MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Guns, Goons, Gold: Mining Revitalisation Turns into a Bloody War

Published by MAC on 2005-06-09


Guns, Goons, Gold: Mining Revitalisation Turns into a Bloody War

Defend Patrimony! Alliance (Movement against Globalization of Mining Industry, Plunder and Destruction)

Press Statement

9 June 2005

One of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's supposedly "brilliant" solutions to the country's worsening fiscal crisis, the revitalization and liberalization of the country's mining sector, is quickly developing into an issue of concern not only in terms of economics, but also of fundamental human rights.

Defend Patrimony, a broad alliance of organizations which aspires for national development and industrialization, is gravely concerned about the rapidly increasing number of mineral explorations and operations conducted in the country, mostly by large foreign corporations. These projects, which occupy vast areas of land, have evicted countless numbers of people, impinged on the people's rights to their property and means for livelihood, and have often struck the most marginalized and powerless of groups, the indigenous people. These have therefore been met with strong opposition from the primary stakeholders, who are often ignored, suppressed, forcibly evicted and harassed, and even murdered.

With the rapid influx of mining applications and issuance of permits for either exploration or actual operation comes the entry of elements of force and coercion. In several cases around the country, military and paramilitary elements are being used extensively in order to quell the people's resistance to mining activities.

In the case of the Subanon indigenous people of Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, para-military group Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) has been used to harass and threaten the indigenous tribe. Food blockades have been established, depriving the people of their basic needs. Timuay Jose "Boy" Anoy, a Subanon leader, cannot live peacefully in his own home, having received death threats owing to his fierce opposition against mining in his community.

The picture is strikingly similar in many other areas in the country. Mining applications are swarming in Samar, despite its classification as a national park. This, furthermore, is accompanied by heavy militarization on the island. This is underlined by the deployment of Major General Jovito Palparan in Eastern Visayas, which has begun the terrible wave of activist killings and abductions. Palparan's declaration that demonstrations and rallies in the region are to be eradicated in six months under his draconian watch practically bans any form of dissent against administration-backed destructive and anti-people projects such as mining . Thus, the people are deprived of their right to protect their territory against activities which may prove detrimental to their welfare.

Meanwhile, the Assumption of Jurisdiction issued by Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and the subsequent deployment of members of the 58th IB at Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation is a blatant harassment of the mineworkers who have been on strike since June 2.

Such an effort to quell the growing resistance and efforts to protect mining workers' rights while denying the mineworkers' legitimate demands highlights the incapability and unwillingness of the Arroyo administration to protect its people in the face of multinational corporations' mining interests.

But the people will not cower in the face of intensified mining and state repression under the crumbling Arroyo administration. They are continuing the struggle head on, employing various modalities of political solidarity and action against the liberalization of mining industry, plunder, and repression. It is in this light that Defend Patrimony! Alliance!, Kalikasan-PNE, Tebtebba, KAMP, Center for Environmental Concerns and AGHAM are organizing the Second National People's Conference on Mining. The conference will be held on June 10-13, 2005 at the St. Michael's Retreat House in San Jose St. Antipolo City.

The conference theme is "Raising to Greater Heights Ten Years of People's Struggle against Mining Liberalization and Plunder." It will gather representatives of mining affected communities, people's organizations, environmental formations and anti-mining TNC alliances active in the campaign against the plunder of our mineral resources.

Reference:

Trixie Concepcion
Spokesperson
DEFEND Patrimony
c/o Kalikasan-PNE 26 Matulungin St.,
Brgy Central,
Quezon City
Tel (02) 9248756;
Fax (02) 9209099
defendpatrimony@yahoo.com


Rebels: Attack was a warning to rights abusers, mining firms

Philippine Sun Star

June 15th 2005

Manila - Communist guerrillas claimed responsibility Wednesday for an attack that killed nine soldiers in the northern Philippines, saying it was punishment for the military's alleged human rights abuses in the area.

Armando Silva, a regional spokesman for the New People's Army, said the military has also allegedly been helping mining firms get into the mountainous area by convincing villagers not to resist them, despite fears of environmental damage.

Attackers fired on an army truck Monday near Cervantes town in northern Ilocos Sur province, killing nine soldiers and wounding three others.

The rebels claimed they seized seven M16 rifles during the attack, about 270 kilometers (165 miles) north of Manila.

The soldiers had been securing the site for a commemoration of a historic World War II battle. The attack forced the government to cancel the ceremony, which would have been attended by foreign diplomats and top officials.

