidential Proclamation (PP) 469. The proclamation states that mining operations in KBAs and protected areas (PAs) should be stopped, and that no-go zones map should be updated and be fully implemented.
Many KBAs in the Philippines remain unprotected, despite their status as a PA covered by the National Integrated Protected Area System (Nipas) Act. According to the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., a network of over 250 non-governmental organizations, the poor implementation of the Nipas Act is to be blamed for the deterioration of some PAs, such as Manicani island.
Manicani Island is covered by the GBPLS by virtue of PP 469, signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos, who declared the coastal areas of Guiuan and the neighboring islands, such as Manicani, Candulo, Suluan, Tubabao, Calicoan and Homonhon and their surrounding reefs, as protected landscape and seascape in 1994.
Manicani Island’s ecosystem has been severely damaged by the operation of a large-scale nickel mine for almost two decades. Despite the declaration as a PA and an order stopping large-scale operation on the island in 2002 by the DENR, people on the island complain that hauling of nickel stockpiles by the mining company persists.
According to the ATM, Manicani is a small island with only over 3,000 farmers and fishermen residents. The island has a fragile ecosystem, and is already facing the impacts of damaged environment.
The situation on Manicani Island, the ATM added, is aggravated by the impacts of climate change during the onslaught of Supertyphoon Yolanda in November 2013.
Manicani residents have earlier called on the DENR-MGB to issue an order canceling the mining permit it issued to extract mineral ores on the island.
Call of the communities
THE ATM believes that the government agencies must listen to the call of the communities for the cancellation of mining permit on their island.
According to the ATM, the hauling of nickel ores since May 15 was condoned by the MGB Region 8 without consulting the affected communities.
The same incident happened in June 2015, when employees of HMC attempted to haul its nickel- ore stockpile.
The ATM said communities, led by Save Manicani Movement that set up barricades in the periphery of the stockpile, continue to cry foul over the DENR and the MGB’s inaction to support miners and demand justice for the destruction and impact caused by mining.
The ATM proposes that the Manicani Island, among many small island ecosystems in the country, be declared as a “no-go zone.”
Chamber of Mines support Duterte's call
6 June 2016
MANILA-- The Chamber of Mines in the Philippines (COMP) expressed full support on Monday to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's call to stop illegal and irresponsible mining in the country which poses threat to the community and the environment.
"This has always been COMP's position as we continue to find ways to strengthen our programs in social development and management to include indigenous peoples (IPs) and environmental enhancement," the Chamber said in a statement.
"We commit to work hand in hand with the incoming administration to help address concerns in our industry so that we may promote true inclusive growth around the country," it added.
Incoming President Duterte, during his thanksgiving party on Saturday in Davao City, warned mining companies to "shape up" as he signaled he would prefer ownership of mining assets to be left to local investors.
"I have a big problem with mining companies. They are destroying the soil of our country," he stressed.
"The mining people must shape up. It has to stop. The spoiling of the land, the destroying of Mindanao," he added.
Duterte also said the incoming government may rewrite rules to limit environmental degradation in the sector.
"I want it (mining assets) to be a cooperative of all Filipinos. We will support them and give them instructions how not to end up spoiling the land," he said.
One of the most prominent members of the Chamber of Mines are the Zamoras who partly own Surigao del Norte's Taganito Mining Corporation, now under Nickel Asia Philippines, which has also partnered with Japan's Sumitomo Mining Corporation. Manuel B. Zamora is the chairman of the board.
Business magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan is the chairman of Philex Mining Corporation which operates the Padcal copper-gold mine in Itogon Benguet.
Meanwhile, reelected Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat agrees with the stand of the incoming President, saying mining "has caused mountains to be flattened, rivers to be polluted and communities to be displaced."
"It is also the reason why many Lumads who oppose the destruction of their ancestral lands are being killed," he added.
Baguilat, who belongs to the Liberal Party (LP), is chair of the House of Representatives' Committee on Indigenous Peoples in the outgoing 16th Congress.
The Ifugao solon agrees that under the current mining regime, ecosystems are being destroyed, indigenous peoples are being driven away from their homes, mountains of ore are being shipped overseas with little regulation and taxation and the victim has been Mindanao, as well as other mining areas such as parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Given this reality and the fact that Duterte is the first president to come from Mindanao, Baguilat hopes that they will be able to work together to pass in the 17th Congress a new mining law -- the Minerals Management Law -- which seeks to better regulate the mining industry.
The proposed law seeks to identify no-go mining zones such as sacred sites of IPs, prime agricultural lands, protected areas and critical watersheds and heritage sites.
It also seeks to increase excise taxes and share of host communities.
"I hope that whoever the military guy who will be appointed as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which oversees the mining industry, will ensure that the state forces will protect the communities and our national interest, not just that of the mining companies," said Baguilat.
He noted that a number of large-scale mining operations are ongoing in Mindanao, such as open-pit nickel mining operations, and it would take political will as well as acts of Congress to put an end to destructive methods.
Baguilat also called on the incoming administration to also look into the operations of small-scale miners, as their operations are rarely regulated and may be large-scale operations in disguise. (PNA/Sunnex)
Nickel Asia unperturbed by Duterte's tirades on mining
Warren de Guzman
ABS CBN News
6 June 2016
MANILA - Nickel Asia President Gerry Brimo isn't concerned about President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's recent pronouncements against mining.
Duterte warned miners threatening the environment at a party celebrating his election victory over the weekend.
"Mining has destroyed Mindanao, they should stop it! Miners should shape up," said Duterte.
Brimo didn't flinch.
"We do not at all feel alluded to. We are willing to face tougher scrutiny to weed out bad miners from responsible miners. There are a handful of us who do things right," said Brimo.
The mining sector has been battered over the past few years by both low industrial metal prices and what's been described by some as an "anti-mining" policy under the Aquino Administration.
Brimo, also a stalwart of the Chamber of Mines, said what they want from the incoming administration is simply a fair shake.
"What we want is for government to differentiate responsible miners from the rest, for recognition that minerals are also important. Minerals are present in nearly everything these days," he said.
Still, Nickel Asia is playing it safe, accelerating spending on its renewable energy business to help the company "smoothen out" the ups and downs of the mining business, which Brimo admitted might have another tough year this 2016.
They will spend up to P5 billion on renewable energy, including solar and geothermal projects under Emerging Power Incorporated, which Nickel owns two-thirds of. In contrast, Nickel Asia is spending only about a billion pesos this year.
Philippine regulator: Half of 44 metal mines frequently violate environmental rules
by Mining Industry Today
6 June 2016
Around two dozen Philippine metallic mines have repeatedly breached environmental rules and been identified in a list to be submitted to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, the industry regulator said on Monday.
"Of the 44 metallic mines operating, we can say that half of them have repeatedly been warned to undertake environmental protection measures to be considered compliant with the law," Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno said in a radio interview.
Violations involve hazardous operations that expose mine workers, communities and the environment to fumes, dusts and mine wastes. Jasareno said some violators had been slapped with suspension orders.
Jasareno's comments followed Duterte's call on Saturday for mining companies to "shape up" and stop destroying the environment.
Duterte signaled he would prefer ownership of mining assets to be left to local investors and may push to rewrite rules to limit environmental degradation in the sector.
The Philippines has some of the largest untapped mineral resources in the world but opposition from the Catholic Church, a strong anti-mining lobby led by environmental activists, an insurgency and corruption, have stalled many projects.
Among the projects that could not take off is the gold-copper Tampakan mine in the southern Mindanao island discovered in 1991. Tampakan is now in the hands of a group of Filipino investors after Swiss giant Glencore quit in 2015, with the venture halted by a ban on open-pit mining.
Development cost for Tampakan was previously estimated to reach $5.9 billion.
Jasareno said he had prepared a "transition report" discussing the state of the mining industry, which was ready for submission to the next secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Duterte, who assumes office on June 30, has named nearly all his cabinet members last week but has yet to appoint a new minister that will oversee the country's mining sector.
Jasareno said his report identifies frequent violators as well as responsible miners, but declined to publicly name those that breached environmental rules.
He said Duterte's strong stance against irresponsible mining -- he has mentioned miners in the southern Surigao province, home to many of the country's 27 nickel mines -- will help the agency enforce environmental regulations.
MGB asked to name violators of environmental rules
By Ronnel W. Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
9 June 2016
Details of cases involving mining companies that are allegedly frequently violating rules on environmental should be made public to help bring them to a resolution, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).
COMP was reacting to a Reuters report that quoted Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo L. Jasareno as saying that half of 44 metal miners “frequently violate environmental rules.”
When reached for comment, COMP executive vice president Nelia C. Halcon told the Inquirer she could not talk about this unless details were given.
“I don’t want to sound negative with MGB, but the 22 mines the director was talking about should be listed down, violations should be specified as well as their severity, frequency and what MGB did [about their violations],” Halcon said.
“Were the mines ordered closed?” she said. “We are talking about efficiency in regulating and in doing their [MGB’s] job.”
As far as COMP members—the country’s biggest mine operators—were concerned, Halcon said they were following environmental protection measures.
“A number of them have been given awards by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA),” she said.
The COMP has reiterated its support for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in addressing concerns related to the mining industry.
Duterte over the weekend warned big mining companies to stop destroying the environment or else local investors would take over their concessions.
“Working hand in hand with the new administration will be easy because we know what our responsibilities are and we conduct our business in a transparent manner,” Halcon said.
