Deepening crisis in Philippines over mining as it hosts the ASEAN Mining conferencePublished by MAC on 2005-10-15
Deepening crisis in Philippines over mining as it hosts the ASEAN Mining conference
15th October 2005
The following is a series of articles on the deepening crisis over large-scale mining in the Philippines. The deeply troubled government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo used the opportunity of its hosting the ASEAN Mining Conference on 11-13th October in Manila to further promote mining as the saviour of the economy, as other South East Asian leaders talked up the opportunities. This is despite the growing opposition to mining of local communities and NGOs, which manifested itself in protests at the meeting (despite an increasing crack-down on undeclared demonstrations reminiscent of the days of martial law under Marcos). As noted in a separate article this is happening against a background of the escalation of the threats and murder of those opposed to large-scale mining, and the activities of other multinationals and the government.
As press statements below emphasise ongoing 'anti-terrorist' measures being taken by the administration are being seen as attacks on legitimate opposition to mining, and even the government department which is meant to 'protect' the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the NCIP, is being martialled into speeding up mining permits on indigenous lands. The NCIP is meant to decide on the free, prior and informed consent, which has formed the basis of legitimate opposition to mining at the local level, but that task has now been subsumed into a body whose aim is "to accelerate processing of mining permits which are usually halted at the local government units and grassroots level." What chance for consent to be freely sought this new joint-body, the Minerals Development Council (MDC)?
As is evident many of the civil society press statements increasingly link opposition to this ill-considered and damaging promotion of mining with opposition to the current administration itself.
An Illegitimate Government Has No Right to Deal on Matters Involving National Patrimony
Press Statement - Defend Patrimony! (Movement against Mining Globalization, Plunder and Resources)
October 11, 2005
The Philippines has an illegitimate government and it is poised to sell the remaining mineral and natural resources in the coming Asia Pacific Conference on Mining on October 11-13, 2005. Beaming at the controversial reversal of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality question of the Mining Act of 1995, the Arroyo administration has been shamelessly dangling the right of foreign mining TNCs to fully-own the mineral resources in this country.
Absolutely disregarding the nationwide opposition of indigenous people, peasants, and even local government units, the Arroyo administration has sold off shares and equities in mining projects throughout the land. This illegitimate government, in association with the Philippine Chamber of Mines, is now priding itself for facilitating the forceful entry of mining TNCs in the communities, in spite the rampant violation of human rights and even the distortion of existing laws.
The Arroyo administration has already put four hundred eighty six thousand (486,000) hectares of our mineral lands under mineral agreement. Most of these are controlled by foreign mining TNCs and their local partners.
While aggressively seeking new mining investors, the government has remained oblivious to the issues of abandoned mines. There are 857 abandoned mines which continue to cause havoc, endangering the peoples' health and lives in the mining communities. Among these are the Hixbar Open Pit Mine (Rapu-rapu, Albay), Marcopper-Placer Dome Mine (Marinduque), Basay Copper Mine (Negros Oriental), Thanksgiving Gold Mine (Benguet), Black Mountain Copper Mine (Benguet), Boneng-Lobo Copper Mine (Benguet), and Palawan Quick Silver Mine (Puerto Princesa City). For years, owners of these mines have run from their responsibility of remediating the impacts on the people and the environment. Worst, the Arroyo administration's solution to these problems is to offer these mines to new investors.
We warn the foreign investors and mining TNCs not to enter into any business deals with this illegitimate government. President Arroyo's claim to power is eroding by the day. Mass actions have become more frequent and bigger. Revolutionary groups, like the New People's Army vow to intensify their armed actions against the illegal government. Bickering and factionalism within the Arroyo administration and its military intensify and have become more confrontational.
With President Arroyo's ouster, your mining agreement, under this bogus administration, will not be acknowledged nor honored by the Filipino people.
Scrap Mining Act of 1995.
Junk the Mining Revitalization Program!
Oust the fake President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!
Do not Deal with the Illegitimate Arroyo Government; Our National Patrimony is Not for Sale!
October 11, 2005
Press Statement - ENRAGED (Environment and Natural Resources Advocates for GMA's Expulsion)
We, mining-affected communities, indigenous groups, farmers, church people and environmental activits condemn the continuous sale of the country's mineral and natural resources by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government! The Filipino people remain steadfast in its opposition to the liberalization of the minerals industry and the unabated plunder and destruction of the resources at the expense of the people and the environment.
