9th Feburary 2007
Objections to the February 8 permission to resume full operations at Lafayette's Rapu Rapu, granted on 8th February, dominate recent Philippines mining news - even while the debate continues to rage
Press coverage of the launch of the fact-finding report "Mining in the Philippines: Concerns and Conflicts", published by a mission led by former UK Minister for Development, Clare Short, continues to contradict the more optimistic announcements of the Philippine government on the future of mining.
There's been yet another alleged act of violence perpetrated by TVI's armed guards in Canatuan, which occurred just as the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was in Manila to gather updates on the current situation in the Philippines.
The local Bishop has confirmed the church's opposition to Indophil's Tampakan project.
The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has threatened to impose sanctions against Crew's local partner Apex Mining Corp., unless it complies with regulations.
Finally, two rebel groups (the Communist NPA and Muslim MILF) have both, in their own way. attacked mining projects within their sphere of influence (the latter verbally, the former literally).
Environmental Group Slams Failure of Transparency in Lafayette Mining Resumption Order
Center For Environmental Concerns, Phils, Press Release
9th February 2007
"The DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes, upon his decision to grant the controversial Lafayette Philippines, Inc. a "test run" amid calls for a moratorium or a cancellation of its mining permit in Rapu-Rapu island, promised utmost transparency over the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project. What ensued since that august day in July 2006 was far from it," declared Frances Quimpo, executive director, Center for Environmental Concerns, -Philippines, Inc. (CEC)
"If they now finally have an honest to goodness "state of the art" mining facilities in Rapu-Rapu they should be flaunting it most especially to the local folks and its critics. Yet, the folks in Rapu-rapu have complained of harassment from Lafayette guards, since the "test run". Greenpeace confirmed this with their experience in a well-publicized harassment incident in August, 2006. CEC, itself, has asked for copies of the DENR's monitoring reports since October 11, 2006 and to this day we are still waiting for these reports," lamented Quimpo. "Secretary Reyes has been speaking of a Technical Working Group and of a Multipartite Monitoring Body, who and where are these people? How independent are they from Lafayette and the Chamber of Mines? Where are their reports and outputs? asked Quimpo.
DENR Secretary Reyes in his test run order required the "institution of transparency and validating mechanisms," among others. He further issued a memorandum in July ordering his officials to closely monitor and evaluate all mining activities and critical mining facilities. Among the important directives of the memorandum were 1) immediate reporting for proper action of any impending danger or damage at the tailings ponds and waste dams, 2) identification and determination of the magnituse of the damages caused by geohazards such as landslides and floods; 3) geohazrd mapping; and 4) close coordination with RDCC regarding geohazard to forewarn the population of any impending catastrophe.
The absence of these reports amid continued publicities about Lafayette's claims, and DENR's similarly-sounding press releases, makes the Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) decision suspect. The PLO is but another decision that the current administration has been forcing on the people without sound reason and scientific basis. The Lafayette PLO reflects a serious failure of transparency and serious failure of governance for the people and the environment.," said Quimpo.
FRANCES Q. QUIMPO, 0928502960
Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines, Inc. (CEC)
No.26 Matulungin St., Bgy. Central Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental activists storm DENR to protest Lafayette mine re-opening
KALIKASAN-PNE PRESS RELEASE
9th February 2007
Bicolanos launch international campaign to pressure Lafayette's bank financiers to stop support
Environmental activists from Kalikasan-Peoples' Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) stormed the DENR Main Office in Quezon City this morning to condemn DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes' decision to issue a Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) on the suspension of Lafayette Philippines Inc (LPI), paving the way for full commercial operations of its Polymetallic Mining Project in Rapu-rapu, Albay.
The protesters shaved their heads to dramatize the impending environmental destruction and massive resource depletion that will happen once Lafayette resumes full commercial operations in the island.
"We condemn Sec. Reyes for allowing Lafayette to resume large-scale mining operation in Rapu-rapu. The Arroyo administration and the DENR are courting more disasters with such decisions. Like what happened before in Rapu-rapu and other mining-affected communities in the country, Bicolanos should brace for more frequent and widespread soil erosions, toxic contamination, mine wastes, water depletion and marine degradation as a result of Lafayette Mining's open-pit operations," said Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista Jr. Sorsogon Catholic Bishop Arturo Bastes, who headed the Rapu-rapu Fact Finding Commission (RFFC), also sent his solidarity message condemning DENR Sec. Reyes for his "disregard for the findings and recommendations issued by official investigatory bodies, particularly the RFFC, and for refusing to heed the warnings issued by various scientists and environmental experts that the Rapu-Rapu mine is an environmental time bomb."
"I vehemently object to Sec. Reyes' decision. I believe that everything about the Lafayette project is still defective and disadvantageous not only to the residents of Rapu-rapu but to the entire Filipino nation," the indignant Church leader said.
Rapu-Rapu residents are also circulating an international petition addressed at the consortium of Lafayette Mining's financiers, urging them to terminate financial support.
"To further expose and oppose Lafayette mining, we already started getting signatures and support for our international petition to the bank financiers of Lafayette such as ABN-Amro of Netherlands, Standard Chartered of United Kingdom and ANZ of Australia to stop their financial support to the polymetallic mining project of Lafayette. As of now, we have already got almost 400 signatures from Rapu-rapu and hundreds more here in National Capital Region. These are expected to reach thousands more as the petition-signing continues next week. By the hour, dozens of international organizations, particularly in Europe, are also signing up to support our petition," said Antonio Casetas, a leader of Sagip Isla, Sagip Kapwa, a local Rapu-Rapu alliance opposing the project.
Protest actions are also expected to escalate throughout the Bicol region as the local resistance to the Rapu-Rapu mine regathers its forces, he said.
"We will also stage a community action on February 11 and 12 here in Rapu-rapu and Legazpi City, Albay as immediate response to the pro-foreign and anti-environment decision of DENR," Mr Casetas adds.
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Gov't decision on Rapu-Rapu mine reopening "economically, environmentally, and morally-bankrupt"
DEFEND PATRIMONY! PRESS RELEASE
8th February 2007
DENR has activated an environmental time bomb with Lafayette mine reopening The Bishop of Sorsogon, Rapu-Rapu community leaders, and environmental organizations united under the DEFEND PATRIMONY! alliance today condemned the government's decision to reopen the open-pit mine of Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) in Rapu-Rapu, Albay to full-scale commercial operations, warning that the DENR has unleashed a multi-billion peso environmental time bomb and an impending social disaster in the environmentally-critical island.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes condemned the decision of the DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes, as having "utter and blasphemous disregard for the findings and recommendations issued by official investigatory bodies, particularly the Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission (RRFM)".
"I vehemently object to Sec. Reyes' decision. I believe that everything about the Lafayette project is still defective. Rapu-Rapu people will stage demonstrations to condemn this decision of the DENR on February 11 and 12," the indignant Church leader said.
Bishop Bastes castigated the DENR Sec Reyes and LPI for "completely casting the people's welfare aside and coldly disregarding the general interest, safety and livelihood of the local population just to appease foreign mining companies and implement the government's economically bankrupt mining program".