“We pay our taxes promptly and we are part of the Philippine Extractive Transparency Initiative that has reported a 99-percent compliance by participating members in tax payments to government in 2013 as reconciled by an independent validator,” she added.
In a statement, the environmentalist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) lauded Duterte’s pronouncements to punish destructive big miners.
“We encourage him to expand his scope to cover not only the worst in Mindanao, but also across Luzon and Visayas as well,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“There are so much violations and destruction brought about by corporate mining all over the country yet the Aquino administration had been very lax in penalizing these corporations and prosecuting their erring officials,” Bautista said.
CBCP calls for repeal of Mining Act
by William B. Depasupil, Reporter
12 June 2016
THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte may not be seeing eye-to-eye on the proposed reimposition of death penalty but the bishops expressed solidarity with Duterte’s tough stand against destructive mining.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has expressed confidence that the Duterte administration would heed the long standing-call by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for the repeal of the existing law on mining, which the Church claimed promotes the plunder of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of investors and mining firms.
“I know he means it… and [the incoming President knows] the Mindanao experience,” said Arguelles, who is leading a fight against destructive mining and coal plant operations in his archdiocese, over the weekend.
Duterte will cease to be mayor of the southern Mindanao city of Davao on June 30 when he takes his oath of office as President of the Philippines.
He has led the city for more than two decades.
Arguelles brought to the attention of the incoming President planned mining operations in Lobo, Batangas, which, he said, would destroy the Verde Island Passage, dubbed as the world’s “center of the center of marine biodiversity.”
Duterte earlier issued a stern warning against big mining companies to stop their destructive mining operations, particularly in Mindanao, where 25 out of 44 large-scale mining operations can be found.
In two instances, the CBCP has published statements against mining.
In 1995, the bishops sought repeal of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act, citing devastating effects and adverse social impacts of mining.
Then in 2006, the CBCP reaffirmed its stand for the repeal of RA 7942.
It stated that “allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s right to these resources amount[s] to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas.”
Duterte also got the support of of Alyansa Tigal Mina (ATM), a coalition of mining-affected communities and their support groups collectively confronting “destructive” large-scale mining in the Philippines.
ATM believes that the incoming President is aware of the “plunder” of the environment and mostly foreign-owned mining firms “making huge profits from the country’s natural resources at the expense of the communities.”
The group urged Duterte to act on these concerns and investigate further, specifically, by ordering a moratorium on all mining operations and an evaluation of project contracts and operations.
“We urge President-elect Duterte to exercise his power to immediately suspend or cancel any mining contract that has violated our laws or abused the human rights of mining-affected communities,” it said.
ATM chairman Fr. Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines, at the same time, called on Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMBB), which pushes for a sustainable, rational, needs-based minerals management geared toward effective utilization of mineral resources.
“It would be consistent with his stand against the current state of mining that Duterte certifies the proposed alternative mining bill as urgent,” ATM said
Diocese lauds order to close mines in central Philippines
Eastern Samar Governor issues orders for three mining companies to halt operations
16 June 2016
The Diocese of Borongan in the central Philippines has praised an order by the local government of Eastern Samar province to close three mining companies operating on the islands of Manicani and Homonhon.
"[The closure order] is putting the interest and the protection of the islanders and the home islands from further destruction and division," said Father Juderick Calumpiano, director of the social action center of Borongan Diocese.
"Even our pope is calling for a radical paradigm shift among mining companies whose interests are different from the communities affected by their operation," said the priest.
The priest said the order to stop the mining operations is "an act of mercy" for the people of Samar.
Eastern Samar Governor Conrado Nicart ordered the three mining companies to stop operations on the islands earlier this week.
Gina Lopez accepts Duterte's DENR offer
21 June 2016
MANILA - ABS-CBN Foundation chairwoman Gina Lopez has accepted President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's offer to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Lopez was offered the position during a courtesy call at the Presidential Guest House in DPWH Panacan Depot, Davao City on Monday afternoon.
Lopez said yesterday that she would "seriously, seriously consider it," adding it was an "attractive" one.
“I want to say whether I’m in DENR or not, I will give my 100 percent support to this very good man,” Lopez said, referring to Duterte.
Lopez said she only met with Duterte on Monday to raise some concerns about the mining industry in the Philippines.
“I just wanted to give him some ideas, then he offered the position. Nagulat na nga ako eh. Sabi ko, 'Sir alam mo magiging controversial ako',” she told ABS-CBN News in an interview at Davao City’s airport.
Lopez, who is known for her anti-mining advocacy, said she admires Duterte for showing genuine concern for the environment and the welfare of farmers and fishermen.
Duterte considers the DENR post one of the most important in his Cabinet, as he seeks to end destructive mining in the Philippines.
The president-elect earlier offered the DENR post to the Left but later changed his mind.
Kalikasan expresses support for Duterte’s of DENR leadership offer to Gina Lopez
Kalikasan PNE press release
20 June 2016
We in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) applaud President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent offer to well-known environmental advocate Gina Lopez the position of secretary to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Lopez has a proven track record in defending ecological integrity and community rights against big mining corporations.
We witnessed her leadership and determination in defending our environment. We joined Lopez in the ‘No to Mining in Palawan’ national signature drive that gathered 10 million signatures. We linked arms with her in demanding justice for murdered Palawan environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.
Together with the people of Batangas, we successfully halted the threat of mining plunder and pollution to the biodiversity-rich Mt. Lobo and its adjacent Verde Island Passage, through a protest-dialogue with government officials and massive mobilizations on the streets against foreign mining company MRL Gold.
She added her voice to the broad climate justice movement, and calling for a moratorium on the construction of dirty coal power plants in the country.
We wish Ms. Lopez to be the spark that will stop the reign of corporate mining, coal power, and other vested big business interests in the DENR. Her resolve, experience and stand for the environment will be an important contribution to the incoming Duterte government’s shaping of a regime that will diverge from the anti-people, anti-environment pathway of the past Aquino administration.
We trust that when she becomes the DENR Secretary, she will use her position to encourage her family which promotes renewable energy sources such as geothermal and solar power, to be an example to other industrialists by ensuring the protection of our forests and other important ecosystems, and respecting the rights and decision-making of grassroots communities, such as in the case of the Lopezes’ geothermal projects in the provinces of Negros Oriental, Sorsogon and Albay.
Kalikasan PNE urges Ms. Lopez to accept the vital post of DENR Secretary, and lead it with the same brand of maverick politics that the Duterte administration is known for.#
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat[at]kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net
Philippines' Duterte to review projects as environmentalist gets mining post
By Karen Lema
21 June 2016
DAVAO, Philippines - Incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday warned he would cancel mining projects causing environmental harm as an anti-mining advocate accepted his offer to head the agency overseeing the country's natural resources.
Environmentalist Gina Lopez said she had accepted Duterte's offer to be the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a day after the president-elect asked her to lead the agency, broadcaster ABS-CBN reported.
The Southeast Asian nation has among the largest untapped mineral resources in the region. However, years of opposition from the Catholic Church and a strong anti-mining lobby, as well as insurgency and widespread corruption, have stalled many projects including the $5.9 billion gold-copper Tampakan project in the southern Mindanao island discovered in 1991.
"There will be a comprehensive review of the mining claims of concessions given," Duterte told business leaders in the southern Davao City where he served as mayor for over two decades.
"I will require you to go to Canada or Australia, learn how to mine the precious metals inside the bowels of the earth and do it. Because ... (if) you are spoiling the land, I will cancel it without hesitation."
The ministerial post at the mining agency was among the last that Duterte had filled, reflecting his concern over what he said were irresponsible mining operations that have led to environmental destruction.
The firebrand mayor assumes office on June 30 after winning the election last month on a campaign to crush crime, corruption and poverty.
News that Lopez, sister of media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corp Chairman Eugenio Lopez III, was being offered the environment post sent shares of Philippine mining firms sliding on Tuesday.
Duterte, in his victory speech on June 4, warned mining companies to "shape up", signaling he would prefer ownership of local mining assets to be left to local investors.
Swiss commodities giant Glencore quit the Tampakan project in 2015, with the venture halted by a ban on open-pit mining in Mindanao's South Cotabato province imposed from 2010. A local company has taken over the project.
(Reporting by Karen Lema, Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Keith Weir)
Philippine mining stocks drop on possible probes
Yui Nakamura, NQN staff writer
23 June 2016
SINGAPORE -- Mining shares in the Philippines fell across the board Wednesday on reports that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans to crack down on the industry over environmental concerns.
Philex Mining plunged as much as 12% before ending down 10.86% at 7.14 pesos (15 cents). Nickel Asia ended down 4.57% at 4.80 pesos, while Global Ferronickel Holdings dropped 6.52% to 0.86 peso. The Philippine Stock Exchange's mining and oil sector index tumbled 7%.
While mining accounts for only about 1% of the Philippines' gross domestic product, it is an industry with a long history that involves a large number of companies. Many related business are listed on the country's stock exchange.
Duterte said Tuesday that he will conduct comprehensive reviews of mining claims in the Philippines and threatened to cancel any projects found to be environmentally damaging, local media reported.
Tighter mining restrictions could also weigh on foreign investors in the country. Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining, which has stakes in Philippine mines, closed down 1.47% Wednesday in Tokyo at 1,042 yen ($9.96).
The Philippine mining industry has come under fire before over water pollution and other damage to the environment. A smelting facility owned by Sumitomo Metal and other investors in the southern island of Mindanao was attacked by armed militants in 2011. The incident was reportedly triggered in part by destruction of the environment.
