Philippines UpdatePublished by MAC on 2007-08-10
10th August 2007
Following on our recent reporting that former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza was named Environment Secretary, all manner of political 'chicanery' has followed. No sooner had Atienza pulled up his chair under his new desk than a large part of his domain was spirited away to the President's office. As if this Presidential power grab to control yet more of the mineral resources weren't blatant enough, the Arroyo family increased its personal influence by naming family members as the Chairs of relevant parliamentary House committees. The critiques against these moves have been loud and pretty unanimous (although the Philippine Chamber of Mines gave its backing to Atienza). The critics have included the communist NPA, who have once again threatened mining companies as legitimate targets in its war against the government, because of the President's aggressive promotion. Otherwise it is business as usual, with more follow up to the problems at TVI's sulphide dam, Atlas talking about raising funds from the City of London, the Canadian government making deals to increase its leverage in Philippines mining and OceanaGold and Royalco (who took over Oxiana's Philippine assets) running into concerted opposition from local tribal peoples, who have erected barricades to keep the company out. Finally, there have been reported deaths in a typhoon-associated landslide at Crew Gold's Masara mine in the Compostella Valley.
Reds target mining firms
3rd August 2007
Communist guerrillas warned yesterday that they will mount attacks against mining operations in the Philippines, accusing foreign companies of leading the plunder of the countrys natural resources.
Rebel forces have standing orders to carry out all necessary action and assistance to the people in preventing foreign big mining companies and their local big comprador and bureaucrat collaborators from carrying out the all-out plunder of our natural resources, said their spokesman Gregorio Rosal.
He said the 7,000-member New Peoples Army (NPA) would carry out revolutionary action, peoples protests and other means to stop the plunder of the Philippine environment and natural wealth.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a decades-old Maoist armed campaign.
President Arroyo has aggressively promoted the Philippines underdeveloped minerals sector as a key development path out of poverty for the nearly 40 percent of Filipinos who live on two dollars a day or less.
A mining law that took effect two years ago after prolonged legal challenges opened up the sector to foreign investment.
Last month Mrs. Arroyo also put the mining sector under the direct supervision of the presidential palace. AFP
CPP mobilizes NPA vs mining firms
2nd August 2007
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) mobilized the New People's Army (NPA) Thursday to stop what it called the "plundering of the country's environment and mineral resources" by mining firms.
In a statement posted on its website (www.philippinerevolution.net), CPP spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal scored President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for placing a mining firm directly under her office.
"Arroyo is taking complete control of the mining industry to further ensure big foreign mining companies and their comprador partners all privileges and advantages as provided for under RA 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995. With their heightened control, Arroyo and her kin and collaborators will be pocketing billions of pesos in cuts and bribes," Rosal said.
President Arroyo, in Executive Order 636, placed the Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PDMC), a government-owned and controlled corporation, under her direct supervision.
Rosal also questioned the appointment last July 31 of her brother-in-law, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, as head of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
He branded the two moves as part of a "double mining coup" that will pave the way for unrestricted foreign and big comprador plunder of Philippine mineral resources.
Because of this, he said the NPA now has marching orders "to intensify efforts, both armed and non-armed, to stop the Arroyos and their imperialist and local comprador partners from plundering the country's environment and mineral resources."
Rosal said Mrs Arroyo and foreign big mining companies have set eyes on some nine million hectares of Philippine mineral-rich lands for intensified exploration and exploitation.
This acceleration of foreign plunder of Philippine mineral resources is detrimental to the Philippine economy and the environment, Rosal added.
"Foreign mining companies plunder billions of dollars worth of resources, siphon them out of the country and leave the Filipino people suffering from their pillage." Since the 1970s, foreign mining companies have plundered as much as $30 billion worth of mineral resources from the Philippines, said Rosal.
He said the NPA "has standing orders to carry out all necessary action and assistance to the people in preventing foreign big mining companies and their local big comprador and bureaucrat collaborators from carrying out the all-out plunder of our natural resources."
"The NPA, the peasant masses and national minorities will do their utmost to stop Arroyo and foreign big mining companies from setting up and stepping up their operations in the Philippine countryside especially within and around revolutionary territory," he said. - GMANews.TV
Military intensifies security of mining firms
Balita National news - http://news.balita.ph/html/article.php/20070804172449397
4th August 2007
Security forces are coordinating with mining firms and other vital installations to preempt the pronounced plan by the communist New People's Army (NPAs) against these outfits, a military spokesman said Saturday.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Erensto Torres made the appeal following the threat made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal that the communists would be focusing their attention on attacking mining firms.
"The Army units have to communicate link (with the firms) so that we can implement our efforts to secure mining firms, cell sites and other vital installations," he said.
Torres said the Army would be stepping up meetings with these mining firms and vital installations "so that we will know where to position our people. We are helping them in the training and augmentation of troops."
It can be recalled that on Friday, Rosal said the NPA would be stepping up offensive actions against the mining companies in what he said was meant to "stop the plundering of the country's environment and mineral resources."
Torres said the pronounced rebel operation against the mining companies could be part of the communist movement's order to intensify attacks against military detachments and vital installations.
He said the order was issued by communist leaders in response to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's state of the nation address (SONA) last July 23 at the Batasan complex in Quezon City, coinciding with the opening of the 14th Congress.
"Days after the SONA of our President, they came out with an order in reaction to step up their offensive against military detachments and vital installations," Torres said.
He expressed confidence that these firms are ready to thwart such rebel attacks, noting that they maintain their own security personnel.
Nevertheless, he said it would be better if such efforts are coordinated and communicated with the military. (PNA)
Alvarez named 'minerals czar' under Arroyo
Michael Lim Ubac & TJ Burgonio, Inquirer, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=79168
28th July 2007
MANILA, PhilippinesFormer environment secretary Heherson Alvarez may now be called the "minerals czar," having been appointed chair of the government-owned and -controlled Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC).
Alvarez yesterday welcomed his appointment and said he was looking forward to "creating wealth for our people from the bosom of the earth, but with due respect for the environment."
President Macapagal-Arroyo signed Alvarez's appointment papers on July 17, a day before Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced that former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza had been named environment secretary in place of Angelo Reyes, who took over the energy portfolio from the reportedly resigned Raphael Lotilla.
Also on July 18, the President signed Executive Order No. 636 "transferring" PMDC from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Office of the President, citing the need to "closely monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the utilization and development of [the country's] mineral resources."
PMDC is the environment department's corporate arm tasked with exploring, developing, mining, smelting and producing, among others, all kinds of mineral deposits and resources.
"We will push for sustainable development in the mining sector while adhering to the principles of responsible mining, strict enforcement of environmental and mining laws, protection for indigenous peoples, and sharing of benefits for all stakeholders," Alvarez, who was environment secretary in 2001-2002, told the Inquirer.
Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP), welcomed Alvarez's appointment, saying industry players expected him to do a good job.
"[Alvarez] has started many processes and efforts related to PMDC. His getting a job such as PMDC chair is no surprise," Romualdez said.
DENR 'still in charge'
Horacio Ramos, director of the DENR's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said that even with the transfer of PMDC to the Office of the President, the environment department would continue to manage the bulk of mineral-rich areas and regulate mining.
"Our interpretation is that [PMDC] would only manage projects assigned [to it]," Ramos told reporters.
Ramos said PMDC would continue to handle "special projects" and the MGB would manage the rest of the mining projects.
He said the MGB would also continue to perform its functions of regulating companies (including those managed by PMDC), issuing permits, and conducting geo-hazard surveys, among others.
"We're still in charge of the safety of all mines, including those managed by PMDC," Ramos said.
Alvarez also said as much, explaining that the issuance of environmental clearance certificatesa prerequisite for the issuance of mining permitsremained with the DENR through the MGB.
"All regulatory powers are still with the DENR," he said, but quickly pointed out that the issuance of mining permits was now under PMDC.
"I'm the chairman of PMDC, which is in charge of minerals and non-minerals and all mining concerns. PMDC is under the Office of the President," Alvarez said, adding:
"She transferred the authority under her office because she wants efficient management of this wealth for purposes of addressing poverty."