"Based on the previous mining operation of Lafayette, the Commission has found that Lafayette is an irresponsible mining corporation and company's mining project is economically disadvantageous to the government. The DENR decision contradicts our recommendation to issue a mining moratorium and suspend mining permits in the Rapu-Rapu in order to comprehensively study and address the issue of ecological conservation and the issue of Acid Mind Drainage (AMD) problem in a fragile small island ecosystem as well as the issue economic contribution of the Lafayette project," Bishop Bastes pointed out.
"It's an anti-people and environmentally-destructive decision. The people of Rapu-Rapu are already so traumatized and deprived by the damage left by the HIXBAR mining company and the previous mine spills of Lafayette, where the land utilized by its operations has turned denuded, barren, acidic, and unproductive. Lafayette's large-scale mining operations will cause more tragedies and devastation in the island. Through and through the government have revealed how it advance and defend the interest of foreign mining corporations such as Lafayette at the expense of our people and the environment," says Defend Patrimony! Spokesperson and geologist Trixie Concepcion.
"The mine will only aggravate poverty among the people. Rich opportunities for agricultural development will be obliterated by open-pit mining, forest denudation, landslides, and massive soil erosion. Rapu-Rapu's abundant marine life will also be gradually destroyed, as the cyanide contamination, fish kills demonstrate, and the people's livelihood will be eventually wiped out. DENR has started to unleash an environmental time bomb with the full commercial operation of Lafayette.," she continued.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the decision of DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes to allow Lafayette to continue its mining operations," Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan-PNE. "The DENR has completely ignored the people's strong opposition against the project and the negative impacts that Lafayette has caused to the people of Rapu-rapu and other nearby municipalities. How can the DENR utterly disregard the community displacements, cyanide contamination, fish kills, landslide, militarization, and human rights violations experienced by the local people resulting from the entry and operation of Lafayette? This only shows how indifferent and callous the Arroyo administration and DENR Sec Reyes are to the plight of our people. The people have no recourse but to continue and intensify their struggle and protest actions to drive out Lafayette in their island," Bautista said.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes - 09177912604
Trixie Concepcion, Defend Patrimony – 09158507394
Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE – 09283448797
DEFEND PATRIMONY! Movement Against Mining Liberalization, Plunder, and Destruction
# 26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Landline: 924-8756 Email: email@example.com
Greenpeace Statement on the reopening of Lafayette mine in Rapu Rapu Island, Albay , Manila
8th February 2007
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Pollution Adjudication Board released today a Permanent Lifting Order on the ban on the mining activities of Lafayette Philippines, Inc. in Rapu Rapu Island, Albay Province.
Beau Baconguis, Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said: “The DENR decision today is hardly surprising, especially since the government has always wanted to project Lafayette as a model mining operation. From the start we knew that the process initiated by the DENR would eventually lead to this, given the government’s aggressive efforts to promote mining in the country.
“While the decision is good for Lafayette, it is a grim one for the coastal communities within and around Rapu Rapu Island. With the issuance of the Permanent Lifting Order, the DENR, the government arm mandated to protect the environment, has endangered these communities and their rich marine resources. Lafayette now has the license to suck out the life of Rapu Rapu island and leave the people mired deeper in poverty and in a severely degraded environment.
“Whatever benefit that the island will obtain from the mine’s extractive activities is superficial and will not be sufficient to compensate for the permanent loss of resources, collateral effects to local livelihoods, missed economic opportunities, damage to marine health, and threats to human life and safety in the island and its environs.
“Greenpeace has consistently maintained that Lafayette’s operations will seriously damage Rapu Rapu and its surrounding fragile marine ecosystem. The mine is precariously located along the country’s typhoon belt, in a small and fragile island environment. Its toxic tailings and the inevitable acid mine drainage will continue to pose a clear and present danger to the surrounding environment and the communities who depend on it.
“The typhoons late last year proved the dangers of operating the mine in the island. The mine had to undergo extensive repairs to their damaged infrastructure which repeatedly and considerably delayed the test run. “Greenpeace calls on the DENR to reconsider their decision and re-evaluate their priorities. Instead of promoting activities such as mining which destroy our fragile ecosystems, the government should invest in opportunities which promote the protection of our valuable resources.”
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.
For more information:
Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, +63 917 803 6077
Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969, +63 2 434 7034, loc. 104
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
24 K-J St., Brgy. East Kamias
1102 Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. + 63 (2) 4347034 loc 105
Mobile: + 63 917 8036077
DENR allows Lafayette to re-start mine
8th February 2007
The Philippines said on Thursday Australia's Lafayette Mining Ltd. could restart its copper and zinc mine south of Manila immediately, more than a year after it was shut due to cyanide spills.
"The mining operations can now proceed," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes told a news conference.
The reopening followed a visit by the government's mining and pollution experts to Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine on Tuesday.
The Rapu Rapu polymetallic project was the first foreign-owned mine to open in the Philippines after the Supreme Court, in December 2004, upheld a law allowing full foreign ownership of local mining projects from 40 percent previously.
But the spills in Rapu Rapu, 350 km (222 miles) southeast of Manila, in October 2005 raised the ire of powerful Philippine Catholic bishops and environment groups, triggering a probe by a government anxious not to displease the Church. The mine started gold production in July 2005.
Before the suspension, the mine was forecast to generate revenues of $350 million a year from annual production of 10,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, 14,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, 50,000 ounces of gold and 600,000 ounces of silver.
Lafayette says the mine has a life of eight years.
The accident last year at the mine occurred just as the government was rolling out the red carpet to lure foreign investors and help revive its once lucrative mining industry.
The mine incurred monthly operating expense losses of P150 million pesos after it was forced to close.
"We have met all the conditions imposed by the government designed among other things for optimal environmental protection," Carlos Dominguez, Lafayette Philippines chairman and president, said in a statement.
"The whole mining industry here and abroad has been watching and monitoring our progress and will definitely show heightened interest in the Philippines as an investment area," he said.
The Philippine government estimates the country has $1 trillion worth of unexplored copper, gold, nickel and zinc.
The Rapu Rapu project is one of 24 mining priority ventures of the government. These projects would require at least $6.5 billion, mainly to fund rehabilitation of old mines and bring into production newly identified lodes.
LG International Corp and state-run Korea Resources Corp. together hold a 26 percent stake in the Rapu Rapu mine while Australia's Lafayette owns the rest. Lafayette finished all the repairs needed on its mine site from damages it sustained due to the powerful typhoon Durian in late November.
Typhoon Durian toppled electricity poles and damaged housing facilities for the staff at the mine. But there was no critical damage to the base metals plant, a Lafayette spokesman had said.
The government allowed Lafayette to test its base metals facility starting July 10 till Dec. 8 last year.
The Rapu Rapu processing plant sold its output from last year's test run to Korea's LG, an official earlier said.
The first shipment of about 800 tonnes of copper concentrate worth $1.8 million was sold by LG to China.
A second shipment of 700 tonnes of copper concentrate worth $1.1 million was now being prepared for shipment to China while a third shipment of 1,600 tonnes of zinc concentrate would leave by the end of February, sold by LG to Korea Zinc.
