MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-12-24


Philippines Update

24th December 2006

Although the most recent typhoon to the Philippines (or allegedly a political storm) ended up forcing the cancellation of the ASEAN summit in Cebu, civil society groups still met to discuss mining issues, where indigenous leaders from the region spoke out. An earlier typhoon deepened Lafayette's troubles when it struck the troubled Rapu Rapu mine. Though damage was light to the mine, there was a new controversy over any impact the mine may have had on landslides on the island. One of the latest political actvisits to be murdered is Atty. Gil Gujol, who had acted for local residents and others in a class action suit against Lafayette. Please support an urgent action in protest at his death. (Talking of urgent actions Greenpeace South East Asia has updated its action to ABN-AMRO at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/abn-amro-keeping-track-of-laf). Yet more mining permits have been approved, including one for Oxiana, and there were no real surprises when Xstrata excercised its option on the giant Tampakan project. We publish at appeal to protect the small-scale miners of Mount Diwalwal. We are pleased to announce the launch of new websites from Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC) in Davao and report that the libel case, brought against DCMI, by supporters of TVI's Canatuan mine has been dismissed.


Forum tackles mining issues

Inquirer Breaking News

December 12, 2006

THE THREAT to ancestral domain posed by large-scale mining activities and the trampling of the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) were the main issues discussed at a forum on Monday during the 2nd Asean Civil Society Conference (ACSC) held at the Montebello Hotel in Cebu City.

During the forum, Filipino IPs and their Indonesian IP guests led by Cion Alexander and Norman Jijuan of the Dayak tribe shared lessons and insights and called for increased awareness of and government action on the matter in their respective countries. A guest speaker, Dr. Quang Toan of Vietnam, spoke on the experiences of IPs in his country.

"Since the Asean Minerals Cooperation Action Plan was approved, we noticed an aggressive promotion of large-scale mining. This poses a threat to IPs not only in the Philippines but also in other Southeast Asian countries," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).


Philippine mining: The civil-society perspective

NATURE FOR LIFE, By Anabelle E. Plantilla, Manila Times

16th December 2006

I have just come from Cebu having attended the Second Civil Society Conference that was supposed to be side by side with the "postponed" Asean Summit. Because the forecast was stormy weather, I was armed with appropriate rain gear only to find out that it was clear and sunny! It must have been the political storms that drove the summit away.

The issue of mining vis-à-vis indigenous peoples' rights was one of the several concurrent workshops that were held. The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), of whose secretariat Haribon is a part, provided the opportunity for a majority of its membership, particularly from the 23 priority mining project sites, to attend the conference and share their harrowing experiences. These ranged from misinformation, bribery, militari­zation and murder.

Phildhrra, which is also part of the ATM secretariat, circulated a paper on civil-society perspective on mining. It says that the current state of mining in the Philippines can be said to hinge on two things: the Philippine Mining Act or Republic Act 7942 and the Marcopper Mining disaster in Marinduque. Each signifies the opposite ends of the mining spectrum, the former represents the best attempt of the government to revitalize the mining industry, the latter, mining's ultimate pitfalls. The two are even closely linked by date; the Mining Act was passed into law in 1995, a year later, the Marcop­per disaster occurred.

The fallout from Marcopper's destruction of the rivers of Boac and Mogpog, as well as the ensuing discovery of the company's repeated violations of the country's environmental code and the magnitude of human suffering captured by the media served to truncate the government's revitalization attempts. As mines grew less profitable with the drop in global prices and the backlash from Marinduque swept through the nation, scaring away potential investors and getting mines shut down, companies packed up and left. Mining had become untenable in the Philippines, something that flew in the face of RA 7942 and its author and primary proponent, President Arroyo.

The Mining Act received some attention prior to GMA's ascension to the presidency but it was in her second term that attention to the revitalization of the Philippine mining industry came to fruition. The fast tracking of the National Minerals Policy Framework was the most visible manifestation of the government's commitment to mining. According to experts, the Philippines has mineral wealth that reaches into the billions of dollars, a windfall for a country that is stricken with poverty. Yet, the
prevalent idea being flung about is that the Philippines does not utilize this wealth, that is simply sitting there, untapped, while the country remains poor.

The reality is that mining has been part of Philippine life since the pre-Spanish era. Tribal tradition confirm this and artisanal, or small-scale miners, in the Cordilleras practice an art that has changed little over the centuries. The Spaniards recognized the country's mineral wealth, though they were unable to develop mining in any extensive form. Fierce tribal fighters kept them from the mountainous regions, through this did not stop them from attempting to penetrate the area with military force.

The Americans proved better at this. Among the earliest laws passed by the Americans was the Public Lands Act (1902) which allowed them to declare traditionally ancestral areas as areas for exploitation and development, giving them a legal right to seize these places and begin mining. The "summer capital" of Baguio is and was a mining town, the fact that there was an American military presence there was no simple coincidence, but an active way of safeguarding the valuable resources that America had claimed for its own growth.

History tells us that mining has been part of the national economy for literally centuries; that mines and mining firms are no strangers to this country, but long time visitors, welcome or not. Yet mining today is a different beast than what the country has known previously. This is largely in part to the demands of investors, companies and the government's own desire to transform the nation's mineral wealth into economic success.