We will make Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her administration accountable for this, just as she will be made accountable for usurping the highest political position of the land.
This is a stern warning to all the executives of transnational mining corporations attending the 'Asia-Pacific Conference on Mining' on October 11-13, 2005 at the Makati Shangrila. They are dealing with a beleaguered government which will soon be ousted and tried by the people whose rights she has outrightly and willfuly violated.
We shall seek a review of all the Executive and Administrative Orders, and laws that have been passed by this illegitimate government, including the controversial reversal of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Mining Act of 1995's unconstitutionality.
These laws which the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA), the House Speaker De Venecia and GMA's Administration are now brandishing have been causing untold destruction and sufferings on our people. The entry of large-scale mining projects in local communities has led to the dislocation, loss of livelihood and violation of human rights of thousands of indigenous people, peasants and small-scale miners. This year alone, five indigenous people, environmental activists and leaders opposing government-mining projects were killed.
The liberalization of the mining industry is one of the main reasons that the Arroyo administration has become extremely isolated. The political crisis is worsening and her capacity to govern has been diminishing. More and more people are uniting for her ouster. No amount of repressive laws can stifle the people's right to seek for a government that is just and representing their will.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be replaced soon and we shall immediately see that a government that truly earns the people's mandate will be installed. We will then see to it that justice will be served, contracts violating people's rights, national sovereignty and environmental laws will be revoked, and their proponents will be punished.
Scrap Mining Act of 1995.
Junk the Mining Revitalization Program!
Relieve the Country of the Bogus President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!
PROTESTERS BROUGHT OWN SHIELDS TO DEFEND THEIR RIGHTS AND NATIONAL PATRIMONY
October 11, 2005
Press Release - Defend Patrimony! (Movement against Mining Globalization, Plunder and Resources)
It is shield against shield. Without any permit to hold a rally, about 500 environmental activists, indigenous peoples, and advocates from the church trooped to Makati City on Tuesday to denounce the governments mining liberalization policy. Their leaders carried wooden shields and placards against the metal ones of the police as they marched toward Shangri-la Hotel, venue of the Asia Pacific Mining Conference.
We brought our own shields to assert our right to protest in defense of our patrimony, said Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of the alliance Defend Patrimony!,
The people condemn the continuous sale of the country's mineral and natural resources by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government. They remain steadfast in their opposition to the liberalization of the minerals industry and the unabated plunder and destruction of the resources.
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment warned that the people will make Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her administration accountable for this, just as she will be made accountable for usurping the highest political position of the land.
This is a stern warning to all the executives of transnational mining corporations attending the 'Asia-Pacific Conference on Mining' on October 11-13, 2005 at the Makati Shangrila. They are dealing with a beleaguered and illegitimate government which will soon be ousted and tried by the people whose rights she has outrightly and willfully violated.
Meanwhile, the protesters also sought the review of all the Executive and Administrative Orders, and laws that have been passed by the Arroyo Administration including the controversial reversal of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Mining Act of 1995's unconstitutionality.
According to Himpad Mangulmaas, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), these laws which the GMA Administration in connivance with the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) is brandishing have caused untold destruction and sufferings on our people.
The entry of large-scale mining projects in local communities has led to the dislocation, loss of livelihood and violation of human rights of thousands of indigenous people, peasants and small-scale miners.
Five indigenous people, environmental activists and leaders opposing government-mining projects were reported killed this year.
The liberalization of the mining industry is one of the main reasons that the Arroyo administration has become extremely isolated, said Concepcion.
The political crisis is worsening and her capacity to govern has been diminishing. More and more people are uniting for her ouster. No amount of repressive laws can stifle the people's right to seek for a government that is just and representing their will.
Mr. Bautista said Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be replaced soon and we shall immediately ensure that a government that truly earns the people's mandate will be installed.
We will then see to it that justice will be served, contracts violating people's rights, national sovereignty and environmental laws will be revoked, and their proponents will be punished, Bautista added.