Duterte has long served as mayor of Davao, a major city in Mindanao. He likely considers environmental degradation a serious problem directly affecting the lives of regional populations.
Bad vibrations from the Philippines
The incoming minister who will take charge of mining in the Philippines has slammed the use of openpits to extract minerals, describing it as “madness” even to consider the method in the resource-rich country because of the environmental impact.
24 June 2016
The stance by Regina Lopez, an environmentalist who on June 21 accepted president-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to head the department of environment and natural resources, could set her on a collision course with the mining industry, according to a report by Reuters.
“Open-pit mining as in the use of explosives is horrific for the environment. It’s a cheap way to extract. And for the top-most country vulnerable to climate change it’s madness to even consider it,” Lopez said in a text message to the news agency.
“We must stop killing our future for the interests of a few.”
The Philippines sits on mineral reserves worth US$1.4 trillion, but mining accounts for less than 1% of GDP, as policy bottlenecks and an anti-mining lobby hamper development.
The biggest stalled venture is the $5.9 billion gold-copper Tampakan project on Mindanao island, an unstable region that has battled for years with Islamic and communist insurgencies.
Glencore last year quit the project which has failed to take off after the province where Tampakan is located banned openpit mining in 2010.
The central government in Manila allows openpit mining, but in recent years has delegated more power to regional bodies in a bid to win popularity.
While not saying she would stop any form of mining, Lopez said we “will not allow any activity that causes suffering".
The country has been hit by mining disasters in the past. In 1996, a tunnel leak at the Canadian-owned Marcopper Mining Corp’s copper mine in Marinduque dumped 1.5 million cubic metres of tailings into surrounding waters, contaminating rivers.
Duterte, who starts his term on June 30, has warned he will cancel mining projects causing environmental harm.
Risk management consultancies have described the Philippines as high risk for miners.
Now, it looks to be even higher risk.
Philippine mining set for bumpy ride under Duterte administration
By Manolo Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz
30 June 2016
- Environmentalist mining minister seen making bold reforms
- Miners expect crackdown on environmental grounds
- Only 3 pct of Philippine mineral reserves is being mined
- Philippines is biggest nickel ore supplier to China
MANILA - After the Philippines became the top supplier of nickel ore to China in the last two years, its struggling mining industry may have felt like it was turning a corner.
But hope in the industry of getting an easier ride exploiting minerals in a country with a strong anti-mining lobby now looks misplaced with the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte sending tough messages on mining.
Duterte has warned that he could cancel mining projects causing environmental harm, though he told business leaders last week that he was not against mining per se.
"But in making money out of the precious metals of the earth that belongs to the Filipino people you have to do it right," he said.
The country's mining sector, one of the world's largest in the 1970s, has since struggled partly due to environmental rules and policy flip flops, missing much of the mining boom in recent decades and now facing much lower commodity prices.
While not saying that she will ban any form of mining, Regina Lopez, the new mining minister, says it can cause suffering among the poor and has described it as "madness" even to consider open pit mining because of the environmental impact.
"We must stop killing our future for the interests of a few", the staunch environmentalist told Reuters.
The country has suffered mining disasters, including a 1996 tailings leak at Canadian-owned Marcopper Mining Corp's copper mine in Marinduque that contaminated rivers.
Lopez is expected to outline her plans at a media briefing on Friday.
"Survival of the Fittest"
Ramon Adviento, senior vice president at Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc, the Philippines' second-biggest nickel ore miner, said the industry was "shell shocked" by Lopez' appointment.
"I don't think it means the death of the industry, but what we expect to see is the survival of the fittest," he said, adding that there could be a nationwide crackdown on irresponsible miners, likely targetting small-scale producers.
But miners say hardline policies could backfire particularly as the Philippines has become the biggest nickel ore supplier to China after previous top exporter Indonesia banned shipments of unprocessed minerals, shipping 34.3 million tonnes last year.
Mining contributes less than 1 percent to the Philippine economy. Of 9 million hectares identified by the government as having high mineral reserves, only 3 percent is being mined.
"Duterte wants hard investments and new projects invest billions of dollars... and these are done in far-flung areas which goes with the president's call for rural development," said Nelia Halcon from the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
The challenge is how to lure back foreign investors.
Mining investment shrank to a three-year low in 2015 below $1 billion, after President Benigno Aquino, Duterte's predecessor, banned new mining permits during his term and sought to increase the state's revenue share from mines.
Commodities giant Glencore Plc last year quit the $5.9 billion gold-copper Tampakan project in the southern Mindanao island, that has failed to take off after the province where Tampakan is located banned open-pit mining in 2010.
The country only has a handful of foreign investors in mining currently, including Australia's Oceanagold Corp and Canada's B2Gold.
It's going to take some time to reassure foreign investors, which have the capital and technology, that "the risk is not too high," said business consultant Peter Wallace.
(Editing by Ed Davies)
New Philippine mining minister hits out at open pit ‘madness’
Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has also warned of cancelling mining projects that are damaging the environment
23 June 2016
The incoming minister in charge of Philippine mining has slammed the use of open pits to extract minerals, describing it as “madness” even to consider the method in the resource-rich country because of the environmental impact.
The stance by Regina Lopez, an environmentalist who on Tuesday accepted President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, could set her on a collision course with the mining industry.
“Open-pit mining as in the use of explosives is horrific for the environment. It’s a cheap way to extract. And for the top most country vulnerable to climate change it’s madness to even consider it,” Lopez said. “We must stop killing our future for the interests of a few.”
News of Lopez’ appointment sent Philippine mining stocks tumbling.
The Philippines sits on mineral reserves worth US$1.4 trillion, but mining accounts for less than 1 per cent of GDP, as policy bottlenecks and an anti-mining lobby led by the Roman Catholic Church hamper development.
The biggest stalled venture is the US$5.9 billion gold-copper Tampakan project on Mindanao island.
Glencore last year quit the project which has failed to take off after the province where Tampakan is located banned open-pit mining in 2010. The Philippines’ mining law allows open-pit mining.
While not saying she would stop any form of mining, Lopez said we “will not allow any activity that causes suffering”.
“I will not allow any activity that disadvantages our farmers and fishermen. Food security and the quality of life of our people are the topmost priority,” Lopez said.
The Duterte effect: half of metal mines in Philippines have breached environmental rules
Among those using the open-pit method is top nickel ore producer, Nickel Asia. The Philippines is the biggest nickel ore supplier to China, shipping 34.3 million tonnes last year.
The country has previously suffered mining disasters. In 1996, a tunnel leak at the Canadian-owned Marcopper Mining’s copper mine in Marinduque dumped 1.5 million cubic metres of tailings into surrounding waters, contaminating rivers.
Duterte, who starts his term on June 30, has warned he will cancel mining projects causing environmental harm.
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte tells mining companies to ‘shape up’ and signals opposition to foreign ownership
Lopez would have to recognise the need to compromise, said business consultant Peter Wallace.
“We can’t have no mining, that’s just completely untenable,” said Wallace.
Philex Mining Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the industry needed to give Lopez the chance to “articulate her policies”. “For us we have to take the view that it is business as usual,” Pangilinan said.
Cabinet clash looms over mining policies
By Prinz Magtulis and Louise Maureen Simeon
24 June 2016
MANILA, Philippines - Trouble could be brewing between the departments in charge of mining and of revenues under the Duterte administration.
Incoming finance chief Carlos Dominguez II maintained “responsible” mining would remain part of the next government, even saying it will not ask for the bigger revenue share opposed by the industry.
“Responsible mining plays a key role in the Philippines. The key word here is ‘responsible’ and our president has made his position very clear: ‘You have to do it right...’,” Dominguez said in an e-mail.
“I (also) see no problem with the revenue sharing as specified in the current law,” he told The STAR.
But incoming Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Gina Lopez, an anti-mining advocate, said even “responsible mining” is not acceptable.
“How can it be responsible to do open pit mining in the (country that is) most vulnerable to climate change? How it can be responsible to put the lives and future of our farmers and fishermen at stake for the money foreigners and rich people want to make?” Lopez argued.
She added, “If there is responsible mining, why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty? The poorest sites in the country are mining areas. What is responsible about the benefit of a few to the detriment of the majority? That doesn’t sound good to me at all.”
Lopez stressed that mining only benefits a few rich people and puts agriculture and fisheries at a delicate level.
Outgoing Environment Secretary Ramon Paje believes that all existing mining contracts will be safe under the incoming Duterte administration, even if it has an anti-mining advocate as environment chief.
“Under the Aquino administration, we respected all existing mining contracts... What we stopped was issuing new ones. I believe they will do the same,” Paje said in a phone interview.
Lopez, current chairperson of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, told The STAR that she remains firm on her stand against mining in the Philippines as she said “an economic paradigm that puts people at risk is not the way to realize the country’s potential.”
“I am not keen on mining in this country because we are the most vulnerable to climate change and we are in a geo-hazard zone. Any kind of mining is putting our people’s lives at risk because we are an island ecosystem with an intricate network of eco functions which rely on each other,” Lopez said.
“We haven’t even begun to explore the potential of our bio-diversity. Why will we sacrifice all of that for the wealth of a few,” Lopez said as she stressed that her dictum on existing mine sites in the Philippines should cause “zero suffering to nearby communities, agricultural lands and bodies of water.”
“Sadly, I don’t know of even one mine that has been able to do that, precisely because we live in a geo-hazard zone,” Lopez added.