THE PEOPLE SAY NO TO RAPU-RAPU MINE REOPENING - Environmental groups to storm DENR tomorrow on eve of gov't decision on Lafayette
KALIKASAN-PEOPLES NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT NEWS RELEASE
6th February 2007
The DENR and Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) will be activating a disastrous environmental time bomb if they grant a Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) to the destructive Rapu-Rapu polymetallic mine project by Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) on February 8, environmental activists say as they prepare to storm the DENR office in Quezon City tomorrow to await the PAB's final decision.
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the environmental activist group Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), said that "the DENR and the PAB should not approve the PLO sought by LPI in the face of still-unresolved environmental and social acceptability concerns raised by Rapu-Rapu residents, the Church and local government, environmental groups, and independent observers".
"A February 8 decision by the DENR on the LPI project is clearly premature and hastily considered at the very least. Lafayette spin doctors' claims that the company has complied with all 36 environmental standards remains to be cross-checked and affirmed by the project's oppositors from the scientific, environmental, and local communities, including the Bastes Commission," Bautista said.
"Despite their claims of environmental compliance, Lafayette has yet to publicly disclose how it aims to successfully address valid environmental threats, particularly that of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) present in the Rapu-Rapu mine," Bautista said.
AMD refers to drainage flowing from or caused by surface mining, deep mining or coal refuse piles that is typically highly acidic with elevated levels of dissolved metals. Among AMD's effects are the significant decline of fish and insect communities in streams polluted by metal oxides, due to depressed food supplies, gill clogging, smothering by metal precipitates, and direct toxicity from ingested metals. This, Bautista said, would have adverse negative impacts on the Rapu-Rapu and Sorsogon's fisherfolk, who comprise a significant number of the province's populations.
"The sub-aqueous deposition which LPI has adopted to control AMD is not used in hilly terrains such as in Rapu-rapu. Lafayette has yet to successfully refute the concerns raised by scientists and mine experts who view that sub-aqueous deposition may be counterproductive and actually enhance AMD," he added. "The DENR should remember the case of the 1996 mine tailings spill in Marcopper Mine in Marinduque Island and the corresponding impacts of acid mine drainage on river and marine environment. The government will be begging for a similar disaster if it approves the full operation of the LPI mine in Rapu-Rapu on Thursday,' Bautista said.
"The DENR still has two more days to write off its commitment to issue a decision by Thursday and listen to the side of all the sectors and organizations who remain opposed to the project for very valid reasons. The people have consistently rejected the destructive Rapu-Rapu mine project and it is high time that the DENR take the people's side in this issue," Bautista said.
Bautista also reported that Rapu-Rapu residents united under SAGIP-ISLA alliance are also preparing to submit an international petition addressed to the consortium of Lafayette's financiers, calling for the ABN AMRO (Netherlands), Standard Chartered (KFSC), ANZ and other main financiers to terminate financial assistance to LPI and its sister companies.
The petition is currently being circulated among residents of Rapu-Rapu's barangays, affected communities from the adjoining province of Sorsogon, local government and Church officials from the Bicol region, members of the academe, peoples' organizations and other NGOs.
Reference: Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Reyes: No plunge in mining investments; mining contribution to economy steady
5th February 2007
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo T. Reyes today said the contribution of the mining sector to the economy continues to expand with the growing mineral output and unprecedented increase in metal prices.
Reyes said the mining sector registered a sterling performance last year with gross production output from metallic mines rising 48% from P37 billion in 2005 to P55 billion in 2006.
The DENR chief issued the statement in reaction to an earlier report which said that the mining and quarrying sector suffered a 6% decline in production growth rate.
Reyes explained the figure was incorrect. "The mining industry is considered part of other sectors which fared badly in 2006, like crude oil, and nonmetallic minerals (e.g. coal) and this made the mining sector look like a poor performer too," he said.
Citing data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, Reyes said that gross value added from crude oil and other nonmetallic minerals, like coal, dropped by 11% last year. "The performance of other commodities in the sector (crude oil, and nonmetallic minerals) which comprise 55% of the sector's total gross value added pulled down the growth rate of the mining and quarrying sector," Reyes said.
"The contribution of the mining sector to gross domestic product is improving steadily," Reyes said. "The revitalization of our mining industry came at a most opportune time. We are seizing the opportunity even as we aggressively promote responsible mining."
Mines and Geosciences Bureau records show that gold and silver production, which accounts 63% of last year's gross production value, increased by 23% compared to its level in 2005. Nickel and copper demonstrated substantial increases in value from P5.4 billion to P14 billion or 159%, and from P3.2 billion to P5.8 billion or 78%, respectively. Chromite also exhibited a 33% increase from P91 million in 2005 to P121 million in 2006.
The average monthly prices last year of copper, gold, silver and nickel increased by 84%, 35%, 58% and 65%, respectively.
The DENR chief also clarified that there was no plunge in mining investments last year. He said the US$109 million investment poured into the 24 mining projects were made according to scheduled activities.
Clarifying an earlier report which said that mining investments had plunged from US$447 in 2005 to US$109 million in 2006, Reyes said this does not mean that there had been a pull-out of investments in the country. "Investment commitments by mining companies are still here. It just so happened that the bigger costs did not take place last year," Reyes said.
He added that majority of the 24 mining projects focused on exploration and feasibility studies last year and only the Carmen Copper Project of Toledo Plc in Cebu spent some US$13.9 million in its construction activities.
The other bigger investments generated last year were from the Palawan Nickel Project of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. and Coral Bay Mining Corp. with US$43.1 million investments; the Tampakan Gold Project of Sagittarius Mines Inc. with US$13.21 million and the Canatuan Gold Project of TVI Resources Phils. with US$8.69 million.
Didipio Copper and Adlay-Cagdianao-Tandawa (ACT) earlier scheduled to undertake construction projects but these were temporarily shelved. The change in construction schedule was a direct result of changes in ownership. Oceana Gold Ltd bought into Australasia Philippines Mining Inc. for the Didipio Project while Platinum Group Metals Corp. bought into Surigao Integrated Resources Corp. for the ACT project.
Reyes said bigger investments were posted in 2005 due to the construction activities of three major projects undertaken by Palawan Nickel Project, the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project of Lafayette Philippines Inc., and the Canatuan Gold Project. These three projects poured in US$301.86 million or over 67% of total investments generated from the 24 projects in 2005.
The DENR chief said major construction period is projected to start in 2007, peaking in 2008 and 2009. If schedules push through, more than US$348 million in mining investments are expected to be generated by the 24 projects in 2007. The Carmen Copper Project is expected to pour in some US$97 million as it continues with its construction work this year, while the Palawan Nickel Project is expected to triple its investment from 2006 as it continues its expansion this year.
"We are really headed for a take off this year and we foresee a mining boom setting in in 2008," Reyes said.
UCAN: Philippine Catholic bishop condemns reported mining havoc
1st February 2007
MANILA, Philippines (UCAN) - A Philippine bishop has condemned the damage done by mining to the environment and indigenous people, as reported recently by an international fact-finding commission.
Auxiliary Bishop Zacharias Jimenez of Butuan, a member of the Philippine bishops' commission for indigenous peoples, provided his comments in a letter read at the Jan. 25 Manila launch of "Mining in the Philippines - Concerns and Conflicts."
The report summarized the findings of a commission led by British Member of Parliament Clare Short, which visited two mining sites in Mindanao in July and August, and interviewed government officials, mining corporations and affected indigenous groups.