Mining: The civil-society perspective (2)

NATURE FOR LIFE, By Anabelle E. Plantilla - Manila Times

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Local mining is in an economic downturn. Starting in the late seventies and continuing up into the nineties, the global mining industry began to suffer from plunging mineral prices. The economic effects were evident as well, from 1981 to 1990, 14 percent of the country's total exports came from mining. In 1991 this number dropped to 8.87, in 1992, it fell further to 7.37 percent.

The year 1993 saw 220 abandoned mines in the Philippines. Mining's contribution to the gross domestic products from 1981-92 averaged around 1.77 percent. The industry needed rescue; the solution was through a piece of legislation, now known as Republic Act 7942, the Mining Act of 1995. Signed into law by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995, the Act's principal author was then-Sen. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had helped to create a bill that was looked favorably upon by the stagnant mining industry.

The mining industry gave inputs in the crafting of the bill, creating what was in their minds a law that would help to remove the toughest barriers to mining, particularly those which prevented the large transnational mining corporations from bringing their business to the country. However, in the minds of others, the act was seen as a clear and present danger to the national patrimony and the environment as well a violation of the 1987 Constitution. The root of this problem comes from the creation of an environment appealing enough for foreign mining investors.

Investors, by and large, are wary of the Philippines given its history of social and political upheaval. The Mining Act removed the very barrier that TNCs find most daunting, the nationalist protections present in the 1987 Constitution. The law states that certain industry companies (mining among them) could only be 40 percent foreign (with the other 60 percent Filipino) was seen as the single greatest impediment to foreign investment in the country.

It should be noted though that by definition as a "protectionist" policy, it was written not as an impediment to foreigners but as a way to ensure that Filipinos had priority in their own country. To get around this ownership issue, the Act introduced the concept of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) under which a completely (100 percent) foreign-owned company could explore, develop and mine in the country.

The FTAA offers a 10-year tax holiday for companies. It also exempts them from paying capital taxes and allows them to repatriate, that is, to remove from the country and use it in their own lands, 100 percent of all the capital and the profits they make from mining. Auxiliary mining rights are also granted by the Act to foreign investors. These include the rights to water and forest resources in the area of their application, as well as what are known as "easement" rights. This is a purely pro-business consideration, giving a corporation the right to "ease out" any impediment to mining operations. In almost all cases, these impediments are people. Locally, they could be anything from farmers to fishermen to "uncooperative" indigenous groups. Though not directly stated, it is assumed that force of arms-via military cooperation or "private security contractors" a.k.a. mercenaries-is allowed to achieve easement.

The Act is biased toward TNCs or large-scale mining. It was challenged in the Supreme Court, tying it up for years. Finally, in a famous non-decision, the high court ruled it unconstitutional, only to reverse its position a few months later. With the Mining Act of 1995 in place, the government saw that it would need a way to push mining revitalization nationwide. This resulted in the National Minerals Policy (NMP) Framework.

The NMP has four policy thrusts: protection and rehabilitation of the environment, promotion of social and community stability, preservation of options for future generations and the establishment of a competitive and stable mining industry. Through their encouragement of the mining industry by way of capitulation to their most outrageous demands, and the passing into law of regulations that solely benefit the TNCs, the government hopes to draw enough of them into the country that it can pull itself from its perennial state of near bankruptcy.


Xstrata buys stake in Philippine mine - Copper-gold deposit biggest in Philippines

By Madelene Pearson and Luzi Ann Javier Bloomberg News

December 21, 2006

MELBOURNE: Xstrata, the world's fourth-largest copper producer, said Thursday it would take over the biggest untapped copper and gold deposit in the Philippines, increasing the country's chances of benefiting from its raw materials wealth.

Xstrata will exercise an option to acquire 62.5 percent of Indophil Resources's Tampakan deposit and take over management of the project on March 30, Xstrata, which is based in Zug, Switzerland, said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. The project will likely cost $1.4 billion to develop, Indophil of Melbourne said Nov. 1.

Copper prices have quadrupled in the past five years, spurring more than $170 billion of mining industry takeovers. the chief executive of Xstrata, Mick Davis, who bought Falconbridge this year for $17 billion, wants to operate on five continents to rival BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto Group and Anglo American.

Xstrata's takeover of Tampakan "reduces the level of risk that the project might not be developed," said Chris Brown, an analyst at ABN AMRO Morgans in Brisbane, Australia. "This gives credibility to the project from a world class mining company."

The Philippines aims to attract $6.5 billion in investment to help develop mining and benefit from rising prices for its deposits of raw materials, including copper, gold and nickel, which the government estimated in March could be worth as much as $1 trillion.

A study submitted by Indophil to Xstrata on the mine showed the Tampakan deposit on the southern island of Mindanao contains 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold.

"The decision to exercise our option to acquire a 62.5 percent controlling interest in the Tampakan project will further expand our position globally," Xstrata Copper's chief executive, Charlie Sartain, said in the statement.

"Promising mineral resource estimates at the deposit indicate the project should become a new long life copper asset for Xstrata," he said.

Xstrata Copper currently has annual managed production of over one million tons of copper, with projects in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Papua New Guinea.

"This gives Xstrata access to an interest in developing a major copper and gold resource. It's a very large deposit," said Brown, who rated Indophil shares a "buy." "Xstrata has the technical and financial capacity to see the project through." South Korea targets mines

South Korean companies plan to spend at least $577 million on overseas mineral projects next year, a record, reflecting efforts by the third-largest Asian economy to secure supplies as competition and prices increase.