On Wednesday, Silva said in a news release that the military unit in the areas has "a long list of human rights abuses." He cited abuses including the alleged rape of a villager and the mutilation of the body of a rebel killed in a fire fight.

"The successful tactical offensive serves as a warning to soldiers," the news release said, referring to Monday's attack.

Military officials were not immediately available for comment. They have condemned the rebels for such attacks in the past, saying they prove the insurgents are terrorists.

The communist guerrillas, listed as terrorists by the United States and European countries, suspended peace talks with the government in August to protest Manila's refusal to lobby for their removal from the terror lists.

The military estimates the rebels had more than 8,000 fighters last year. They claim they have a presence in nearly 70 of the Philippines' 79 provinces, despite military offenses. (AP)


Mining companies are among biggest tax evaders

Yeheey News

June 9, 2005

Mining companies are among the most favored in terms of enjoying liberal tax exemptions and holidays under Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Law of 1995 and the Omnibus Investments Code.

Yet that does not prevent them from defrauding the government of their tax obligations as the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), a militant environmental organization, exposed that mining companies are one of the biggest tax evaders in a picket protest in front of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Dr. Orencio Pusing, president of the Aroroy Goldpanners and Processors Cooperative, an organization of small-scale miners in Aroroy Masbate, and former vice mayor of the same municipality in Masbate, urged the BIR to look in the tax records of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (ACMDC). He charged that since 1991, the company has not paid the local and national government realty and excise taxes amounting to P15,968,364.89 and P82,331,316.16, respectively.

Atlas used to operate a gold mine in Aroroy, Masbate. The project has been passed to Canadian-backed Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) after passing to Base Metals Corp. However, marginalized small-scale miners in Aroroy believe FRC is merely fronting for Atlas in order to free the latter of its tax responsibilities to the local and national government.

Last April 28 President Arroyo visited the Atlas mining area in Cebu province. The re-opening of Atlas copper mining in Toledo, Cebu is one of the priority projects of the Arroyo government under its mining revitalization program.

According to Kalikasan-PNE, Marcopper-Placer Dome also still owes P420 million in unpaid realty taxes to the local government of Marinduque.

These cases show how lenient the national government is to big foreign mining companies. Aside from allowing these companies to legally plunder our mineral resources and to devastate our environment, the government awards these companies six-year tax holidays, duty-free importation and other economic incentives, and promotes their mining projects.

This contrasts sharply with how the government imposes regressive taxes on ordinary taxpayers, like the controversial expanded value added tax.

Instead of focusing on movie personalities as well as the ordinary public, the BIR should train its guns on the biggest tax cheats among large mining companies.

By: Clemente Bautista
Kalikasan Peoples' Network for the Environment


Nature is Groaning - Diocesan Social Action Centers in the Face of the Mining Mania

Paid advert that appeared in June 10, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

We, Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSACs) based in dioceses that are actually and has the potential to be affected by mining operations in the country, reiterate the following concrete actions that, through his letter on 31 January 2005 to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Fernando Capalla asked government to institute:

1. Require concerned mining companies to demonstrate goodwill by cleaning up mine tailings and rehabilitating open pits. If there are ongoing efforts along this line, supply us with updates from a participative and multisectoral perspective.

2. Require mining companies whose prior operations were questioned on grounds of lack or absence of social acceptability to address such concerns, particularly by strictly adhering to regulations prescribed by law.

3. Furnish us a list of companies seeking mining permits. This must include all companies regardless of whether their applications are pending or have already been approved. Armed with the list, we will coordinate with our overseas partners to examine the track record of these companies in their home countries and areas of operation.

4. Supply us with concrete figures detailing projected amounts that government expects each mining company and each mine site to infuse into the economy, including amounts that will be repatriated to the home country of each mining company.

5. Supply us with concrete figures detailing the scope of employment that each mining operation will generate, including terms of employment citing nature, tenure and remuneration.

6. Prior to approval of a mining permit, require mining companies whose operations will dislocate populations to submit comprehensive and viable relocation plans that ensure decent and humane habitation.

7. Prior to approval of a mining permit, require mining companies to communicate objectively and honestly the beneficial and adverse effects that their operations will create.

8. In the interest of transparency, make records and documents produced pertaining to the foregoing requisites open to the public.