'Much clearer' functions
Alvarez said there would be no duplication of functions.
The functions are "much clearer" now, he said, explaining that prior to the issuance of EO 636, the DENR was in an awkward position because it issued mining permits to private and public companies and at the same time checked compliance with environmental laws.
"There's conflict of interest because [the DENR] has regulatory powers ... on environmental concerns," he said.
Ramos said the MGB welcomed the transfer of PMDC to the Office of the President because it would get more funding for the exploration and development of mining projects.
"I think that's the main reason it was transferred, and we welcome it because with a P500-million annual budget, we can hardly fund its activities," he said.
Prior to its transfer, PMDC was part of the Natural Resources Development Corp., another government-owned and -controlled corporation chaired by the environment secretary and created mainly to focus on developing the mining industry.
It managed special mining projects foreclosed by the government, projects held by the Assets Privatization Trust, and projects with canceled mineral production sharing agreements.
All other projects not under PMDC are managed by the MGB.
"They can't supervise, for instance, Philex Mining because under the law, that's under the MGB," Ramos said.
The mining areas covered by PMDC constituted an estimated 40,000 hectares, which is small compared with the estimated 20 million hectares covered by the MGB, according to a DENR official who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak publicly on the matter.
Engine for growth
In taking a direct hand in the development of the mining sector, the President wants to turn the country into a world mining leader by 2010 "in line with [her] vision for the Philippines to become a First World country in 20 years," Alvarez said.
He recalled that at the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition last month, Ms Arroyo said the mining industry would "serve as a leading engine for Philippine economic growth, becoming a source of revenue and wealth to allow the government to seriously bring down the level of poverty in the country."
According to Alvarez, PMDC will take charge of opening to serious investors some 65 non-performing mining tenements that were previously canceled, covering a total of 68,000 hectares.
He projected the income from mining to reach $2 billion by yearend, rising to $10 billion annually if the expected mining boom occurs.
The Philippines is the world's 5th richest country in terms of mineral resources. This year alone, investments in mining have reached more than $500 million.
According to Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, the Inquirer report yesterday on the transfer of PMDC is "misleading in that it gives the impression that all mining concerns have been transferred from the DENR to the Office of the President."
"The text of EO 636 clearly states that it is the [PMDC], a government-owned and -controlled corporation, that is being transferred to the Office of the President. There has been no change in the DENR's mandate on mining matters," Bunye said.
But the activist group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) warned that such a transfer would open the floodgates to the destruction of the environment and of communities by mining firms.
"We all know that [Ms Arroyo] has listed mining as one of her priority investment areas in her 10-Point Agenda. We fear that with the mining industry under her watch, regulations will become loose, in pursuit of more foreign investments," ATM coordinator Roy Calfoforo said in a statement.
Calfoforo said the closure orders against S.R. Metals Inc., San R Construction Corp. and Galeo Equipment Corp. in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, were a triumph of environmental regulation.
"But with [Ms Arroyo] usurping authority from the DENR and [transferring] industry regulation directly under her authority, will she exhibit the political will to go after bigger mining operations with better, more sophisticated connections?" he said.
The DENR official who had sought anonymity said he believed the transfer was meant to facilitate coordination between the Office of the President on one hand, and the local government units and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on the other, in the grant of mining permits.
LGUs can impose a moratorium on mining while the NCIP issues a certificate of preconditiona requirement for the issuance of permits to small- or large-scale mining firms, the official said.
"With the President coordinating, the process of getting the endorsement of the LGU and NCIP precondition certificate will be much easier," he said.
In a statement, Alvarez said that as environment secretary in 2001, he addressed the 19-year-old problem on Mt. Diwalwal in Davao which, he noted, had been described as "a festering social wound of greed, power and violence in the conflict between small and huge interests, the lowly and the mighty."
At least 6,000 people have been killed in Diwalwal, including a judge and a town mayor, since gold was discovered there in 1983.
Alvarez said that on his suggestion, Ms Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 297 declaring Diwalwal a mineral reservation under DENR management. With a report from Ronnel W. Domingo
DENR to be besieged with protests against Atienza
Kalikasan-PNE Press Release
25th July 2007
Environmental activists will stage "the first in a series of vehement protests against the confirmation of Mr. Lito Atienza as DENR Secretary" starting tomorrow, a leader of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) declared today.
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator for Kalikasan PNE, said that their network organizations and volunteers "will be stepping up protest actions to dramatize the people's overwhelming rejection of Arroyo's top pick for the DENR post".
"There are always better alternatives to Atienza as DENR Secretary, if only Pres. Arroyo were not so obsessed with political accommodation and convenience," Bautista said.
"We are not endorsing any particular individual right now. But we have a definite set of criteria for any appointee to the post of DENR Secretary. He or she should have a consistent track record in crafting, overseeing, or implementing pro-environment and pro-people policies. He or she should also have enough independence and political will to stand by what is best for the people's welfare and the environment, and not spinelessly give in to pressure and intimidation from foreign investors, business groups, and the powers that be in the Palace. Finally, he or she must be committed to upholding an environmental policy firmly grounded on national sovereignty and protection of our patrimony for the Filipino people's welfare, not on unrestrained liberalization, lust for profit, and plunder by foreign and elite interests," Bautista explained.
"Unfortunately, we have yet to see these qualities in Mr. Atienza and in the way he conducted his administration of Manila. Sure, he spruced up a long-decrepit zoo and led pockets of tree-planting activities, but that's a pretty far cry from an ideal candidate for Environment Secretary. We are sure that Atienza can do more for the environment in his capacity as a private citizen rather than as a political lackey to the President," Bautista lamented.
"The real challenge for Atienza is to prove to the people that he will put their interests first over that of his political benefactor, Pres. Arroyo," Bautista said.
As for incumbent DENR Sec. Reyes, Bautista said that Kalikasan PNE would continue to oppose his appointment to the Department of Energy. "His transfer to the DoE will not bode well for millions of Filipino consumers nationwide, as Reyes is expected to fast-track the sale and privatization of the few remaining government-owned corporations in the power sector which would bring about a renewed spike in existing power rates," Bautista said.
"There is only one honorable way for Reyes to go, and that is into retirement," he said.
"For as long as Pres. Arroyo hoards power over the government, we doubt that a truly competent, honorable and deserving DENR Secretary will be ever be appointed to the post," Bautista said. ###
Reference: Clemente Bautista, Jr. Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator (0922-844-9787).
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
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.kalikasan.org
Mining out of DENR; now under Presidents office
By Michael Lim Ubac, Inquirer -http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=78988
27th July 2007
MANILA, Philippines -- Add the mining industry to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos hands-on concerns. Ms Arroyo has ordered supervision of the mining industry transferred from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Office of the President, in a move, she said, to closely monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the countrys utilization and development of its mineral resources.
Her directive was contained in Executive Order No. 636 dated July 18, which was made public Thursday.
As with other new EOs, Ms Arroyo said, all issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this EO are hereby revoked, amended, or modified accordingly.
The Presidents decision to take a direct hand in the supervision of Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC) is seen as crucial in the development of the industry.
The Philippines ranks fifth among the countries rich in mineral resources.
Mining activities, already on the uptrend, are expected to further increase next year with more foreign investments coming in.
This year alone, some of the worlds biggest mining players have invested a total of $500 million in mining in the Philippines.
These firms and their investments include: Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., $100 million, Oceana Gold Ltd. of New Zealand and Climax Arino Mining Co. of Australia, $100 million, and Coral Bay Nickel Corp., $100 million (to expand its Rio Tuba operations in Palawan).
Responsible mining stressed
The PMDC is a government-owned and -controlled corporation with the primary task of exploring, developing, mining, smelting and producing, transporting, storing, distributing, exchanging, selling, disposing, importing, exporting, trading, and promoting gold, silver, copper, iron and all kinds of mineral deposits and substances.
The Arroyo administration has stressed that environmental laws would not be compromised in the development of the countrys mineral resources, and that responsible mining was key to sustainable economic growth.