The spending figure is more than double the estimated $280 million invested this year, the highest investment so far, the South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said in a statement Thursday. The numbers for this year are based on companies' reports to the ministry, while the 2007 estimates are based on a Korea Resources survey of 21 companies.

South Korea, which imports almost all of its raw material needs, is increasing overseas investments in mines and mining companies. Contract prices for iron ore have risen for four straight years and gained 19 percent to a record this year as China almost doubled output of steel. Prices of copper, zinc and nickel have all climbed to records this year on the London Metal Exchange.

"It would have been better if South Korea had been more aggressive in overseas investments before prices rose so much and before competition heated up with China and India, but it's better late than never," said Chung Ji Yun, an analyst at CJ Investment & Securities. "Competition for natural resources is only going to increase."

The $280 million that South Korean companies have invested so far this year in 23 projects is an 82 percent increase from 2005, the ministry said. Targets include coal, gold and copper projects in countries like Australia, Indonesia and China.

In 2007, South Korean companies are expected to plan ventures in nations like Kazakhstan, Russia and Myanmar.

The government plans to increase its budget to support overseas investment for minerals by 55 percent next year to 136.7 billion won, or $148 million, the ministry said. The government also plans to form a mineral fund to attract private funds in overseas projects.

Orica sees results of buyouts

Orica, the world's largest explosives maker, said trading in the first two months of its full year has met its expectations.

The company will see the benefits in 2007 from changes taken this year, including its purchases of some Dyno Nobel assets and the mining services company Minova, Graeme Liebelt, managing director of Orica, said Thursday.

"The further impact of Dyno synergies, the contribution of Minova, the up- rate of several of our plants, and the many growth opportunities across the businesses, give us cause for optimism," he said.


Prosecutor Dismissed Libel Case of TVI Allies Vs. Bishop Jose R. Manguiran & Eight Others

By: Tito Natividad Fiel, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI)

18th December 2006

Dipolog City – The DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI) received on Friday afternoon, December 15 a copy of the prosecutor’s decision here dismissing the libel suit against the Most Rev. Jose R. Manguiran, Bishop of this city and DCMI Bishop’s head together with Fr. Albert K. Bael and seven personnel.

The complainants were the allies of the Canadian Mining firm, TVI Pacific, namely Juanito Tumangkis, who claims to be president of Siocon Subanon Association Inc (SSAI) and Atty. Pablo Bernardo, a lawyer of the said association. Both are well known proponents of TVI Pacific.

The accused within DCMI were Bishop Jose R. Manguiran, Fr. Albert K. Bael the former chairperson; Charles Alferez, executive director; Tito Natividad Fiel, program coordinator; Celestino Tano, former advocacy officer; Wilma Tompong former advocacy volunteer; Roger Daguinotas, community organizer; Elnoel Peñalosa and Ofelia Davi both former community organizers.

According to the 6 page resolution penned by Third Assistant City Prosecutor Aleth B. Hamoy-Velasco, and approved by City Prosecutor Rodrigo Ladera, dated November 3, 2006 the charge against the accused was dismissed for lack of merit.

The case stemmed from the primer published and circulated by DCMI on August 9 and 10 this year in the Visayan language, which was translated into English by the prosecutor as “Did TVI construct a Road from R.T. Lim to Canatuan?”

The primer answered the question by saying that “The company declared that it generated 12 million dollars in 1995, which if converted to peso is valued at 600 million pesos, more or less, while the royalty payment for the “IP dealer” headed by Juanito Tumangkis and Atty. Pablo Bernardo amounted only to 3 million pesos”.

The primer added that the three million was only a grain of the income generated by TVI from Canatuan and in addition to it the royalty payment did not go to the legal and legitimate owners of the Ancestral Domain, instead it went to these “Dealers”.

The prosecutor’s decision noted that the central issues of the case are the phrase “IP dealer” and the last sentence of the primer that “the royalty payment did not go to the legal and legitimate owners of the ancestral domain; instead it went to these “Dealers”.

The complainants argued that the item in question is libellous and defamatory as they were tagged as “IP dealers”, which allegedly is plainly and ordinarily understood as an imputation or a commission of devious crimes of large scale or mass swindling, and selling out of their people.

However the decision noted that the accused claim that the publication is not libellous and defamatory as the item did not impute a crime or vice or defect, but were statements of fact which are in the public interest.

The prosecutor’s decision was that “naming the complainants a leader of the IP dealers and the statement that the royalty payment is with the IP dealers and not with the legal and legitimate owners of the ancestral domain is not libellous”.

The alleged defamatory publication of DCMI informed the public that it is not TVI who funded the construction of the road from R.T. Lim to Canatuan, and it discussed the income generated by TVI from the mining operation at Canatuan and compared the income to the royalty payments made to IP dealers.

The decision explains that in determining whether a statement is defamatory, the words are understood to be construed in their entirety and should be taken in their plain, natural and ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them. In this case decision states that thee term “IP dealers headed by the complainants” does not connote swindling or selling out of the Subanons for personal improvement.

The decision concludes by noting that the statement that the royalty payment did not go to the legal and legitimate owners of the ancestral domain but to the dealers, is also not malicious as it simply states that the royalty payments has gone to them.

