MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines update

Published by MAC on 2007-03-25


Philippines update

25th March 2007

The decision to allow Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine to re-start has been re-examined by a scientific panel - and found wanting. A scientific team is scathing at the lack of due diligence in previous studies which acquitted the project of any major adverse environmental and health consequences.

Thousands of local people gathered to clean-up the 26-kilometer Boac River to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the infamous Marcopper mining disaster.

The forthcoming May elections see mining become an issue, both in regard to TVI's activities in Zamboanga and in certain Catholic dioceses where opposition to mining is running high.

Crew has pulled out of its foray into coal in South Cotobato (although it's not yet withdrawn from Mindoro), while MG Mining, which is still looking a deposits in the area, suffered a communist NPA attack on one of its facilities in Surigao.

The government's National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has formally granted, to the indigenous Balatoc sub-tribe of Kalinga, the priority right to develop and exploit the natural resources, including mineral rights, located in their ancestral domain.


'DENR decision unscientific, haphazard, and fraught with technical loopholes' - Experts Find No Scientific Basis for Rapu-Rapu Mine Re-opening

BY LISA ITO, Bulatlat - http://www.bulatlat.com/news/7-8/7-8-rapu.htm

24th March 2007

A four-person panel of independent experts recently scrutinized the basis of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR's) allowing the resumption of full commercial operations of the Lafayette mine in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and found it "unscientific, haphazard, and fraught with technical loopholes" at the very least.

The panel was convened last February by the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils) and is composed by four scientific and environmental experts who reviewed and critiqued the reports that have informed the DENR's decision to reopen the RRPI mine to full commercial operations: Dr. Carlito R. Barril, retired Professor of Chemistry at University of the Philippines (UP) in Los Banos, mining engineer Efren Favila, Dr. Emelina G. Regis, Director for the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) of the Ateneo de Naga University and UP National Institute for Geological Sciences research associate and geologist Ricarido M. Saturay, Jr. During a forum so-sponsored by CEC-Phils, nationwide scientists organization AGHAM, and Defend Patrimony last March 22, the four experts identified major deficiencies and inadequate action on four respective areas of immediate concern, all of which were not considered in the DENR evaluation.

These are: a. Acid Mine Drainage (Dr. Barril, et al) b. Biological Effects of Toxic Heavy metals (Dr. Regis) c. Geological Hazards (Mr. Saturay) d. Mine Structures (Engr. Favila).

The four issued separate reviews of various DENR documents evaluating the test runs. Dr. Barril reviewed the Final Report of Carlos Primo David and Rustica G. Romero on The Evaluation of RRPI's Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Abatement And Control Strategies. Mr. Saturay reviewed the 2006 Test Run of the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project. Dr. Regis reviewed the Evaluation Report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project under the test run conditions (dated Dec. 19, 2006).

These studies formed the basis for Environment Sec. Angelo Reyes to issue a Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) last February, despite vehement objections from Rapu-Rapu folk, Church leaders, international non-government organizations (NGOs) and environmental and peoples organizations.

CEC-Philippines convened the panel shortly after the DENR issued the PLO based on the test run evaluation this February, and refused to approve requests from NGOs and people's organizations to launch an independent probe in the mine site.

"Trash"

The experts noted various technical inconsistencies as well as conceptual and methodological flaws in the studies. For instance, Dr. Barril, who reviewed Dr. David's final report in terms of their objective, study design, and how the study was carried out, reported, and discussed, pointed out that there were "haphazard, superficial and indiscriminate AMD prediction tests and in-situ measurements, limited monitoring scope, sweeping concluding statements that were inconsistent with the data presented, and premature and ill-advised recommendations".

"We find the study made by Dr. David and his partner as unscientific, carried out haphazardly and superficially, and fraught with technical loopholes and shortcomings, so much so, that the results generated are not only so limited but also of doubtful and unreliable quality," Dr. Barril said.

Saturay noted that the test run evaluations also failed to take into account the geological factors that may adversely affect land areas surrounding the mine site and water supply systems, while Dr. Regis added that the studies do not take into account the mining operation's projected effects on existing bio-physical conditions in the small island's ecosystem.

Dr. Barril was taken aback at the lack of technical expertise that the study displayed.

"Baka matapon ko lang sa basurahan ang study na ito. Nakakahiya," (I would have thrown this study into the trash can. It's shameful") he commented during the forum.

Acid Mine Drainage: the biggest threat

All the experts concluded that—contrary to the reports—Lafayette to date lacks the capability to effectively manage, abate, and remediate the damage caused by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) in Rapu-Rapu.

Dr. Barril took note of several deficiencies in the report, among these, the "lack of a clear study design, lack of basic principles, absence of AMD's description and control strategies, absence of an evaluation of AMD control strategies, a faulty and indiscriminate AMD prediction study, and the absence of any calculations of potential acid production".

He warned of the tendency towards "cyclic acceleration" of AMD. "Once AMD starts, hindi na ito mapipigilan dahil yung mismong produkto nito ay nagiging catalyst," ("It cannot be stopped because the product becomes the catalyst".) he said.

Dr. Barril also warned that millions of tons of acid are expected to be generated in the mine as a result of AMD. "Based on the results of the static tests, one (1) kilogram of copper ore can potentially generate more than 1 kilogram of acid," Dr. Barril said. And yet the studies recommended that costly lime dosing technology and open limestone drains to manage and neutralize AMD be discouraged.

AMD occurring in the open-pit mine was also overlooked, Dr. Barril said. This is a dangerous development as the pit will go down below the water table, he said. Mr. Saturay estimated that the mine pit is expected to go as far down as 50 meters below the sea level.

Acid and toxic heavy metals may reach the groundwater through cracks in the earth caused by strong dynamite blasting, he added.

Toxic threats to life a "criminal offense"

Next to AMD, Dr. Regis stressed that the unmonitored and unregulated presence of physico-chemical and trace metals (particularly toxic heavy metals) in the mining-affected areas, waterways, and ground has an adverse effect on marine species and will continue to pose a threat to marine and human life in the small island ecosystem.