The local mining industry suffered a slump in the 1970s when metal prices in the world market dived.
But with the new surge in the price of metals, the Philippine mining industry is well-positioned to cash in on the price hikes, Malacañang said.
Mining chamber welcomes appointment of new DENR Secretary
24th July 2007
Contrary to some quarters rejecting the appointment of former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has welcomed the appointment of Atienza to the top post by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, President of the influential mining association, said Atienza's long experience as a local government chief has helped prepare him for the position.
Since the DENR has a lot of dealings with LGUs in several of its decentralized but critical functions and the concerns of local communities, "it would be easier for the new Secretary to deal with issues and concerns concerning environmental protection and natural resource development at the local levels since he was once one of them and the level of confidence with local officials has long been established," Romualdez said.
With the sphere of the new mandate given to the incoming DENR Secretary enlarged, covering the entire Philippines, the industry hopes to work in partnership with him and the government to move the country forward, he said.
"We always respect the prerogative of the President in choosing her cabinet because at the end of the day, she is focused in seeing that her economic and environment programs and policies are fully implemented," Romualdez said.
Romualdez also wishes well for Secretary Angelo Reyes in his new role as energy secretary, noting that in his short stint at the DENR, he has earned the goodwill and respect of its many stakeholders, including the mining industry.(PNA)
Alvarez opens 65 mining sites
By Fel V. Maragay, Manila Standard - http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=politics1_july28_2007
28th July 2007
The government will open up 65 more mining sites or tenements to investors in line with its policy to maximize the potentials of the countrys mining industry.
Former Senator Heherson Alvarez, newly appointed chairman of the Philippine Mining Development Corp., said one of his primary tasks is to encourage investors to develop the 65 non-performing mining tenements that were cancelled. These sites cover 68,000 hectares of mineral lands.
Alvarez, also a former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was named by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as PMDC chairman on the same day she signed Executive Order 636, transferring the agency from the environment department to the Office of the President.
PMDC is a government-owned and -controlled corporation tasked to revitalize the countrys minerals-mining industry as a source of wealth to fight poverty.
I welcome my appointment and I am looking forward to creating wealth for our people from the bosom of the Earth but with due respect to the environment, Alvarez said.
We will push for sustainable development in the mining sector while adhering to the principles of responsible mining, strict enforcement of environmental and mining laws, protection for indigenous peoples, and sharing of benefits for all stakeholders.
Alvarez succeeds Secretary Angelo Reyes as PMDC chairman. Reyes will be replaced as environment secretary by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza effective Aug. 1. Reyes will assume his new post as Energy secretary.
Rolando Butalid remains as PMDC president, according to Alvarezs office.
Alvarez said he would lead the management of the countrys mineral assets, geared toward making the Philippines a world mining leader by 2010 in line with the Presidents vision to transform the Philippines into a First World country in 20 years time.
PMDC was transferred to the Office of the President to closely monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the utilization and development of the countrys mineral resources.
At the seventh Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition last month, the President said the mining industry will serve as a leading engine of the countrys economic growth, and a source of revenue and wealth to help the government bring down the poverty incidence.
Income from the mining sector is projected at $2 billion by the end of 2007, rising to $10 billion if the targeted mining investments are realized.
The Philippines is the worlds fifth richest country in terms of mineral resources. For 2007 alone, investments in the mining industry have already reached more than $500 million.
As environment secretary in 2001, Alvarez proposed and the President signed Proclamation 297 declaring Diwalwal in Compostela Valley a Mineral Reservation Area under the management of the environment department. He then organized cooperatives that included indigenous groups and crafted a sharing scheme of 85 percent15 percent in favor of smaller miners and their families numbering about 20,000.
Mikey, Iggy set to lead House energy, natural resources panel
By BEN R. ROSARIO, Manila Bulletin
30th July 2007
The chairmanship of two of the most sought after committees in the House of Representatives will be occupied by presidential son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" M. Arroyo, and his uncle, Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo of Negros Occidental, once nominations for key posts in the chamber resume this week.
House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor disclosed that aside from the election of assistant minority and majority leaders, chairmanships to be filled this week are those for the committees on energy, natural resources, and ways and means.
However, sources disclosed that chairmanship nominations will also be conducted for the committees on health and agriculture to be headed by Reps. Arthur Pingoy (NPC, South Cotabato) and Abraham Mitra (LP, Palawan), respectively.
Much to the dismay of a number of senior lawmakers from the majority, the energy panel will go to Rep. Mikey Arroyo while his uncle will get the committee on natural resources.
Both second termers, the two Arroyos overtook a number of "graduating" congressmen who supposedly were priority candidates for the two important positions. Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, a former speaker, had been eyeing the chairmanship of the energy committee which he handled in the 10th Congress.
As a consolation for giving way to the presidential son, Fuentebella was offered the deputy speakership post which reportedly, he hesitatingly accepted.
Expected to be named chairman of the powerful ways and means panel is Antique Rep. Exequiel Javier, a senior vice chairman of committee.
Defensor disclosed that he expects the nomination of Rep. Crispin Remulla (NP, Cavite) as among the assistant majority leaders of the chamber.
He also admitted that "term sharing" schemes may be observed in key posts such as membership to the Commission on Appointments and the chairmanship of the committee on appropriations.
Reps. Edcel Lagman (Lakas, Albay) and Junie Cua (Lakas, Quirino) are the principal contenders of the appropriations panel.
Meanwhile, senior members of the House of Representatives warned House Speaker Jose C. de Venecia Jr. yesterday against throwing caution to the wind by re-appointing 13th Congress solons as committee chairmen or members of powerful congressional bodies.
Lawmakers who supported the House leader during the speakership race said De Venecia should instead heed the warning aired by Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. and stick to his pledge to institute immediate reforms in the Lower House.
Locsin had threatened to identify colleagues involved in extortion should they get re-appointed to committees allegedly tainted with graft during their term in the 13th Congress.
A month prior to Locsin's expose, former Rep. Herminio Teves, chairman of the House committee on ways and means during the 13th Congress, gave a public indictment of the House contingent in the CA whom he accused extorting R5 million from certain Cabinet men seeking confirmation of their appointments.
Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles, who was named head of the House contingent to the CA, said the "public proposal" of Locsin should be studied carefully by the House leadership "as it makes a lot of sense."
Rep. Bienvenido Abante (Lakas, Manila) supported the move that no former CA members should be reappointed.
"If we talk about reforms in the House, De Venecia should be firm," said Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
Now on her second term as lawmaker, Garin said CA appointees should be limited to "third term" congressmen to avoid "overstaying."
Comebacking Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said by not re-electing previous members of the CA, De Venecia will convince the nation that he is serious in his vow for reforms.
"(That is) important first step for JDV to lift image of Congress. It will evince serious effort at house-cleaning," Aggabao, one of the brilliant lawyers of the chamber, said.
Yesterday, Marikina City Rep. Del de Guzman revealed that the panel tasked to recommend nominees for committee chairmen and membership to congressional bodies is strongly considering Lanao del Norte Rep. Bobby Dimaporo as a holdover CA member.
Himself a member of the selection panel, De Guzman admitted that infusing new blood into the CA and other key standing committees is "most ideal" in pursuing reforms in the Lower House.
While Locsin and Teves have yet to identify the Lower House "crooks involved in extortion activities," a number of congressmen asked De Venecia to make the right choice of not pushing for the election of any "overstaying" solon to powerful legislative bodies like membership to the CA and chairmanship of the appropriations panel.
Arroyo family virtually controls mining industry
Kalikasan-PNE Press Release
1st August 2007
Something fishy with two Arroyos in control of DENR corporate arm and Congress committee on natural resources! Kalikasan PNE
There's a glaring conflict of interest in how two Arroyos have grabbed control over the both the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources and the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PDMC), a leader from environmental activist organization Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said.
"While Pres. Gloria Arroyo's brother-in-law Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo holds control over the House Committee on Natural Resources, no less than the President herself is in direct control over the affairs and decisions of the PDMC, the DENR's corporate arm," Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator, said.