Mr. Charles Alferez, Executive Director of DCMI, and one of the accused, noted that the dismissal of the case strengthened the work of the committee in its advocacy against the environmental destruction, and human rights violations as well as the church’s commitment in defending the rights of the Subanon people to their ancestral domain.

“The decision affirms that DCMI’s statements published in the primer are true and correct and are merely stating the factual situation, which is in the public interest. The libel suit filed against the Bishop and eight others is mere harassment to curtail the freedom of publication and expression”.

Since 1999, TVI and its allies had allegedly and consistently harassed the affected communities who oppose its mining operations due to the impact on the environment and human rights violations by filing several charges.

And now, DCMI has faced the same harassment because it supports the efforts of the communities to defend their rights over their land and their means of living against the encroachment of large and foreign open pit mining.

136 clergy, including bishops, condemned the above libel case as a kind of harassment through their signed declaration on November 14 2006, during the 31st DOPIM Clergy convention in Ozamiz City.


Environmental group takes fight to cyberspace

SunStar Davao

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A NON-government organization fighting for the welfare and rights of the lumads (indigenous peoples) and the protection of natural resources against highly extractive activities like mining has taken its fight to cyberspace, taking advantage of the infinite reach of the medium.

"The worldwide web is now one of the most effective tools in communication and information dissemination. Most of the information we need these days are just one click away. The fight now has been taken on a broader arena," said Keith Kristoffer Bacongco, campaigns paralegal office of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kailakasan (LRC-KSK)/Friends of the Earth Philippines Davao Office.

One of the sites (www.macambol.org) illustrates the threats confronting the small community of the coastal community of Macambol in Mati, Davao Oriental, which is now under the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) permits of two large-scale mining companies.

The residents of the village have already filed demand letters and petition with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the cancellation of the permits.

Until now, however, DENR has never acted on it. The stand of the resident against the mining operation in their village is anchored more than on the fact that the village lies between the protected areas of Mt. Hamiguitan Range and the Pujada Bay.

Known for its bonsai forest, Mt. Hamiguitan Range is considered as one of the hidden treasures the peninsula province of Davao Oriental. It sprawls the towns of Mati, San Isidro and Gov. Generoso, all in Davao Oriental.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development (Pcarrd) said the mountain is a haven of five endangered species, 27 rare species, 44 endemic species, and 59 economically important species in the wildlife sanctuary. It was declared as a protected area in 2004, under the category of wildlife sanctuary.

The Pujada Bay, on the other hand, is a major drainage of the major streams from Mt. Hamiguitan Range. Considered as an ecological jewel, a festival named before the bay is being celebrated annually by the local government of Mati in its bid to draw public attention on the most needed protection of the bay. It was declared a protected seascape and landscape under Presidential Proclamation 431 in July 1994 and it covers at least 21,000 hectares.

It is also aimed at gaining campaign support not just from the local scene but as well as from the international community.

The site contains several information on Mt. Hamiguitan and Pujada Bay. Both are declared protected areas. In July 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republicg Act 9303 declaring Mt. Hamiguitan Range and its vicinities as protected area under the category of wildlife sanctuary.

The other website (www.kontradevagg.com) contains information on development aggression. Interestingly, it contains initial mapping of mining hotspots in Mindanao. Literally, the website means "against development aggression."

"The site was put up to expose and oppose all forms of development aggression. The site contains information about development aggression issues, references and other useful materials," Bacongco said.

Behind the site also are different non-government organizations and people's organizations working in communities that are sites of various forms of development aggressions -- mining operations, banana plantations, and pineapple plantations, among others.

These groups include the Tribal Filipino Program of the Diocese of Kidapawan, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, and Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, among others.

Through the website, the interest groups and even the affected people, can "ventilate their plight against development aggression, which does not only drive them away from their ancestral domains but as well as trampling their basic rights."


24 died near Rapu-Rapu mine in typhoon's wake

December 5, 2006

By AMITA LEGASPI, GMANews.TV

An environmental group said on Tuesday that 24 residents living near a controversial mine run by Australia-based Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay province have reportedly died in landslides and flash floods caused by super typhoon Reming last week.

People's Network for the Environment national coordinator Clemente Bautista told GMANews.TV that reports gathered by the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils.) showed 24 deaths in three villages, including 11 in Malobago, 12 in Tinup-an, and one in Poblacion.

In a preliminary report posted on its website on Tuesday, Lafayette noted 11 deaths in Malabago.

"There were eleven fatalities from a landslide in the local community of Malobago on the island. We are grateful that no fatality or injury was sustained on the site of our Rapu Rapu operation," Lafayette said.

The report added that the mining and processing operations at the Rapu Rapu mine have been suspended while they assess the damage wrought by the super typhoon.

Bautista said the landslide in Malabago and flash floods in Tinup-an may not have been brought about by Reming alone because other nearby islands did not suffer the same fate.

"We have many reasons to suspect that the open-pit mining operations in the Ungay-Malobago deposit and the rest of Lafayette's mining areas have directly contributed to the gravity of the landslides and flash floods that killed at least 24 Rapu-Rapu residents," Bautista said.

He noted that Malobago is classified as a direct impact area of Lafayette's 400-hectare polymetallic mining operation, as it is also the site where Lafayette continues to extract sulfide reserves from the Ungay-Malobago "ore body" through open-pit mining.