In the letter, Bishop Jimenez says experiences around Mindanao, the southern Philippines region to which his diocese belongs, "validate" the commission's findings on the adverse impact mining has on the environment and local communities. During the last three years, he has been to workshops with indigenous peoples in Mindanao and "heard their stories of anguish." The bishop reported feeling the people's "anger against the game" that "power-hungry national and local government officials" have been "playing" in "alliance with greedy corporations."
The fact-finding commission visited a prospective mining site in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur, home to Subanon (riverside dwellers) people, and the closed Philex-Libay mining site on the coast of Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte.
The group learned that homes of more than 10 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines are located in areas with large mineral deposits. It found 16 of the 24 priority mining projects that the government is promoting to be located on indigenous lands and threatening the local community's survival.
The report cited incidents in which companies violated legal guidelines and "engineered" the required consent of indigenous communities to proposed mining projects. Philippine mining law requires companies to obtain local indigenous people's "free, prior and informed consent" to mining projects.
Bishop Jimenez shared in his letter his own experience of government officials "abusing" and "manipulating" indigenous people, and turning their leaders into "tribal dealers" instead of protecting people's rights. He deplored deception through "empty promises of progress and development."
As a resource for solutions to the mining problem, the Mindanao Church leader proposed the Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines issued in 2006. In it the bishops called on the government to stop or close down specific mining projects in the country that they deemed harmful.
Bishop Jimenez headed Pagadian diocese in Zamboanga del Sur, also in Mindanao, before he was appointed in 2003 to Butuan Diocese, based 750 kilometers (about 465 miles) southeast of Manila.
In its report, the fact-finding commission said it was impressed by the wealth of natural resources in the Philippines, which it noted is one of the 17 countries in the world with the richest variety of flora and fauna.
The investigating team included representatives from the Society of St. Columban, World Conservation Commission, Irish Center for Human Rights and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links.
According to the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the country ranks third in the world for gold deposits, fourth for copper, fifth for nickel and sixth for chromite.
Haribon and BirdLife International, two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), claim that existing mining permits threaten 18 of the country's 117 important biodiversity areas, while 82 other areas are potentially threatened by revitalized mining.
BirdLife is a global alliance of conservation organizations for the world's birds and people. Its Philippine partner is Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources.
Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), the world's largest Asian church news agency (www.ucanews.com).
Church still oppose to mining firm overtures
29th January 2007
THE local Catholic Church has renewed calls for the stoppage of the huge mining venture in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez of the Diocese of Marbel urged the public to staunchly oppose the copper and gold project of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI).
In the past few days, the bishop's appeal was played daily at the diocesan-owned radio station, dxCP.
SMI project coordinator Rolando Doria earlier revealed that they have been extending a reconciliatory hand to the Catholic religious leaders in connection with the firm's planned exploitation of world-class mineral deposits in the area.
But Guttierez warned of poisoning, livelihood displacement, food insecurity and environmental catastrophe with the firm's looming full blast operations.
"If the firm will excavate the resources in Tampakan, they will cut the trees and it will cause floods. They will also use cyanides to process the resources and it will poison the fishes like tilapia," he added, referring to the water outflow from the project site ending towards Lake Buluan, where tilapia raising is a multi-million industry.
He said food security depends on human kind's care for the environment. Gutierrez stressed that if the environment will be abused, she will later unleashed her wrath to humans with "inconceivable damage."
The bishop discussed the "ecology of peace," wherein he pointed out that man and nature is related to each other.
Despite the rejection of the Catholic religious leaders of the Sagittarius project, Doria said they are still open to dialogues in the hope of convincing the church to support the venture, which the company claimed would enhance the economic growth in the area.
"Our doors are always open. We respect the position of any sector even if they are adversely against us," Doria added.
Tony Robbins, Indophil managing director, appeared unfazed by the opposition from the Catholic Church, claiming in a recent press release that the affected communities are fully supporting the project.
Robbins also pointed out the support from the national and local governments that the venture generated. (BBS)
Mining pros and cons
BIG DEAL By Dan Mariano, Manila Times
31st January 2007
Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was grinning ear-to-ear last week. The reason for the uncharacteristic facial expression of the usually taciturn ex-defense chief was a DENR report on "exciting" developments in the mining industry.
"The major players are now here," said Reyes, "and their investments indicate increased confidence of global mining investors in the Philippines."
He cited two companies, Anglo-American Plc and Xstrata Copper, which have both staked millions of dollars in mining projects in the country.
Reyes recently approved the exploration permit of Manila Mining Corp. on the information that Anglo-American was finalizing a joint venture agreement with MMC for the exploration of the Bayugo Copper Gold Project in Anislagan, Placer, Surigao del Norte. The London-based Anglo-American has reportedly committed to outlay an initial $10 million for exploration works in the next two years in the project.
The Bayugo copper-gold prospect is similar to the adjacent Boyungan Copper-Gold Porphyry Deposit that Anglo-American is exploring under a separate venture with Philex Mining Corp.
"Together, Bayugo and Boyungan would make another world-class gold-copper project that should further firm up the Philippines' place in the world mining map," Reyes said.
Last month Swiss mining giant Xstrata Copper acquired 62.5 percent of the Tampakan copper-gold deposit in South Cotabato from Indophil Resources. The management handover of the project is due for completion in March.
Xstrata's move came in the wake of encouraging results of a pre-feasibility study commissioned by Indophil on its Tampakan property.
The Tampakan deposit is one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in Southeast Asia estimated to contain 11.6 million metric tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold. The project will need $2 billion to get into commercial operation.
Aside from Anglo-American and Xstrata, Reyes also cited three more multinational mining firms-Chemical Vapor Metal Refinery Co. (CVMR), Phelps Dodge and BHP-Billiton-which will "firm up their position" in the mining industry.
So elated was Reyes by these and other developments that he predicted a boom for the local mining industry next year. "We are now on the verge of takeoff for that long-anticipated boom," the DENR chief was quoted saying.
The government seeks to revive the minerals industry, which it sees would serve as catalyst for economic growth, especially in the countryside, DENR said. The industry is projected to bring in about $6.5 billion in investments in the medium term, and create over 200,000 additional jobs.
Looking the other way
But as Reyes waxed enthusiastic about the mining industry's bright prospects, a team of Filipino, Irish and British activists scored the Philippine government for tolerating mining companies that violate safety and environmental regulations.
Antimining advocates bared last week the results of a mission conducted by the Missionary Society of St. Columban, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, Irish Center for Human Rights, Triocaire, Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links and ATM.
The 66-page report, "Mining in the Philippines: Concerns and Conflicts," was written by a team from the United Kingdom and Ireland, led by Clare Short, a member of the British Parliament and former UK development minister. (See www.iucn.org).
Team members said they visited three mining sites in Mindanao. They also interviewed representatives of local governments and civil society from four other mining sites-including the controversial Rapu-Rapu, Albay, site under the Australian company Lafayette.
The report tells of several cases where the government relaxed its enforcement of national and international mining standards in its bid to lure foreign investors.
In July and August last year the team visited three communities affected by mining: Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur; Mount Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; and Barangay Libay in Sibutad, Zamboangal del Norte.
According to tribal leaders in Midsalip and Mount Canatuan, mining permit applicants routinely bypass local tribesmen in violation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and the Mining Act.