Last week, Pres. Arroyo issued Executive Order 636, transferring the PDMC from the DENR's authority to directly under the Office of the President. The PMDC is the environment department's corporate arm tasked with exploring, developing, mining, smelting and producing all kinds of mineral deposits and resources.
"These combined developments are setting a dangerous precedent for environmental policy. It only further erodes the existing government mechanisms for checks and balances," Bautista said.
"This also poses drastic implications for the mining sector. The Arroyo family will virtually hold control over the mining industry with this move," Bautista stressed.
"There is a blatant conflict of interest with Pres. Arroyo's assumption of control over the PDMC, which will oversee mining development and the approval of new mining projects, and Rep. Arroyo's chairing of the House Committee which is tasked to investigate problems related to our environment and natural resources, many of which are related to previous, current and future mining projects in the country," Bautista said.
"This lethal combination will practically guarantee more foreign mining giants more access to our lands and mineral reserves," Bautista said.
"Pres. Arroyo can just approve mining contracts left and right with the PDMC under her control, while Rep. Arroyo can very easily block calls for Congressional probes into mining-related environmental disasters or mining deals that may be anomalous, dangerous, and plunderous by virtue of his position," Bautista said. ###
Reference: Clemente Bautista, Jr. Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator (0922-844-9787).
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
Email: email@example.com Website: www.kalikasan.org
Greater threat to Nature
9th August 2007
Placing the mining industry directly under the supervision of the Office of the President (Inquirer, 7/27/07) is like opening the countrys floodgates to more environmental destruction and allowing the displacement of more communities.
We all know that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her 10-Point Agenda, has mining as one of her priority investment areas, and we fear that with the mining industry under her watch, regulations will become loose, in pursuit of more foreign investments.
The closure order against S. R. Metals Inc., San R Construction Corp. and Galeo Equipment Corp. in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, is a triumph for environmental regulation and for the would-be affected communities. But with the mining industry under her direct supervision, will Arroyo exhibit the political will to go after bigger mining operations with better, more sophisticated connections? What is Arroyo going to do about Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu, TVIRD in Siocon and the dummy corporations on Sibuyan Island?
The closure of the Tubay operations is but one step in the right direction. Other areas in distress are still awaiting government action that would favor them. We also laud the provincial government of Zambales, through Gov. Amor Deloso, for shutting down the alleged illegal operations of at least five mining firms, including a Taiwanese company engaged in exporting high-priced Philippine minerals abroad. The inspection came after the newly formed Task Force Kalikasan reported the unabated illegal quarrying of precious minerals such as nickel, manganese and platinum in the area.
Despite identifying mining as one of Arroyos top revenue-generating investment areas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should still exercise oversight and regulatory functions to safeguard the national patrimony and human rights.
We enjoin the national government to revisit its policies on the industry, starting with the immediate scrapping of the mining law, an overhaul of the regulatory regime governing the industry and the stringent monitoring of mining operations and the companies behind them, some of which have been met with stiff resistance and slapped with environmental penalties in their other places of operation.
ROY A. CALFOFORO, national coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (via email)
Anti-Mining Group joins calls against Arroyos in "green committees"
Alyansa Tigil Mina Statement
1st August 2007
The Alyansa Tigil Mina today joined calls against the appointment of Arroyo relatives into sensitive and key Congressional positions at the House of Representatives.
"We are extremely worried that with Mikey Arroyo and Iggy Arroyo chairing the House committees on energy and on natural resources, communities will have one less arena for engagement to air their grievances and seek redress for the rampant destruction of the environment," said ATM Coordinator Roy A. Calfoforo.
"GMA has recently made moves that further worry us, such as the appointment of Lito Atienza to the DENR and the transfer of the PMDC under the Office of the President," explained Calfoforo. "Now with her relatives occupying House positions that would normally be in charge of exercising oversight functions over the mining industry we fear that our concerns will not be heard at all."
"Everyone knows that GMA is selling mining as a cornerstone program of her 10-Point Agenda," said Jaybee Garganera, PhilDHRRA National Coordinator, also a member of ATM. "and her legacy projects will no doubt be funded by these same mining projects from which easy money will flow, but at what cost?"
"Already, in Siocon sulphide tailings dams operated by TVI Pacific collapsed twice this year, endangering the ecosystem and the local residents, while in Rapu-Rapu Lafayette is still able to evade responsibility for its spills two years ago," added Garganera. "Not only are these large-scale operations flaunting environmental laws, they are violating people's rights to livelihood and a sustainable future."
"Now with the Arroyos in control of these respective House Committees, what will be the use of filing a resolution inquiring into the illegal activities being undertaken by these mining companies?"
"We appeal to Reps. Mikey and Iggy to relinquish their posts out of delicadeza, constituting as it is a conflict of interest, knowing fully well that the President has taken a hands-on approach on the mining sector," said Calfoforo and Garganera. "Nobody will believe anything that happens in investigations conducted by the House Committee on Natural Resources and on Energy will be of any use if they are in charge of those bodies."
ATM is a coalition of NGOs/POs, Church, academe and other civil society groups concerned about the revitalization of large-scale mining company in the Philippines and support the Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Philippines.
For details, please contact:
Jaybee Garganera (0915-3153719), firstname.lastname@example.org
Roy Calfoforo (0920-2970492), email@example.com
John Vincent S. Cruz (0928-5028701), firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel # 02-4260385 or 02-4266740
Address: # 59 C. Salvador St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City ( www.alyansatigilmina.org)
Fear of mining contamination hounds villagers
By Bert Laput Mindanao Bureau - http://newsinfo. inquirer. net/inquirerhead lines/regions/ view_article. php?article_ id=80947
6th August 2007
DIPOLOG CITYThe collapse of a wall of the tailings pond in an open-pit gold mine in the village of Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, has caused alarm among residents in nearby towns and compelled the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to conduct a legislative inquiry on possible dangers of contamination.
We should know whether the claim of TVI (Resource Development Philippines) that its mine is safe (is true), Board Member Cedrick Adriatico said in a privilege speech at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
Adriatico said Fr. Edgar Agura, Siocon parish priest, confirmed to him the collapse of the wall of a tailings pond at the mine site because of the heavy rains.
Agura was also quoted as saying that trucks of gravel were taken from nearby Pisawak River to rebuild the collapsed part of the tailings pond.
Adriatico said Agura had claimed that residents were particularly alarmed by the reddish water coming from the tailings pond through a creek and to the Pisawak River that ends at Siocon Bay, about 24 km from the mine site.
But Raymond Acopiado, TVI Public Affairs Officer, said there was nothing to be alarmed of because the reported collapse of their tailings pond is not true.
Acopiado said heavy rains washed out the clay soil on which (a) concrete wall will be constructed, thats what happened, and that the reddish water is actually caused by the clay soil.
He explained that the mine has two main tailings pond, the first is a gossans dam where wastes for the extraction of gold and silver will be deposited.
The second, which is still under construction, is the sulphide dam that will be used for the extraction of copper and zinc.
What is good is that there will be no chemicals that will be deposited in the sulphide dam, Acopiado said.
But Adriatico said disturbing reports on the safety of the TVI-owned mine persisted.
Although certified by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to be safe, residents fear that it (gossans dam) has secret outlets or undeclared exits intended to be used during unabated heavy rains, the board member said.
This was strongly denied by Acopiado.
How could we allow secret outlets when the company workers are actually getting water from the same source that others claim to have been contaminated, he said.
Adriatico said that they still need to conduct a legislative inquiry to determine whether or not the risk of chemical contamination exists.
He said that the inquiry will focus mainly on the allegation that the tailings pond at the mine site collapsed.
The Canadian owned TVI started its full operation in July 2004 on a mountain in Canatuan that was claimed by Subanen lumad as sacred.
Although a group of Subanens, called Siocon Subanen Association Inc., has given consent to the mining operations, another group of Subanens with the same name but supported by the Catholic Church and environmentalists have continued opposing TVI.
