Philippines UpdatePublished by MAC on 2006-02-24
24th February 2006
An attempted coup against the government of Gloria M Arroyo last week is but one indication of the massive political and civil discontent currently wracking the Philippines.
Even the recent Leyte mudslide disaster is being attributed by well-respected NGOs to the rapacious exploitation of natural resources encouraged under "GMA" - as the president is widely known.
Mounting threats against activists in the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, and other nonviolent NGOs, are seen as the result of an overall military crackdown.
In Negros Occidental, various movements are now gearing up for an anti-mining campaign, similar to others announced nationally over the past few months.
The Mines and Communities editorial board welcomes Kalikasan-PNE as a new member. We also publish a statement from last December's "International Mining Caucus and the WTO", held in Hong Kong under the auspices of Kalikasan-PNE and fellow MAC editorial member JATAM, from Indonesia.
LANDSLIDE VICTIMS REAP WORST IMPACTS OF GMA'S POLICY OF PLUNDER AND DESTRUCTION
Joint Statement by Kalikasan-PNE and nine others
22nd February 2005
A barangay was completely buried in mud. Almost a hundred people were confirmed dead and more than a thousand remain missing. Who is to blame? Who is responsible?
Experts declare that St Bernard is a landslide-prone area. The town's geological and physical characteristics -- steep and denuded mountain slope, loose volcanic bedrock, proximity to an earthquake fault, and pathway of tropical storms and monsoons-- were noted to have been the main causes for the massive landslide. Almost the same reasons were given for previous disasters such as the landslides in Panaoan Island and Aurora-North Quezon in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
According to the Citizen's Disaster Response Center (CDRC), since 1995 to 2004, an average of 317 disasters occur every year, which affect an average of nine million Filipinos. The annual data on disaster occurrences and victims have been increasing throughout the years.
Have the people not learned? While natural calamities do occur, environmental experts, as well as disaster managers, tell us that we can do something to minimize it, or do something to mitigate its impact.
More plunder, more disasters
Yet, the more than a century of increasing destruction and plunder of our natural resources is a major debacle which serious disaster managers in the country will have to contend with. A consistently neo-colonial economic policy of resource extraction is at the bottom of the precarious state of our environment that worsens the vulnerability of our people to natural disasters everyday.
Large-scale commercial and illegal logging, for instance, were the factors blamed for the Ormoc flash flood and the Quezon landslide tragedies. Large-scale mining is leaving a legacy of widespread destruction of our mountains and the culprit behind the destruction of our major freshwater and coastal ecosystems. One need only call to mind the mine tailings dumping in Marinduque, Cebu, Benguet, and recently in Rapu-rapu, Albay. Mining and logging are disastrous by themselves and they aggravate the situation at the onset of natural calamities like typhoons and droughts.
Despite this, the Arroyo government stubbornly insists on the promotion of extractive industries. As bureaucrats gain from the policy of allowing foreign-owned transnational corporations and local big businesses to profit from ravaging our natural resources, our people are left to reap the horrifying impacts of every calamity that visits the country.
Environmental rehabilitation, disaster prevention
At the rate that our natural resources are being sold to the highest bidders, the country requires an ever larger political will to rehabilitate it. This appears far from the priorities of the current government. While 30% of the national budget goes to servicing the country's debts, less and less funds go to environmental rehabilitation. In 2003, the government was only able to reforest 13,000 hectares of denuded forest, while the country lost around 100,000 hectares to logging.
Disaster Preparedness and Management
What happened in St. Bernard brings to the fore the prevailing disaster response system in the country which is reactive, emergency-focused and relief-centered. As government allocates a measly 0.1% of the national budget for calamity funds, it fails to provide preventive and mitigating measures to lessen the destruction and deaths in natural disasters. Life-saving measures such as local warning systems and disaster preparedness trainings are absent in almost all disaster- prone communities in such provinces as Southern Leyte, Benguet, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Kalinga Apayao, Abra, Catanduanes and Ifugao. Sources from the DENR reveal that for the past years, the agency has refrained from disseminating geo-hazard maps owing to complaints that such maps deter investors or tend to downgrade the value of land properties.
Worst, funds allocated and generated for the needs of the victims of calamities fail to trickle down to them and are lost to corruption. The government still has to account for the millions of calamity funds and relief aid from the recent landslide and flash flood disasters in Quezon and Aurora.