9. Finally, identify pro-environment and pro-poor alternatives.

Our Stand

Signed by 31 DSACs from mining-affected dioceses

in Tagaytay City on 18-20 April 2005


Statement of Concern On the Revitalization of Mining in the Philippines

22nd June 2005

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

"Do not defile land where you live and where I dwell." (Num 35:34)

We, Bishops of Northern Luzon come in unity to speak our mind and heart in support of our flock in light of the revitalization of mining in the Philippines,

We strongly say, no to large-scale mining.

In 1988 the Catholic Bishop' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued the Pastoral Letter on Ecology, "What is Happening to our Beautiful Land?" where we shared our anxiety over the 'attack being made on the natural world' which was 'endangering its fruitfulness for the future generations'.

On the tenth anniversary of that letter, we told you how concerned we are at the rapid expansion of mining operations arising from Mining Act of 1995.

Today, we see the government aggressively promoting mining and minerals as the drivers of growth for the Philippine economy. Twenty-three (23) mining sites are prioritized either for expansion and / or development. Seven of these are in Northern Luzon, six in the Cordilleras and one in the Sierra Madre Range. We know these areas are fragile and host to indigenous peoples.

The National Government is harping on the direct foreign investment that mining will bring to the country, around $ 10 billion dollars worth are in the pipeline. It also says that it will bring resources to local and national government through wealth sharing. Our experience in Northern Luzon, however, disproves what government is saying. Benguet, host to a number of mining companies over several decades, still feels the brunt of poverty.

What is being shown to us in the example of Benguet, is the continuing misery of communities affected by mining. The save the Abra River Movement, which monitors discharge of Lepanto Mining to the Abra River, has documented evidences of continued dumping of mine waste into the river. As a result, communities along the river lost their livelihood from fishing, and agriculture production is slowly decreasing due to the polluted waters.

The continuing impact of mining in Northern Luzon validated our earlier pronouncement that "The adverse social impact on the affected communities, especially on our indigenous sisters and brothers far outweighs the economic gains promised by large-scale mining corporations. Our people living in the mountains and along the affected shorelines can no longer avail of the bounty of nature. Rice-fields and rivers are devastated and whatever foods that are growing and living becomes health hazards." ( CBCP Statement on the Mining Act of 1995 )

The National Government, therefore, did not heed our earlier call not to pursue short-term economic gains at the expense of long-term ecological damage.

We, therefore, strongly call on our brothers and sisters in Christ to

· Uphold the centrality of the human person in all aspect of development. 'Respect for life, and above all for the dignity of the human person, is the ultimate guiding norm for any sound economic, industrial or scientific progress.' (Pope John Paul II)

· Allow our indigenous brothers and sisters to chart and craft their own development agenda based on culture and tradition.

· Respect the essence and spirit of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)

· Unite in rejecting the entry of mining companies that orchestrate the destruction of our natural resources.

· Seriously consider and plan alternatives to large-scale mining, which are more lasting and sustainable.

· Reduce, re-use, and recycle.

· Uphold our national economy, patrimony and sovereignty as embodied in our 1987 Philippine Constitution

We re-echo the voice of our indigenous brothers as they say:

God created land for the people. People die and are buried in the earth. Land, the earth, owns the people. These are sacred places. Land is a place to live, to use and to work its fruits and then to be buried in and thus, finally, is owned by it. If threatened, defend it, although a few are deceived and even forced out of it.

Datu Dia-on and Datu Man-ukil

May our Loving God continue to bless and guide us? And may St. Francis of Assisi, who has given us the example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation, continue to inspire us to ever alive a sense of 'fraternity' God's creation. And may we be ever alive of our 'serious obligations to respect and watch over with care', that which "God saw that it was good" and intended for the good of mankind.

Signed by 13 Bishops of Northern Luzon


Declaración de preocupación frente a la revitalización de la minería en Filipinas

22/06/05

Hermanas y hermanos en Cristo:

"No hagan impura la tierra en que viven, porque yo vivo en medio de ella" (Num 35:34)

Los obispos de Luzon del Norte, reunidos para expresar nuestro corazón y nuestra mente en apoyo a nuestras comunidades, a la luz de la revitalización de la minería en Filipinas, queremos decir con fuerza: no a la minería a gran escala.

En 1988, la Conferencia Episcopal de Filipinas (CBCP) difundió su Carta Pastoral sobre ecología "¿Qué le está pasando a nuestra hermosa tierra?" donde compartimos la ansiedad que sentíamos con respecto a "los ataques contra el mundo natural" que estaban "poniendo en peligro su fertilidad para las futuras generaciones".