Canatuan community stands by the reported TVI sulphide dam collapse
By Tito Natividad Fiel and Daniel Castillo
31st July 2007
Mount Canatuan, Tabayo, Siocon Zamboanga del Norte The residents who witnessed how the water from a heavy rainfall broke through TVI Pacific's Sulphide Dam at Canatuan on 11 July 2007, stood by their reports that it was a full dam collapse. Shirly Bulagao, one of the residents living close to the sulphide dam, personally witnessed the incident and confirmed the collapse to investigators sent by the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) of Department and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Catholic Church.
The MGB investigation team were despatched by the Region 9 office based in Zamboanga City, while the church was represented by the staff of the Diopim Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), a committee monitoring mining activities in Zamboanga Peninsula. Ms Bulagao, when asked in the course of the investigation, said that she and her family saw the overflowing water from the Sulphide Dam early morning on 11th July. Later, they saw a section of the dam collapse, that was approximately 15 meters high and 4 meters wide.
The statement of Ms Bulagao corroborated the statement of Engineer Reste Patejan, who was in-charge of construction at the Sulphide Dam that early morning of July 11, that the water from heavy rainfall developed and overflowed the dam wall of the sulphide dam. Engineer Patejan told investigators that at around 11am that morning the over-flowing water gradually ate away at the dam wall, but he reduces the term from a collapse to "soil erosion", which is the term used by the TVI top management for the incident. He admitted that there was a huge volume of soil from the dam that travelled downstream, and that they have to recover and replace in the course of the dams reconstruction.
Engineer Patejan admitted that there was huge damage caused by the dam failure, but claimed that he was not in a position to discuss the actual cost of the dam damage. But Engineer Yulo Perez, Vice President for Operation of TVI Canadian Mining Firm-Philippines quickly defended the incident as not major, but a minor one, which would not hamper their activities. He admitted there was a problem with their sulphide dam due to the recent heavy rainfall, but quickly reduced the term for it from 'collapse' into 'soil erosion', and then blamed DCMI for circulating the news of a collapse in order to worry their investors. He also criticized the picture released by DCMI to different networks, which was published on different websites.
But DCMI representatives told TVI that the residents who actually witnessed the incident were the ones who had taken the picture, and explained its contents. When Engineer Leo Ver, the head of the fact-finding team, was asked by DCMI for his initial finding, he also used the term soil erosion. DCMI representatives are worried about the conclusions the DENR investigating team will come to, due to their limited access to information on the incident, owing to the fact that they are investigating the collapse 15 days after it happened.
In addition there are concerns that the DENR will rely too heavily on the testimonies from the staff and management of TVI in Canatuan, rather than asking the residents who actually witnessed the collapse. Since the entry of TVI to Mount Canatuan in 1995, the Subanon People have accused them of committing different forms of human rights violations against the local Subanon and settlers. But on June 17, this year, TVI's top management asked forgiveness for the first time from the Subanon people under the leadership of Timuay Jose Boy Anoy for the human rights violations committed by its armed security for several years. Construction on the companys sulphide dam was started on October 2006, but there was an initial collapse on April 2, 2007. It was then reconstructed, but there was a subsequent collapse on July 11.
Despite photographic evidence and eye witness accounts, TVI management vehemently deny that both incidents are anything more than runoff of soils, soil erosions and many more. On July 24, DCMI received an invitation from the MGB Region 9 office to join their investigation into the reported TVI dam collapse.DCMI representatives met the DENR Fact Finding Team head in R.T. Lim Zamboanga Sibugay early morning on July 26 and travelled together to the TVI mining site on the said date. However, DCMI staff noted that a geologist from the MGB, who was part of the team, chose instead to stay with TVI the day before the investigation started.
The Tragedy Of Mining In Rapu-Rapu Island Ecosystem, Albay province
By Emelina G Regis , Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Monitor , Vol. 11 N°.15
July 23 - August 5, 2007
THE mining industry in the Philippines has always been a boom economy. It provides livelihood in terms of labour especially in remote areas where majority of the people lacks the necessary skills and knowledge to be employed in more challenging jobs. Thus, the influx of migrant workers creates short-term business opportunities for the local economy.
The trade-offs however are deforestation, pollution of land and water bodies, fish-kills and other associated impacts. Yet, mining small islands surrounded by corals reefs is a graver crime to humanity. Islands are fragile ecosystems because their survival hangs on maintaining a critical balance of ecological sustainability. They are also the last frontiers of sustainable fishery because of their distance from the mainland that are already suffering from siltation and pollution from human activities.
On July 2005, Lafayette Philippines, Inc. started mining in Rapu-Rapu, a small island facing the Pacific at the eastern boundary of the province of Albay , Philippines . It is a domestic subsidiary of Lafayette Mining Ltd. of Australia , the true owners of the mine in Rapu-Rapu. Within barely four months of operation, Lafayette however caused cyanide spill and fish kills in October 11 and 31, 2005. The result was devastating. For months, it paralyzed the livelihood of predominantly poor local communities in Rapu-Rapu and Sorsogon in fishing and tourism. Protests were launched by affected groups and those sympathetic to the communities of Rapu-Rapu and Sorsogon, especially because of the multiplier effects that also impacted other communities dependent on fishing.
Lafayette denied the fish-kill. Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB) supported it with a report that only 2-15 kilos of dead fish were collected at the outfall of the river/creeks, further exonerating Lafayette from the blame. The report of the Pollution Adjudication Board (P AB) in 2005 however showed cyanide levels in water of the affected creeks and siltation ponds, exceeding the standard of 0.05 parts per million (ppm) up to 36,000 times. In fact, this was the reason why PAB slapped more than Pl0 million fine to Lafayette for violating the Clean Water Act.
Opposing forces of denial on one side and accusations from the other, prompted Most Reverend Arturo Bastes, SVD, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Sorsogon, Southern Luzon , to bring the matter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Hence, the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC) was created with His Grace as chair. Various investigations made by the commission, especially on the engineers and workers of Lafayette, and residents who actually witnessed the incident, including the reports of the Environmental , Management Bureau (EMB) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), revealed the following: the two incidents of tailings spill caused the health and environmental hazards in Rapu-Rapu and coastal communities of Sorsogon (RRFFC 2006).
In the case of Sorsogon, this province is only 12 kilometres from the mining site in Rapu-Rapu and during the time of the spill, the northeast monsoon (or amihan) was the prevailing wind that pushed the surface waves from Rapu-Rapu to Sorsogon. Thus, it is more likely that the fishes died at sea, floated with the waves towards Sorsogon and along the way, the cyanide-laced silt (probably also contaminated with heavy metals) continue to kill fishes. The northeast monsoon and rainy season are major factors that affected Sorsogon and will always affect the same areas while mining continue to operate for years to come and beyond.
Nevertheless, after several months of test run, the mining company was allowed to resume operation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The bases for this decision were the reports from the DENR and the MGB, the latter was backed by a report from Dr. Carlos Primo David and Rustica Romero (2006). Those reports however, were insufficient as bases for lifting the suspension order to the mining operation of Lafayette .
For instance, aside from the admission on the part of the DENR, "of serious lapses in their judgments", most remedial measures focused only on the physical and economic solutions such as,
1. preventing polluted water from affecting the processing plant and creeks by using sandbags to hold back the silt and water;
2. financial compensation and tax incentives to solve economic losses by fishermen and as solution to the environmental problems resulting from the destruction of an island;
3. self monitoring which is the most ridiculous requirement of the DENR since mining projects are proven to create quite a number of environmental problems. In this requirement, the mining company simply informs the concerned government agencies of leaks, broken pipes and the like during their operations, after which, the same agencies can now respond.