But president-elect Rodrigo Duterte views the mining industry as a key player in the Philippine economy, his spokesman said yesterday, as investors see a tougher regulatory environment due to his designation of an anti-mining advocate for an environment chief.
A day after Duterte announced his offer to Lopez, mining and oil stocks fell by more than four percent, a development attributed to investors’ anxiety over the next administration’s policies.
Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella, however, maintained that the next president is not anti-mining.
“The Duterte administration is committed to promoting a robust and dynamic economy, with every sector contributing to its growth. Responsible mining plays a key role in the Philippines,” Abella said in a press conference in Davao City.
Abella said Duterte wants the standards of responsible mining in developed countries like Canada and Australia applied in the Philippines “to ensure the protection of the environment.”
“He (Duterte) supports each and every venture that contributes to the health of the economy, but he is clear that for whatever venture we go into, it should be in a responsible manner. He is not anti-mining. Definitely not,” the incoming presidential spokesman said.
When asked how he can reconcile his pronouncement with the potential appointment of Lopez, who has been a critic of mining, Abella said: “The fact that she accepted it means that she is willing to adjust her positions.”
Lopez said in an earlier interview that she is willing to dialog with mining firms and to cleanse the DENR ranks.
On Wednesday, Duterte announced that there would be a “comprehensive review” of all mining concessions to ensure that their operations are not destroying the environment.
He also asked mining firms to plant trees and wash away the chemicals they leave behind to avoid destroying the environment.
“If you don’t do it, I will cancel the permit,” Duterte said. “When you’re spoiling the land, I’ll cancel it (permit) without hesitation. That’s the bottom line.”
The incoming president stressed that the mining players “have to do it right because the precious metals belong to the Filipino people.”
In 2012, President Aquino issued Executive Order 79 that stopped the issuance of new mining permits until the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was amended.
This was supposed to be done through a mining fiscal regime bill, which would have given the government higher revenue share from mining proceeds.
But Paje, who co-chairs the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), said the bill did not even pass in the House of Representatives.
“But it was Congress’ call. We cannot meddle with them,” Paje said.
He added that the MICC has the minutes of deliberations on the bill, which Lopez may review when she assumes office on June 30.
Paje and Lopez will meet on June 28 for the transition.
“We welcome Gina Lopez’s entry to the department. Her ties with the civil sector will improve the agency,” Paje said.
Karla Espinosa, national coordinator of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), said her office, which is attached to the Department of Finance, is willing to work with Lopez as it continues with its mandate to improve transparency and monitor mining revenues.
EITI data showed that the government received P40.7 billion from miners.
Separate MGB from DENR
Amid the controversy stirred by Lopez’s appointment, incoming Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia recognizes the possibility of creating a division in the DENR which exercises regulations for the protection of the environment and the direct management of industries that make use of natural resources, including mining.
The department’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) specifically takes care of the permitting process for the mining industry.
“These are large responsibilities and separating them would be more tractable,” said Pernia.
Pernia, however, still has no firm position on the matter.
“This is just on top of my head because of the controversy,” he said. “I haven’t cleared this yet (with the incoming president).”
Lopez’s appointment has spooked the industry, caused mining stocks to tumble.
During the special joint meeting of the Makati Business Club and the US Philippines Society in Makati City yesterday, Philex Mining Corp. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan reiterated his earlier proposal to separate the regulatory functions of the DENR and the industry management and promotion function of the MGB.
Pangilinan said he respects Lopez’s appointment and would cooperate with the DENR.
In a statement yesterday, Philex Mining said it is committed to work with the new administration.
“The president-elect has every right to appoint whoever he deems fit to become the next secretary, not just on a matter of competence, but also on a matter of trust and confidence as a member of his official family,” said Philex.
“Philex has committed to support president Duterte and his drive against illegal and irresponsible mining. We are open to sitting down and working with the new DENR secretary to further the president’s call, to stamp out the illegal and irresponsible miners who give the industry a bad name,” it added.
Groups welcome Lopez
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) welcomed the appointment of Lopez to the DENR but added a word of caution on her support for eco-tourism projects in coastal areas. Cesar Lanos of the Mansaka tribe of Davao and Midsuburan Datu Jimid Pinayao Masayagan of the Lumad Mindanaw People’s Federation are also hoping for the appointment of a fellow lumad (native) to both the environment and the agriculture agencies.
Indigenous peoples (IPs) allied to the Katribu (Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas) also urged Lopez to support the Novo Vizcayano and other peoples’ call to stop mining operations and cancel the permit of Oceana Gold Philippine Inc. (OGPI) in Nueva Vizcaya.
The non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina supported Lopez’s view on mining and hopes for the delivery and implementation of no-go zones against mining.
“We can’t afford to lose more forests from mining projects. While we believe that minerals have a role to play in our industrialization, the current mining law is inadequate and not enforced diligently,” Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.
A week ago, indigenous peoples put up barricades in an attempt to stop the operations of the OGPI in Nueva Vizcaya province.
The IPs affected by destructive mining also called on Lopez to thoroughly pursue president-elect Duterte’s promise to heed the people’s demand to end large-scale and destructive mining throughout the country.
“This promise can now be realized with the immediate termination of the mining permit and a stop of the operations of OGPI,” members of the Katribu said, adding that this would bring relief to the communities affected by mining in Nueva Vizcaya.
Igorot woman leader Piya Malayao, speaking in behalf of Katribu, said Lopez is fully aware that the Filipino people, specially the IPs, have not benefited and have even suffered from the previous regimes’ implementation of a liberalized mining policy.
Katribu said almost 60 percent of approved mining are inside IP territories and have resulted in the destruction of IP land and livelihood.
It added that the Indigenous Peoples Agenda recommends the re-orientation of domestic mining industry, repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and enactment of a pro-people, pro-environment law.
Lopez is set to hold a press conference on June 29 to elaborate on her plans for the DENR. – With Alexis Romero, Ding Cervantes, Artemio Dumlao, Rhodina Villanueva, Janvic Mateo, Czeriza Valencia, Edith Regalado
Duterte camp says mining key player in Philippine economy
By Alexis Romero and Rosette Adel
23 June 2016
Davao City — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte views the mining industry as a key player in the Philippine economy, his spokesman said Thursday, as investors see a tougher regulatory environment due to his designation of an anti-mining advocate as his Environment chief.
Duterte has offered the post of Environment secretary to Gina Lopez, chairperson of ABS-CBN’s charitable arm Lingkod Bayan Foundation and an outspoken critic of mining. Lopez, who campaigned against mining in Palawan, has accepted the post.
A day after Duterte announced his offer to Lopez, mining and oil stocks fell by more than 4 percent, a development attributed to investors’ anxiety over the next administration’s policies.
Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella, however, maintained that the next president is not anti-mining.
Asked if Duterte is keen on having the mining sector grow, Abella said the incoming administration is committed to promoting a robust and dynamic economy, with every sector contributing to its growth.
"Responsible mining plays a key role in the Philippines,” Abella said in a press conference in Davao City. “The key word here is responsible. And our president has made his position very clear: ‘You have to do it right. If you cannot do it right, then get out of mining,’” he added.
Abella said Duterte wants the standards of responsible mining in developed countries like Canada and Australia applied in the Philippines “to ensure the protection of the environment.”
“He (Duterte) supports each and every venture that contributes to the health of the economy but he is clear that for whatever venture we go into, it should be in a responsible manner. He is not anti-mining. Definitely not,” the incoming presidential spokesman said.
When asked how he can reconcile his pronouncement with the potential appointment of Lopez, who has been staunch critic of mining, Abella said: “The fact that she accepted it (post) means that she is willing to adjust her positions.”
In an earlier interview, Lopez said she is ready to dialogue with mining firms and to cleanse the ranks of the Environment department of people who accept bribes.
Duterte also defended his chosen Environment chief. He said Lopez is an “ardent (advocate) for responsible mining.”
On Wednesday, Duterte announced that there would be a “comprehensive review” of all mining concessions to ensure that their operations are not destroying the environment.
He also asked mining firms to plant trees and wash away the chemicals they leave behind to avoid destroying the environment.
“If you don’t do it, I will cancel the permit,” Duterte said.
“When you’re spoiling the land, I’ll cancel it (permit) without hesitation. That’s the bottom line,” he added.
Duterte stressed that the mining players “have to do it right” because the precious metals belong to the Filipino people.
“If you cannot do it right then get out of mining,” the tough-talking leader said.
Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who heads mining firm Philex, has a majority stake in The Philippine Star through Mediaquest Holdings Inc.
New admin to respect existing mining contracts - outgoing DENR chief
By Prinz Magtulis
Philippine Star - http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/06/22/1595692/new-admin-respect-existing-mining-contracts-outgoing-denr-chief
22 June 2016
DAVAO CITY — Existing mining contracts will be safe when the incoming Duterte administration — which has an anti-mining advocate as its environment chief — takes over.
This was the view of outgoing Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on his successor, Gina Lopez.
"Under the Aquino administration, we respected all existing mining contracts...What we stopped was issuing new ones," Paje said in a phone interview.
"I believe they will do the same," he added.
In 2012, President Aquino issued Executive Order 79 that stopped the issuance of new mining permits until the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was amended.
This was supposed to be done through a mining fiscal regime bill, which would have given the government higher revenue share from mining proceeds.
Paje, co-chair of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), said he was "saddened" by the fact the mining bill did not even pass the Lower House.
"But it was Congress's call. We cannot meddle with them," he said.
