MAC: Mines and Communities

The Supreme Court Reversal On La Bugal - A Bigger Storm Brewing Network

Published by MAC on 2004-12-08
Source: LRC-KSK Friends of the Earth Philippines

The Supreme Court Reversal on La Bugal - A Bigger Storm Brewing Network

Statement from LRC-KSK

8th December 2004

Two storms came and wreaked havoc on the northern Philippine soil and seas. Along with these natural calamities came the penned decision that would create long lasting damages to our natural resources and drive communities deeper into poverty. The sellout of our country's resources is upheld by the highest court of the land by reversing its previous decision in late January.

On December 1, 2004, the Supreme Court reversed its decision in the La Bugal mining case, declaring that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, its Implementing Rules and Regulations and the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) entered into by the government and Western Mining Corporation as constitutional. The Court voted 10 to 4 with one abstention. The Justices who voted in favor of the reversal are Chief Justice Hilario Davide and Justices Reynato Puno, Leonardo Quisumbing, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato Corona, Dante Tinga, Minita Chico-Nazario and Cancio-Garcia. The Justices who dissented are Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Morales and Callejo. Azcuna abstained.

It may be recalled that in its January 27, 2004 decision, the Court ruled that some provisions of the Mining Law and the FTAA in question were invalid and unconstitutional. In a dramatic reversal, 5 Justices who voted in favor of declaring the Mining Act, its implementing rules and regulations and the FTAA of Western Mining Corporation as unconstitutional, now voted to uphold their legality.

The December 1 decision caused outrage from different communities, environmental groups, indigenous peoples. In Mindanao, many groups are condemning the decision saying that the Court has allowed "the rape of our land and our natural resources." They pointed out that large-scale mining operations strip large areas of vegetation, dislocate peoples, endanger the country's rich biodiversity and sources of potable water.

The government and the mining industry has not answered to the "minerals curse" argument wherein studies showed that countries relying on natural mineral exports are bottom dwellers in terms of economic growth. With 100% foreign ownership allowed and all the fiscal incentives bestowed on the foreign investor, the communities will not reap part of the speculated potential value of precious metal computed by the mining consultants and industry.

Lawyers from the petitioners said that, "We are not surprised by this decision. However, we are greatly saddened that the Court has ruled on but one aspect of the case, which is on the issue of constitutionality. What remains to be resolved are the questions on the economic, political and ecological issues. We are getting ready to ask for the Court's reconsideration on the said case.

Larger interests are at play- the way government harps about mining being the solution to our financial crisis; the way the mining industry and its allied interests bombard the media with its deceptions of economic growth and social responsibility; the way some of our public officials have been reduced to beingmere mouthpieces of transnational mining interests.

We are not giving up. The case is not yet final. The new Supreme Court decision does not mean that the mining campaign is lost. This is merely a legal battle. Legal battles are engaged on legal grounds. The mining campaign is so much more than just the legal. The battle against the unjust mining regime is not yet over. The struggle continues.

The Women and Men of LRC-KsK

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc.
Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth – Philippines
No. 7 Marunong Street, Central East District
Diliman, Quezon City 1101

Telephone no. (02)928-1372
Fax no. (02)920-7172

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