On the "MGB Evaluation Report on the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic project under the test run conditions", these are:
1. That small-scale miners will take opportunity to do mining if Lafayette leaves - since 1976; no one in the island tried to mine the abandoned Hixbar mine because people are afraid of the acidic water due to its obnoxious smell, the red river's water is "itchy and seems to eat their foot" (interview by INECAR, 2000);
2. All solutions are concerned only with structural stability of their infrastructure;
3. No solution was given to what will happen to the heavy metals that will remain in the various ponds. Metals do not disappear even if the acid water has been neutralized;
4. the monitoring of the evaluation made by the DENR and the Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) were only concerned about water testing and leaks, and does not include heavy metal contamination of soil/ sediments and biota that absorb/ absorb the contaminants, thus, the assessments are very much inadequate to guarantee mining " safe" mining technology;
5. with regards to dead marine organisms found along the shore during test run the solution was only "to monitor heavy metals in water until the condition became normal". Nonetheless, "normal condition of pH" by DENR standard was achieved by lime dosing (David & Romero, 2006). Lime dosing of water however only neutralizes the acidity but heavy metals do not disappear
It is in this regard that the kind Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon organized two important gatherings of church groups, NGOs, POs, LGUs, former members of the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC), provincial officers and academe on May 10 and June 6, 2007. The latter was attended by foreign nationals, delegates of the "Development and Peace", a Catholic Organization of Canada. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss urgent concerns specifically on the Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) granted to Lafayette .
The current problem of Lafayette mining can never be blamed on the weather because this company and concerned government agencies were forewarned since year 2000, after a first study of the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) of Ateneo de Naga University. The study recommended a "No mining in Rapu-Rapu". It was conducted because the former Bishop of Legazpi, Most Rev. Jose Sorra, DD and current Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Lucilo Quiambao, requested for assistance from the Ateneo de Naga University President, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ. The good Bishops and the priests of Sta. Florentina Parish of Rapu-Rapu, wanted to be clarified about the impacts of a mining project in the said island. The results of the study showed elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in the soil and water affected by past mining activities. Several reasons to support the "no mining" stand were also generated from the study. These are:
The geophysico-chemical nature of the island of Rapu-Rapu ; -
1. island ecosystem with steel slopes that cause water and soil to easily move down to the sea and coral reefs; 2) Type II climate described by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) as having no dry season, and rainy most times of the year, a condition that hastens movement of materials to the sea;
2. Typhoon path that disperses material to a wider area, and
3. the more problematic iron sulphide rocks that contain the precious ores, yet naturally generate! Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) that dissolves toxic metals from the ores.
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is naturally occurring phenomenon whereby as soon as iron sulphide rocks are exposed to oxygen in the air, and water from humid environment, a chemical reaction follows producing sulphuric acid and red iron precipitate that coats rocks and sediments. It is almost as if, a crystal clear, sparkling river suddenly turns into a red river that emits foul smell with acidic water that is itchy to touch where many people in mining communities describe the experience as "eating their foot". One can imagine a bleeding island where blood, laden with toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, zinc, including gold, silver, and others, flows out to other water bodies and surrounding land and sea.
Economic reasons - mining destroyed the major sources of livelihood (fishing and agriculture) of the local communities. It has brought economic difficulties to the people of Rapu-Rapu and Sorsogon. Based on published literature, the effects of cyanide, silt and heavy metals are devastating. Cyanide immediately kills fishes and other aquatic organisms. Silt injures the gills of fishes, eventually suffocating them and finally killing them. Heavy metals in turn are toxic to fishes and other marine life. Elevated levels of copper for instance also cause immediate deaths. It may also accumulate to a critical concentration before death of the organism follows. All heavy metals are toxic, at chronic level (small amount accumulating from long time exposure), are teratogenic (cause birth defects), mutagenic (mutation of some parts of the body), and carcinogenic (causes cancer of various parts of the organism's body).
In a recent study made by Regis and Alto (2006) of INECAR, just after the Lafayette mine spill incidents, evidences of pollution on land through the high levels of arsenic (23.2 to 35 mg/kg) and cadmium (6.3 to 10.9 mg/kg), and very high levels of copper (400 to 990 mg/kg) were measured in the soil/sediments collected from the river banks of the two rivers /creeks that pass by the mining site. The maximum tolerable contents are only 20 mg/kg, 3 mg/kg, and 100 mg/kg respectively. Copper also increases towards the shore while arsenic and cadmium tend to concentrate more at the outlet.
Heavy metals also impacted marine and terrestrial plants through the destruction of their cells or the disappearance of starch in the chloroplasts inside the leaves. Examples are the grass bio indicator, Cyperus Kyllingia and Digitaria Ciliaris. Thus, no food is produced consequently affecting health and growth of dependent animals in the process of eating and being eaten along the food chain. Some plants accumulate heavy metals in their bodies, yet the effects are not manifested externally. This is the danger of heavy metal pollution. Without warning, their levels in the body of living organisms can increase dramatically.
Health reasons In humans, the damaging effects of heavy metals are all forms of cancer, growth reduction, mental retardation, damage to the nervous system, hearing impairment, muscular instability, adverse effects on the digestive, excretory, reproductive, immune and cardiovascular (heart-blood) systems, lung problems, that eventually would also lead to death. But before death occurs, the person suffers disability, unable to live a productive life, burdening the family, and causing poverty.
Biodiversity reasons - Rapu-Rapu is within the marine conservation priority areas, and classified as extremely high priority (Ong et al.2002). There are still undiscovered species of plants and animals unique to island ecosystems like Rapu-Rapu including marine species. Their genetic wealth is important to medicine, industry and improvement of crops to sustain the developing economy of our country. We are responsible for taking care of these natural resources and ensure that they continue to survive for generations to come.
Currently, Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon is at the forefront of the advocacy against mining in Rapu-Rapu. This was a response to the environmental problems that were experienced and probably is presently happening, and could be repeated in the coastal areas of Sorsogon, while mining in Rapu-Rapu continue operating. As in Rapu-Rapu, Sorsogon is also a primary impact area due to the fact that cyanide, contaminated silt and heavy metals come directly from the spill of the Lafayette mining operation in the Island of Rapu-Rapu.
It is sad that in the midst of unsolved problems of mining in Rapu-Rapu, the government continues to invite foreign mining companies to mine many areas in the Philippines . What is further heartbreaking is the fact that these foreign companies, such as Lafayette Mining Ltd. of Australia , come from rich countries, yet their own government would tolerate their mining, causing destruction of large areas of productive land and sea in a poor country and results to further destruction and poverty.
Mining is not only a political issue in the Philippines because it causes the destruction of the major economic base of a poor country. People depend on agriculture and fisheries that are sustainable and could sustain generations of people from all walks of life in spite of typhoons, earthquakes, including human induced disasters. In the end, the issue is moral, which is greed. Its perpetuation is ultimately an issue on justice for peace loving people living in separate islands but linked with a simple trust to a loving God.
(Emelina G: Regis, PH.D., is the Director of INECAR, Ateneo de Naga University)
Tribal folk block mining firm's entry
23rd July 2007
BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya--Members of tribal communities in three upland villages in Kasibu town have set up barricades to prevent the entry of equipment and building materials that would be used for an Australian mining firm's exploration activities in the area.
About 80 villagers, composed of local officials and menfolk, blocked the road leading to a mine site in Barangay Pao on Saturday and vowed to stop the operations of Oxiana Philippines Inc.
"We just want to show proof that mining in our village is not acceptable to our people, contrary to what the company and some quarters in the government are claiming," Mariano Maddela, village chief of Pao, said.
Since July 12, groups of 25 men have been holding shifts in guarding the road leading to the site in Pao, which is part of a 5,873-hectare area covered by an exploration permit granted to Oxiana.
The site, which straddles the Mamparang mountain range, is within an ancestral land applied for by the Bugkalot of eastern Nueva Vizcaya.
"They can use force against us, but we will stand our ground," said Maddela, a Bugkalot.
Volunteers from the Dapon Indigenous Peoples Center Inc., a non-government organization, said the group was angry over the attempted entry of the company's drilling equipment and building materials into the site, despite resistance from the community.
The villagers from Barangays Pao, Paquet and Kakiduguen have been questioning the authenticity of the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) certification, which the company used in obtaining a permit from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
They said the FPIC was "fraudulently issued" by "bogus" tribal members.