"The study failed to consider that AMD dissolves metals lodged in the rock, such as cadmium, zinc, copper, most of which pose health hazards to people and biota (living organisms). For example, cadium, which is very high already even in their monitoring, is a carcinogenic substance," Dr. Barril explained. Dr. Regis agreed, noting that the monitoring and evaluation by the DENR was only concerned about water testing and leaks, without including the possibility of heavy metal contamination of soil and sediments.

The fish kills, diseases affecting the community, and mysterious deaths among the island's marine mammals are expected to dramatically rise once the heavy metals in AMD takes its toll on the ecosystem. However, the DENR has failed to address this problem, Dr. Regis said.

"The DENR said that the documented deaths of marine animals could be addressed by monitoring the water until its pH level normalizes. It also stated that the normal condition of pH is achieved through lime dosing. But the problem is that lime dosing only neutralizes acid. It does not neutralize the heavy metals in water which causes toxicity and contamination," Dr. Regis explained.

Dr. Regis demonstrated the danger of heavy metal contamination through sampling bio-indicators, or living organisms that respond to particular environmental conditions. She collected field samples from metal-affected weeds and grasses in Brgy. Pagcolbon (a mining-affected area) and other Rapu-Rapu communities located far away from the mine site.

An examination of their cell structures revealed that metal-contaminated biota contained significantly less starch and had their structures altered. "Wala nang nutrients ang kinakain ng mga livestock, tulad ng baka, sa mining-affected areas," (There were no more nutrients in the grass eaten by livestock in mining-affected areas.) Dr. Regis said.

The heavy metals present in mine tailings and AMD, such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc, can be threatening to life once humans and biota are exposed to it in large amounts, Dr. Regis said.

Some effects of toxic heavy metals on the peoples' health include increased risk for cancer, kidney pneumonitis, osteomalaise, and hydrocephaly. While chromium, copper and zinc are essential to the body in small doses, these are poisonous in large doses, Dr. Regis said.

Dr. Regis denounced the mine reopening as a "criminal offense" because of the long-term fatal effects that it would cause to human life and to the ecosystem of Rapu-Rapu.

Dr. Regis also disputed the DENR's claims that the Sorsogon fishkills and other fish kill incidents near the mining site could not be attributed to the Rapu-Rapu mine spill.

"Sorsogon is only 12 kilometers away from the mine site. In the Guimaras oil spill, debris flowed as far as 200 kilometers away due to the habagat (southwest winds) winds," she said, saying that the mine spill has brought about fish kills, loss of livelihood, loss of potential tourists, and the diseases as well. Contaminated tailings, mud, and silt flowing out to sea are killing Rapu-Rapu's coral reefs, she added.

Dr. Regis and her team also experienced repeated harassment by fully-armed men accompanied by attack dogs and agents in civilian clothing while conducting the study. They reportedly refused to let Dr. Regis' team any closer to the mine site.

When they were collecting sea grasses, she recalled, the team also experienced harassment from guards on two patrol boats and surveillance from suspicious-looking "fishermen".

"Nag-fifishing daw sila...kahit umaalon," ("They said they were fishing, even though the waves were strong at that time") Dr. Regis commented.

A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Meanwhile, geologist Saturay and mining engineer Favila warned of the potential disaster that Rapu-Rapu would face if inadequate mine infrastructures and geologic hazards were combined. Engr. Favila said that the RRPI mine lacks important emergency infrastructures that are crucial to preventing another disastrous mine spill. The studies also failed to consider geological factors that may adversely affect land areas surrounding the mine site and water supply systems, Mr. Saturay said.

Saturay warned that Rapu-Rapu island's land composition, steep slopes, and rainy climate make it naturally predisposed to landslides. This threshold would be further affected and significantly lowered by the massive earth movements caused by the simultaneous dynamite-blasting and open-pit mining.

"Mining is a catastrophic geomorphic event. Mabilis at malakihan ang pagbabago nito sa kalupaan. Malapit ito sa bingit ng pagguho ng mga kalupaan. Anumang idadagdag sa salik sa pagguho ay malamang hahantong sa higit pa o paglapit pa sa bingit ng pagguho, o aktual na pagguho" ("It could swiftly create major changes in the land. As it is, the land here is already near its landslide threshold. Any additional factor brings it closer to the threshold or may actually trigger a landslide.") Saturay warned.

Saturay also noted that studies on slope stability were conducted from rock samples inside the mine pit. There were, however, no studies conducted from samples outside the mine pit, where the mining-affected communities are located and would be primarily affected in the event of any landslide-induced tragedy. Saturay also expressed concern over the effects of toxic metal contamination seeping into Rapu-Rapu's limited freshwater supply.

Engr. Favila warned that the mine still lacks emergency facilities that were crucial in preventing more mine spills, such as a spillway and division wall. "When RRPI started to produce ores, it has no environmental infrastructures in place," Engr. Favila said, “The RRPI management failed to ensure the construction of emergency infrastructures for the tailings pond management system and moreover, resorted to cost-cutting in the use of neutralizing reagents used to treat cyanide.”

Engr. Favila attributed the lack of crucial infrastructure to negligence on the part of the company and the DENR's monitoring mechanisms. AMD will also cause the structural strength of the embankment structure to deteriorate, he added, increasing the risk of breakage.

Engr. Favila warned that previous mining tragedies, such as the Marcopper mine spill which killed the Boac river in Marinduque, were also brought about by the lack of crucial infrastructures.

Cancel PLO, experts urge

On the basis of the existing studies' technical flaws, methodological shortcomings and inconclusive results, the team strongly recommended a repeat of the DENR study and the pursuit of more detailed studies on the RRPI's mining operation in Rapu-Rapu.

"The results of the study are inconclusive and unreliable and should not have been used as one of the basis for lifting the suspension order," Dr. Barril said. "Dapat mag-aral muna ang [DENR]. Wala silang karapatang gumawa ng desisyon dahil wala silang alam," Dr. Regis said of the issuance of the PLO. ("The DENR should study it first. They have no right to issue a decision because they do not know anything about the issue").