"Rapu-Rapu is a peninsula separated from Albay's sloping landscape and Mayon lahar-filled areas where the other fatal mudslides and flash floods occurred. The only other obvious cause of widespread denudation, earth movement and displacement in the area is Lafayette's mine operations," he said. -GMANews.TV


Another tragedy hits Rapu-Rapu

24 dead as of today Locals, environmentalists pin blame on Lafayette mining ops, Call for urgent relief, rehabilitation and mine closure before death toll rises

KALIKASAN-PNE PRESS RELEASE

December 4, 2006

Twenty-four (24) residents of Rapu-Rapu island in Albay have been reported dead due to sudden landslides and flash floods as of today, with 23 of these fatalities occurring in barangays that are directly adjacent to the Lafayette polymetallic project, initial reports reaching Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) revealed.

Reports from project communities of the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils) in Rapu-Rapu tallied 11 residents dead in Brgy. Malobago, 12 in Brgy. Tinup-an, and one (1) in Brgy. Poblacion.

"Brgy. Malobago is classified as a direct impact area of Lafayette's 400-hectare polymetallic mining operation. It is also the site where Lafayette continues to extract sulphide reserves from the Ungay-Malobago orebody through open-pit mining methods," Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista said.

According to initial field reports, Brgy. Malobago was hit by a landslide while Brgy. Tinup-an was hit by flash floods. Kalikasan-PNE and CEC-Phils are currently updating the status of the affected communities.

Bautista described the death toll as "the largest tragedy to hit Rapu-Rapu to date after the two mine tailings spills in October 11 and October 31, 2005 which caused fish-kills and displaced the livelihood of the small island ecosystem's residents, majority of whom are fisherfolks."

The environmental activist leader said that the "massive excavation, denudation, and earth movement incurred in the course of Lafayette's continued open-pit mining operation is one the factors that have contributed to the fatal landslides and flash floods in Brgy. Malobago and Brgy. Tinup-an".

"We have many reasons to suspect that the open-pit mining operations in the Ungay-Malobago desposit and the rest of Lafayette's mining areas have directly contributed to the gravity of the landslides and flash floods that killed at least 24 Rapu-Rapu residents," he said.

Bautista noted that the "grave structural flaws in Lafayette mine's existing dam design seem to have not been corrected by the time typhoon Reming struck". "The first mine tailings dam constructed by Lafayette was 20 meters below the approved design of 190 meters," Bautista said.

"Technical experts on dam structures also noted that Lafayette's dams are under-designed in the light of Philippine rainfall conditions, particularly in high-risk areas such as Bicol which is located in the typhoon belt. This was one of our contentions why large-scale mining operations are bound to fail and be destructive in Rapu-Rapu island," Bautista said. The DENR, however, allowed Lafayette to operate by issuing two Temporary Lifting Orders (TLO) despite the unresolved issue of the dam's faulty structure.

"Lafayette also clearly failed to institute an emergency warning and alert system in case of accidents, spillages and the like, which is also an environmental requisite and explicitly included in the DENR TLO conditionalities. As the death toll implies, there was no sufficient action was done to warn or safeguard the local community against impending environmental threats," Bautista said.

Bautista also voiced out suspicions of a "cover-up on the part of Lafayette and the Arroyo administration due to the lack of a DENR report over the fatalities and the full extent of the structural damage incurred by the Lafayette project".

Bautista stressed the "urgent need to conduct relief operations, implement the full and permanent closure of Lafayette's mine and embark on immediate rehabilitation measures before the death toll rises". ###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator (0928-344-8797)

KALIKASAN? PEOPLES NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756;
E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com


In aftermath of typhoon ‘Reming’:

By Bulatlat, Vol. VI, No. 43

December 3 - 9, 2006

Bigger Disasters Coming, Environmental Groups Warn

Two environmental groups in the Philippines have raised the alarm on what they described as “impending disasters” in the aftermath of supertyphoon “Reming,” which hit the archipelago – particularly the southern part of its biggest island Luzon – over the weekend. Greenpeace-Southeast Asia warned of “more violent weather events around the world” as a result of climate change, while the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) voiced fears that another mine spill may have taken place or could take place in Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

Two environmental groups in the Philippines have raised the alarm on what they described as “impending disasters” in the aftermath of supertyphoon “Reming,” which hit the archipelago – particularly the southern part of its biggest island Luzon – over the weekend.

Reports reaching Bulatlat at press time said “Reming” has claimed a total of 388 lives. It wrought the greatest damage on Marinduque, the Mindoro provinces, and the Bicol Region, the reports further show.

Reming is the latest in the series of deadly and destructive tropical cyclones to ravage the Philippines in recent years. The typhoon brought 466 millimeters of rainfall, the highest in 40 years. Reming is also the third super-typhoon this year – a first in Philippine history – and the fourth major typhoon in as many months.

Typhoon Milenyo (international code name Xangsane), struck the country in September, causing more than P3 billion in damages and leaving more than a hundred casualties. Supertyphoons Paeng (Cimaron) and Queenie (Chebi) followed in October and November, both adding millions of pesos more to the damages already wrought by Milenyo.

Greenpeace-Southeast Asia warned of “more violent weather events around the world” as a result of climate change, while the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) voiced fears that another mine spill may have taken place or could take place in Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

Climate change

In a Dec. 2 statement, Greenpeace Southeast Asia warned that the damage wrought by “Reming” could be a portent of more devastating events resulting from climate change.