The FPIC certification showed that 14 of the signatories were set to receive P4,000 monthly as Oxiana's "liaison officers" while 19 others were to get P3,000 a month.
MGB records showed that Oxiana's permit expired on Saturday, ending the four-month extension from March 17, 2007, the original expiry date.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried but failed to contact Oxiana officials for comment.
But Jerrysal Mangaoang, MGB director for Cagayan Valley, said he had granted a 20-month extension of the company's permit.
He said the number of villagers barricading was "negligible" and that Oxiana's FPIC was valid and granted by indigenous groups in the area.
"Also, the [people manning the barricades] are not from Pao or Kakiduguen. [To say that the FPIC was fraudulently given] was unfair to the indigenous groups that gave their consent," he said.
Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Consent a hoax, barricades set against Oxiana mining
Northern Dispatch - http://www.nordis.net/blog/?p=1282
29th July 2007
KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya (July 23) Three village chiefs stood their ground to teach a mining company a lesson at acquiring fake consent.
Punong Barangays Felimon Blanco, Mariano Maddela and Alejo Tuguinay of barangays Paquet, Pao and Kakidugen, respectively, rallied more than eighty men to watch over a check point in a 24-hour shift since July 12.
In response, Oxiana Philippines, Inc. sought a court action through an Injunction with a prayer for a writ of Preliminary injunction and/or a temporary restraining order. The case is docketed Civil Case No. 982 before the RTC of the Second Judicial Region in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. A hearing was set today, July 23.
A document acquired showed that the company has been awarded an exploration permit on June 9, 2003 covering 5,873.687 hectares of potential mines.
Maddela, however, said it was clear that the failure of passing the social acceptability provision explains why it is only now that the company pursued its exploration.
Another document entitled Certificate of Compliance to the FPIC process and certification that the community has given its consent was issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) last June 18, 2007. But the three village chiefs wondered why the certification was issued without them.
I myself is a full blooded Bugkalot but I dont know why the NCIP did not consider my objection to the mining exploration, says Felimon Blanco.
They have miserably failed to picture the situation of the area as an Ancestral Domain Claim of our tribe, but a 1955 blood compact among our elders already accepted other migrant indigenous peoples to live inside the domain, he added.
Elders pointed out that the ritual was personally witnessed by the late Vice Governor Castillo Tidang, Sr., father of former NCIP Commissioner Castillo Tidang, Jr.
NCIP used a sheer technicality of the law to exclude us migrant peoples from the Cordilleras to deny us all rights embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, says Alejo Tuguinay who is an Ifugao.
There is even a wrong assertion by some employees of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR that Ifugaos are not indigenous peoples.
They seem not to consider the historical oppression as peoples rob of their lands by the colonizers and their willing subjects among mainstream ethnic groups in the country. The intent of the law is to offset that historical injustice, but why is it that the IPRA law is now used to exclude other indigenous groups? said Leonardo Bangad, a trustee of Dapon Indigenous Peoples Center, Inc.
Dapon visited the area to conduct an education drive on the provisions of the IPRA yesterday.
# Abe Almirol for NORDIS
Court order wont stop tribes fight vs mining firm
By Melvin Gascon, Northern Luzon Bureau
30th July 2007
KASIBU, NUEVA VIZCAYA -- Opposition against the planned mining exploration in a village continued to grow as tribal residents from six villages here trooped to the site of a road blockade to prevent the entry of a mining firm in their community.
On Wednesday, more than 500 villagers belonging to different tribes stood guard at the road entrance to Pao Village here.
The villagers made the move despite a court order that prohibited their leaders from stopping the transport of equipment and construction materials of Oxiana Philippines Inc. (OPI) to the exploration site.
Villagers, who declined to be named for fear of being cited in contempt by the court, said more people went to the barricade site upon learning that their three village chiefs and 22 others had been barred by the court from joining the blockade.
For the second week, men, women and teenagers set up makeshift tents on top of a ridge, surrounding a boom laid across the road.
The boom was raised and lowered every time vehicles passed by.
Acting on the complaint of OPI, Judge Jose Godofredo Naui of the regional trial court here on July 23 issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against 22 respondents, who were identified in the complaint as having led the road blockade since July 12.
Since Mondays issuance of the TRO, however, not one of the respondents had since showed up at the barricade site, the Philippine Daily Inquirer learned.
We were told that policemen would handcuff us immediately if one of us showed up at the site, said Benito Cudiam, one of the respondents.
Tension grew when villagers saw on Wednesday soldiers and policemen set up camp in Paquet, about 200 meters from the barricade site.
But the villagers, composed of Bugkalot, Ibaloi, Kalanguya and Ifugao farmers, said they would block the entry of the company whatever the consequences may be.
We are not a violent people. We just want to be respected. If violence will erupt, you can be assured that it did not start from our group, another Bugkalot farmer said.
We do not want to lose the fertile lands that we till [because] it is the only wealth that we have, said another farmer.
The villagers and other environment groups have been questioning the issuance of the companys exploration permit, which, documents showed, was given in 2003 and was never renewed but was extended twice for four years.
The Mining Act states that exploration permits shall only last two years, and shall be allowed three renewals.
They also assailed the company for supposedly failing to disclose that OPI had been sold to Royalco Resources Ltd., an Australian firm, in June 2006.
The Inquirer tried to reach Lourdes Dolinen, OPI representative, but she did not respond to queries made through her mobile phone. In an earlier interview, she dismissed claims that OPI no longer existed.
Jerrysal Mangaoang, Cagayan Valley director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said he granted the extension to the company due to its failure to use the permit because of force majeure.
Nueva Vizcaya villagers keep up fight vs mining firms
By Melvin Gascon, Inquirer - http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view_article.php?article_id=81416
8th August 2007
KASIBU, Nueva VizcayaOfficials and residents of this upland town decried the unabated intrusion of foreign companies trying to conduct large-scale mining explorations in remote villages here.
Mayor Romeo Tayaban said two Australian mining firms continued to explore mining prospects in their villages despite the stiff opposition from residents, composed of various tribal communities.
Our town used to be peaceful and quiet, despite the economic difficulties. Look at what is happening to us now. It is all because of these mining companies, he said.
Tayaban said his villagers were struggling to fight off three mining projects by Oxiana Philippines Inc. (OPI) and OceanaGold Philippines Inc.
Since July 12, tribal men have been guarding a barricade on a mountain road that leads to Barangay Pao to prevent OPIs entry.
Twenty-two men, three of whom are Bugkalot and Ifugao village chiefs, are facing cases filed by OPI representatives at the regional trial court in Bayombong town for setting up the road block.
In Papaya Village, residents were protesting the entry of equipment to be used by OceanaGold for its exploration, fearing possible destruction of the watershed forest there. Water from the watershed irrigates the vegetable gardens and citrus plantations in the area.
In Didipio Village, eight farmers were charged by environment officials with illegal occupancy of forest lands after they rejected OceanaGolds offer to pay for their occupational rights.
Didipio Village is the site of OceanaGolds proposed gold-copper project, with about 90 hectares of its 375-hectare production area occupied by Kalanguya, Ibaloi and Ifugao farmers.
Tayaban said the people of Kasibu have long been aware of the economic gains that the mining project is expected to generate for them, but insist on planting fruit trees and vegetables.
Kasibu is considered the citrus capital of the country, with an annual output of about 10 million kilograms of oranges from an estimated 20,000 hectares of citrus plantations.
Ramoncito Gozar, Oceana-Golds associate director for communications and external affairs, said mining projects in the town would benefit the country.
[The mayor] should realize that [the Didipio venture] is a government project for the good of the majority, he said.
He doesnt like mining, but (OceanaGold) is a contractor of the Philippine government, Gozar said.
Lourdes Dolinen, an official of the OPI, could not be reached for comment.
Five mining firms ordered closed in Zambales
By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star - http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=86468
31st July 2007
STA. CRUZ, Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso has ordered the closure of the alleged illegal operations of at least five mining firms in this province, including that of a Taiwanese company engaged in exporting high-priced local minerals abroad.