"The deficiencies noted by the experts indicate how RRPI and the DENR rushed the opening of the Lafayette mine in Rapu-Rapu. This undue haste to open the mine to commercial operations has put the lives of the island's residents and its marine and terrestrial ecosystems into more danger than before," Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr. said.

Bautista stressed that "the unremediated deficiencies and unresolved problems with the mine (such as the lack of emergency infrastructure noted by Engr. Favila) practically guarantees another mine spill".

"The people of Rapu-rapu are living next to an environmental time bomb with the mine's reopening and with the onset of AMD. We could be dealing with another environmental disaster as large if not larger than the Marcopper tragedy in Marinduque in the mid-90s," Bautista warned.

The experts also recommended further study into the issue. Dr. Barril recommended a repeat of the previous studies done, this time to be undertaken by a technically-competent team.

"[More] detailed studies may be exhaustive and expensive but it is a justified pre-requisite for mining in a small tropical island with a significant population depending on the island's limited resources," Saturay added.

Dr. Regis also urged the RRPI's remediation of the Acid Mine Drainage now seen in waterways in mining-affected areas. He also advised concerned citizens to demand that company officials take responsibility and be held accountable for any mining-related untoward incidents that may occur.

"No mining must ever be allowed in Rapu-Rapu. The government must also rehabilitate the degraded ecosystems, because they issued the PLO," Dr. Regis said.


Experts review DENR 's Permanent Lifting Order, find no scientific basis for Rapu-Rapu mine re-opening

Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) PRESS RELEASE

22nd March 2007

Unscientific, haphazard, and fraught with technical loopholes.

Thus concluded a member of the four-person panel of independent experts which recently scrutinized the DENR's basis for the Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) issued for the Lafayette mine in Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

The panel was convened last February by the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils) and is composed of four scientific and environmental experts who reviewed and critiqued the reports that have informed the DENR's decision to reopen the RRPI mine to full commercial operations:

l Dr. Carlito R. Barril : Retired Professor of Chemistry, University of the Philippines in Los Banos

l Engr. Efren Favila (mining engineer)

l Dr. Emelina G. Regis : Director for the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) of the Ateneo de Naga University

l Mr. Ricarido M. Saturay, Jr : Geologist, Faculty at the University of the Philippines Diliman National Institute for Geological Sciences (UP NIGS), and a member of Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM)

The four experts identified major deficiencies and inadequate action on four respective areas of immediate concern, all of which were not considered in the DENR evaluation. These are:

a. Acid Mine Drainage (Dr. Barril, et al) / b. Biophysical Consequences (Dr. Regis) / c. Geological Factors (Mr. Saturay) / d. Mine Structures (Engr. Favila)

The four issued separate reviews of various DENR documents evaluating the test runs. Dr. Barril reviewed on the Final Report of Carlos Primo c. David and Rustica G. Romero on The Evaluation of RRPI's Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Abatement And Control Strategies. Mr. Saturay reviewed the 2006 Test Run of the Rapu-rapu Polymetallic Project. Dr. Regis reviewed the Evaluation Report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), on the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project under the test run conditions (dated Dec. 19, 2006).

All of experts generally concluded that the RRPI to date lacks the capability to effectively manage, abate, and remediate the damage caused by Acid Mine Drainage.

Engr. Favila said that the RRPI mine lacks important emergency infrastructures that are crucial to preventing another disastrous mine spill. The studies also failed to consider geological factors that may adversely affect land areas surrounding the mine site and water supply systems, Mr. Saturay said. Dr. Regis stressed that the unmonitored and unregulated presence of physico-chemical and trace metals (particularly toxic heavy metals) in the mining-affected areas, waterways, and ground had an adverse effect on marine species and will continue to pose a threat to marine and human life in the small island ecosystem.

"We find the study made by Dr. David and his partner as unscientific, carried out haphazardly and superficially, and fraught with technical loopholes and shortcomings, so much so, that the results generated are not only so limited but also of doubtful and unreliable quality. We find the results of the study inconclusive and unreliable and should not have been used as one of the bases for lifting the suspension order, " Dr. Barril said.

On the basis of the existing studies' technical flaws, methodological shortcomings and inconclusive results, the team strongly recommended a repeat of the DENR study and the pursuit of more detailed studies on the RRPI's mining operation in Rapu-Rapu.

"[More] detailed studies may be exhaustive and expensive but it is a justified pre-requisite for mining in a small tropical island with a significant population depending on the island's limited resources ," Mr. Saturay said.

Dr. Regis also urged the RRPI's remediation of the Acid Mine Drainage now seen in waterways in mining-affected areas and a responsibility and accountability from the concerned public and company officials in the event of mining-related and untoward incidents that may occur.

"The deficiencies noted by the experts indicate how RRPI and the DENR rushed the opening of the Lafayette mine in Rapu-Rapu. This undue haste to open the mine to commercial operations has put the lives of the island's residents and its marine and terrestrial ecysystems into more danger than before ," Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr. said.

Bautista stressed that "the unremediated deficiencies and unresolved problems with the mine (such as the lack of emergency infrastructure noted by Engr. Favila) practically guarantees another mine spill ".

"The experts have also noted that Acid Mine Drainage has already started in some mining-affected sites and will continue to worsen. This will eventually poison the island's waterways and may even seep into the freshwater supply and adversely affect marine and terrestial organisms and even human life. The DENR does not seem to understand nor care about the alarming implications of this development ," Bautista said.

"The people of Rapu-rapu are living next to an environmental time bomb with the mine's reopening and with the onset on AMD. We could be dealing with another environmental disaster as large if not larger than the Marcopper tragedy in Marinduque in the mid-90s," Bautista warned.

"We demand the suspension of RRPI's operations in Rapu-Rapu," Bautista stressed.

CEC-Philippines convened the panel shortly after the DENR issued the PLO based on the test run evaluation this February, and refused to approve requests from NGOs and people's organization to launch an independent probe in the mine site.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, Jr. Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) #26 Matulungin St., Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City (0922-844-9787) kalikasan.pne@gmail.com


Delayed Justice for Marinduque Mining Disaster Victims

MACEC PRESS RELEASE

24th March 2007

BOAC, Marinduque -- In a rare display of solidarity and volunteerism, thousands of Marinduqueños from all walks of life led by the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns, gathered together on March 24 to clean-up both embankments of the 26-kilometer Boac River to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the infamous environmental disaster which caused the death of the said river in 1996.