“The tragic loss of lives and the massive destruction of properties brought about by the super-typhoon deserve immediate attention and sympathy from the international community,” said Abigail Jabines, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “It should also serve as a wake-up call about the need for governments to find ways to avert or mitigate the catastrophic impacts of extreme weather events which scientists predict could become more severe because of climate change. We are calling on governments worldwide to act decisively and urgently on climate change because it is poor countries like the Philippines who bear much of the brunt from such climate impacts.”

Residents evacuate from a village in Legaspi City, Albay that was buried in mud from the onslaught of typhoon “Reming.” (AFP/HO/George de Jesus) Scientists say that as global temperatures rise, the intensity of extreme weather events is likely to increase, and it is possible that in the future the impact of these events will become even greater.

Research by Dr. Leoncio Amadore, one of the Philippines’ foremost meteorologists, showed that the Philippine archipelago has already suffered severely from extreme weather events. His report “Crisis or Opportunity: Climate Change Impacts and the Philippines,” indicates that from 1975 to 2002, intensifying tropical cyclones caused an annual average of 593 deaths and damage to property of 4.5 billion pesos (around US$ 83 million), including damage to agriculture of 3 billion pesos (around US$ 55 million).

“The combination of strong typhoons, excessive precipitation and landslides has caused a great deal of death and destruction in the Philippines. If we do not act urgently, climate change will further intensify the severity of extreme weather events,” said Amadore.

Another mine spill?

The Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) voiced fears that another mine spill may have taken place or could take place in Rapu-Rapu, Albay while Greenpeace Southeast Asia warned of “more violent weather events around the world” as a result of climate change.

In a Dec. 2 statement, the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) called for the “immediate and permanent termination” of Lafayette’s operations in Rapu-Rapu, Albay after the Australian mining company reported sustaining structural damage in the wake of the supertyphoon. Reports are rife that Lafayette had interrupted its operations and stock trading activities because of the severe structural damage it suffered.

“We fear that another serious mine spill may have occurred – or will be occurring –due to the structural damage sustained by Lafayette after typhoon ‘Reming’ hit,” said Kalikasan-PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr. “Lafayette and the DENR should immediately disclose the full extent of damage sustained and should take this as a sign to close shop in Rapu-Rapu for good.”

“The serious fact that the mine had to again stop operations and even halted its stocks trading only indicates that the Lafayette mine facility is not structurally sound,” Bautista added. “This supports the Bastes Commission report citing scientific findings by Dr. Arthur Zaldivar-Sali, a technical expert on dam design, who noted that the Lafayette dam was under-designed in the light of Philippine rainfall conditions, especially in high-risk areas along the typhoon belt such as Bicol. The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) should finally comply with the Bastes Commission's recommendations that Lafayette should have its environmental clearance certificate cancelled and should stop operations immediately, and impose a mining moratorium in Rapu-Rapu.”

Lafayette, in various statements released to the media, had cited excessive rainfall as one of the causes of the two mine spills that occurred in Rapu-Rapu last year. The company also cited typhoon “Milenyo” as having damaged its facilities last October – leading to a stoppage of its operations.

“Lafayette’s Rapu-rapu mine cannot clearly hold its ground against the typhoons which are a regular scourge in the Bicol region,” Bautista said. “Neither has it been able to publicly disclose and defend any proposed preventive strategy to control the larger threat of acid mine drainages. These failures validate the inability of Lafayette to safely operate and merit its immediate pull-out from Rapu-Rapu.”

“There will be no letup of environmental woes for Bicolanos if Lafayette is allowed to continue with its destructive commercial operations,” the Kalikasan-PNE leader added. “Lafayette Phils. Inc’s expected resumption of commercial operations will only bring about more tragedies to the Bicol region after typhoon ‘Reming’ and the mudflows that buried entire villages in Legaspi and Daraga.”

“The government cannot prevent destructive typhoons such as ‘Milenyo’ and ‘Reming’ from wreaking damage on the nation because these are inevitable and natural occurrences,” Bautista further said. “But it can prevent destructive foreign mining projects such as that of Lafayette from devastating the environment and people’s lives.”


Human rights lawyer, driver shot dead in Sorsogon

By Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer

December 12, 2006

NAGA CITY -- A human rights lawyer and his driver was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men Tuesday in Sorsogon province as he was returning from a hearing at a regional trial court here, police said.

Gil Gujol was killed at about 10:00 a.m. in Sitio (sub-village) Naduyan, in the village of Payawin, Gubat while on his way to Sorsogon City, Senior Police Officer 3 Roque Fundamera told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

The attack came a day after Cris Frivaldo, a brother of a left-wing party member who was killed in January, was fatally shot by masked men as he sat in his house in nearby Irosin town.

Marie Enriquez, head of the Philippine human rights group Karapatan, believe the killing was politically motivated since Gujol, who had handled human rights cases for over 10 years, represented left-wing activists and one former communist rebel leader who was assassinated in May. Gujol also represented opponents of a controversial Australian mine on Rapu-Rapu island, she said.

The body of Gujol was recovered by police authorities some 100 meters from where the van he was traveling in stopped following the ambush, said Fundamera.

Fundamera said Gujol's driver, identified as Danilo France, was found slumped dead on his seat and was apparently the first one the unidentified assailants shot when they caught up with lawyer's van.