Arroyo Government, the worst tragedy
To steal votes and deprive the people of their right to suffrage. To allow plunder of the country's resources, at the risk of further disasters and the loss ofa future to our people. To not prevent or mitigate impacts of calamities, when these could have been prevented. What moral reason has the Arroyo government to insist on staying in power?
1.. We hold the Arroyo government responsible for the disasters in Leyte and for many similarly situated provinces in the country, for its avowed policy of promoting massive resource extraction that only benefits the rich MNCs, local bureaucrats and big business, at the people's expense, and for being inutile in the prevention and mitigation of landslides, & flash floods when it is all along aware of impending disasters on the people.
2.. We demand a stop to large scale, profit-oriented extractive industries for export that hardly provide long-term jobs and benefit for the people and the country, and instead cause heightened vulnerability of local folks.
3.. We call on the immediate relocation to safer grounds of communities at risk from natural calamities such as landslide and flash floods and the provision not only of relief but of alternative livelihood and services to displaced communities.
4.. We demand the immediate institution of local warning systems, conduct of disaster preparedness workshops and development of disaster management plans in landslide-prone communities.
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC)
Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC)
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMP)
National Council of Churches of the Philippines- Ecology Desk
Samahan ng mga Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM)
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR)
Interfaith Bishops for Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation
CLEMENTE BAUTISTA 9248756, 09283448797
FRANCES QUIMPO 9209099
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Heightened Surveillance and Harassment of Cordillera Political Activists
Could Lead to More Political Killings
Action Alert by Cordillera Peoples Alliance, February
Over the recent period, leaders and offices of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA), BAYAN MUNA and other progressive organizations have conspicuously been under surveillance by suspected military elements. In October 2005, there was an attempt to break into the CPA office by unknown men who cut off the power source and telephone line, destroyed the padlock of the gate, and attempted to forcibly open the door. When one of the CPA staff sleeping in the office shouted, the men ran away. During the Christmas holidays, several suspicious vans with tinted windows were often parked outside the CPA office, and threatening phone calls were made to those guarding the CPA office urging them to leave.
In addition, many CPA, Bayan Muna and other leaders and political activists observed clear indications that they are closely monitored. Ms. Joan Carling was closely followed by a suspicious motorcycle on her way home from the CPA office at 8:00 PM in January and the lock of their house door was found tampered. Her car was broken into last February 10, while parked outside her home in the evening. Unknown persons were also observed to be monitoring her house since the night after this incident until the present. Mr. Windel Bolinget, Secretary-General of CPA and Manny Loste, Bayan Muna Cordillera Regional Coordinator and National Vice-President are also being closely monitored in their homes and offices. The wife of Mr. Ampi Mangile, Vice-Chairperson of CPA, while in an isolated area, was one time almost forced to ride a suspicious van with military-looking men inside, but she resisted.
There are numerous other incidents, too many to mention, that all point to a heightened surveillance and harassment of Cordillera leaders, activists and organizations. There is a now clear trend and pattern, possibly leading to the worst scenario of more political killings of activists.
While the military is expected to deny outright any military plan to liquidate Cordillera activists, the threat remains very real and serious. There have been unabated killings of activists, human rights defenders, and NGO workers in the different regions of the country since 2001, with 272 documented cases. Most of these killings took place after victims were subjected to intense surveillance by suspected military elements or their hired goons. In particular, three NGO workers in Northern Luzon were killed by suspected hired goons or paramilitary elements just last year. Romeo Sanchez, BAYAN MUNA Coordinator of the Ilocos Region was killed in Baguio City in March 9, 2005. Pepe Manegdeg, a Church worker of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines was brutally murdered with 22 gunshot wounds in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur on November 28, 2005. Albert Terredano, a Human Rights advocate and employee of the Department of Agrarian Reform was killed in Bangued, Abra, on November 29, 2005. Until now, the killers of the three are still on the loose and the family and friends of the victims helplessly wait for justice to be served.
Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains silent and complacent over the continued killings of defenceless political dissenters. In fact, the killings are part and parcel of a conscious policy of the regime to target key leaders of legal sectoral and people's organizations. The Oplan Bantay Laya clearly lays down a policy of neutralizing leaders of suspected "front" organizations with no clear basis nor legal justification. The policy of the national government to brutally suppress those who are in progressive legal organizations and defenceless in the face of violent attempts on their lives illustrates the complete disregard for human rights by the Arroyo regime. Due process of law is clearly ignored and violated by the government in their attempt to cripple and paralyze legitimate organizations and instil fear amongst their members and followers. It is a very treacherous and cowardly policy of the Arroyo government, whose power to govern is already based on the power of the gun.
These leaders of the Cordillera mass movement are peace-loving, committed citizens fighting for social justice, peace, human rights and democracy. They have selflessly devoted their time and energy to the peoples' movement for fundamental social transformation. They have been exposing the wanton violation of human rights and indigenous peoples' rights, as well the economic and political policies of the Arroyo regime. They do not deserve to be harassed and treated like "criminals with a shoot to kill order" by those who claim to be the protectors of the people. Any attempt to silence Cordillera activists must be exposed and denounced as a continuing wanton violation of human rights and democracy.
We then call on our friends, partners, associates and peace-loving citizens to denounce the continued surveillance, harassment and threats on the lives of Cordillera activists. Let us resist the worsening political repression in the Philippines. We appeal for support in exerting pressure on the Philippine military and the Arroyo regime to stop political killings and respect human rights.
Write letters of concern and protest to the following (to the addresses below).Kindly cc a copy of your letter to CPA.
Action Alert issued by:
Joan Carling, Chairperson
Cordillera Peoples' Alliance
February 16, 2006
Baguio City, Philippines
SAMPLE OF LETTER OF CONCERN: Political killings in the Philippines
Hon. Avelino J Cruz, Jr
Department of National Defence
Rm. 301, DND BuildingCamp Genereal Emilio F. Aguinaldo
1110 Quezon City
Tel: +632-911-0488; +632-911-1746
Fax: +632- 911-6213
We wish to raise our serious concern over the worsening intimidation, harassment and political killings of leaders and members of legal organizations in the Philippines. In particular, we are informed of the heightened surveillance of leaders and members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and BAYAN-MUNA Cordillera along with other progressive organizations by suspected military elements or their associates. The staggering number of documented cases of political killings in the Philippines is already alarming, and we believe this heightened surveillance and monitoring leaders of the Cordillera mass movement may also lead to their being brutally silenced.
CPA has been active in international networks of civil society for the promotion of social justice and human rights of which our organization is also part of. We strongly condemn and denounce political killings as the worst form of political repression. It is an outright violation of due process and international standards for the respect of human rights. We are then saddened and outraged by the eminent threats of political killings of Cordillera activists and others, who are merely exercising their democratic rights and advancing the legal peoples movement for social justice and transformation. We believe there will never be any justification to political killings of defenceless members of any legal organization or any civilian.
We then appeal to your office to immediately take concrete steps within your authority to avert any plans of more political killings, and put a stop to the harassment and intimidation of leaders and members of legal organizations in the Cordillera and other regions in the country. The Philippine government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as to the UN Covenant on civil and political rights. Thus, it then becomes the duty of the Philippine government, especially its armed forces to ensure and protect the human rights of its citizens, including those who are critical of the government.
We shall be monitoring further developments in the Philippines, and shall continue to raise our concern on human rights violations and related issues.
Thank you for your attention.
cc: Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
New Executive Building
Malacañang Palace Compund
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel Manila
Tel: +632-564-1451 to 80; +632-736-1010
Hon. Purificacion C. Valera Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
+632-928-5655; +632- 926-6188/ +632-929-0102
Hon. Jannette Cansing Serrano
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
2nd Floor, N, dela Merced Building, corner West & Quezon Avenues
Tel: +632-373-96-33; +632-373-9787
Negros Folk Gear for War with Mining Companies
After some years of silence in mine-dominated southern Negros, in the Visayas islands in Central Philippines, farmers' groups, environmentalists, and church groups here are gearing up to stage a campaign against mining expansion.
BY KARL G. OMBION
20th February 2006
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental - After some years of silence in mine-dominated southern Negros, in the Visayas Islands in Central Philippines, farmers' groups, environmentalists, and church groups here are gearing up to stage a campaign against mining expansion.