This is in response to the Pastoral Letter issued by Marinduque's Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista, an Executive Order circulated by Governor Carmencita O. Reyes and a Resolution adopted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Evangelista emphasized in his letter to the faithful read in all the Sunday masses on March 18 that: "It is high time for the entire Marinduque community to work together in reclaiming the integrity of our creation as part of our responsibility before God to enrich the beauty and bounty of our remaining natural resources.

In this sense, our collective dignity as Marinduqueños will wipe out the infamy which the Boac River disaster of 1996 brought to our island-paradise. However, the local church and the local governments have the common tasks to continuously seek justice for our people and for our environment."

Delayed Justice

Marinduqueños have been seeking justice from the various Courts in the country and abroad to determine the liabilities of Marcopoper Mining Corporation and Placer Dome, Incorporated (bought by Barrick Gold in 2006) over the disasters their 30-year mining operations have caused the people and environment in Marinduque island.

These include the criminal cases filed separately by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against John Eric Loney, an Australian who was the President and CEO of Marcopper, Steven Paul Reid, also an Australian national and Resident Manager of Marcopper Tapian Office, and Pedro Hernandez, a Filipino who served as Senior Manager for Maintenance. They were the officials of the mining company during the collapse of one of the dredge tunnels of Marcopper's Tapian Pit on March 24, 1996 that caused the biologic death of Boac River, the biggest and longest waterway in Marinduque.

These officials were charged for violation of the Philippine Water Code, the Anti-Pollution Law, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and the Revised Penal Code docketed in the Municipal Trial Court in this town as Criminal Cases Nos. 96-44 to 95-55 (People of the Philippines v. John Eric Loney, Steven Paul Reid and Pedro Hernandez). The said criminal cases have been dragging for eleven years already.

MACEC Executive Secretary Myke Magalang explained that "the delay in the administration of justice for the victims of environmental disaster in Marinduque and the unconscionable plunder of our environment are reflections of inefficiency in the bureaucracy of the country, including the judicial branch." Court records reveal that after the filing of the cases in April 11, 1996, the accused Marcopper officials filed a Motion to Quash before the Boac MTC. After the exchange of various pleadings, the complaints for violation of the Philippine Water Code and the Anti-Pollution Law were quashed/dismissed by the lower court but the accused mining company officials were arraigned for the remaining cases on May 28, 1997. The prosecution appealed the ruling at the Regional Trial Court in Marinduque while the accused sought the intervention of the same court praying for the quashing also of the cases for violation of the Philippine Mining Act.

On March 20, 1998, the RTC reversed and set aside the ruling of the lower court and reinstated all the criminal cases filed against the accused. This ruling was appealed by the accused in the Court of Appeals and in the Supreme Court. Eight years after, the Supreme Court finally upheld the RTC ruling on February 10, 2006 and ordered the reinstatement of all criminal cases, which in effect, remanded the same to the court of origin.

The only progress of the cases was on November 22, 2006 when the Provincial Prosecutor filed a manifestation and motion to set cases for hearing and only after MACEC presented a computer downloaded copy of the Supreme Court decision. Magalang assailed "the extreme inefficiency of the justice system because it is unimaginable why until now the prosecution and even the Municipal Trial Court of Boac were not officially furnished with copies of the Supreme Court Decision." The Prosecution's manifestation informed the Municipal Trial Court that "it is in possession of what appears to be a computer generated copy of the decision in G.R. No. 152644" and opined that it would perhaps suffice in "paving the way for the resumption of the hearing."

Magalang further emphatically said that such "is indeed a grave insult to the already disillusioned and disheartened people of Marinduque who are continuously suffering and threatened to die one by one from heavy metal poisoning. That is why we are calling the attention of the Department of Justice to direct the panel of prosecutors to prioritize this case of the Filipino people against the foreign nationals and officers of the multinational mining company which plundered our national patrimony.

We also call on the Supreme Court to officially transmit copy of its February 2006 Decision in order for the Municipal Trial Court of Boac to expedite the hearing of the cases." Unpaid local taxes Another important concern that MACEC strongly pursues is to find ways and means to compel Marcopper Mining Corporation and Placer Dome, Inc to pay their unpaid real property taxes to the province of Marinduque and the municipalities of Boac, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz and Torrijos which totaled PhP1,048,624,496.80 as of the second quarter of 2006.

"This is an extreme insensitivity of a company which amassed billions of dollars in profit and which claims to be a good corporate citizen of the country but neglecting its primary duty to pay legitimate taxes to the government. This is a period when poor Filipinos are trooping the local treasury offices in the country to pay their basic real property taxes. But the mining company which caused destruction to the people's health and the island's environment preferred to go to Court to sue the provincial government of Marinduque to question the tax assessment schedule imposed by the local government," explained Magalang.

According to the records of the Provincial Treasurer of Marinduque officially furnished to MACEC, Marcopper has standing tax debts of PhP1,013,101,529.51 in the municipality of Sta. Cruz for the period 1980 to 2006Q2; PhP11,164,686.80 in the municipality of Torrijos for the period 1983-1996Q2; PhP1,194,977.89 in the municipality of Mogpog for the period 1999 to 2006Q2; and, PhP23,163,602.60 in the municipality of Boac for the period 1985 to 2006Q2.

On May 3, 2006, the Provincial Government has already sought the intervention of DENR's Legal Department. Governor Carmencita Reyes in an official communication enlisted the agency's legal assistance "to enable the Province of Marinduque to collect the outstanding real property taxes from Marcopper amounting to more than P600 million . . . we have suffered enough from the corporate negligence and recklessness of this mining giant.