Reference: Clemente Bautista 9248756/09283448797
As GMA ups mining agenda: Igorots picket Asia Pacific Mining Conference
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (CPA) Public Information Commission
12th October 2005
MAKATI CITY- Donned in their tapis and baag, Cordillera indigenous peoples picketed the Asia Pacific Mining Conference and 2005 Exhibit at the Shangrila Hotel in Makati on October 11, on a gathering of international mining corporations, graced herself by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Representatives of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Apit-Tako (Peasant Alliance in the Cordillera Homeland), Mankayan-Quirino-Tadian-Cervantes Danggayan a Gunglo (an alliance of communities along the Abra River), Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU, the Metro Baguio Tribal Elders/Leaders Assembly, Save Apayao Peoples Organization and CPA-Kalinga, trooped to the conference, to condemn the GMA administration's relentless mining policy agenda and its impacts to indigenous peoples' collective rights and their ancestral lands.
"As a reliable puppet and driving force of imperialist impositions, the GMA regime has embarked on a policy to revitalize the mining industry in the context of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, said CPA Secretary General Windel Bolinget.
As of March 2005, 11 Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) covering 879,886.95 of Cordillera land was applied for, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-CAR.
Independent think-tank IBON reports that mining investments soared from the months of January to September 2005 amounting to $345 million, raked in through mining firms Coral Bay (Palawan Nickel Project), Lafayette Philippines Inc. (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project), Australasian Philippines Mining Inc. (Didipio Copper-Gold Project), TVI Resources (Canatuan Gold Project), Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (Far Southeast Gold Project), Filmenera Resources (Masbate Gold Project) and Eagle Cement Corporation (Akle Cement Project).
CPA Chairperson Joan Carling said that the entry of corporate mining in indigenous peoples' lands is a clear form of development aggression and national oppression among IPs.
"Contrary to claims for its development contributions and for economic progress, affected indigenous communities have become more impoverished and deprived of their land and resource which is the material base of their culture and distinct lifestyle", she said.
In Ilokano, Kankanaey elder Simplicio Sicwan attested to this when he retold their struggle against Benguet Corporation's (BC) open-pit mining from 1989 to 1997 in Itogon, Benguet. Lakay (elder) Simplicio hails from the northern town of Bakun before settling in Itogon.
"The very destruction that BC caused our lands in Itogon is why we continue to fight for our right to land and resources", he said. He continued to share the current struggle of the Itogon folk against the Bulk Water Supply Project (BWSP), whose proponent is still the BC. "Benguet Corporation has taken away our lands, now it wants to take away our water. I am a no-read no-write person, but whenever the City Hall conducts public hearings on the BWSP, I do not let that hinder me from participating to guard my rights", he stressed.
Residents from Didipio Valley in Nueva Vizcaya joined the picket, along with farmers from Cagayan Valley, and member organizations under Defend Patrimony. Government has approved the first 100%-owend commercial mining production of Australia-based Climax-Arimco which will operate in Didipio, covering 21,465 hectares of land.
On October 10, Defend Patrimony, of which the CPA is a member organization, held a press conference and a forum in Quezon City on the people's continuing fight against corporate mining. Aside from the Cordillera mining situation, testimonies were delivered by representatives of LEU, SAPO, and MACQUITACDG on the alleged corporate and social responsibilities of large-scale mining.
Truncheon and shield-wielding elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) led by Col. Sumulong and Col. Napoles did not discourage the picketers from a program, despite repeated threats of dispersal from the police.
Bayan Muna Congressman Joel Virador joined the picketers and called on the GMA administration to heed the people's call against destructive mining projects. Virador was the keynote speaker in 21st Cordillera Day celebrations in Bangilo, Malibcong, Abra province.
Joining the nationwide call for GMA's ouster, the same demand was echoed at the close of the program to the resounding beat of gongs.
Filipino Youth Oppose Large Scale Commercial Mining!
PRESS RELEASE - YSDA-Pilipinas Inc.
September 22, 2005
An official statement of the YSDA-Pilipinas Inc, (Youth for Sustainable Development) to Greet delegates of the October 11-16 International Mining Conference in Manila
This coming October 11-14, the Philippines Chamber of Mines will host the meeting of the ASEAN Federation of Mining Association (AFMA) to promote mining investments here in the country. This will be greeted by massive protests by civil society organizations; lead by communities who will directly be affected by mining operations; particularly indigenous peoples (IP) and other rural poor communities.
Large scale commercial mining has remained problematic and not viable from a sustainable development point of view in a densely populated, largely poor, archipelagic country like the Philippines. Because of the dense population with very small land area; conflicts along various uses and various sectors are very intense.