Paje said the MICC would have the minutes of deliberations on the bill, which Lopez could review upon her assumption of office at noon of June 30.
He added that he woud meet Lopez on June 28 for the transition.
"We welcome Gina Lopez's entry to the department. Her ties with the civil sector will improve the agency," he said.
For her part, Karla Espinosa, national coordinator of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI), said her office is also willing to work with Lopez.
PHEITI was also established under EO 79 attached to the Department of Finance. It aims to improve transparency and monitoring of mining revenues.
The DOF is DENR's co-chair in MICC.
"Right now, we are still unsure of what will happen. It will depend on our principals," Espinosa said in a phone interview.
"We are sure that there will be some space for dialogue and EITI is ready to help," she said.
Gina Lopez at the DENR: Conflicts, questions, answers
by Katrina Stuart Santiago
25 June 2016
I DO not doubt that Gina Lopez has her heart in the right place.
But this is not all that we need in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). This position is not merely about taking a strong stand against mining—and doing eco-tourism projects to prove that there are other ways of earning from the environment. It’s not merely about promising to clean the Pasig River—no matter the settlements that live off it. It’s not just about putting out money for the La Mesa Watershed Reservation.
If this is all we’re looking at, then Lopez does not qualify for this job. Her family’s business interests just make things worse.
Conflicts of interest
According to its website, the Lopez Group of Companies has interests in broadcasting, cable TV, power generation and distribution, telecommunications, banking, and property development. Its hands are dipped in nation’s basic needs and services such as electricity and water, oil and manufacturing, all of which impinge upon and impact the environment.
It is clear Lopez cannot even do a Mark Villar, he who promised that the Villar Group would not engage in any government project while he is Public Works Secretary. Her family is just too politically embroiled she would have a hard time proving that her family will not gain from her position in the Duterte Cabinet.
As chairperson of the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. (AFI), Lopez herself is in fact complicit in the environmental impacts of her family’s businesses.
We might think there are no impacts of course. You forget that with a cultural empire like ABS-CBN, even information can be controlled in favor of one of the most powerful oligarchies in the country.
In the news: cases
In 2013, Lopez herself got embroiled in two controversies for her “environmental” work.
A Commission on Audit Report (COA) for the years 2004 to 2009 revealed that the AFI had unilaterally decided to get another 15 percent over its 30 percent share in the La Mesa Eco-Park’s net income. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) states: 40 percent to MWSS, 30 percent to the Quezon City government, and 30 percent to the AFI (Business World, 17 Nov 2014).
Another COA report alleged that instead of “removing rubbish,” the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), headed by Lopez, had “created more junk … bungling its P17.7-million cleanup of Metro Manila’s biggest waterway. COA said that millions of pesos worth of recycling equipment had been rendered junk because the PRRC had only one working materials recovery facility (MRF) out of the 10 recycling centers it committed to build over the last four years (Inquirer.net, 3 July 2013).
In 2010, the residents of Bangkal, in Makati, were put at risk by a leak in one of the Lopezes’ pipelines. “The Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan and temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) [ordering] FPIC to “cease and desist from operating the pipeline” (Philstar.com, 20 June 2010).
In 2001, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reported that the newly-built Powerplant Mall at the Lopezes’ Rockwell development buried a “deadly pond of toxic waste that had been produced by the 40-year-old, 130-megawatt thermal power once operated by the Lopez-owned Manila Electric Company.”
The report alleges: “10 minutes’ drive from this newest playground of the rich is Barangay San Joaquin in Pasig City, … entombed in reinforced concrete underneath a parking area the size of four basketball courts, [there are] 4,300 cubic meters of soil and 14 cubic meters of liquids contaminated with cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which had been used for Rockwell’s power plant transformers” (PCIJ website, ©2001).”
Experts say there is no guarantee that this won’t leak out through the soil and cement at some point.
Lopez’s ‘straight’ answers
These cases seem few and far between, but even Lopez would agree that environmental problems have long-term effects.
For example: in Jan. 2016 the Makati City government declared three barangays still at risk from the Lopez’s 2010 pipeline leak. Dr. Carlo Arcilla, director of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of the University of the Philippines “warned that returning residents of the condominium in Barangay Bangkal remain in danger of contracting lung cancer due to benzene contamination and the polluted groundwater caused by the leakage in 2010, [with] roughly 400,000 liters of leaked petroleum products remain underground, contaminating the soil and water beneath Bangkal” (The Standard, 2 Jan. 2016).
In 2012, forced to respond to this issue, Lopez said “her family was currently spending hundreds of millions of pesos to fix the unfortunate accident” (Rappler.com, 3 Mar 2012).
It is this attitude about money that is in Lopez’s responses to the COA reports on the La Mesa Watershed project and the PRRC.
In 2013, speaking on ABS-CBN, she said about the MWSS allegations on La Mesa funds: “They have everything, I don’t get anything for me. It all goes to their land. We’ve put in P300 million over and above on government property, without asking anything back in return. … The only thing I ask is 15 percent because how can you run an organization, an enterprise if you don’t have admin cost? … 15 percent, that’s like peanuts. We do the auditing. We do the finance. We do the HR. 15 percent admin fee? I mean, that’s really inexpensive” (18 July 2013).
About bungling the P17.7 million cleanup of the PRRC: “We’ve shifted several key positions in top management. I felt that we could have done a better job. But you know, I’m not even paid for this. Not one peso. I’m the chairperson. I’m not supposed to be running operations but never mind because I’m the chair, I’ll take full responsibility” (18 July 2013).
This attitude is alarming because for someone who speaks of volunteering for the environment, she sure keeps pointing out how much money she (and her family) have put out, and how she’s doing this for free. Asked about money, the tendency is to be defensive.
In 2014, after columnist Butch del Castillo asked her questions about the COA report on La Mesa, she replied: “Why don’t you look at the bigger picture—we’re saving a lot of people from poverty and trying to make the air you breathe a lot cleaner, but you insist on nitpicking! Who hired you to ask me these questions? The mining companies?”
No, not at all the response we expect from anyone involved in environmental work. And certainly not from a government official.
What is "responsible mining"?
By Claire Jiao
30 June 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — When Chips Guevara learned a mining company was starting operations near his home in Lobo, Batangas, he decided to attend the public consultation.
It was an audience of mostly farmers and fisherfolk. Lobo is a third-class municipality, about 150 kilometers south of Manila.
The only risk officials told them about was silt, Guevara recalled. Since trees would have to be uprooted and an open pit would have to be dug, the soil could erode into the ocean when it rains.
But there were more pressing questions to be asked. An environmentalist by advocacy and an engineer by trade, he wanted to know what chemicals the company would use and what their impact would be on the community and its surroundings.
"So, I started asking technical questions. The first thing I asked was, are you going to use a mercury process or a cyanide process? The initial reaction I got was silence," he said.
Company officials later told him they would be using cyanide to process ores into gold. When pressed on how they planned to dispose of the toxic waste after, "it was silence again."
Guevara pointed out, "When it comes to pure cyanide, the volume of a grain of rice is enough to kill a person. And yet, you would have to bring in tons and tons of cyanide into the mining area."
Together with Gina Lopez, a well-known anti-mining advocate, they banded with church leaders, resort owners and concerned citizens, successfully lobbying the local government to withhold the company's mining permit.
Lopez is now the next Environment Secretary — an appointment that has been met with praises from civil society and worry among miners.
In her first interview with CNN Philippines, she said she would prioritize a review of mining policy. Mining, she claimed, endangers the environment, impoverishes people, with only businesses profiting.
But President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has not ruled out the industry as a whole, but has called for "responsible mining" instead. He has pointed to Australia and Canada as some of the world's leaders in mining and compelled local miners to adopt their best practices.
What "responsible mining" entails is unclear, though. It is disputed even within the industry.
Strong law, weak implementation
For Louie Sarmiento, head of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, there isn't much to be changed.
"Even when the Philippine Act of 1995 was enacted, we followed the Canadian, Australian, as well as other countries' best practices. Everything we need is already in the law. It's just a matter of validating and implementing it," he said.
Sarmiento admitted mining inevitably involved risk to people and the environment. But those risks are manageable, he said, and the measures to do so are already laid down by the state.
A company must have a comprehensive safety and health plan, from start to finish of a mining exploration, he said. It is also required to set aside a trust fund; this ensures it has the resources to implement that plan to the satisfaction of the government.
Waste management is central to that, Sarmiento said. The waste from mines are stored in ponds. This allows the silt to sink and be separated from the water. It also exposes cyanide to the sun until it is biodegraded.
Guevara contended, however, that even those ponds weren't foolproof. The wastewater can seep into the ground, where people get their drinking water. The ponds can also overflow into nearby bodies of water, contaminating their source of food.
This was a very real threat in Lobo, he said. The mining company wanted to locate its pond just 700 meters away from the shoreline.
"Lobo fronts the Verde Island Passage — quite possibly the most important coral reef in the world. It has the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Last year alone, scientists discovered 100 new species of marine life there. If you put silt in the Passage, that area will die," Guevara pointed out.
But Sarmiento said the structural integrity of ponds was regularly checked, both by in-house engineers and independent auditors to prevent seepage and overflow. Thickeners are being used to hasten the separation of silt from the wastewater. The quality of wastewater is also checked before it is released out to sea.
He pointed out that the worst mining disasters in the Philippines were mostly from legacy mines that operated well before the creation of the Mining Act in 1995.