Deloso ordered the closure after he and joint elements of the Philippine Army and local police, recently inspected the mountainous mining sites situated in far-flung areas of Barangays Guisguis and Guinabon.
Earlier, Task Force Kalikasan, which he created, reported unabated illegal quarrying of precious minerals such as nickel, manganese and high-valued platinum in the areas.
Deloso ordered the closure of the mining sites being operated by A3 UNA, San Juanico, Maxwell, KNG and Taiwanese firm, Arcman International.
"These mining operators are taking away our precious minerals and resources without giving any benefit from the province," Deloso said.
He added that mining firms should be obliged to provide "socio-economic benefits" and compensation package, particularly to nearby local communities affected by its operations.
"Not even a single community project was implemented by these mining firms," he said.
Deloso also ordered the closure of a private pier along the coast of Barangay Balitok, which was reportedly being used by the mining operators to haul and transport the minerals.
Task Force Kalikasan was tasked to investigate the social and economic impact on affected communities caused by mining activities in the province.
"We welcome good investors in our province but we will no longer tolerate businessmen who would only think of robbing our natural resources and not pay due taxes," Deloso said.
"This is part of our program called social re-engineering that would focus on the improvement of the living standard of our local residents," Deloso said.
In its initial report, Task Force Kalikasan cited the "abuses of some mining companies and the alarming effect of its operations on the environment and residents." It also reported the significant increase of mining companies.
The task force said that new mining operations have become rampant in the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Antonio, Cabangan, Botolan, Masinloc, Candelaria and Sta. Cruz.
"Zambales is known for its abundance in natural resources, which attract many local and foreign investors but none of these companies have brought in economic progress to the province," Deloso said.
Atlas considers London listing
By Roel Landingin in Manila, FT.com - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/db9540e4-3eb1-11dc-bfcf-0000779fd2ac.html
30th July 2007
Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp, the Philippine mining company that owns what was once the worlds third largest copper mine, will next month meet institutional investors in Europe as it eyes a secondary listing in London in 2008.
The move comes as Manila tries to attract investors to restart scores of idle mines abandoned because of debt and disasters.
Alfredo Ramos, chairman and Atlass biggest shareholder, said plans to list in London would cap the companys efforts over the past 12 years to revive the Carmen copper mine in Cebu province, which ceased operations in 1994 after almost collapsing when a tailings dam caved in.
Mr Ramos bought Atlass debt in 2001 and converted that position into a majority shareholding. Last year, Crescent Asian Special Opportunities Portfolio, a private equity fund, invested $34m in an Atlas subsidiary rehabilitating the copper mine. In June, Deutsche Bank lent Atlas $100m for the effort, which is expected to be completed by next May and push 2008 profits up to 2bn-3bn pesos ($22m-$33m).
Atlas, which was losing money until 2004, expects profits to surge to 500m pesos this year when a nickel mining unit starts shipping ore to China.
Martin Buckingham, executive vice-president at Atlas, said money from the listing would help Atlas develop other copper ore bodies in Cebu, and ramp up production to as much as 150,000 tons a day from 20,000-40,000 tons initially. That brings us in the category of a medium-sized producer. Our objective would be to get into the top five or 10 producers in the region.
Last week, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Philippines president, stepped up efforts to offer as many as 65 idle mines to investors. Many of the mines were abandoned in the 1980s and 1990s.
On Friday, she said she had issued an order transferring supervision over the state-owned Philippine Mining Development Corp, which owns rights to many mines, to her office from the department of environment and natural resources. The move would allow the Office of the President to monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the countrys utilisation and development of its mineral resources.
Ten killed in Philippine landslide
By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief, Gulf News - http://www.gulfnews.com/world/Philippines/10144882.html
7th August 2007
Manila: Ten people were killed by a landslide triggered by continuous rains in a mining village in the southern Philippines, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said in a report on Tuesday.
Annie Carreon, 31, and her four children, Aiza, 7, Angelito, 4, and Joey, 1, were buried as the earth gave way under their home on a hillside at the remote village of Masara in Maco town, Campostela Village on Monday.
It occurred a day after typhoon Pabuk (locally known as Chedeng) lashed southern Philippines on Sunday, the NDCC said.
The landslide also buried Avelino Cayetano, 44, and his three children Geraldine, 11, Romabie, 3, and Joey, the NDCC said.
Yesterday the NDCC confirmed the death of Marissa Par, 32, a mother, whose body was recovered by a rescue team. Meanwhile, relatives gave up search for Jomar Carriaga, 11, who was also buried under the earth on Monday.
Five other people were injured, according to the NDCC, adding the landslide has also destroyed about 15 makeshift homes of the village of gold miners.
The Apex Mining Company, partly owned by Crew Gold Corporation of the United Kingdom, is leading a search and retrieval operation because the landslide affected the homes of the gold miners who were working for the company's Masara Gold Mine, the NDCC said.
Storm and depression to trigger more rain
Outgoing Chedeng and an incoming low-pressure area near Bicol, in southern Luzon, will enhance the southwest monsoon, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa).
Pagasa raised alert level on flashfloods and landslides in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes in southern Luzon and in central Philippines.
Heavy rains were expected to revive parched farms in central and northern Luzon.
RP, Canada agree to widen ties on migrant workers, environment
31st July 2007
The Philippines and Canada have agreed to further widen cooperation, notably in promoting migrant workers' welfare and sound environmental management.
Meeting at the sidelines of the 40th Asean Ministerial Meeting, Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) and 14th Asean Regional Forum (ARF) in Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and Deputy Foreign Minister Leonard J. Edwards of Canada expressed both nations' commitment to deepen relations in the two key areas.
"We recognized migration and environment as issues of mutual concern," said Romulo following his meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Edwards.
"In our rapidly globalizing world, these issues represent concerns that know no borders. It is in this context that our partnership with Canada in these areas is very important," Romulo added.
The foreign secretary described Philippine-Canada cooperation in migration as a"significant step forward" in advancing Philippine advocacy for and regional commitments on migrant workers' rights and "broadening support for a caring and sharing world community."
"The international community recognizes both the challenges and opportunities presented by migration. Through our partnership with Canada, we are giving further impetus to our region's collective desire to protect and promote the welfare of migrant workers even beyond Asean," Romulo explained.
On Monday, Asean Foreign Ministers adopted the Statement on the Establishment of the Asean Committee on the Implementation of the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers and the Guidelines for the Provision of Emergency Assistance by Asean Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of Asean Member Countries in Crisis Situations.
Asean Leaders signed during the 12th Asean Summit in Cebu the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
Romulo said the adoption of the two documents "strengthened on-going efforts at building a caring and sharing Asean community and expanded the Asean network of concern and support beyond our region."
Romulo lauded the labor agreement signed between the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment and the Province of Saskatchewan in December last year.
The agreement opened up employment opportunities for Filipino workers and, at the same time, also incorporates provisions on ethical recruitment by creating a fund for the conduct of trainings and other capacity-building measures for re-tooling Filipino workers.
The Saskatchewan born and educated Edwards noted that Filipinos comprise the third largest group of migrants in Canada and recognized their contributions in nation building. The Canadian government is currently looking at the impact of temporary migration on Canadian society, Edwards said during the meeting.
Romulo likewise welcomed Canada's development support for the Philippines and urged the channeling of development assistance to environmental projects, particularly in sustainable mining.
"Canada has recognized expertise in the area of sustainable development in mining. With deeper collaboration and exchanges, we can harness the Philippines' potentials while wisely managing our natural resources and environment," Romulo said.
Experts have estimated the Philippines' untapped mineral wealth at US$840 billion. Deputy Foreign Minister Edwards, meantime, reiterated Canada's resolve in advancing and implementing best environmental practices in mining.
Highlighting Canada's commitment in upholding sustainable and environment-friendly
development, especially in mining, energy and forestry, Edwards agreed to look into how the environment and sustainable mining can be incorporated in the Philippine agenda of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Canada, through CIDA, has been involved for the last 15 years in empowering 400 municipalities, 101 of which in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and small and medium enterprises.