"Mount Canatuan is our ancestral domain and our sacred mountain," said Subanen leader Timuay Jose Boy Anoy. "We do not need the development promised by mining. We need peace. We need our land to continue our way of life."
In Mount Canatuan, Canadian mining company TVI reportedly evicted families despite their ancestral domain certificates. Area farmers and fishermen also reported damage to their livelihood and health, which they traced to pollution caused by mining.
In Barangay Libay, the site for large-scale mining in 1997-2002 by the Canadian company Philex Gold, the land and people have still not recovered from tailing dam overflows and mudslides destroyed rice fields, mangroves and corals.
"I was deeply shocked by the negative impact of mining in the Philippines. During our visit we found scant evidence of mining benefiting the local people of the country's economy," published reports quoted British MP Short as saying. DENR Secretary Reyes may have cause to be happy, but who is he happy for?
VIEWPOINT - By Juan Mercado, Inquirer - http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_article.php?article_id=46802
1st February 2007
THE Bureau of Immigration still hasn’t explained why it barred an Irish priest, who co-authored a devastating report on mining, from reentering the Philippines early January. “It’s a sovereign country’s prerogative to exclude aliens,” mumbled Immigration regulation chief Gary Mendoza after blocking Fr. Frank Nally.
The justice department didn’t reveal why it ordered Father Nally to fly out. Government need not explain why a person landed on the blacklist. And what about reciprocal treatment for Filipino overseas workers? They’re flooding into a country that’s among the top five in the European Union today.
Arbitrariness does not do our diplomatic relations with Dublin any good. And how does a Catholic scholar of the Columban Justice and Faith group in the United Kingdom end up on the same list as al-Qaeda operatives? And why? Because Father Nally wrote “Mining in the Philippines: Concerns and Conflicts.” That’s why. This is a 61-page report on the 2006 mission led by former UK secretary of state for overseas development Clare Short.
Prepared in cooperation with the National University of Ireland and the Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Link, that study is upsetting the Philippine government. Mining has a shoddy record seen in 800 abandoned mines. The Philippinesis among “the worst countries in the world with regard to tailings, dam failures,” UN Environmental Programme records show.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in 2006, flayed mines in the provinces of Albay, Palawan, Nueva Vizcaya, South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte and Marinduque for massive ecological damage. “I’ve never seen anything so systematically destructive as the [Philippine] mining program,” Member of Parliament Clare Short writes. “Environmental effects are as catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods.... Government and mining companies should demonstrate that [they will] adhere to their own laws and international mining best practice.” She flayed the World Bank and the EU for spurring destructive mining.
EU’s “development interventions are failing in the Philippines to live up to (declared) standards: protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and a strong commitment to sustainable development…. The investor community must behave more responsibly in their investment decisions.” Would that qualify the Honorable Short for this blacklist, too? Who draws up that list anyway? Who can scrub names from it? And is there a review and appeal process in what is basically a secret drill? “[We] recognize the external pressures on the Philippines as a deeply indebted country to generate foreign investments,” the main report goes on to say. “[But] the emphasis on export-driven mining” could diminish development prospects. “Contrary to recommendations of the ‘Extractive Industries Review,’ many proposed new mining sites are in areas of conflict, including Mindanao.
Government should consider repealing the 1995 Mining Act, enact alternative legislation, as well as create a separate Department of Mines, Hydrocarbons and Geosciences.” The Philippines is one of 17 mega-biodiversity countries. But it is also a geo-hazard hotspot, whip-lashed by typhoons, landslides, volcanoes, etc. “Its environmental stability is already under threat.” There are doubts whether it can meet the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. “Government must therefore exercise extreme caution in authorizing large-scale mining projects.” Relatively strong laws protect indigenous peoples and communities. But these are honored more in breach than in practice.
Mining in vital watersheds is often approved. By law, indigenous peoples must give their free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) before any project starts within their ancestral lands. But “this consent is often obtained through misinformation, misrepresentation, bribery and intimidation.” Government agencies are failing to fulfill their mandate to protect indigenous peoples’ rights.
Many “view the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples as siding with mining companies.” Government should “end the contradictory practice of allowing mining companies to assert prior rights claims over ancestral land. And the Philippine Senate should ratify ILO Convention 169.” “Human rights abuses and misreporting are clearly associated with some current mining activities.” Companies ought to publish details of payments, taxes and royalties in accordance with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. “Corruption is a serious problem…. Plans for extensive mining operations in remote areas … will make it worse. And those in government and international agencies seem to lack the capacity or inclination to challenge and end such misconduct….” Consider setting up a Mining Ombudsman, the report suggests. The team doubts whether the benefits publicized by mining companies, in exchange for incentives, are for real. “Once revenues are offset against costs -- in particular, the environmental costs -- the net gain will be far lower than that claimed by companies and promoters of mining in government.” In addition, “the country may be left with cleanup costs that run into billions of dollars.” In 1892, the Spanish colonial government sentenced Jose Rizal to "destiero" [exile] in Dapitan, to muzzle his truth-telling. That exile failed. And deporting, in 2007, a priest-scholar who questioned this country’s mining industry will flop. It will only embed abuses that sell Filipinos short.
UN Representative on Indigenous Peoples: the pattern of HR violations of IPs continues
Press Release - LRC
3rd February 2007
Quezon City - "I am sorry to learn that the pattern (of human rights violations) continues, and that there is an increase of these incidents," Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen said, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples. Mr. Stavenhagen is here in Manila for a national consultation with the Indigenous Peoples, a follow-up visit from his official one in 2002. According to Stavenhagen, "even if they have been denounced internationally, they continue to happen." Despite the occurrences and reporting, "there is relatively little progress to stop this violence, insufficient investigation of these," and the perpetrators "have not been prosecuted and brought to justice."
Iissues around land are heightened, as there is no genuine free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for Indigenous Peoples, where they are affected by development projects and infrastructure. Thus, more protests from the communities are being seen. The incidents of violence as a response to these protests "continue to reflect the process of criminalization of protest activities." All of these issues, according to Stavenhagen, he has already pointed out to the UN Human Rights Council and the Philippine Government in 2002.
However, the stories and testimonies presented to Stavenhagen by the indigenous leaders show that nothing has been done by the Philippine government to abate the increasing violence, land grabbing, deforestation, displacement and other forms of human rights violations against the indigenous peoples. "The continuing violations, and continuing impunity of the perpetrators exhibit the lack of political will, and political competence of those responsible for the protection of human rights," said Stavenhagen.
Itik, a 6 year old Aeta boy, held a photograph of his father, Nicanor de los Santos, while his older brother was telling the story of how their father was shot dead by armed men, five years ago in the Rizal Province. "Pinatay nila ang tatay ko, NPA daw siya, pero siya ay lider na tumututol sa Laiban Dam, lider katutubo sa Rizal, pinamatay ng mga militar sa ilalim ng task force panther." ("They killed my father, they said he was an NPA but he was a leader of those opposing Laiban Dam. He was killed by the military under the Task Force Panther.")