Last Feb. 18 around 100 delegates coming from 34 organizations launched the multi-sectoral alliance Defend Patrimony Movement (DPM) south Negros whose aim is to resist the deluge of mining operations in a large part of southern Negros.
Meanwhile, Negros Occidental provincial board member Reynaldo Depasucat, chairman of the provincial committee on environment and natural resources, has authored a resolution opposing the granting of new mining permits in the province. The resolution was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) in its regular session last Feb. 15.
Aglipayan priest Fr. Ben Duran, elected chairman of the DPM said its launching is timely because aside from Philex Gold Mine, currently operating in the area, new mining companies have started explorations in Sipalay City, Cauayan, Hinobaan and portions of Negros Oriental. Duran cited in particular Colet Mines & Development Corp., which has started to operate in Sitio Dong-i, Brgy Manlocahoc, Sipalay, with target concession area of 3,000 has. and the Philex expansion around the Sipalay-Hinobaan border. Their operations, Duran said, have affected more than 300 upland rice farmers and settlers.
Mining Engineer and environmentalist Efren Fabila revealed that there are 50 other mining applications covering tens of thousands of hectares. Areas applied for are in Calatrava, Kabankalan City, Candoni, Hinobaan, and Talisay City. Specific target of applicants are exploration and production of manganese, basalt, iron ore, coal, and chromite.
The Center for Investigative Research and Multimedia Services (CIRMS), a Bacolod-based social research outfit, had earlier noted that as in the rest of the country, mining has stripped bare Negros island's forest lands and scraped the bottom of the earth in
search of precious minerals. Along with logging, mining has caused Negros to become what it is today: an island threatened by constant flashfloods and other calamities that have killed thousands of people and inundated countless rural villages, CIRMS added.
Duran said they expect more support for their campaign because people of southern Negros have had adverse experiences with mining companies, especially the Maricalum Mining Company, which closed sometime in 2000.
Fabila also believe that mining is behind the recent increase in military deployment and operations in southern Negros. "They are just disguising their presence as part of their anti-insurgency campaign when all indicators point to their role in clearing mountain villages of actual and potential opposition to mining operations," he said.
"This is the same pattern all over the country, that every time mining companies enter the villages, the military comes in for clearing operations in the guise of hunting rebels," Fabila added. "It is a double whammy for mostly farmers and upland settlers."
In a related development, the four Catholic dioceses of Negros will launch their joint anti-mining campaign on Feb. 20 at the John Paul II Cultural Center, Sacred Heart Seminary, Bacolod City.
Expected to lead the affair are Bp. Vicente Navarra of the Diocese of Bacolod, Bp. Patrick Bozon of the Diocese of Kabankalan, Bp. Jose Advincula of the Diocese of San Carlos, Bp. John F. Doe of the Diocese of Dumaguete; and a representative of the Abp. Angel Lagdameo of the Archdiocese of Jaro, Iloilo, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The activity is viewed by local Christian communities as a response of the local Catholic leadership to the CBCP's recent pastoral statement calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995, the cancellation of all mining permits, and the junking of the pending applications. The bishops said the mining business in the country "destroys life."
Fr. Mao Buenafe, social action director of the Diocese of Bacolod and head of the campaign secretariat said that the four bishops will issue their joint position on the launching date. Although he did not elaborate on the content of the position, he said that: "It is definitely consistent with the stand of the CBCP."
Buenafe said the launching will be graced by prominent anti-mining advocates, among them Congressman Edmund Reyes of Marinduque and Fr Cesar Aculan, social action director of Calbayog diocese, Samar.
Buenafe calls on the people for prayers and support for this "important" advocacy, and enjoins them to take part in the launching program.
Since 1995, the Diocese of Bacolod, along with other sectors, has been opposing the mining operations in Negros because of its "destructive" character, and for supposedly benefiting only the mining companies.
The mining operations in the country have taken a resurgence since December 2004, when the Supreme Court reversed its earlier decision declaring the Mining Act as unconstitutional.
UNITY STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CAUCUS ON MINING AND WTO
Boys and Girls Club Association, Hongkong
15th December 2005
We, indigenous peoples (IP), women, artesian and small-scale* *miners and mining-affected communities, environmental advocates and activists, and representing people's movements in China, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, United Kingdom, United States of America have gathered in the International Caucus on Mining and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Hong Kong to forge a common understanding of the developments in global mining and the people's resistance to continuing plunder anddestruction by mining transnational corporations (TNCs).