They have exploited our resources but left us poor and desolate. Our plea from the company to restore, restitute and rehabilitate the damage areas fell on deaf ears." Magalang argued that "the huge amount of outstanding taxes of Marcopper should have been used by Marinduque for the medical needs of the victims of the mining disasters, providing the basic infrastructure and books for the various schools in the province, provision of alternative livelihood opportunities for the displaced mine workers, and other projects and programs for the sustainable development of the province." He added that "now is the time for Marinduqueños to unite and make these issues as primary concerns in the coming elections to choose the best candidates for the various local positions.

We have to scrutinize more deeply the promises and political agenda of the candidates for local positions in Marinduque. This is an imperative to every Marinduqueño if only to champion our cause of obtaining justice for our people and the environment."

Reference: Myke Magalang Executive Secretary / (042) 332-2713 / MARINDUQUE COUNCIL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS / Sacred Heart Diocesan Pastoral Center / Second Floor, Cathedral Compound, High Town, Boac, 4900 Marinduque, / Tel. Nos. (042) 332-2713, myke_sacmarinduque@yahoo.com


Indigenous tribesmen [and women!] threaten to campaign v. Team Unity

By Ulysses Israel, Sun Star General Santos City

24th March 2007

SOME 3,000 indigenous folks in Zamboanga del Norte threatened to campaign against the candidates of Team Unity for the Senate and local positions if the government will continue to ignore their petition to stop the mining operations of a Canadian mining firm.

They also threatened to bring their grievances to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) if the government continues to play deaf to their complaints.

Last March 22, leaders and community members of Subanons in Mount Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, filed with the Mines and Bureau Geo-Sciences-Western Mindanao a "manifestation with urgent motion for speedy resolution" of earlier petition they filed on April 20, 2006.

The petition was for the cancellation of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement No. 054-96-IX of the TVI Resource, which they claimed would help "to attain meaningful life in their ancestral domain."

The Subanons are claimants of more or less 8,213 hectares of ancestral domain, including Mount Canatuan, considered as sacred by the indigenous people. They are protesting against the large-scale, open pit mining operations of TVI Resources Development Philippines, Inc. on their ancestral land.

The group said TVI Resource's mining operations would "annihilate their ancestral land, bulldozed their sacred ground, their farmlands are converted into mining ponds and mineral processing areas. Their potable water is use for washing the ores to produce the gold. Tons of toxic wastes are poured daily to the rivers where Subanons get water for domestic use."

The Special Cafgu Armed Auxiliary (SCAA), which manned the checkpoints are always on guard monitoring the ingress and egress of the Subanons, they said in their petition.

Lawyer Jarley Sulay-Trigillo, regional lawyer of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, said the regional office of mines bureau told them that their petition could not be acted upon because the Panel of Arbitrators that was tasked to look into their complaints is lacking in number of members.

The panel should have three members -- two lawyers and one mining engineer -- but right now it is only composed of one lawyer and one engineer, the mines bureau office told them.

However, when Jessica N. Lucero, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the regional office of Mines bureau for Western Mindanao was asked, she said there was misunderstanding. She said it is not true that the panel of arbitrators could not act on their petition because it is lacking in membership.

She said the complaints of the Subanons have been addressed. In fact, a monitoring team composed of nine members is doing a regular monitoring of compliance by TVI Resources on a quarterly basis.

"The monitoring team conducts visits and monitoring of the mining operations of TVI every three months to see to it that compliance is strictly followed by the mining firm," she said.

"Their (Subanons) complaints are recurring, but we can say that TVI is complying with the requirements of responsible mining," she added.

The government has been demanding for responsible mining from the mining operators, said Lucero.

Responsible mining has three components: economic growth, social equity and environmental protection, according to the regional mines bureau chief.

"TVI has been operating since 1995, it would not last long if it does not abide by the law," she said.


On the appointment of NCIP Commissioner for Region IX Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center- Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KSK/Friends of the Earth-Philippines)

14th March 2007

BERNARDO - A FATAL CHOICE FOR THE SUBANON PEOPLE

The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) has been accused of favoring the mining companies over the indigenous peoples on the issue of ancestral lands and domains. This is a grave accusation that, unfortunately, the NCIP has been failing miserably to dispute. And if the Office of the President actually appoints Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo as a NCIP commissioner, then all accusations would be put to rest. The NCIP would definitely confirm that they are favoring the mining companies over the indigenous people whose rights they are supposed to protect and promote.

PABLO BERNARDO, a Subanon lawyer, is currently the legal counsel of a Subanon organization in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, created for the purpose of entering into an agreement with the TVI Resource Development, a Canadian Mining Company, as part of the NCIP process of obtaining a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the affected communities. It was necessary for the TVI that this new organization be created as the existing organization of the traditional leaders of the communities within the Subanon ancestral domain has been consistently and strongly opposed to the encroachment of the TVI mines into their land.

With his statements and actions, however, one would wonder whether Bernardo is confused who his clients were the Subanon organisation or the TVI itself. "TVI has proven to be more responsible - more Filipino - than other Filipino companies in protecting the interests of the Indigenous Peoples," Attorney Pablo Bernardo told Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs) in Ottawa in 2005.

As he vigorously lauds the TVI mining company, Bernardo would discredit and lambast with the same passion the Subanon Timuays (council elders) who speak out their opposition to TVI, and expose the various deception and human rights violations of the company. "Members of this Honourable Committee, I am pointing, for the record, at Onsino Mato and Jose Boy Anoy and those who are using them as tools, as the culprits and responsible for these violations of human rights of the IP Subanons." Timuay Boy Anoy is the legitimate holder of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, and a recognized member of the GUKOM, or the traditional Subanon Council of Leaders of the Seven Rivers of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Onsino Mato is currently the secretary of GUKOM. Both are in the forefront of the struggle against the mining company.

The 52 year old lawyer has been living away from the Subanon communities for more than half of his life now. This is according to the petition filed by the Apo Manglang Ancestral Domain Community to the NCIP in their opposition to Bernardo's appointment. However, Bernardo has been in and out of Siocon for the last few years. He is being frequently seen in the area.