He said that Gujol had apparently tried to flee from his attackers but was shot in the buttocks and, after falling on his face near a house, was finished off with a shot to the head.

Fundamera said the police had yet to determine the motive for the killings and establish the identity of the assailants. Salvador Españo, municipal development officer of Gubat, Sorsogon, said that Gujol was an active member of militant groups in Sorsogon and participated in anti-government protests there.

Karapatan meanwhile said that Frivaldo, 35, could be a member of the party-list group Bayan Muna.

Deputy Director General Avelino Razon, chief of Task Force Usig -- a special police unit tasked to investigate political killings -- said he had ordered the Bicol police to determine if Frivaldo was really a member of the leftwing group.

Frivaldo sustained five gunshot wounds -- four to his chest and one to his head, said Karapatan. It added that Frivaldo was the 21st political activist killed in the Bicol region since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001.

At the national level, the attacks have brought the number of victims of political killings to 801 since 2001, according to Karapatan.

About half of the victims belong to activist groups and the Bayan Muna party. Another 206 people have been abducted during the same period and remain missing, Karapatan said.

International human rights groups such as the London-based Amnesty International and the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong have expressed grave concern over the rising number of political killings.

In an unprecedented move, the American, Australia-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean business chambers as well as an association of multinational companies issued a joint statement last month condemning the killings, saying "such violence has no place in a modern democratic state."

Arroyo has denounced the killings and has created a fact-finding body to investigate them.


Urgent Action: Another Human Rights Lawyer in Bicol, Philippines Killed!

Prepared by: KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights)

14 December 2006

Urgent Action Case: Summary Execution

I. Victim/s: Atty. Gil Gojol
· Male, 45 years old
· Human rights lawyer
· a former Board Member of the 1st District of Sorsogon
· former President Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Sorsogon Chapter
· Legal Counsel of Association of Democratic Labor Organizations-Kilusang Mayon (ADLO-KMU)

Danilo France
· Male
· Driver of Gojol

II. Date of Incident: 12 Dec 2006 at around 9:45 AM

III. Place of Incident: Gubat, Sorsogon, Philippines

IV. Perpetrator/s: motorcycle riding armed men

V. Summary of Incident:

Atty. Gil Gojol left the Municipal Trial Court with driver Danilo France from a court hearing on 12 December 2006, sometime past 9 o'clock in the morning, aboard his Starex van. At around 9:55A.M., four armed men on board two motorcycles ambused Gojol and France along the road of Brgy Carriedo, Gubat Sorsogon.

According to a witness, France was shot first, which made the van come to a halt. Gojol, tried but failed to escape his assassins. Both died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds. The place of the incident is about 200 meters away from the army detachment of the 22nd Infantry Battalion in San Ignacio, Gubat, Sorsogon.

Atty. Gojol was a former local government official having served as Board Member of the 1st District of Sorsogon province, former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Sorsogon Chapter, Legal Counsel of ADLO-KMU and human rights lawyer defending the rights of the poor.

A day before, thirty-five-year-old Crisanto Frivaldo, a law student at the Aquinas University College of Law, was shot dead by masked gunmen inside their house in San Julian, Irosin, Sorsogon. He died from 5 gunshot wounds (1 in the head and 4 in the chest). Crisanto is the younger brother of former Councilor and Bayan Muna Municipal Coordinator Maximo Frivaldo who was also shot dead last January 30, 2006 while tending to his 2 month-old baby inside their home.

The attacks on persons identified with progressive and militant organizations in the Philippines have not ceased despite pronouncement of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that her government is doing something about it. On Nov. 16, 2006, Toribio Mesa, 41 y/o a Bayan Muna Barangay Coordinator of Jamorawon, Bulan Sorsogon was killed; November 19, 2006, farmer Domingo Marbella, 22 y/o, was abducted by soldiers on (date) and was found dead on (date) at Sitio Piot, Lungib, Pilar, Sorsogon.

Indeed, it is now beyond question that there's a trend in the killing of civilians, KARAPATAN-BIKOL have documented 127 victims of extrajudicial killings from January 21, 2001-December 12, 2006, 40 of them were killed this year alone. The victims are unarmed, who either pursue or support political causes.

KARAPATAN-Bikol said the motives and opportunity behind the killings are pointed to the elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and/or their agents like the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and death squad. The death squads are usually motorcycle-riding men wearing bonnets/ski-masks armed with high caliber pistols.

The political persecution continues to rise under the Arroyo administration. We Filipinos are calling on the international community to protest the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, help form an independent investigative body to make the perpetrators accountable for this killings and find justice to the victims and to urge the Philippine government to put an end to these killings and.###

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send letters, email or fax messages calling for:

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace,
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel,
Manila, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742 1641 / 929 3968
Cell#: (+63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

SEC. JESUS D. DUREZA
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
7F Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 636 0701 to 0766
Fax: (+632) 638 2216
Email: palaka@pacific.net.ph

Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman,
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: drpvq@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the said government official at our address below:

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights)-National Office
34-B Maamo St., Barangay Sikatuna, Quezon City, 1100 PHILIPPINES
Telefax: (+632) 435 4146
Emails: krptn@philonline.com/ karapatan.pid@gmail.com


A policy of contradictions and amusing presumptions

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5 December 2006

December 5, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's recent executive order outlining the National Policy on Biological Diversity -- signed Nov. 8 on Isla Verde in Batangas province -- is not without its contradictions and amusing presumptions.