Since then, any incidents have mostly been down to unforeseen circumstances, he said. For example, Philex Mining Corp.'s pond in the Padcal mine leaked in 2012 after unusually strong rains.
Miners have been factoring in heavier and heavier rainfall, especially with the onset of La Niña, Sarmiento said.
According to him, it is in the best interest of companies to ensure the safety of their mines as they stand to lose a lot in fines and foregone profits. The reputational cost is likewise huge, since companies tend to have international operations. A disaster in one country could hurt their business in another.
Philex was slapped with a P1-billion fine after the Padcal leak. Its operations were stopped for two years. It was also required to clean up and rehabilitate the surrounding area.
The pond, however, ended up releasing more than 20 million metric tons of waste into Balog Creek and Agno River in Benguet. It took Philex two months to plug the leak completely.
Sarmiento said, "Responsible mining, to me, should be pro-people, pro-environment — meaning the benefits are felt not just by the mining community but by the country in general."
But as far as Guevara is concerned, the consequences are too devastating, that even the smallest risk of a mining disaster is already too much to gamble on.
The only responsible thing for the government to do is to ban mining completely, he said.
Paje sees Lopez continuing greening, coastal programs; mining reforms
By Shyla Francisco
Bloomberg TV Philippines
30 June 2016
MANILA - The National Greening Program, Coastal Resource Management Program, coral reef rehabilitation, and biodiversity conservation -- these are just some of the programs that the outgoing Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje expects his successor, Gina Lopez, to continue.
During the 2-day briefing with the environmentalist Lopez that ended Wednesday, Lopez expressed interest to expand these programs and tweak some policies, particularly on mining, Paje said.
Lopez, however, declined to discuss details of her plans for the agency as she is still consulting with other DENR officials, but she adds that environment protection will be her top priority.
"That's really the agenda I'm going [to pursue]. I don't like our people to suffer. We cannot build an economy based on suffering, so anything . . . whatever happens here must not put at risk the future and welfare, [and] happiness of people. That's our priority."
Lopez said she will consider as her performance indicator "the quality of life of our people. If we are able to achieve that, with some environmental consciousness in our country, I'm more than happy."
For his part, Paje said his advice to his successor, in terms of dealing with the DENR work force, was, "intindihin mo sila, paramdam mo na sinusuportahan mo sila [Try to understand them, let them feel you support them], and you will have their support. Build upon what we have started and developed, and you do leapfrogging."
Paje indicated Lopez was training her sights on the mining sector, which was initially filled with apprehension when news first broke that then President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was considering Lopez for the DENR post. Mining shares plunged for two days. Some Chamber of Mines members issued a statement of support for Lopez's appointment last week, but expressed hope she would make a distinction between players who abide by laws and DENR rules and those who continue illegal mining with impunity. Earlier, watchers of the mining sector had warned that this included big operators hiding behind small mining permits.
Speaking of Lopez, Paje said: "She would really want to look into deeply into the mining industry. Natutuwa kami kung kailangan talaga linisin, kailangan nila sumunod [If there's really a need to clean up the sector, then they must comply]. At least ito, andyan na ang environment fundametals, kailangan lang supplement sa department."
Nobody better than Gina
By Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
24 June 2016
Outgoing Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Thursday said he “could not think of anyone better” than antimining activist Gina Lopez to succeed him as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“I’m sure the incoming DENR secretary will do a good job. I feel that the department is in good hands,” Paje said in a statement.
He added that Lopez’s “passion and track record on various environmental causes cannot be understated.”
While environmental activists lauded President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s choice, mining companies reacted negatively after Lopez accepted the appointment on Tuesday.
Lopez, who currently chairs the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, left for Japan on Wednesday, according to her staff.
She begged off from answering questions by e-mail until her return.
Philex, Chamber of Mines welcome mining audit
5 July 2016
The Chamber of Mines in the Philippines (COMP) and mining company Philex Mining both welcome Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's initiative to conduct an audit of mining companies.
In an interview with ANC's Dateline Philippines, Atty. Mike Toledo, Senior Vice President of Public and Regulatory Affairs of Philex Mining, reiterated the company's stand that they respect President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to hand the environment portfolio to Lopez, a staunch anti-mining advocate.
He added, Philex is open and ready to work with Lopez because they are "one with her as far as securing environmental protection, as far as securing or ensuring sustainable development," and that includes her call for an audit of mining contractors.
"We welcome and I am very glad Secretary Lopez would say that because an audit is indeed important. It is a fact that there are indeed some mining companies that, sadly, have not complied with certain requirements provided in the law," he said.
Lopez earlier said that she would audit all mining companies for compliance with safety standards, and non-compliance might result in suspension of the mines' environmental compliance certificate (ECC) and non-issuance of ore transport permits.
Toledo reported, however, that even before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mandated all mining companies to secure International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Certification in 2015, Philex already had one.
Aside from the ISO certification, he said Philex also received an Integrated Management System (IMS) certification, "which is an even higher and more encompassing than the requirements in the law, and in the new law that’s going to be implemented."
"The IMS certification was [received], if I’m not mistaken, sometime last year—one or two years ago; whereas the ISO certification was even prior to that," he said.
Toledo, who is the concurrent Head of the MVP Group of Companies Media Bureau, said they are also open to dialogue with the government and the possible review of the law on mining in light of the technological advances.
Meanwhile, the COMP is also open to dialogue with Lopez despite their "initial concerns" about her assignment.
Atty. Ronald Recidoro, COMP's vice-president for Legal and Policy, told ANC's Dateline Philippines in a separate interview that while they have yet to receive "feelers," their group also welcomes the possibility of a dialogue with Lopez.
"We welcome dialogue. We would love to be able to speak to her and tell her about our initiatives not just on the environmental front but also on the social development front of our operation," he said.
Recidoro is also confident Lopez's audit will not gravely affect the members of their chamber because most of their members are already ISO-certified.
"Of the 40 or so operating large scale mine companies operating in the country today, about 21 are members of the Chamber of Mines. And of the 21, 13 have already secured their I.S.O 14001 Certification," he said.
"The other eight have already applied and are currently undergoing the process. We are assured that they will be given their certifications shortly," he added.
On top of this, Recidoro said their members also spent over P1-billion for social development programs in their host communities in 2015 over and above their corporate social responsibility (CSR) undertakings.
"So, P1.5-billion spread throughout just 13 local government units, provinces, is not a small amount. It can do a lot for the host communities if it is just used right," he said.
He maintained, mining companies are not always detrimental to the communities, as some even thrived after mining operations, like Baguio and Toledo in Cebu.
"Under the Mining Act, mining companies are required to set aside enough funds to ensure that their rehabilitation works are fully-funded at least five years before their intended closure," he said.
The companies' CSR must also give host communities commercial opportunities, and Recidoro said that's why most of their mines operate in far-flung, remote areas in the countryside.
He agreed that it may be the small-scale mining companies that adversely affect the environment and they must be stopped because of that.
Nonetheless, the COMP will be embarking on an information campaign to counter the negative impression on the industry.
Semirara Mining and Power Corp. Chairman Isidro Consunji said he was "unclear" on the basis of Lopez's claim that its coal operations destroyed 80 percent of mangroves on Semirara Island.
"But we would like to assure Sec. Gina Lopez that our environment management plan complies with the directives of the DENR," Consunji said in a statement.
The company planted 873,000 mangroves and reforested 625 hectares since 2000, he said.
Gina Lopez’s appointment, a Duterte masterstroke
by Rigoberto D. Tiglao
3 July 2016
You’d agree that there’s no exaggeration in saying that Regina Lopez’s appointment as secretary of the environment and natural resources department (DENR) if you had heard of and understood that phenomenon political scientists call “regulatory capture.” This is the bigger conceptual box where the more familiar “corruption” is.
The term “regulatory capture,” though, is somewhat vivid, as it refers to the very common situation in developing countries in which regulatory bodies are “captured” by business entities and even individuals to further their own interests, to the extent of bending the laws these bodies are supposed to implement.
I have written several articles on Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), partly because its violation of the Constitution’s 40 percent limit on foreign ownership in a public utility firm is the definitive example of regulatory capture.
In that case, it is made much worse as it furthers the interest not just of any magnate, but a foreign one, the Indonesian Anthoni Salim, owner of First Pacific Co. Ltd., which controls PLDT.
In this particular case, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 and 2012 that PLDT was in violation of the 40 percent limit, and even issued a method for calculating how percentage ownership would be determined. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the regulatory body that should have implemented the Court’s decision, ignored the Court’s ruling, and issued its own method of computing foreign ownership, which was diametrically different, and which merely maintained foreign dominance of PLDT. The SEC had been captured by a foreign magnate.
There have been clear cases of regulatory capture of the DENR through the decades by those exploiting our natural resources, and there are major reasons why that government department is so vulnerable.
I’m sure, dear reader, that you have gone to Tagaytay to cool off. A stretch of the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road (which starts from Nuvali) has become a furniture-manufacturer row.
The furniture makers there quite obviously aren’t using recycled wood or those from tree farms. I have often seen huge logs, obviously freshly cut, unloaded by huge trailers to these shops. I had once asked a shop if he could get me narra or mahogany for a table I wanted to make. It just takes a few weeks to order the wood, he says, which comes from Isabela.
And we are supposed to be moving closer to a full logging ban in the country, which is a joke in our hinterlands. An unholy alliance between local politicians, the New People’s Army (NPA), and the local police, has been the force that has facilitated logging, transported from the farthest boondocks in the country to the metropolis itself through trucks and vessels, with police patrols and the coast guard looking the other way. How difficult would it be for a DENR team to investigate each of those shops to find out how they source their lumber?