As narrated in sworn affidavits, on October 13, 2006, Bernardo was in Canatuan as he informed Prescila Bernal, a resident of Canatuan, Siocon, that the TVI will conduct drilling operations within her area in 3 or 4 days. In response to Ms. Bernal's point that they have not settled with TVI yet on the cost of damages to their lands, houses and livelihood, Bernardo said that TVI has no more time for this.

On October 17, 2006, Bernardo led a group of some 100 laborers with bulldozer, backhoe and drilling machines. Prescila, along with 5 other women blocked the machines, clinging to them, but Bernardo ordered the men to proceed. "I, Elvira Guzman, was undressed by men during the scuffle and brought in front of Atty. Bernardo who enjoyed viewing me. Corazon Balingit pinned to the ground by several men and each of us knows the six of us all women were treated and mauled like animals." (Nov. 30, 2006 affidavit, Dipolog City).

These affidavits are the basis of a legal complaint against Atty. Pablo S. Bernardo and two other companions, for Malicious Mischief and Physical Injuries. What then, we ask, is the basis of the possible appointment of Bernardo as commissioner of NCIP for the Northern and Western Mindanao Ethnographic Region? There has to be other criteria than the candidate's ethnicity. The person has to know and recognize the people he represents. Bernardo, on the other hand, has been known to malign and discredit Subanon leaders opposing the mining companies. The person has to enjoy the confidence and trust of the people he is supposed to represent. Bernardo has been the subject of formal opposition filed with the NCIP by the Subanon communities. Even during the time that the NCIP sought to appoint him to the Provincial Consultative Body as its head, the Subanon peoples opposed his appointment.

The Office of the President then is now given a choice to help the NCIP save its flailing credibility by not appointing Bernardo, someone who does not enjoy the trust of the people he is supposed to represent; or by appointing Bernardo as its commissioner, which is equivalent to the final shove to the NCIP to its mediocrity and irrelevance.

For more information, please contact Carl Cesar Rebuta LRC-KSK / Cagayan de Oro Office


Foreign mining firm abandons coal project in South Cotabato

MindaNews

24th March 2007

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A British mining firm has abandoned its coal project in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato due allegedly to community opposition and its local partner was now scouting for other takers to the rich coal mine deposits in the area. The Daguma Agro Minerals, Inc, the local partner of the United Kingdom-based Crew Gold Corp announced that the latter has abandoned its interest at the former's concession area in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu. Levitico C. Toquero, Daguma Agro's consulting geologist confirmed on Monday the decision of Crew Gold Corp.

Toquero said that Crew Gold pulled out its equipment late last year due to mounting opposition by residents backed by the local Catholic Church.

Religious leaders criticizing Daguma Agro claimed that the firm allegedly employed deceit in getting the consent of the residents some years back. Toquero belied the allegation saying the attendance sheet the Church distributed for signing had allegedly been used as attachment to their petition to stop coal mining activities in Ned.

He said that the Crew Gold Corp. had conducted a study at the 2,000-hectare area of Daguma Agro concession but backed out despite indication of rich deposit. "Crew [Gold] was dismayed by the [continuing] opposition in the area," Toquero said.

The Daguma coal project holds a 2000-hectare license area under Coal Operation Contract No 126 and consists of two Coal Blocks No. 380 and 381. The area has a potential coal reserve of 104 million metric tons.

Crew Gold Corp. signed an agreement with Daguma last year and paid the latter a non-refundable option fee of $150,000. Had Crew Gold decided to exercise the option, it could have pay a total of $10 million (or nearly P500 million) in cash and equity to Daguma Agro.

Crew would acquire 50 percent of Daguma Agro and entitle the company to purchase the remaining equity, according to Jan Vestrum, Crew Gold Corp. president and chief executive, in a statement last year.

A final payment amounting to $13.75 million (some P710 million) in cash and equity was to be paid later on to acquire the remaining 45 percent of Daguma Agro, Vestrum added.

In February last year, the Department of Energy granted the conversion of the operation contract, from exploration phase to a development and production phase.

Toquero said that Daguma Agro was currently talking to various foreign investors, which he did not identify, for possible partnership. He said these investors were based in London and Russia.

Meantime, Daguma Agro sister company, Bonanza Energy Resources Inc. has eyed 8,000 hectares of land also in Barangay Ned and parts of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani for a coal exploration.

Another firm, MG Mining and Energy Corp. was already granted a coal operating contract by the Department of Energy to explore 7,000 hectares of land in Barangay Ned in 2004. The four-year exploration stage would cost the company at least P34 million.


Firm eyes coal-bed methane prospect

By MYRNA M. VELASCO, Manila Bulletin

18th March 2007

Local firm Sultan Energy Philippines Corporation is validating prospect for potential development of a 100-megawatt power facility in Sultan Kudarat utilizing coal-bed methane (CBM) gas resources.

According to Sultan Energy president Rufino B. Bomasang, their prospect in Mindanao area is sprawling on 7,000 hectares and could yield up to 100 billion cubic feet of CBM that could be converted for electricity generation purposes. Sultan Energy has been awarded coal operating contracts within the Daguma mountain range, which is lying between the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Methane gas generally poses danger to coal miners as it can trigger explosions. But Bomasang emphasized this can be turn into an asset if utilized for power generation and with the application of appropriate technology.

"Sultan Energy is willing to put in additional investment to develop CBM," Bomasang indicated.

The re-assessment and development of coalbed methane for energy applications and usage was the subject of a recent bilateral deal concluded by the Department of Energy (DoE) with the United States government.

The energy department has identified 19 coal districts nationwide containing significant coal deposits and offered these to prospective developers like Sultan Energy.

Together with its affiliate firm MG Mining & Energy Corporation, Sultan Energy previously committed investment of up to $ 300 million for a 200megawatt mine-mouth coal power project in Sultan Kudarat which is targeted for commercial operation in 2011.

The presented project costs would include 0 million [sic] for the power project and $ 50 million-$ 100 million for coal mine development activities.

As assessed, the quality of coal to be mined for the proposed coal facility is lignite. Project proponents said they will utilize circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) technology for the proposed power facility.