It is interesting to note that being a mega diverse country , the environmental services of our intact natural resources providing clean air, clean water, biodiversity resources, food and livelihood for countless of our rural communities have not been fully taken into account when valuating the current land uses vis-à-vis that of using our lands for large scale commercial mining. In a lot of sense, we are blindly selling what already sustains the very survival of majority of our people who derives their livelihood from sustainably using our natural resources.
YSDA-Pilipinas Inc. (Youth for Sustainable Development Assembly), a network of 20 youth and youth-serving organizations all over the country joins many other civil society organizations in opposing large scale commercial mining.
Mining operations that last for at least 25 years is a clear inter-generational equity issue since leaders of today are already selling the endowment of future generations. In the case of mining it is even more crucial since the changes to ecosystems and communities in a mining operation are permanent and irreversible.
The question of todays young people in the Philippines is not whether mining will earn enough for us today but whether in the long term, beyond the term of all government officials today; beyond the investments life of the mining companies shareholders; will there be enough endowment for a life with prosperity and dignity for the next generations to come.
The future of the Philippines is not for sale! Young people will take to the streets to bring this message to all those attending this international mining conference in October. We enjoin the children of the leaders of these mining companies to consciously search their soul on these decisions being made for their future by their parents.
We invite youth and student leaders in the National Capital Region (NCR) to come together and mobilize against this conference to express our opposition against large scale commercial mining and the mining act of 1995. A briefing and campaign planning session is set for this Saturday 1pm. Text 0928 3999626 to join.
For information, please contact:
Kristine Batin Ravanera
Mobile +63 921629666
Mobile +63 928 3999626
Tel +63 2 426-67-40
Grim Reality Behind Mining Investments
IBON Features Vol. XI No. 47
October 6, 2005
As the Arroyo administration guns for gold in mining, the country is ultimately left with nothing but environmental destruction, social displacement and financial bleeding.
By Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo
IBON Features-- The Philippines is once again hosting a gathering of mining corporations this coming October 11 to 13. The Asia Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition 2005 will be graced by no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who will give the keynote address. As the Arroyo administration guns for gold in mining, the country is ultimately left with nothing but environmental destruction, social displacement and financial bleeding.
Investments vs. Costs
A modest estimate made by the World Bank in a study called "Philippine Environment Monitor 2004-Assessing Progress" says that the Philippines loses over $2 billion dollars annually due to environmental degradation. Yet the Arroyo government is doggedly pursuing foreign investments in one of the dirtiest industries ever-- mining.
The government reports that mining investments in January to September 2005 soared to $345 million, poured in by 23 mining firms led by Coral Bay (Palawan Nickel Project), Lafayette Philippines Inc. (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project), Australasian Philippines Mining Inc. (Didipio Copper-Gold Project), TVI Resources (Canatuan Gold Project), Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. (Far-Southeast Gold Project), Filmenera Resources (Masbate Gold Project) and Eagle Cement Corp. (Akle Cement Project).
The World Bank estimate only includes damage from water pollution, mismanagement of fishery resources, and air pollution in four urban centers. It also excludes social costs and the loss of quality of life.
The mining process has always been equated with environmental destruction-- deforestation, slope destabilization, soil erosion, desertification, water resource degradation, defertilization, crop damages, siltation, alteration of terrain and sea-bottom topography, increased water turbidity and air pollution.
Mining operations in the Philippines have damaged forests, agricultural lands, river systems and marine resources, displacing thousands of indigenous peoples and upland dwellers, peasants and fisherfolk.
With transnational corporations (TNCs) dominating the industry, the result has been plunder of the country's resources with only a pittance given to the government-- as these finite resources are exported, and the income and profits quickly repatriated to mining TNCs' home countries.
The people are then left to suffer the consequences of government's irresponsibility and the TNCs' greed. One example is the all too common pattern of mines closing down and companies leaving the destruction wrought by their operations.
The government, for instance, has identified some 20 abandoned sites in need of rehabilitation. Early this year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced its plan to clean up seven abandoned mines, which will require P35 million. Ironically, the rationale behind the plan is still to attract mining investors.
Mine wastes and tailings pose the greatest threats, including siltation of irrigation canals, paddy fields and rivers, poisoning of water systems and the reduction of flora and fauna. Tailing spills, like what happened in Marcopper's mining site in Marinduque that killed the Boac River, are the costliest hazards, financially, ecologically and socially. Mining operations, which require clearing of acres of forests, also cause catastrophes such as landslides and flash floods. These cost the country roughly P15 billion annually, according to the World Bank. But the toll on human life and the anguish suffered by the people can never be quantified.