We have also gathered to denounce the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO, which through negotiations on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) want to further liberalize local industries and gain direct control of the world's mineral resources.
For the past decades, mining struggles have intensified as globalization policies sweep through more than 120 mineralized countries all over the world . Mining TNCs, with their agents and minions in bureaucracies and international financial institutions (IFIs), have distorted, dismantled and amended constitutions, national policies and laws, systems and norms to be able to out rightly plunder and exploit what are left of the world's mineral resources. In the name of profit, they have deprived the peoples of the world of their inherent right to benefit from these natural resources for their own livelihood and for their countries' own development. Meanwhile, the people are left to suffer from the destruction and pollution that their mining operations have wreaked.
We are proud to be part of the mining struggles raging in countries like India, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and other African countries, China, Peru, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines. We have condemned the blatant violations of economic, social and cultural human rights and massive displacement of indigenous peoples and peasants. We condemn the displacement of peoples, disruption of livelihoods, destruction of ecosystems, militarization, land grabbing, killings, and violations of human rights.We have decried abuses of mine workers and their rights and welfare. We denounce the mining TNCs for their environmental impacts and their infringement on our national sovereignty.
Weare aware that the mining TNCs are re-surging as the prices and demand for minerals in the international market is on the uptrend. They are reasserting their plundering agenda through false promises of sustainable development and sustainable mining constructs, through deceitful image-building projects like Corporate Environmental Social Responsibility, Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and through public-relations gimmickry such as presenting showcases of Best Practices. This mining agenda is now being pushed in the current round of the Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Hong Kong.
Mining TNCs, their governments, WTO, World Bank, and IFIs are conspiring to impose their globalization policies on third world governments to further liberalize mining investments, trade, services and market access. Arrayed against these, some third world governments posture and make a show of defiance but in the end they collaborate with foreign investors and creditors to disenfranchise the world's people of their resources and the very means to life.
In this light, we reaffirm our collective position for the people and for the environment:
1. Oppose the globalization of the mining industry through policies of privatization, liberalization and deregulation, as those set down in the GATS and NAMA agreements. Oppose all anti-people and pro-TNC mining policies.
2. Ban destructive mining methods and technologies such as open-pit mining, and riverine and submarine-tailings disposal. No more mining in agricultural and protected areas.
3. Develop and ensure implementation of mining standards and practices that genuinely protect the rights and welfare of the people and environment. Hold mining TNCs and national governments responsible and punishable for the social, economic and environmental impacts wrought by their large-scale mining operations. Immediate and adequate compensation for mining-affected people and rehabilitation of the environment.
4. Uphold and protect the rights of indigenous and aboriginal peoples to self- determination and ancestral domain in mining areas.
5. Oppose the militarization in mining areas. Justice to victims of human rights violations in the name of corporate mining.
6. Expose the duplicity of the global mining industry in their promotion of mining TNCs projects and operations as socially, economically, culturally and environmentally acceptable.Expose and oppose NGOs that in any way collaborate in the promotion of this propaganda.
7. Promote mine workers' right to decent wages and benefits, right to organize, and to work in a safe working environment. 8. Re-orient mining industries to genuinely address people's needs and nations' needs to develop and industrialize.
*Adopted by participants of the International Caucus on Mining and WTO, held at the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association, Lockhart Street, Hong Kong, on December 15, 2005.*
2.Samit Kumar Carr
Mines, Minerals and People
China Environmental Protection NGO
Third World Network - Africa
5.Joel Ole Nyika
Community Resource Institute
6.Simon Ole Kaparo
8.Rodrigo Ruiz Rubio
9.Dr. Giovanni Tapang
10. Frances Quimpo
Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC,Phils)
11. Leryn Gorutsky
12. Windel Balinget
Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA)
13. Roy Javier
Computer Professional Union (CPU)
14. Ma. Theresa Concepcion
15. Sonny Africa
16. Lodel Magbanua
LRC-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK)
17. Clemente G. Bautista Jr.
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
18. Lito Ustarez
19. Tony Pascual
20. Noel Capulong
Southern Tagalog Environmental Movement (STEAM)
21. Voltaire Tupaz
22. Roger Moody
(in private capacity)