It was bared that the coal mines operated by MG Mining in the area could yield up to 800,000 tonnes a year; which would be enough to run the planned power project.

The company noted that it already extracted extensive coal resources in its seven blocks in Daguma; while advancing development of three more coal operating contracts in Surigao del Sur. The off-take arrangement or market of the electricity output, project sponsors said, would not be much of a concern given forecasts that the area would soon be badly needing additional power supply because of briskly expanding economic activity in northeastern part of Mindanao.


MG Mining Company - Terrorism raps ordered filed against Joma et al

25th March 2007

Provincial - Balita, http://news.balita.ph/html/article.php/20070325121437207

Terrorism charges were ordered filed immediately against self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines leader Jose Ma. Sison and about 60 other guerillas involved in a series of raids in Surigao del Sur, it was learned Sunday. the order to indict Joma and his confederates was issued recently by Chief Supt. Antonio D. Nanas, regional director of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13).

He said that similar criminal charges for robbery, destruction of private property, economic sabotage and violation of the election gun ban also be leveled against the raiders who ransacked the compound of a mining firm in Mendezona, Rajah Cabunsuan, Lingig, Surigao del Sur.

In his order, Chief Supt. Nanas also directed Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Office (SPPO) Director Senior Supt. Alex Ga to immediately file the charges against all the suspects involved in an attack on MG Mining Company in last Tuesday.

The charges stemmed from an NPA raid where several high powered firearms, communications and office equipment were seized by the heavily armed marauders who also crashed the company's base radio.

The region's police director described the attack as an "act of terrorism on the part of Sison and his dissident group."

"We will file charges against them including Mr. Sison who must be held responsible for this terroristic act," Chief Supt. Nanas said.

He alleged that the Lingig raid is purely an act of terrorism "because the NPA is sabotaging the economic gains of the country by disregarding the very needs of the poor people who are dependent on the mining business".

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Jose T. Barbieto, area command chief of the Army's Northeastern and Northern Mindanao Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division, also categorically stated: "This Godless communist organization is a menace in a democratic and progressive country".

He stressed that communist ideology "must be eliminated at all cost". (PNA)


Security for business tack adopted

Manila Standard

3rd March 2007

BUOYED by the country's recent economic gains, the military has assumed additional roles in the government's efforts to sustain growth as part of the war against poverty, Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane said yesterday. "This role is part of our internal security operations, which are intended to eliminate all threats to national stability," he said.

Ebdane said the Philippines is now on the growth track, citing the 5.4 percent growth in 2006 in terms of gross domestic product, or the amount of goods and services produced by the country, which is used to measure economic performance. Last year's GDP growth was higher than the 5.1 percent posted in 2005, but it is still lower than the 6.0 percent posted in 2004.

But this year, economists, businessmen and analysts agree that the economy will perform better because of the boom in the tourism and property industries, the surge in business process outsourcing activities, coupled with the continuing appreciation of the peso and the growth in remittances from Filipino workers abroad. "We have before us all the basic fundamentals for growth, and we should not let this great opportunity pass by. This is our chance to increase employment and raise the standards of living of our people," Ebdane said.

He said that while soldiers will continue their internal security operations against insurgents and terrorists, they will also provide peaceful and stable environments for investments in all parts of the country.

"We need to encourage investors to put up factories or set up operations in underdeveloped areas, particularly those outside urban centers, where poverty is more pronounced because of the lack of employment opportunities for the poor," the defense chief said.

"When these areas become host to investments, employment and business activities will follow, and poverty will be reduced, if not eliminated," he said. "When that happens, there will be no more reason for people to rise against their duly constituted government."

The government expects billions of dollars worth of investments in the mining industry alone as investors take advantage of the December 2005 Supreme Court decision allowing foreign ownership of mining projects.

Ebdane said that mining projects are undertaken in remote areas so they will be a pump-priming factor in stimulating other businesses in those areas and provide jobs for local residents.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye has said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army insurgency remained the only stumbling block to economic progress following the successful implementation of policy reforms by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"This government is resolved to protect the people from further depredations. We are aware of the root causes of this problem and the intensified campaign against the CPP-NPA is actually part of this government's overall approach to addressing poverty, especially in the countryside," Bunye said.


Church leaders to campaign vs pro-mining poll bets

GMA News TV

3rd March 2007

SORSOGON CITY- Church leaders and anti-mining advocates in Albay province will launch their own campaign against candidates who favor mining operations, a bishop of the Catholic Church said.

Legaspi City auxiliary Bishop Lucilo Quiambao, said the mining issue is a "valid and very important issue" for the people of Albay which has to be addressed by those who would seek the votes of the people in their province.

Quiambao made the statement after a forum on mining by the Catholic Church Friday morning at the Divine Word College of Legaspi. The event coincided with the anniversary of the signing into law of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The Legaspi prelate, however, said that the move has yet to be approved by the members of the diocese. He said he would take up the issue during the diocesan general assembly to get the approval and support of all the priests.

"I will also raise the issue of mining before the Bicol bishops when we have our gathering next month in the province of Sorsogon", he said.

Quiambao vowed that his group will continue resisting the operation of the Australian mining company in the island of Rapu-rapu. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted a permit to Lafayette Philippines, Inc. to resume operations amid the vehement opposition of Church leaders and non-government and peoples' organizations in the area.

The permit was granted after over a year of La Fayette's operations that caused two cyanide spills, earning howls of protests from anti-mining advocates. Quiambao said a signature campaign launched by various groups in Rapu-rapu island had already gained at least 8, 000 signatures and that it would be sent to the Lafayette investors once the campaign had been completed.

Meanwhile, Fr. Ino Bugaoisan said more organizations have joined them in their fight against mining on the island.

Bugaoisan, Rapu-rapu parish priest, said that aside from the Sagip-Isla, other organizations such Against Lafayette Mining Alliance (ALMA), Save Rapu-rapu Alliance (SARA), Umalpas Ka and Lambat-Bikol joined them in the call against mining operations.