Making TNCs liable
Thus, the figures flaunted by the government, such as the $6-$7 billion potential investments in the next 10 years, the P57 billion annual tax revenues and $800 million exports are in reality canceled out by the economic, social and environmental costs of TNC mining operations in the country.
Instead of pursuing and supporting mining investors in the country, IBON Foundation, a member of Defend Patrimony, an alliance of groups opposed to large-scale TNC mining, urges government to hold mining companies liable for their environmental and social crimes.
Mindanao solon says confab will liberalize further RP's mining industry
By H. Marcos C. Mordeno with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews
10 October 2005
MALAYBALAY CITY -- The 6th Asia Pacific Mining Conference in Manila on October 11 to 13 will open further the country's natural resources to foreign exploitation and will result to environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous peoples, upland dwellers and fisherfolk, Bayan Muna representative Joel G. Virador today said in a press statement.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines will host the conference on behalf of the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations. Earlier this year, the Chamber also initiated an international mining conference in Manila, dubbed "Open for Business: Mining and Minerals as New Drivers of Growth."
Virador said that instead of backing transnational mining conglomerates, the government particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should investigate and cancel the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement of mining companies "for seriously damaging the environment and for failing to prevent fatal accidents involving contract miners."
He singled out Lepanto Consolidated Mining, Sagittarius Mines Inc., TVI Resource Development Corp., and Hinatuan Mining Corp.
"The government must consider the detrimental costs of these mining industries. Six to seven billion dollars of investment is cheap compared to the irreparable damage of toxic wastes in our environment. Money cannot heal the effluence of negligence and abandonment," the congressman said.
The World Bank estimates Philippines losses of over $2 billion annually due to environmental degradation, according to Virador.
The World Bank estimate only includes damage from water pollution, mismanagement of fishery resources, and air pollution in four urban centers. It excludes social costs and the loss of quality of life, he stressed.
"Liberalizing the mining industries has been associated with grave destruction such as deforestation, slope destabilization, soil erosion, desertification, water resource degradation, defertilization, crop damages, siltation, alteration of terrain and sea-bottom topography, increased water turbidity and air pollution. It has benefited only the foreign companies at our expense," he said.
He added: "It has displaced thousands of indigenous peoples and upland dwellers, peasants and fisherfolk. We must totally oppose and resist the total sell-out of our country's finite wealth. It is the Filipino people and the future generation who must benefit from the country's natural resources and not foreign transnational companies."
Globally, the Philippines ranks third in gold, fourth in copper, fifth in nickel, and sixth in chromite.
But the Philippine mining industry's future is in resource-rich Mindanao. The island has 80% of the country's deposits of copper, nickel and gold according to a policy paper prepared by the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) for the 12th MinBizCon held in Cagayan de Oro City in October 2003.
Emboldened by the Supreme Court's "landmark decision upholding the constitutionality of the Mining Law in our country and the extent of foreign participation in large-scale mining," the Arroyo Administration is now in full gear to sell the mineral resources of the Philippines.
The MBC is pushing for a "sustainable mining" in Mindanao. But mining projects here have been met by opposition from various sectors as quite a number of them have allegedly encroached on the indigenous people's ancestral domain.
Asean sets 5-year action plan to boost mineral output
By Rocel C. Felix, The Philippine Star
12 October 2005
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) will implement a five-year ASEAN Minerals Cooperation Action Plan (AMCAP 2005-2010) that will bolster economic gains from mineral production and exports.
Keng Yong Ong, secretary general of the ongoing 6th Asia-Pacific mining conference in Makati, said ASEAN economies are working together to make the region more attractive to foreign investors as well as investors within the region.
"Most ASEAN countries are looking to make the minerals sector an engine for greater economic growth or catalyst. To do this, we have to look at existing problems and work on eliminating these obstacles to enhance trade and investment in the minerals sector," said Ong.
At the outset, the AMCAP will create harmonized investment rules for its member countries.
"There has to be a sound and stable investment policy in the region that would make it easier for investors to have a basis for deciding where they should invest. The other concept is that the more or less similar investment rules will level the playing field for countries in the region" said Ong.
Ong noted that for most ASEAN economies the potential of the minerals sector has yet to be fully realized.