Her professed "support" for terrestrial and marine biodiversity is contradicted by the reality that many of her pet economic policies pose threats to the stability of our natural ecosystems. For instance, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is an environmental and economic menace because it provides a policy loophole for the export of toxic and hazardous wastes into the Philippines, aggravating our country's looming waste and pollution problem and further endangering the people's health. Its easing of trade restrictions for foreign-owned commercial fishing trawlers will also intensify the over-extraction of fish and marine resources from our ecosystems.

The government's inability to curb legal -- and illegal -- commercial logging also contributes to large-scale biodiversity loss. Rapid denudation of our existing forest covers due to logging has been an exacerbating factor in environmental tragedies such as the 2003 Southern Leyte landslide and the 2004 Aurora-Quezon flashflood. But since January 2001 through June 2004, the Arroyo administration has granted 23 new Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs), which allow logging in nearly 200,000 hectares of forest areas.

Biodiversity is also threatened by the mining operations of foreign transnational companies (TNCs), which is blatantly encouraged under the Mining Act of 1995 and President Arroyo's mining revitalization policy. The government has approved mining operations despite clamors for large-scale mining moratoriums in areas classified as environmentally critical (such as Rapu-Rapu island in Albay province).

President Arroyo said that we could be "tops in biodiversity only if we alleviate the poverty that forces people to exploit them mindlessly." This conveniently omits the fact that the primary exploiters of our biodiversity are the TNCs, which, by their sheer size and extractive capacity, have contributed the most to environmental devastation in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Arroyo administration has chosen to coddle exploitative foreign TNCs instead of subjecting them to accountability and prosecution for their abuses.

LISA ITO, public information officer and CLEMENTE BAUTISTA, national coordinator, Kalikasan-Peoples' Network for the Environment Kalikasan-PN


Protection of small miners urged

Manila Bulletin

4th December 2006

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. (PDP-Laban) yesterday reminded the Arroyo government not to neglect the rights of small miners as it opens the exploration and extraction of the abundant gold deposits in Mount Diwalwal in Compostela Valley to big mining corporations.

Pimentel stressed that the small miners want an assurance that their means of livelihood and their welfare will be protected with the entry of mining firms and their foreign partners.

The lone senator from Mindanao said he is taking the cudgels for the small miners amid reports that the government, through the Natural Resources and Mining Corporation, led by its president Artemio Disini, has started negotiations with mining firms and foreign investors who expressed interest in the gold mines around M so called Mount Diwata.

"While we are not against the entry of established mining firms, together with their foreign partners, the government should ensure respect for the rights of small miners which are guaranteed under the Small Miners Act," said Pimentel, the law's principal author.

There are reportedly about 7,000 small miners still actively operating in Mount Diwalwal although there was a time when as many as 40,000 people scattered across the vast gold-rush area digging for the precious metal.

Pimentel said he was told by knowledgeable persons that the gold deposits underneath the slopes and hills of Mount Diwalwal are so rich that they are supposedly enough to pay the foreign debts of the Philippines.

He said what the government must do is to wield an iron hand to effectively control all the gold production of small miners from Mount Diwalwal.

Pimentel said the small miners must be required not only to sell or report their gold output to the government or its authorized agents but to pay the necessary taxes and environmental fees.

He said that after the enactment of the Small Miners Act in the early 1990s, the then Central Bank set up gold buying stations at the foot of Mount Diwalwal.

But these buying stations are no longer operating now.

As a consequence, Pimentel said there is rampant smuggling of the gold output from Mount Diwalwal to Hong Kong, China and other countries.

Pimentel also asked Malacañang and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the status of an executive order declaring the Mount Diwalwal gold-rush area as a forest reservation supposedly intended to protect the interest of both the government and small miners.


DENR issues new mine permits in Southern Leyte

PIA Press Release

December 14 2006

Tacloban City -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has approved the mining permit to explore 4,192 hectares in three municipalities of Southern Leyte for possible copper and gold resources.

The approval of the mining permit application of Buena Suerte Mining Corporation, an affiliate of Australian Oxiana Ltd., gave it the authority to explore 4,192 hectares if Liloan, San Francisco and San Ricardo in the Panaon Island of Southern Leyte.

The issuance of the mining permit of Buena Suerte Mining Corporation which was scheduled to take place on December 11 together with two other mining exploration permits, increased to eight, the number of permits DENR has granted this year.

The other mining companies expected to receive their mining exploration permits are Colossal Mining Corporation and 99ers Inc.

During the formal presentations before DENR Secretary Angelo T. Reyes, the companies are expected to present their environment programs and social preparations for the community. These are in addition to their disclosing their technical and financial resources before they could be granted mining permits.

Reliable sources stated that other exploration permit applications are still pending before the DENR.

An Exploration Permit (EP) is an initial mode of entry in mineral exploration allowing a Qualified Person to undertake exploration activities for mineral resources in certain areas open to mining in the country.

The approval of EP applications is subject to qualifications and requirements set by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other existing mineral policies of the Philippines.

It would be remembered that in October, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued exploration permit to MRL Gold Philippines, Inc. and its affiliate Egerton Gold Philippines, Inc.

The government has initiated several reforms to revitalize the Philippine Minerals Industry in compliance with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s declaration of a policy-shift from tolerance to promotion of mining in January 2003.

 

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