Until now, no one has been prosecuted with the killing. "At ngayon, pinagpapatuloy naming magkakapatid ang laban ng nalabi naming ama, para sa aming lupa." ("Today, my brothers and I will continue to fight for our land that our father began.") The Laiban Dam is a project of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Other cases of killings of indigenous leaders who were protesting and leading actions of opposition against development projects, mining and forestry projects were reported. The Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Watch, a network of IP networks and non-government organizations working on human rights, has documented 123 killings of indigenous persons under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, from February 2001 to January 11, 2007. According to their written report submitted to Stavenhagen, eighty four (84) of these occurred beginning January 2003, barely a month after the Special Rapporteur's official visit to the Philippines in December 2002. The highest incidence of state-perpetrated killings of indigenous peoples was in 2006, which lists 42 individuals.
Rafael "Markus" Bangit, 46 years old, and a tribal leader of the Kalinga Malbong tribe in the Cordilleras, was one of those killed in 2006. Agustina, Markus' widow, said that in Arroyo's state of the nation address last year, Arroyo condemned the political killings happening. "However, nothing has yet been done in the killing of my husband." "I stand here on behalf of the others who have lost their loved ones. We hold the Arroyo government accountable for these killings; for not being able to protect the lives of good people like my husband."
The current policy environment poses further threats to the human rights of indigenous peoples. "The proposed anti-terrorism bill will add ammunition to the already fully-armed military and paramilitary groups to threaten, harass and commit human rights violations against those who continue to fight for their right to give or not give their consent to projects in their lands, and those who defend their lives," warned the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KSK) in its policy update to Stavenhagen. "With the Arroyo government adopting the ASEAN Mining Framework, we would see more approvals of large-scale mining companies, one of the largest threats to IP rights."
In his press statement, Stavenhagen said that the "in some respects, the human rights situation of indigenous peoples has deteriorated." Furthermore, he said that "even more worrisome is that the legal framework of current economic policies favors the dispossession of indigenous lands and resources for the benefit of a handful of international corporations or other private interests." "It is very likely that this pattern of human rights violations victimizing human rights defenders, social activists, community leaders and other innocent civilians alike, is seriously undermining the international standing of the Philippine government."
However, the indigenous leaders have expressed to continue their struggle, to resist and defend their rights.
For more information
judy a. pasimio (LRC) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Voltaire Tupaz (EED Partners-TFIP) - email@example.com
Raymond de Chavez (Tebtebba) - firstname.lastname@example.org /09175072789
Jamby Madrigal – NCIP, DENR Legitimizing Land Grabbing by Miners
Press Release - EEDPartners/LRC/Tebtebba
3rd February 2007
Quezon City – “I hope that the UN will be able to pressure this government to stop the land grabbing from Indigenous Peoples legalized through the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) and the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources).”
This was the message of Senator Jamby Madrigal, Chair of the Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples, to UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen yesterday at a national consultation. Madrigal cited the cases of several provinces where foreign mining companies and other commercial interests were given permits by the NCIP to enter and operate within the lands of indigenous peoples. In Rapu-Rapu in Albay, where the La Fayette Mining Corporation was allowed to operate at the expense of the livelihoods of Taboy, a diminishing population of indigenous people in Albay; in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte where the TVI Mining Company was given permit to operate right within the ancestral domain claim of the Subanon. Madrigal also shared the case of the Ati communities in Boracay, where there was forced relocation of the Ati’s to give way to a resort.
“The NCIP is ordering the Ati communities to be relocated – I have asked them whose side are they on? Why are they not protecting their rights, but instead forcing them to relocate?” Relocation is not an option with ancestral domain and lands. “To relocate means that they are being considered as squatters.”
“The NCIP is tasked to be independent, to promote and protect the human rights of the Indigenous People. But my years of dealing with them have proven to be otherwise.”
Madrigal was sharing her “frustration with NCIP” at the National Consultation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples in Quezon City, where several leaders from the indigenous communities came to give their testimonies to Stavenhagen. More angry than frustrated, the community leaders accused NCIP as “an agent of mining companies” to allow entry to their lands. According to Bobby Lingating, from Midsalip, Zamboanga, the NCIP has recently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with a mining company despite the lack of a free and prior informed consent (FPIC) from the Midsalip communities. In Midsalip, a council of leaders with 42 members has been allegedly created by NCIP, which consequently gave the FPIC. The members were mostly barangay officials. “These are leaders of the government, not of our communities,” Lingating stressed. This is the same story heard from Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, a Subanon leader from Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboango del Norte. A new council of elders was constituted by NCIP in their communities which entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with TVI. This MOA is being used by TVI as a legal document to support its continued operation in the area. The TVI’s mining concession of 508 hectares lies within the coverage of the Subanon’s Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) which was issued by NCIP in 2003.
The FPIC from the indigenous community in the area is a legal requirement for any company to operate, under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). “But we now know that these FPIC’s of the mining companies, are being obtained under duress, under force, or by plain forgery,” Madrigal said. With these FPICs, “the NCIP is legitimizing the land grabbing of the miners.”
“The most frustrating part of my job is dealing with a patronizing, corrupt commission,” lamented Madrigal. “I wanted to give them a budget of 1 peso last year.”
The NCIP should be truly independent, she urged, and not to be protective of their appointed position. “We know for a fact that she (Janette Serrano, Chair of the NCIP) has been appointed by Norberto Gonzales, allegedly one of the worst human rights violators.”
Stavenhagen was asked, both by Madrigal and the indigenous leaders, to add pressure into making the NCIP and the Philippine government, accountable in the continuing landlessness and other human rights violations with the entry of large-scale mining operations and other commercial interests in their ancestral domains.
Stavenhagen is here for a 2-day national consultation as a follow up from his official visit in 2002. Results from this consultation will inform Stavenhagen’s report to the UN Council of Human Rights.
For more information on the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the Indigenous
Peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen, please contact -
Voltaire Tupaz (EED Partners-TFIP) – email@example.com /09066603572
Raymond de Chavez (Tebtebba) – firstname.lastname@example.org /09175072789
judy a. pasimio (LRC) – email@example.com /09062568341
UN Representative for Indigenous Peoples to hear HR cases
Press Release - EED Partners-TFIP
2nd February 2007
Quezon City - "Shoot me," Vivian Balingit said to the armed men, one of whom was aiming his gun at her. The man then pressed the tip of his rifle first on Vivian's stomach, then on the right shoulder, then on her right temple. Vivian pushed the gun with her hand, causing an abrasion on her left eye.
This was what Vivian had to experience for walking back home last Tuesday on the road of TVI Resource Development Philippines, part of Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. TVI is a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company, and has been present in the area since 1995.
Vivian, who was walking home with her 3 children, her husband and sister, was blocked by the four armed men belonging to the SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary). "They said the road is not ours but belongs to the TVI so we should pass through the forest." One of the men, whom she identified as Edgardo Acalindo, then pushed her husband down. A motorcycle arrived, and the armed men left them.
After being treated by a doctor, Vivian went to report the incident to the police, but the police refused to enter the complaint in the blotter. Vivian, 29 years old, is the daughter of Timuay Jose "Boy" Anoy, a Subanon leader who is the legitimate holder of an ancestral domain in Siocon. The mining operations of TVI are well within the ancestral domain of the Subanon community. Timuay Boy is known to be one of the strong voices against TVI.