"Despite its rich mineral endowment, non-energy minerals and base metals productions account for less than one percent of total ASEAN GDP growth in 2003. Together, exports of these minerals account for a mere 0.7 percent of total ASEAN GDP in 2003. With AMCAP, we hope to increase the mineral sectors GDP contribution to at least two percent in 2010 and further increase this in succeeding years," said Ong.
He said that most ASEAN economies lack the required capital to undertake such capital-intensive mining exploration and production activities.
"The mining sector in the region is not regarded as a plum sector because of various limitations. It is important for countries to be able to attract the investors with the financial capability to extract our resources, but at the same time, we have to ensure that we get our due," said Ong.
The broad strokes of the AMCAP include establishing information sharing mechanism with the view to harmonize mineral policies of ASEAN member countries; identifying impediments with a view to review tariffs and non-tariff barriers to ASEAN mineral trade and investment; undertaking a study on mineral trade flow of ASEAN countries and analyzing the demand and supply of mineral and mineral-based products of ASEAN members.
Ong said that for the next five years, the AMCAP will also address issues such as creating regulations and incentives to promote and facilitate mineral trade and investment and establishing a one-stop mineral trade and investment promotion center in each ASEAN member country.
The AMCAP will also include promotion and facilitation of joint venture cooperations between ASEAN private sector companies, undertaking investment missions to related ASEAN member countries, and developing a regional framework to facilitate cross-border movement of skilled and professional workforce as well as technology.
Ong noted that ASEAN member countries also have to work on pursuing a better communication, education and public awareness to lessen and mitigate the resistance often put up by prospective host mining communities.
"The resistance is often due to ignorance, there is still the perception that mining areas will lead to irreparable damage to the environment. But we have to communicate that there are new technologies that could minimize the impact on their environment. It is critical to point out as well the economic gains and the multiplier effects of developing mineral resources, and for mining companies to implement practices that wont cause too much upheaval in host communities," stressed Ong.
Ong said that with sound policies for the ASEAN region, its mining sector could really catapult struggling economies.
The challenge is coming up with a concrete framework that will stimulate growth of the minerals sector and promote the wiser use of the finite mineral resources, said Ong.
AFMA is projecting its mineral exports to triple to as much as $15 billion in the medium term as global demand for minerals continue to surge amid declining production.
ASEAN mining bloc eyed
Oct. 11, 2005
Christine A. Gaylican , Philippine Daily Inquirer News Service
ASEAN countries, in a move led by the Philippines and Indonesia, are considering creation of a regional mining bloc aimed at tripling the region's mineral exports to the global market to as much as $15 billion in the next three years, an industry official said.
Growing demand for minerals in booming economies, such as China, Japan, India and Korea, would support increases in the region's mineral production, Benjamin Philip Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and chairman of the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations, said in a press briefing Monday.
Good metal prices in the world market are expected to continue as demand keep on growing, Romualdez added.
He said that ASEAN mineral producers -- the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos -- account for only about five percent or $5 billion of the global mineral production worth $110 billion, and a huge potential for increased mineral output in ASEAN countries remained untapped, he said.
"The ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations sees the need for the region to meet an upsurge in demand," Romualdez said.
Global mining industry revenues have been rising since 2001 as metal prices rise steadily. In 2003, mining revenue rose 18 percent to $110 billion from $93 billion in 2002.
Prospects in the Philippine mining industry have strengthened significantly after the Supreme Court ruled as constitutional a law allowing foreign ownership of mining projects.
The ASEAN federation will hold a three- mining conference to be attended by about 500 participants, including representatives of companies belonging to the Indonesian Mining Association, Malaysian Chamber of Mines, Mining Industry Council of Thailand, and the Laos Mining Association.
Private sector delegates and government representatives from Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, which have yet to officially join the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations, are also expected at the conference, Romualdez said.
Also expected are delegates from countries with highly developed mining industries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, and South Africa.
Terrorist Tagging to Aid Arroyos Mining Agenda
LRC Press Release
October 5, 2005
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), a policy and legal research and advocacy organization operating in Luzon and Mindanao, today expressed its alarm over the swift passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House Committees on Justice and Foreign Affairs. This development followed on the heels of the issuance of EO 464 and the announcement of the calibrated preemptive response policy of the Arroyo administration.