The illegal logging industry isn’t a mom-and-pop operation, with the transport trucks requiring huge investments. How can we expect lowly DENR offices in far-flung areas, where the forests obviously are, to implement our anti-logging laws? How rarely has the DENR headquarters reported that big-time loggers have been caught?
Worse in mining
It is as worse for the mining industry. We have had two major mining disasters over the last 10 years, so bad these were reported globally as among the worst cases of degradation of an environment by mining firms.
First, the Philex Mining mine spill in Benguet in 2012, when some 20 million metric tons of sediments flowed into water channels from the Philex tailings pond in Itogon after its drainage tunnel was breached. Has Philex repaired the damage it had caused the Itogon rivers? Could it ever?
Second, the Marcopper Mining disaster in 1996 in Marinduque, when a fracture in the drainage tunnel of its pit containing leftover mine tailings discharged toxic mine waste into the Makulapnit-Boac river system and caused flash floods in areas along the river.
What should worry us more is this: These mining companies were supposed to be the most professionally run in our mining industry. If they could be that negligent as to let such disasters occur from their operations, how much more risky, and how much more dangerous to our environment would the operations of the slew of new mining firms – a number of which are reportedly owned by Chinese firms using Filipinos as dummies — be?
There are five factors that make regulating the mining industry so difficult and prone to “capture:”
First, the actual sites are in so distant, godforsaken areas and even jungles, “infested” with bandits and the NPA, that DENR personnel have been known to shirk the risk of undertaking on-site inspections.
Second, it has been the mining firms’ predilection to get political lords to become their patrons and defenders, both on the local level (the mayors and governors) and the national level;
President Rodrigo Duterte himself during the election campaign period accused presidential candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd of coddling a mining company that, he said, has been penalized for overextraction. SR Metals’ part owner, Eric Gutierrez, was said to have been a major contributor to Roxas’ campaign kitty, and had given him free use of all his eight private jets during the campaign. Gutierrez’s associate in SR Metals is the spokesman of the Liberal Party, Caloocan politician Eric Erice. Gutierrez obviously has not only been Roxas’ crony in the elections, but also probably that of the Aquino admnistration. Congressman Manuel Zamora, a well-known political power-broker who financed Joseph Estrada’s run for the presidency, controls Nickel Asia, one of the biggest nickel producers in Asia. Even cabinet members of past administrations have become “consultants” or even secret stockholders of mining firms.
Strong propaganda machinery
Third, the mining industry has developed, over the decades, a strong propaganda machinery for propagating the myth that the Philippine mining industry is essential to the nation’s growth. Part of this machinery could be the Philippine Star, which is controlled by the Indonesian tycoon, Salim, through his top executive, Manuel Pangilinan. The president of the Chamber of Mines is Philip Romualdez, husband of Alexandra Prieto, whose family owns the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Neoliberal champions like the Foundation for Economic Freedom and business consultant Peter Wallace have been noisy champions of the mining industry. A vicious propaganda campaign has, in fact, already been launched against Sec. Lopez.
Fourth, every time stricter mining regulations are about to be put in place, the mining industry raises the bugaboo that foreign investors will be spooked and that their fears could engulf foreign investors in general.
With the mining industry having established their heyday during Marcos’ time, and as a shadowy means for their owners to make money, mining firms were over-represented on the stock exchange. Whenever mining regulations were tightened, the shares of stocks in mining firms (even those that are just shell firms) fell, with the industry’s propagandists threatening a stock market meltdown if the regulations were implemented.
Fifth, as in many of our regulatory bodies, members of their staff are so easily co-opted by the corporations they are supposed to regulate. The staff of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences have only two options to crawl out of the quagmire of low-paying government jobs: as OFWs, albeit highly-paid geologists, or highly paid technical staff of mining firms.
It is such an absurdity for mining propagandists to be claiming all the time that almost everything we use everyday, from our appliances to cellphones, are made from materials mined out of the earth, and therefore, we should love the industry.
Nobody is disputing that. What we are saying is that, let’s just get our metals and minerals — as we have really been doing — from nations (such as Australia) that have strong regulatory bodies that protect their environment, or even from poorer nations (such as those in Africa) who direly need the foreign exchange from the mining industry – that, at least until we can be confident that the DENR is and can no longer be captured by mining interests
We were among the world’s biggest producers and exporters of gold and nickel in the 1950s and ‘60s. What good did that do to us, or even to the site of most of those mines, Benguet for instance, which is one of the poorest provinces in our country?
Check out where the big mining firms have been operating for a decade now — among them Composela Valley, Surigao del Norte and Sur, Dinagat Islands, Camarines Sur — and you will find the poorest provinces.
It is because of such situations that our mining industry now cries out for a Lopez to head its regulatory body. Lopez’s life story is proof enough that she is a traitor to her class — the ruling elite — and that she definitely can’t be bribed by the mining moguls. I can’t think of anybody else who has the passion and independence from the material world who can free the DENR from capture.
Audit of mining firms
One very good move Lopez announced she would undertake was an audit of all mining firms. Although perhaps what she had in mind was an audit that would include their record in complying with regulations, and maybe of extracting what they were supposed to mine, the audit should also determine if these firms are complying with the constitutional requirement that foreigners’ can own only 40 percent of their capital.
I have heard a lot of rumors that many of the new mining firms are actually owned by Chinese, Taiwanese and Canadian investors.
But apart from such shadowy firms, starting with one of the biggest such operators, Philex Mining, it would turn out not a few mining firms may have been in violation of the country’s constitutional limits. This is, if one applies the landmark decision of the Supreme Court in 2014 (Narra Vs Redmond, G.R. No. 195580, April 21, 2014) that mining firms’ layering schemes merely conceal the actual level of foreign ownership, which exceeds the 40 percent limit.
As has been its habit, the SEC simply ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling and has not issued new rules on how foreign ownership levels should be computed based on the Court’s decision. I’ll discuss this topic on Wednesday.
Majority of mining firms now compliant with ISO 14001
by Madelaine B. Miraflor
7 July 2016
In response to the new Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s call for responsible mining, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) came up yesterday with the list that will determine if mining companies are already compliant with international standards and it showed that most of its members already do.
COMP consists of companies coming from exploration, mining, mineral processing and services industries. Most of its members own the major mining operations in the Philippines.
During the past administration, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mandated all mining companies to be certified with ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
The ISO 14001 – EMS standard requires every mining contractor the highest, most acceptable level of efficiency in terms of extracting minerals, while at the same time ensuring that the environment is not compromise.
It seeks a systematic framework to manage the immediate and long-term environmental impacts of an organization’s products, services, and processes.
Lopez, upon taking over the DENR secretary position, then made a follow up on the list, wanting to make sure that all mining companies in the Philippines are compliant with this standard.
In its latest data, COMP said that as of now, 13 of its members have already complied with ISO 14001 standards, while eight companies are still on the process of securing it.
The companies that are fully compliant are Benguet Corp., Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., Philex Mining Corp., OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Inc., Eramen Minerals, Inc., Rio Tuba Nickel Mines Corp., Filminera Resources Corp., Carmen Copper Corp., Greenstone Resources Corp., Hinatunan Mining Corp., MarcVentures Mining and Development Corp., Taganito Mining Corp.
The ones that are yet to secure the certification are LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc., Berong Nickel Corp., Apex Mining Co., Inc., TVI Resources Development, Inc., CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc., Platinum Group Metals Corp., Philsaga Mining Corp.
“If a mine will have an ISO certification 14001, it means that its basic operations will be at par with international standards,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said.
Lopez was also mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte to assess all the operations of mining companies in the country.
So aside from the ISO certification, these firms, including those that are not members of COMP, would likewise have to undergo an auditing process that should begin immediately.
“There will be an assessment of all existing mining operations. We have to evaluate them. It is non-negotiable. There will be an audit to all existing mines… Mining companies have to get their acts together,” Lopez said in an earlier interview.
“I am not against the mining industry, I am against suffering. It’s my challenge for the mining companies to prove their existence in this country,” she added.
Philex, Silangan Mining to Gina Lopez: We are ISO-compliant
This is in response to DENR chief Gina Lopez's call to suspend mining firms that are not ISO-compliant
Chrisee Dela Paz
6 July 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Philex Mining Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary Silangan Mindanao Mining Corporation have a message to the newly-installed environment secretary: "We are ISO-compliant."
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez during the turnover ceremony last Friday, July 1, called for an audit of mining companies, ensuring their adherence to ISO or International Organization for Standardization 14001.
Should a mining firm be found non-compliant, Lopez said it will face suspension.
Lopez had said that ISO 14001 certification is responsible mining.
"If you're really responsible, like, responsible, then you have to have the highest standards, and the standards we want for our beloved country is ISO 14001," Lopez said.
The country's largest biggest gold producer, Philex Mining, obtained its ISO certification through International Management System (IMS) last April 2015. (READ: Investors in mining panic over Gina Lopez appointment)
"With these certifications, we have emphasized our care for the environment and the safety of our people," Philex Mining president and CEO Eulalio Austin Jr said in a statement on Wednesday, July 6.
ISO 14001 covers the requirements of an environmental management system such as quality and labor protection, for all organizations.
"Environmental awareness and looking after the safety of workers are the trademarks of a responsible miner," Austin added.
Meanwhile, Silangan Mindanao Mining was recently awarded its ISO 14001 certification this past June – before the Duterte administration came into office.
