MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2001-05-01




  1. The area is not suitable for large-scale and open cast mining:
  2. The area being operated by the company is not suitable for large-scale and open cast mining. The study reveals that the operations of the company are situated above several communities on the slopes facing Murcielagos Bay, which is around 300 meters from the coastal line. Even the Field Investigation Team of DENR central office has found out that unmitigated or inadequately mitigated earthmoving activities would severely aggravate the problem of siltation, which by itself is already a natural occurrence. It is much more if there’s heavy downpour of excavated soils as Philex Mining did. The Topography and physical characteristic of the subject area indicates sufficient facts that it this is not suitable for large-scale and open pit mining. The operation has damaged the environment, people’s lives and their livelihood.

  3. National Government action frames for a "win-win" solution, which is equal to a "consuelo de bobo:"
  4. The government’s perception of this case takes the wrong notion that the conflict only involves Philex Mining and the small-scale miners. Without considering seriously that the issue is not merely on the claims but the destruction of the environment, physical and economic displacement wrought on the people and the loss of livelihood for some of these. The government’s framework in solving the problem is for the two to co-exist. While it is true that a peaceful co-existence is the best for everyone, yet the outcome of the entry of big business in laying their claims to the area has brought misfortunes on the local and small people. As can be observed, the small-scale miners have been deprived for a long time now while Philex Mining has benefited the continuing production and protected by the government. So the Government’s previous action was equivalent to "consuelo de bobo" for the poor and in effect it is highly favorable to the company.

    If we look back the position of the National Government from Fidel Ramos up to the present one can find that the government has more support for large-scale mining like Philex Gold Philippines than to the plight of ordinary and small people. The probability of the veracity of this allegation lies in the fact that certain government institutions like the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Could be part of the major investors of Philex Mining

    Antonio Laviste, the husband of Senator Loren Legarda, Board of Investment (BOI) Governor on 02 February this year pronounced that the government has to approve more Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), exploration and other mining activities in the country in order to bolster the economy in general and help the mining industry in particular. The said pronouncement is a clear manifestation that the government is not seriously addressing the needs and problems of the common people and the environmental destruction brought about by the continuos operation of Philex Mining in Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte.

  5. Local Government is inclined towards Philex Mining
  6. The entry of Philex Mining was made during the time of the leadership of Governor Isagani Amatong in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

    There was no move to solve the problem and this only deepened. In fact, Roldan Dalman capitalized on this problem in his campaign against Amatong in the 1995 election. He won but Dalman threw the problem like a small baggage. Now that Amatong has returned to power the problem is still there. No progress has been made except the re-establishment of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board which is defective in its composition.

    Obviously the politico-economic situation is the reason why local officials do not delve into the problem seriously. As in the national level, the local government units refuse to deal the problem in favor of the poor and marginalized population in deference to the next election plus the fact that there are few industries available.

    Gov. Amatong can not move for the resolution of the problem because there are a lot of people under his administration who are closely allied with the mining company. For example, in the provincial government, Olos Elumbaring is a member of the provincial board at the same time is the legal counsel of the company. He is the number one spokesperson of the company within the provincial legislative body. There is, therefore, the possibility that the other board members will support the company in their operation.

    At the municipal level, the new mayor, Roger Dizon, cannot make any move for its resolution since he was part of the municipal council that approved the entrance of the company through their resolution. Even though he was active in people’s organization then, he did not boldly campaign for the cancellation of Philex Mining Operation when he ran for his present position. Added to this is the fact that his brother is a piecework contractor of the company.

    Furthermore, most of the members of the local legislative bodies, both in the municipal and barangay levels, are associated with the company. For example, the Vice-Mayor is the son of Olos Elumbaring, a legal counsel of the company; first councilor is Loly Tolentino, the wife of former Mayor Benito Tolentino, a very close and diehard of the company; another councilor, Remlanie Quiiniones, Chairman of Committee on Environment is a piecework contractor of Philex Mining. These, to name a few. One does not forget the Barangay officials in the affected communities who are workers, if not piecework contractor, with the company except the few barangay officials in Libay, and all officials in barangay Sawang and Sinipay.

  7. Majority of affected communities are opposed the operation of Philex Mining.
  8. Contrary to the claim of Philex Mining, majority of the people in the affected communities are opposed the operation of the giant company. Only the members of the local government units down to the barangay officials have agreed to the operation of the company through their pacifying benefits like short-term jobs and individual business with the company. But even within the local government there are a few who are opposed to its operation. The consent from the community as claimed by the company was based on deception and coercion, not from the heart of the people.