"If the police will not properly record this latest act of violence of TVI, then I will take this report to the UN," Timuay Boy said, who flew to Manila to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen. "We hope that somehow, Mr. Stavenhagen will be able to echo our voice of protest against the continuing presence of TVI, which pose continued threat to our basic human right to life."
Timuay Boy will be reporting today the Subanon situation, along with several other leaders of indigenous communities from the country, to Mr. Stavenhagen. Stavenhagen arrived yesterday for a 2-day national consultation with the indigenous leaders, as well as with the representatives of the government, multi-lateral bodies and non-government organizations.
This is a follow up visit from his official one in December 2002. In his 2003 report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Stavenhagen stated that his report "documented serious human rights violations regarding the human rights implications for indigenous communities of economic activities, particularly the long-term devastating effects of mining operations on the livelihood of indigenous peoples and their environment."
Stavenhagen further said that the "militarization of indigenous communities is a grave human rights problem, as members of the indigenous communities are sometimes accused of rebellion or engaging in 'terrorist' activity."
Some of his 2003 recommendations included -
- That resolving land rights issues should at all times take priority over commercial development. There needs to be recognition not only in law but also in practice of traditional communities. The idea of prior right being granted to a mining or other business company rather than to a community that has held and cared for the land over generations must be stopped, as it brings the system of protection of human rights of indigenous peoples into disrepute.
- That the government of the Philippines carries out a prompt and effective investigation of the numerous human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples.
In the next two days, Stavenhagen will hear testimonies from the IPs, and invited government representatives who are directly responsible for the promotion and protection of the freedoms and human rights of the IPs - the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) among others. His main objectives are to see if there have been fundamental changes in the situation of the IPs since his first visit; and find out whether the government has taken his recommendations seriously. The result of this consultation will serve as an input to his report to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
Meanwhile, leaders of the IPs from the regions are taking this opportunity to once again tell their stories and call for an end to the human rights abuses of the indigenous peoples. "Who else do you turn to when it is the government itself has failed you?" Timuay Boy said. "We are relying on our community's will to defend our land, and on the support of those who believe in us, and believe in justice."
For more information on the case of Vivian Balingit and the visit of UN Special
Rapporteur on the Indigenous Peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen, please contact -
Voltaire Tupaz (EED Partners-TFIP) - firstname.lastname@example.org 09066603572
Raymond Rovillos (Tebtebba) - email@example.com 09175072789
judy a. pasimio (LRC) - firstname.lastname@example.org 09062568341
Armed Employees of Canadian Mining Firm TVI Pacific Beat Subanon Leader’s Daughter
by: Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)
1st February 2007
Mount Canatuan, Tabayo, Siocon Zamboanga del Norte – Contrary to the continuous public relation efforts of the Canadian mining company, TVI Pacific, to portray itself as a responsible miner, it still cannot detach itself from employing violence.
On January 30, TVI’s paramilitary force, the Special Citizen Armed Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA), shamelessly and senselessly attacked the daughter of Timuay Jose ‘Boy’ Anoy, the legitimate holder of the local Subanon’s Ancestral Domain Claim.
The DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), a church committee in the Zamboanga Peninsula monitoring mining, identified the victim as Vivian Anoy Balingit, 29 years of age, married and a resident of Mount Canatuan, and daughter of Timuay Anoy.
The victim swore an affidavit identifying her attackers as Edgar Acalindo and Elmar Alfaro, together with two other unidentified people.
Her sworn statement states that at about 5:30 in the afternoon on January 30, she, her husband Reymar, her sister Florenda Anoy, and three children were travelling from Sitio Paduan to their home at Mount Canatuan.
She noted that when they passed the road constructed by TVI, the said SCAA barred them from passing, stating that the company owns the road rather than the residents from the area, and therefore ordered them to pass through the forested area.
“I defied the order of the said SCAA and instead I continued walking”, she explained on her affidavit, but the said SCAA pushed her and aimed their guns towards her and again ordered them to pass through the forested area.
Due to the victim’s defiance, Edgar Acalindo aimed his gun towards Vivian and told her that he will shoot her if she will not obey his command. However, she strongly defied him, saying “Shoot me”.
“Acalindo touched the barrel of his gun to my stomach, then shoulder then on my right temple but I parried the gun through my left hand, but the perpetrator pursue[d] it causing the abrasion of my left eye”, she strongly stressed on her affidavit.
Florenda Anoy, who witnessed the incident, confirmed the abuse perpetrated by the identified TVI SCAA on her own affidavit. Medical tests in the Municipality of Siocon also confirmed the abrasion on the left eye of the victim.
In 1999, TVI was notoriously accused of harassment for dispersing a legitimate protest of the affected communities in Mount Canatuan that resulted serious and several human rights violations.
On March 2004, TVI SCAA shamelessly, senselessly and indiscriminately fired their guns towards protestors, causing injuries to 70 year old Subanon Chieftain Timuay Macario Salacao.
On June 2006, around one hundred SCAA of the company senselessly and shamelessly demolished the house of the family of Mr. Floro and Manolita Galves in the early hours of the morning without the necessary legal authority.
PSE may impose sanctions on APEC Mining
By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star
29th January 2007
The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has threatened to impose sanctions against Apex Mining Corp. and its officers and directors should the listed mining firm refuse to hold its annual stockholders’ meeting (ASM) on Feb. 28.
In a letter to Apex, PSE chairman Francis Lim said the PSE move was triggered by repeated postponements of the company’s ASM which was recently moved to Feb. 28 from Jan. 18, and repeated violations of the exchange’s disclosure rules.
"Under the rules of the exchange, the conduct of a regular ASM is a continuing listing requirement.
Thus, the exchange frowns upon repeated postponements of the ASM as these actions deprive stockholders of their right to vote their shares and to participate in the corporation’s affairs," Lim said.
"The need to send you this warning letter has gained added urgency in light of increasing incidents of the company’s seeming disregard of the exchange’s disclosure rules," Lim further said.
Last year alone, Apex failed to submit its annual report for the year 2005, its quarterly report for the period ending March 31, 2006, and the list of its top 100 stockholders as of Dec. 31 last year.
Apex also failed to release update on its Masara Gold Mine on time. "The exchange considers the company’s failure to comply with said obligation a serious violation since it deprives the investing public of equal access to material information affecting the company," Lim said.
Lim pointed out that listed companies are required to make simultaneous disclosure of information to the SEC/PSE before they upload any information to a public venue such as a company website even if it is not their website.
"The exchange is in the forefront of a campaign for all listed companies to observe the best corporate governance practices," Lim said.
Failure of Apex to comply with the PSE directive will result in the adoption of appropriate measures to protect the interest of the investing public," Lim said.
Apex earlier said it completed the first phase of the construction of its Masara Gold Mine located in Southeastern Mindanao. The property is located in Compostela Valley, which is one of the most prolific gold belts in the Philippines.
The first phase of the plant, which can process 500 tons of ore per day, had been commissioned on Nov. 30.
The second phase, on the other hand, is expected to increase the plant’s capacity by 2,400 tons per day. Apex expects to complete its construction in the second quarter of 2007.
Apex Mining said exploratory drilling had confirmed that the Masara mine had numerous veins.
UK-based Crew Gold and its affiliate, Mapula Creek Gold Corp. acquired 72.8 percent of Apex in August 2005.