En el décimo aniversario de aquella carta, les decíamos lo preocupados que estábamos ante la rápida expansión de las operaciones mineras emergentes de la Ley de Minería de 1995.

Hoy en día, vemos al gobierno promover agresivamente a la minería y los minerales como motor del crecimiento de la economía nacional. Veintitrés (23) sitios mineros han sido priorizados para su expansión y/o desarrollo. Siete de ellos están ubicados en Luzon del Norte, seis en las montañas Cordilleras y una en la Cordillera Sierra Madre. Sabemos que esas zonas son frágiles y albergan a comunidades indígenas.

El gobierno nacional se jacta de las inversiones extranjeras directas que la minería traerá al país: unos 10 mil millones de dólares están en juego. También dice que generará recursos a los gobiernos locales y nacional mediante una distribución de las ganancias. Nuestra experiencia en Luzon del Norte, contradice estas afirmaciones. Benguet, donde se instalaron varias compañías mineras durante décadas, todavía padece los embates de la pobreza.

Los que nos muestra el ejemplo de Benguet, es la continua miseria que sufren las comunidades afectadas por la minería. El Movimiento Salvemos al Río Abra, que monitorea las descargas de la minera Lepanto en el río Abra, ha documentado pruebas de vertidos de residuos mineros en sus aguas. Como resultado, las comunidades a lo largo del río han perdido su medio de vida, que era la pezca, y la producción agrícola disminuye lentamente debido a la contaminación.

Los impactos de la minería en Luzon del Norte convalidaron nuestro anterior pronunciamiento: "el impacto social adverso en las comunidades afectadas por la minería, especialmente entre nuestros hermanos y hermanas indígenas, sobrepasaron largamente los beneficios económicos prometidos por las grandes corporaciones mineras. Nuestra gente que vive en las montañas y a lo largo de la costa ya no puede aprovechar las bondades de la naturaleza. Campos de arroz y ríos devastados, y cualquier clase de alimento se vuelve peligroso para la salud." (Declaración de la Conferencia Episcopal de Filipinas sobre la Ley Minera de 1995). El gobierno nacional, en consecuencia, no prestó atención a nuestro llamado a evitar el perseguir ganancias económicas de corto plazo, a expensas de daños ecológicos a largo plazo.

Por lo tanto, llamamos con fuerza a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo a:

Sostener la centralidad de la persona humana en todos los aspectos del desarrollo. "Respeto a la vida, y por sobre todo de la dignididad de la persona humana, es la principal guía para cualquier progreso económico, industrial o científico" (Papa Juan Pablo II).

Permitir a nuestros hermanos y hermanas indígenas el planificar y ser artífices de su propia agenda de desarrollo basadas en su cultura y tradiciones.

Respetar la esencia y el espíritu del consentimiento previo libre e informado (FPIC).

Unirse en el rechazo a la entrada de las compañías mineras que orquestan la destrucción de nuestros recursos naturales.

Considerar seriamente y planificar alternativas a la minería a gran escala, que sean más duraderas y sostenibles.

Reducir, re-usar y reciclar.

Sostener nuestra soberanía, patrimonio y economía nacional, encarnadas en la Constitución Filipina de 1987.

Nos hacemos eco de la voz de nuestros hermanos indígenas cuando dicen:

God created land for the people. People die and are buried in the earth. Land, the earth, owns the people. These are sacred places. Land is a place to live, to use and to work its fruits and then to be buried in and thus, finally, is owned by it. If threatened, defend it, although a few are deceived and even forced out of it.

Dios creó la tierra para el pueblo. El pueblo muere y es sepultado en la tierra. La tierra es dueña del pueblo. Estos son lugares sagrados. La tierra es un lugar para vivir, para usar y trabajar sus frutos, ser sepultado en ella y de ese modo, finalmente, uno le pertenece. Si es amenazada, defenderla aunque algunos sean defraudados y hasta forzados a abandonarla.

Datu Dia-on y Datu Man-ukil

Que nuestro Dios viviente nos siga bendiciendo y giando. Y que San Francisco de Asís, que nos ha dado el ejemplo de un genuino y profundo respeto por la integridad de la creación, nos inspire para siempre vivificar un sentido de "fraternidad" con la creación de Dios. Tengamos siempre presente nuestra "seria obligación de respetar y proteger", aquello que "Dios vio que era bueno" y fuera destinado al bien de toda la humanidad.

Firmado por 13 Obispos de Luzon del Norte, Filipinas

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