"This is hard proof of Silangan's hard work in establishing the culture of responsible mining. This certification is also a result of an actual audit done by an internationally accredited independent group," Silangan Mindanao Mining president and CEO Yulo Perez said.
"We are probably the first mining company who received an ISO 14001 certification prior to the actual mining operation," Perez added.
Perez said his firm's certificate was in compliance with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2015-07, which required mining companies to secure ISO 14001 Certificates to enforce environmental compliance and promote responsible and sustainable mining.
"These certifications give strong assurances to existing and prospective investors and strategic partners of both Philex and Silangan on our excellence in operation, maintenance and rehabilitation practices," said Michael Toledo, senior vice president for public and regulatory affairs of Philex Mining.
Nickel Asia Corporation earlier told the new administration that all its mining operations are ISO compliant. – Rappler.com
Lopez v Dominguez: DENR Chief says no to Tampakan mine owned by DOF Chief
11 July 2016
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez are headed on a collission course after the fiesty eco-warrior announced she would block the opening of Tampakan copper and gold mining project in South Cotabato.
Lopez said: “Tampakan is on top of hundreds of hectares of agricultural land, the food basket of Mindanao, and you want to put a 700-hectare open-pit mine? I don’t care how much money they give us. It’s not worth it. Who is making the money here and who is taking the risk?”
Lopez said she would stand against any move to lift South Cotabato’s ban on open pit mining, Tampakan’s preferred extraction method, which she described as “horrible.”
Dominguez is a part owner of Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI) which has a pending proposal to spend $5.9 billion to dig into one of Southeast Asia’s largest untapped resources with an estimated yield of 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.
The project, which would also encompass Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, has been opposed by residents because of its massive impact on their water source Lake Buluan.
Dominguez is a boyhood friend and campaign contributor and strategist of President Rodrigo Duterte. Lopez, the sister of ABS-CBN boss Gabby Lopez, is a replacement nominee of Duterte for the DENR who had previously announced that he was reserving the post for his comrades in the National Democratic Front.
Group to petition DENR against mining in Romblon
26 June 2016
MANILA, Philippines -- An anti-mining group is set to file its opposition to mining on Tablas Island in Romblon at the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources office in Manila on Monday.
According to the Romblon News Network, the Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining will bring documents bearing signatures of Tablas Island residents opposed to mining there. The group will also bring a letter from Gov. Eduardo Firmalo urging DENR Secretary Ramon Paje against allowing Asian Palladium Mineral Resources to mine in the waters around the island.
The letter claims that the residents of Romblon are opposed to the application, Romblon News Network reported.
In 2011, Gov. Firmalo issued an executive order imposing a moratorium on metallic mining in the province.
Group slams governor’s defense of mining operations
Philippine Daily Inquirer
23 June 2016
SURIGAO CITY—An environmental group in the Caraga region denounced Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas for “shamelessly” defending large-scale mining companies despite glaring evidence of the destruction that their operations caused in her province.
Matugas earlier said she was “not afraid of mining here in Surigao.”
“The mining industry is, I think, implementing what we call responsible mining,” she said in the wake of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s mention of the province as a haven of irresponsible miners, whose operations are wreaking havoc on the environment.
“It is no wonder that large- scale mining companies have been free to exploit the mineral resources of Surigao del Norte without consideration of the effects to communities, to feed the greed for profit,” said the group Caraga Watch in a statement sent by e-mail to Inquirer.
“They have a shameless protector in Gov. Sol Matugas,” said the statement, signed by Rev. Pio Mercado, Caraga Watch Surigao del Norte spokesperson.
Days after she spoke in favor of mining companies, Matugas said she supported Duterte “against irresponsible mining.”
In a statement released by her office, Matugas said she had a good record in “strictly enforcing applicable rules and pertinent regulations to make sure that mining companies comply with official policies.”
“I am for responsible mining. I believe in caring for the environment,” she said.
Matugas said proof of her advocacy for responsible mining is the ongoing project to build a coastal resource center in the town of Claver, where most large-scale mining operations in the province are based.
But Caraga Watch’s Mercado scoffed at the governor’s action, describing it as “consuelo de bobo.”
“This is too little, too late, and laughable to say the least,” Mercado said.
Mercado said Matugas has spent more than six years as governor “and it took President-elect Duterte to point out the problem” in Surigao del Norte.
Caraga Watch said Matugas turned a blind eye “for years” on heavy siltation caused by mining in coastal areas in the province.
The group said coastal waters in the towns of Placer, Bacuag and Claver “have become a muddy, polluted area with increasingly dwindling marine life.”
Matugas, said Caraga Watch, cannot claim ignorance about the pollution caused by mining because it has been reported many times by media.
It said in the meantime, fish kills have occurred in and diseases have spread among residents of towns around Lake Mainit, which Caraga Watch said has been contaminated by the operations of mining company Red 5-Greenstone Corp. in the towns of Tubod and Mainit. Danilo Adorador III, Inquirer Mindanao
Semirara Mining gets OK to boost coal production
9 June 2016
MANILA - Semirara Mining and Power Corp. on Thursday said it received its amended Environmental Compliance Certificate that allows it to boost production at its Molave Coal Project in Antique.
The Consunji group's mining firm said from the current 12 million metric tons, it will be allowed to increase its annual production rate to no more than 16 million metric tons.
The area of its Molave Pit (West Panian) is also increased from 300 hectares to 400 hectares, while total reservoir capacity becomes 10 million cubic meters from the current 8.9 million cubic meters).
B.A. Securities analyst Arbee Lu said this is good news for Semirara and its investors, although it will take time to feel the impact of the expansion.
"I don't think they'll be able to immediately act upon this because it's a big difference. They're going to have to tweak [operational] settings. When it comes to the actual impact of this, this may be a little later," Lu said.
Semirara shares are down alongside most other blue chips on Thursday morning as the Philippine Stock Exchange index rally lost steam.
Share price ended morning trade at P130.20, down 0.4 percent. Before today's drop, Semirara shares had been trading at 3-month highs. Year to date, Semirara shares are down by over 4 percent.
As more economies and companies start to green their supply chains and as coal continues to get bad press for its harmful effects on the environment, Lu said Semirara may soon have to look at shifting to renewable energy.
Contractual workers up in arms vs mining firm
by William B. Depasupil, Reporter
10 June 2016
THE incoming administration of President-elect President Rodrigo Duterte will have its first acid test soon in its declared war on illegal contractualization and destructive mining against one of the biggest and most influential mining companies in Palawan province in western Philippines.
Alan Tanjusay, policy advocacy officer of the Associated Labor Union (ALU) and spokesman for the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)-Nagkakaisa disclosed on Thursday that the mining firm, Citinickel Mines Development Corp. (Citinickel), is owned by one of the contributors to the presidential campaign of outgoing President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010 and also to that of Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd in the just concluded May 9 polls.
Citinickel has mining operations in over 2,212 hectares of land in the towns of Narra and Sofronio Espanola in Palawan.
Tanjusay said around 200 miners have decided to hold a legal strike starting on June 10 at the mine site in Barangay Bato-Bato in Narra town for alleged contactualization, union busting and illegal termination of workers.
He added that the mine workers would be joined by local indigenous people, fishermen and farmers to express grave concern over Citinickel’s violations of environmental laws to the detriment of local agricultural farms and sea corrals.
“The members of the union have reached a decision to resort to stage a legal strike after the law-prescribed series of government labor arbiter-supervised mediation talks between the unionized mine workers and the management of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. to regularize its contractual workers, return of illegally dismissed employees and for blatant attempts to bust the union have failed to reached any agreement last week,” Tanjusay said.
The workers also accused Citinickel of intentional and malicious withholding of the salaries and benefits of dismissed employees, reduction of employees’ salaries without prior notice and non-payment of separation and retirement pays to retired employees.
Citinickel started its operation in 2010.
It is owned by socialite Carolyn Tanchay, who, according to Tanjusay, also owns the high-end restaurant Dean and De Luca in New York in the United States, the 34-story The Ore Central building in The Fort in Taguig City (Metro Manila) and the Hardrock Aggregates.
Tanjusay claimed that it is open secret that Tanchay is a very close friend of celebrity and Kris Aquino–youngest sister of the President–and known to the community to be one of the campaign contributors in 2010 of the outgoing President, and as well as that of Roxas, who lost to Duterte by more than 6 million votes.
He said the workers also fear that Citinickel’s labor and environmental abuses are allegedly being ignored and tolerated by the local government unit because the sole hauling contractor for the company is allegedly owned by Narra Mayor Lucena Demaala.
“With this high-end political connection, the political and legal odds against the striking lowly workers are so great that a victory in this endeavor is surrounded by impossibility.
But this is all what they’ve got to fight for a decent job and a life of dignity,” Tanjusay noted.
The local indigenous people, fishermen and farmers expressed their support to the grievances of striking Citinickel workers.
They said they are going to join the strike to also express grave concern over Citinickel’s violations of environmental laws.
During the campaign, Duterte vowed to bring about needed change in the labor sector, particularly abolition of the prevalent practice of contractualization by big malls and other establishments, among other reforms.
It is estimated that more than half of the current 67.1 million Filipino workforce are contractual workers
Contractualization or “endo” (end of contract) or “555” is a work arrangement whereby workers are only hired for about 5 months or less than 6 months without security of tenure and monetary, non-monetary and social protection benefits.
Recently, Duterte warned mining companies against their destructive mining activities.