Crew Gold is confident that the acquisition of Apex will assist the company in reaching its goal of becoming a mid-tier gold producer by 2007. The company believes that the Philippines represents a considerable potential for additional opportunities which will contribute to its long-term growth plans.
With gold as its principal product, Apex is primarily engaged in mining gold, silver, copper, lead and other precious metals. It traces its roots to Samar Mining Co. Inc., which was mining and milling large, though low grade, ore zones containing copper, gold and silver and magnetite.
Boneng-Lubo Indigenous Peoples Resolved to keep Mines from Reopening
7th February 2007
A Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM) Bulletin
BENGUET PROVINCE, PHILIPPINES - In Letters of Complaint sent to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment - Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) of the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Indigenous Peoples of Barangay Lubo Kibungan Benguet Association (IPBLKBA), reiterated its objections to the numerous unauthorized visits of alleged mining representatives who have made attempts to dishearten the people in their Anti-Mining stand in their ancestral domain.
The Letters of Complaint cited two of the several incidents of unauthorized entry of mining representatives said to represent Al Magan Mining Exploration Corp. (AMMEC) despite the peoples' resolve to recover from the destruction cause by the open pit mining operation done by Western Minolco Corporation (WMC), the mining operator of Benguet Ventures Inc. (BVI) from 1974- 1982. Damages include forcible displacement of people from their ancestral domain, mining accidents such as drowning, food poisioning of about 306 people in the late '70s, drying up of major rivers caused by siltation, irreversible water diversions caused by destruction of aquifers when underground tunnels and open pits were constructed, toxins in waters and continued erosions caused by constructions done by WMC. Despite these, the people have initiated their own recovery efforts through vegetable farming. Barangay Lubo now contributes significantly to "sayote" (sechium edule) production in the country.
In February 1982, WMC declared bankruptcy, only using up 8 years of its 25 years contract with BVI. Their insolvency affected the residents and the employees. WMC left the former with unsettled land sales and leases, along with farm lands that were left non-arable because of thick landfills that were dumped by WMC. The people searched for top soil and new water sources to be able to farm again. The employees on the other hand received, at most, only half of the expected separation pay.
Then, on June 2, 1997, BVI entered into an Operating Agreement with Boneng Mining Ventures Inc. (BMVI), according to the response letter of DENR-MGB to the inquiry of the Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM) in 1997. As of December 2006, BMVI has a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) application under process with DENR-MGB filed on June 18, 1997 for 1,530 hectares in Atok, Kapangan and Kibungan, all municipalities of Benguet Province.
Meanwhile, an engineer-landowner of Barangay Lubo revealed to the community that there were investors preparing to reopen the Boneng-Lubo abandoned mines in November 2007. He admitted during the IPBLKBA General Assembly last January 27, 2007 held in Barangay Lubo, that he accompanied mining representatives to the area and that investors were preparing to return. CVM was able to get hold of information that may corroborate with the engineer's claims. In an announcement made by the Toronto, Canada's TSX Ventures Exchange, the world's largest exchange where investments in mining ventures are traded, Euro-Net Investments Ltd. (Euro-Net) has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with AMMEC. Euro-Net intends to pay AMMEC, on closing, CAD $70 million in common shares (at $0.50 per share), in exchange for all of the legal and beneficial interest in a copper mine with an area of 1,530 hectares located in the Benguet Province, Cordillera Administrative Region, Northern Luzon, Philippines. This may be the same area applied for by BMVI as per APSA 60. Euro-Net was delisted from TSX Ventures' roster on June 25, 2004 and has been trying to get itself listed again.
Euro-Net expects to raise up to USD$24,000,000 as working capital by issuing up to 40,000,000 Units (each Unit consisting of one common share and one warrant to purchase one common share) at a price of $0.60 per Unit.
The Letters of Complaint made by the people of Lubo were endorsed by Local Government and Church Officials. DENR-MGB has yet to reply while NCIP has suggested that a dialogue between the people, NGOs, LGUs, NCIP, and DENR-MGB, be arranged to clarify the issues.
For inquiries and comments, contact Community Volunteer Missioners (CVM), Rm. 207, Pine Valley Plaza, Km. 4, La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines. Email: email@example.com
Communist rebels raid gold mine in Mindanao
31st January 2007
MANILA . Members of communist rebel group, the New People's Army (NPA), have raided a gold mine in the southern Philippines ahead of a government auction for mining rights in the area, police said yesterday.
Some 50-heavily armed guerrillas set fire to a bulldozer and a welding machine belonging to local firm JB Mining and Management Corp. on Sunday morning after disarming two guards, regional police spokesman Belflor Causing said.
The mine was on a 8,100-hectare reservation on Mount Diwalwal, a famous gold-rush area on the southern island of Mindanao. The government is auctioning the right to explore and develop 4,000 hectares on Mount Diwalwal on March 2. The NPA, which has been waging one of the the world's longest-running communist insurgencies, is opposed to foreign and local corporations mining Philippine sites and has attacked companies and their operations before. Causing, however, said Sunday's attack was part of the rebels' attempts to extort "revolutionary taxes" from businesses.
"This is part of the extortion activities of the NPA," Causing said by phone, adding that the rebels stole a rifle and one .357 revolver from the guards. Officials of JB Mining were not immediately available for comment. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is trying to encourage foreign investment into the mining sector to reduce the country's debts and revive its once mighty industry. Diwalwal is one of 24 priority projects that the government is promoting. Manila has said the country has around $1 trillion worth of unexplored copper, gold and nickel. However, the 24 projects need at least $6.5bn in investments.
US-based Newmont Mining Corporation and Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd, the world's second and fifth biggest gold producers have previously expressed interest in the Diwalwal project. Diwalwal was a mining town with more than 30,000 people operating illegal small-scale mines in the 1980s. In 2002, the government designated the town and its surrounding area as a mineral reservation area.
But locals fear they will be pushed out if the government sells the mining rights to a large, foreign company.
"We do not know if JB Mining is still operating," Franco Tito, village head in the area, told Reuters by phone. "Our problem here now is the government's plan to sell the mining area," Tito said.
MILF hits mining activities in Mindanao
By Jeoffrey B. Maitem, BalitaPinoy
27th January 2007
COTABATO CITY - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denounced Saturday the ongoing mining operations in Mindanao, citing it does not bring any good to the people.
"Yes, we oppose activities of mining firms in Mindanao as it remains one of the reason why we are helping break the impasse in the ancestral domain issue in the GRP-MILF talks," MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said in an interview.
"We are concerned about the plight of our brothers in the countryside where some of them have been displaced by such activity," he added.
In Central Mindanao, one of the largest mining firm, the Sagittarius Mines, Inc., is presently eyeing mineral deposits in the towns of Tampakan, South Cotabato; Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and sections of Davao del Sur province. Earlier this month, former British Minister for International Development Clare Short MP has released a report regarding the Philippines' destructive mining practices.
In her fact finding Mission report, Short cited that mining in the Philippines has an extremely poor reputation and has left over 800 abandoned mines throughout the countryside.
These have caused massive environmental damage, she said.
The MILF urged the national government to revoke the Mining Act of 1995 and enact alternative legislation that would effectively protect the interests of affected local communities, indigenous people and the environment. (PNA)