LRC noted that the bill that was passed contained the controversial provision which empowers the Justice Secretary to designate groups as terrorist organizations.
Who will be held accountable for mistaken designation of an organization as a terrorist group? asked Lodel Magbanua, LRC team leader for policy advocacy. Too much power is granted to the designating authority without corresponding safeguards for the people who may be wrongfully tagged as terrorists.
Legitimate organizations, specially those critical of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyos economic policies, are not terrorist groups and should not be subjected to restrictive measures for assisting communities through legal services in opposing destruction of their communities and environmental degredation, said Magbanua.
In her drive to promote extractive industries like large-scale mining and commercial tree plantations, she has already caused the short-cutting of free and prior informed consent requirements and environmental impact assessment procedures intended to protect both the environment and the rights of communities adversely affected by so-called development projects. The impending Anti-Terrorism Law will now give her means to crush community opposition to such environmentally-disastrous projects.
We are worried that peoples organizations and non-governmental organizations opposed to mining are the next targets of terrorist tagging because this has happened before. In 2003, the Department of National Defense (DND) has publicly called NGOs and POs percieved as anti-mining as economic saboteurs and as linked to terrorist organizations simply for doing community work in areas affected by large-scale mining. Magbanua said
Its no secret that the impending Anti-Terrorism Law is intended to have a chilling effect on public criticism of government policies. The consequences for public participation in environmental decision-making is indeed tragic. We will be inviting repeats of the Marinduque Marcopper disaster, he added.
LRC noted that under Section 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, a group may be proscribed as a terrorist organization if any member or members have committed an act of terrorism as defined in the law. This is clearly a case of collective punishment on the basis of guilt by association, Magbanua remarked.
The effectiveness of blacklisting of so-called terrorist organizations to curb terrorism is not a proven fact. On the contrary, it has generated a lot of complaints of human rights violations and it fosters escalation of conflict rather than dialogue between government and civil society, Magbanua concluded.
Contact: Lodel Magbanua, Cellphone 9017-887-0109
NCIP beefs up legal capacity in support of mining industry
By Melody M. Aguibam, Manila Bulletin
October 9, 2005
The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) has strengthened its legal capacity in support of the mining industry which government eyes as a major driver for economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Rosalina L. Bistoyong, NCIP executive director, said NCIP has appointed more legal officers to speed up processing of bureaucratic requirements of mining companies.
"From 14 appointed legal officers nationwide in 2002, we have increased this with the appointment of 39 more legal officers or a total of 53," Bistoyong told a mining stakeholders forum.
NCIP is also currently improving its guidelines for the implementation of Administrative Order No. 1 or the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan. (ADSDPP).
The guidelines for ADSDPP, a plan for sustainable development in ancestral domains, will ensure that indigenous people (IP) will have a significant share in economic progress from mining operations.
This is along the objective of cutting the time for the issuance of a free and prior informed consent (FPIC). As required by law, a mining company with a project in an IP area has to obtain an FPIC from IPs before it is granted a mining permit. This FPIC issuance is facilitated by the NCIP.
In order to promote the interest of IPs who are expected to be interested in preserving their cultural practices and in sustaining their environment, Bistoyong said the NCIP is also reviving the constitution of the Indigenous Peoples Consultative Body at the ethnographic and national levels.
"This will advise the Commission on the formulation of policies based on the true interests and aspirations of indigenous people on the ground," she said.
The NCIP just endorsed with Malacañang the creation of the Minerals Development Council (MDC) which is aimed to accelerate processing of mining permits which are usually halted at the local government units and grassroots level.
"The MDC will hasten up dialogues of implementing agencies to foster a better understanding and implementation of policies. This will also ensure indigenous peoples participation in planning for mining thrusts and enhance their share in the benefits of mining," she said.
Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 itself has salient provisions for striking a balance between the goal to advance economic recovery and to sustain the environment while uplifting indigenous peoples and impoverished communities living levels.
Bistoyong admitted that mining companies may have committed grave mistakes in the past against the environment or the rights of IPs, but this should only inspire a stricter watchdog among IPs.
"NCIP is not blind on the ill effects of aggressive mining. Rather, these have become one of the precursors why NCIP pushes on the series of stakeholders forum in order to identify these negative impacts and check on these while we collectively improve from the mistakes of the past," she said.
Among the issues NCIP faces are environmental pollution and degradation caused by active and abandoned mines, safety and health hazards to communities, economic dislocations, violations of human rights, labor disputes and exploitation, and militarilization.