  9. The weaknesses of the people
  10. Poverty is the number one weakness of the people. Confined to look for their daily needs issues on politics and ecology hardly strike them as very important. Their financial difficulties and the hardship in eking out a living made some of them susceptible to the come-ons of those who have the power and the money. For a small amount of peso and some job contract opportunities offered by the giant mining they will readily acknowledge the importance of the company in their lives. Not withstanding the ecological destruction and the economic dislocation that others have suffered. Even those officers of "Kalihukan Alang sa Kaling Kawasan (KALIKASAN)" or Movement of Liberation, a Multi-Sectoral group that seek freedom from destruction of environment, people’s lives and means of living all over Sibutad, find it hard to attend meetings due to lack of resources for fare.

    Fear is the second weakness but the number one enemy of the people. Few would not move or go against Philex mining out of fear and are afraid to show their sentiments. They don’t want to die or be injured by the company’s armed men.

    The lack of environmental concern, basic human rights awareness and knowledge on how to overcome this problem is the third.

  11. Weakness of the campaign against Philex Mining.

The organizer assigned is over stretched. There are 6 barangays alone in the municipality of Sibutad that are directly affected by the operation. Added to these are those belonging to the municipalities of Rizal, ZN and Sapang Dalaga and Baliangao, both of Misamis Occidental that numbers around ten or more. These, too, are to be affected not only by the contamination that is already happening in the Bay but also of the other adverse effect brought about by huge mining activities. Owing to the size of the area it becomes hard for him to consolidate its forces and to make people internalize the issues. His tasks are so complex that he can’t get the basic information on the company’s movements and plans.


    1. Focusing

    There should only be one organizer that will focus on Sibutad alone so that he can have a closer rapport with the people. He can, therefore, consolidate and raise the awareness of the people in the affected communities more effectively and can visit at least the majority of the households in the affected areas.

    2. Company’s movement and plans must be monitored and gathered

    Philex Mining has local contacts within the community that can feed them basic information on the needs and weaknesses of the people.

    They also have more experts like sociologist, psychologist and anthropologist that can easily analyze the weaknesses of the people and address it sensitively. Campaign is a tool of political warfare. In war the campaigner must know its enemy and know itself and he can fight a hundred of battles without defeat, this is the dictum of an ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tsu. The one assigned in Sibutad must study and verify all information about the movement of the company. This will be the basis of people’s activities and actions.

    3. Constant Awareness Raising

The organizer must constantly raise the awareness of the people in terms of environment, mining and their basic constitutional rights. He should study how the people can internalize their awareness and make it into practice. The organizer should live with the people, eat with the people and work with them. The education process for the people in Sibutad must not be passive and must be aggressive to make them braver in their stand rather than to fold their knees and beg to the company.

4. Organization and consolidation

The affected communities in Sibutad, which have not yet been organized, should be organized and be included in Kalikasn and must be consolidated. The following are proposed process and procedures:

  1. Small Group Organizing

    The municipal level of Kalikasan Organizational structure is intact there’s an assembly as its highest policy-making body. Its council is represented from the different affected barangays and is also intact as its policymaking body when the assembly is not in session. Its Executive Committee is the implementing body of their plans and programs as approved by their different policymaking bodies. But the problem of Kalikasan is the barangay level organization. Its barangay organizations are relatively skeletal. The barangay officers can’t manage easily its rank. It is here that organizing problem occurs. There is still the need to organize further the people through small groupings since these can be managed easily by its leaders. The organizer should contact three to five persons. They would be organized into small group organization. Each member of SGO should be tasked to contact three to five and be organized again as SGO. As many SGO in a certain barangay is the better.

    In creating SGOs, it shall be done on a day to day manner. Formation activities shall include the following: knowing each participants, orientation about small group organization, then presentation of their experiences and problems upon the entry of the mining company, next is the study about the national problem and trend on mining. Fifth activity is a study about possible actions and resolutions, then a study on legal or constitutional rights of the people as bases of their action and resolution. The last activity is the election of Group Leader, Vice Group Leader, and Finance. The task of GL is to insure that his group can move in line of the program of Kalikasan. The VGL shall take over the responsibility of GL if it is absent. He takes record of the group activities. The Finance officer shall collect the contribution from the members for the Kalikasan activities in line with their struggle.

  2. Barangay Assembl

Those members of the different SGO in the barangay shall be called in a barangay assembly. If all members from different SGO are there the better, the membership is so clear.

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