NCIP Grants Balatoc Tribe Priority Right over Ancestral Domain

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S WATCH

Through a resolution, the seven commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) have formally granted to the Balatoc sub-tribe of Kalinga the priority right to develop and exploit the natural resources located in their ancestral domain at Balatoc, Pasil, Kalinga. The priority right covers the mineral land which was once covered by the mineral rights granted to the Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc. (BBGMI) before it was sequestered by the government following the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW, Northern Dispatch (Nordis), 18-24 March 2007

BAGUIO CITY - Through a resolution, the seven commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) have formally granted to the Balatoc sub-tribe of Kalinga the priority right to develop and exploit the natural resources located in their ancestral domain at Balatoc, Pasil, Kalinga.

The priority right covers the mineral land which was once covered by the mineral rights granted to the Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc. (BBGMI) before it was sequestered by the government following the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Signed by the NCIP commissioners last month, Resolution No. 017, series of 2007 provides that the Balatoc tribe has priority rights over the 10,670-hectare land within their ancestral domain.

It is the second priority right granted by the NCIP to indigenous peoples in the Philippines but is the first granted in Luzon.

The first priority right granted by the NCIP to indigenous peoples was that issued for the indigenous people of Diwalwal in Mindanao.

"The recognition by the Commission of the priority rights of the Balatoc is subject to any existing rights that may subsist within the ancestral domain, which may include resource use and land use permits among others, issued prior to Republic Act 8371," the resolution read.

"Respect is also accorded to individual, partnership or corporation who was/were issued certification precondition during the effectivity of RA 8371 where free and prior informed consent (FPIC) was duly granted by the community concerned," the resolution further stated.

Prior property rights?

The NCIP Resolution 017 includes at least 444 hectares which forms part of the BBGMI.

Nordis learned that during the latter part of the Marcos regime, businessman Antonio V. Tankiang was granted three lease contracts which was the go-signal for him to mine the area.

When People Power I broke out in 1986, the new government of Corazon Aquino sequestered the company and its assets were taken to the Privatization Management Office (PMO), the Balatoc Tribal Exploration and Mining Corporation (BTEMC) stated.

The new government offered former guerrilla leader Fr. Conrado Balweg an opportunity to revive the operation of the mine in the area under the Bodong Development Cooperative Inc. he created, but the Balatoc people opposed the move, according to the BTEMC, which was founded by the Balatoc people and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2006. MGB denies NRMDC permit application

The contract of Tankiang with BBGMI expired on July 9, 2006, prompting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Cordillera to bid it out to corporate interests.

BTEMC allegedly submitted its application for exploration of the area at 8:00 a.m. on July 10. Nordis sources said that three minutes after, the Makilala Mines/Phelps Dodge went to the same office and applied for the same. At 3:21 p.m. that same day, the National Resource Mining Development Corporation (NRMDC) filed an application for an exploration permit before the MGB-CAR office. BTEMC insiders allege that despite their being the first to file an application for a permit, their application was rejected by the MGB regional office on July 6, 2006. The MGB-CAR processed the exploration permit of the NRMDC from July 10 to Aug. 23, 2006.

The Balatoc people, however, petitioned the NCIP to certify their priority rights invoking the area as a part of their ancestral domain.

Meanwhile, on March 2, the Guidance Management Corporation (GMC), which allegedly bought the 399.99 hectares for P8 million covered by BBGMI from nine Balatoc residents, executed a corporate declaration through their executive vice-president Ernesto San Jose to return the area to the Balatoc community. San Jose also promised to execute an affidavit for the cancellation of their tax declaration over the mineral lands.

The NCIP legal officer of Kalinga province also issued an opinion that the sale between the GMC and the nine residents is void since the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) prohibits the sale of ancestral lands.

These developments further entitled the Balatoc tribe to priority rights to develop and exploit the area, a BTEMC officer explained. The resolution was received by BTEMC president Victor G. Gumisa on March 6 this year. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat


Communities, LGUs benefit least from int'l mining investments - researcher

by Walter I. Balane / MindaNews

24th March 2007

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / March 23) - Communities and local governments where foreign mining companies operate received the least benefit in a "multi-level" flow of returns from the industry, an international researcher said.

Andy Whitmore, research and communication officer of the United Kingdom-based human rights group PIPLinks, said that the little benefit they derived, if at all, would come at a great price in facing the costs and problems attendant to mining operations.

Environmental risks and displacement of indigenous peoples were usually among these costs, he said in a briefing Thursday on Global Mining to researchers at the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue Thursday.

He said much of the wealth derived from mining was always flowed back to home countries of these companies, and with some going to the Philippine national government. Little benefit remained in the area of operation.

Mining investments would not spell out the negative effects, but often communities would be fully informed only of the benefits, not the costs, Whitmore said. Employment opportunities made available in the community were usually the factors that make these investments appear attractive to the communities.

Whitmore said that the international mining industry could only come up with "best practices" so far, not concrete strategies yet to address calls for sustainable mining.

He said these were the reasons why the PIPLinks has pushed for reforms in the Philippine mining industry following a group Philippine fact finding mission last year. The group submitted the recommendations to the Philippine government in January this year was and still awaiting official response.

PIPLinks has pushed for the separation of regulatory and permit granting functions from the promotion of mining in the international market, currently all under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

According to its website, PIPLinks works to uphold and promote the collective and individual human rights of indigenous peoples and other land-based communities.

Other recommendations was to ensure that government would fund a separate research and information arm in a proposed restructured DENR that would provide local authorities and communities with enough information to support making informed decisions.

Unfortunately, Whitmore said, "some community leaders are least empowered and can easily be convinced by mining companies luring them to support investments in their areas". He said thus far, it was at the provincial level where some signs of more informed deliberations on mining investments were illustrated in the Philippines.

Whitmore called on the government to reform the mining industry, including the repeal of the 1995 Mining Act.

Whitmore said the stock exchanges in London, Sydney, and Toronto were among the largest origins of publicly-sourced money invested in mining but said the Philippines was "least visible from the radars of the world's biggest mining firms even if the government has promoted its mining potentials".

He cited perception on the country's political instability and corruption in governance and the dent made by local protests to foreign mining firms operations as contributory to that.

 

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