MAC: Mines and Communities

The Battle is Far From Over

Published by MAC on 2005-01-20
Source: Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Phils

The Battle is Far From Over

A Press Statement from the Women and Men of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan

20 January 2005

Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils)

Quezon City - Lawyers representing indigenous cultural communities today filed a motion for reconsideration of the controversial decision of the Supreme Court allowing large foreign-owned companies to engage in large-scale mining.

“The battle is far from over. The decision is not yet final.” says Attorney Marvic Leonen of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, lead counsel for the petitioners in the La Bugal et al vs. Ramos et al.

“The Revised Rules of Court allow each party to file a motion for reconsideration on every decision that the court makes,” he explains. “In this case, the decision of the Supreme Court last December 2004 constitutes a new decision that we ask them to reconsider.”

Last December 1, 2004, as the country reeled from landslides caused by two super typhoons, the Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling that nullified the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement of Western Mining Corporation Philippines and provisions pertaining to financial and technical assistance agreements in the Philippine Mining Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Counsels for petitioners officially received last January 5, 2005 a copy of the decision of the Supreme Court overturning its earlier decision dated January 27, 2004. Exactly fifteen days after, they filed a motion asking the Hight Court to reconsider the December 1, 2004 ruling and declare the Philippine Mining Act unconstitutional.

The communities in Columbio that are bound to be affected by the full blown operations of the Tampakan Mineral Resource Corporation (TMRC) formerly know as Western Mining Corporation Philippines have not lost hope and refused to cease struggling against the mining giant. The Supreme Court case is only one of the fora where they have sought to defend their lives and their land.

Other mining-affected communities have also joined the La Bugal petitioners in their struggle against the open pit mining project in Tampakan. They fear that the decision will result in a deluge of mining activities all over the country. They call on the Supreme Court to reconsider their decision and exhort that “FOOD IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY. We can have food even if we have no money, through the natural resources granted to us by our Creator.”

LRC-KsK cites several studies showing that, contrary to the government’s claims mining can lead to a lower growth rate. Resource-abundant countries tend to be high-priced economies and, consequently, tend to miss-out on export-led growth. Natural resource abundance can crowd-out drivers of growth, such as traded-manufacturing activities, education, and even growth-promoting entrepreneurial activities.

LRC-KsK concludes that a Filipino first policy as contained in our Constitution, in a globalized age, still makes sense. It compels the State, through all its organs and agents, to examine the unstated and unverified assumptions of simple theories of investor behavior and free markets. It does by providing those that interpret law authoritatively act to consider that the Filipino community is not a homogenous lot. It is bisected by class, gender, ethnicity and dependence on natural resources in each of its community’s unique ways. One size does not fit all.

Dependence on largesse, the trickle down seasonal manual employment that will be provided by large transnational interests bringing in their own unique capital intensive technologies in labor surplus economies may not fit our needs. It is a Filipino first policy that gives us pause - after all, the 1987 Constitution is a Filipino constitution.

Far from creatures of economics, constitutional provisions seek to change behavior, provide rules so that markets and large powerful investments can be tamed in favor of empowering marginalized Filipino communities. The role of the judiciary should become as relevant as before. It is that branch of government expected to decide critically, above the simplified theories that are proposed by powerful commercial interest who do not wish to understand real lived nuances outside their disciplines and are not easily quantifiable – things such as ecological burdens, cultural displacement, social disruption, political marginalization in all their dimension.

Lodel Magbanua
OIC Team Leader for Policy Advocacy
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc. - Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Phils.
Unit 337 Eagle's Court Condominium, #26 Matalino St.,
Central East District Diliman,
Quezon City

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