MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Statement from communities over Mining

Published by MAC on 2006-08-10

Statement from communities over Mining

Tubay, Agusan Del Norte

10th August 2006

Let it be known to our barangay, municipality, province of Agusan del Norte , and national government the existence of an illegal large scale mining operation in barangay La Fraternidad.

Sometime in 2005,during the Mining Forum held at the Municipal Gym, Our Mayor proclaimed before the residents of Tubay and Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, that, “There will be no mining in our Municipality as long as I am the Mayor.”

Relying on that promise, we continued to live our peaceful way of life, until we saw Barges unloading heavy equipments for mining.

Three mining companies: Galeo Equipment Corporation, SR Metal, Inc., and San R Construction Corporation were granted by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to engage in small-scale mining of nickel and cobalt on the same date. Their Environmental Compliance Certificates were also granted on the same date and the three companies are represented by one person, Mr. Jimwel M. Orpilla.

These corporations in reality are one and the same, organized purposely to circumvent the law on awarding of mining contracts. RA 7076 or the People’s Small Scale Mining Act of 1991 expressly provides that:

“ A peoples small scale mining contract may be awarded by the Board xxx, provided that only one peoples small scale mining contract may be awarded at one time to a small scale operations within one year from the date of award. Xxx.”.

The existence and the operations of these mining companies are highly anomalous, to wit:

1. The residents were never informed about mining activities even from the exploration stage. The Local Government Code mandatory requires the holding of public consultation by Government agencies prior to the implementation and enforcement of projects which may entail significant impacts on the environment;

2. Parts of the mining area are proclaimed watershed, reforestation site, and birds’ sanctuary, and below the mining site, is a fish sanctuary. Under the law these areas are closed to mining:

3. The permits of the companies are for small-scale mining, but the operation is large scale as evidenced by the heavy equipments and the methods of extraction. Small scale mining relies on manual labor using simple implements like sledge hammer, piko, pala, and do nor use explosives or heavy mining equipments;

4. By projecting as three separate corporations, the mining company was able to get a total of 60 hectares as mining contract area violating the 20 hectares limitation. They are presently working for the approval of their Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) involving 591 hectares on the same mining site.

We have several times brought this matter to our LGU leaders and before the courts, but to no avail. To assert our constitutional right to environment, we thus picketed in the private land of Mr. Aliore Page who was among the picketers.

Last August 5, 2006 while we were having our peaceful assembly exercising our right to freedom of expression, a the fire truck of the municipality of Cabadbaran came to our picket area and attacked us several times with water cannons in full blast. As a result, several picketers were injured. Until now, one member, Nelia Orjel, 61 year old is still confined at Butuan Doctors Hospital. Thus:

We condemn the illegal dispersal of our peaceful assembly.

We condemn the continued destruction of environment.

We condemn the illegal mining operations of Galeo Equipment Corporation, SR Metal, Inc., and San R Construction Corporation.

Tubay Communities through:

Fr. Jenor Luis Director Social Action Center Diocese of Butuan 09194187441

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