Other concerns are displacement of communities, depletion of resources, nonequitable sharing of benefits, and slow turnover of taxes to the communities.
857 abandoned mines pose health menace, say NGOs
By RONNIE E. CALUMPITA, The Manila Times Reporter
11 October 2005
Environmental groups claimed on Monday that there are 857 abandoned mines that cause health and environmental problems. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has failed to immediately rehabilitate them, they said.
At a press conference, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment, said the government should have focused on rehabilitating abandoned mines before seeking new foreign mining investors who would further degrade the country's natural resources.
"While aggressively seeking new mining investors, the government has remained oblivious to the issues of abandoned mines. There are 857 abandoned mines which continue to cause havoc, endangering the people's health and lives in the mining communities," he added.
Albert Diego of the Alliance of Peasant in the Kordillera said the abandoned mine sites of Thanksgiving Gold Mine, Black Mountain Copper Mine and Boneng-Lobo Copper Mine in Benguet have continued polluting the Agno, Sangilo and Dalupirep rivers in the Cordillera because their mine tailings go to these bodies of water specially during heavy rains.
Diego, a farmer from Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, said he has problems, like where to get water for their crops specially during dry season, because they could no longer get water from the contaminated rivers.
"We only rely on rains," he said in an interview. "We also buy water for our crops and household use because of lack of water," he added. Water tankers of Baguio Water District sell P30 a drum of water.
The engineer Michael Cabalda, chief of the DENR's Mining Environment and Safety Division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, refuted allegations that there are 857 abandoned mines.
"There's no truth to that [NGO reports]," he said in a telephone interview. "We only have seven major abandoned metallic mining sites and we target their rehabilitation within the next five years."
These major abandoned mine sites are Basay Copper Mine in Negros Oriental, Black Mountain Copper Mine, Boneng-Lobo Copper Mine and Western Minoko Mine in Benguet; Palawan Quick Silver Mine, Consolidated Mine in Marinduque, and Bagacay Copper Mine in Samar.
Cabalda said there are also inactive mines, but many of them are subject for mineral exploration. The Lafayette Mining firm on Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay is one of the companies that acquired inactive mine sites for exploration and extraction but they are required to rehabilitate them.
Under Republic Act 7942, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and DENR Administrative Order 9640 containing the law's implementing rules, Cabalda said there is a strict policy on environmental protection that mining firms must complied with to prevent accidents.
"There should be a rehabilitation plan and contingent liability and rehabilitation fund for rehabilitation purposes. Mining firms allocate money for this (contingent liability and rehabilitation fund). There is also the multipartite monitoring team composed of government officials, local government units and nongovernment organizations to ensure that mining firms are following environmental laws," the official explained.
Presentamos una serie de artículos sobre la profundización de la actual crisis ocasionada por la minería a gran escala en Filipinas. El ya complicado gobierno de Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ha usado la conferencia ASEAN Mining, realizada del 11 al 13 de octubre en Manila, para promover la minería como una "salvación económica", tal como han hecho otros líderes del sureste asiático. Esto ha sido así a pesar de la creciente oposición a la minería en la sociedad civil, pueblos indígenas, comunidades locales y ONGs, que se manifestaron y protestaron en la conferencia (desafiando una reciente prohibición del gobierno a manifestaciones que no sean informadas previamente, que recuerda a los días de la ley marcial bajo el régimen de Marcos).
Como enfatizan los comunicados de prensa que siguen, medidas "anti-terrorismo" impuestas por el gobierno son entendidas como ataques al derecho legítimo a oponerse a la minería, e incluso el organismo oficial concebido para "proteger" los derechos de los publos indígenas, el NCIP, está acelerando la entrega de permisos mineros en tierras indígenas. La institución creada para decidir sobre el consentimiento libre, previo e informado, que es la base de la oposición legítima a la minería en un nivel local, ha sido subsumido a un organismo cuyo objetivo es "acelerar los procesos de otorgamiento de permisos mineros que son frecuentemente demorados por niveles locales de gobierno". No hay muchas posibilidades de que el consentimiento sea libre en esas circunstancias. Como es evidente, muchos de los comunicados de prensa de organizaciones de la sociedad civil comienzan a vincular la oposición a esta (como consideran) enferma promoción de la minería, con la oposición a la administración en sí misma.