MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Resist GMA'S Policy of Plunder in Favor of Mining TNCs!

Published by MAC on 2004-10-23

Resist GMA'S Policy of Plunder in Favor of Mining TNCs!

Kalikasan-PNE Press Statement

October 23, 2004

Toronto Ventures Incorporated (TVI) Resource Development - a paragon of everything that is wrong with the government's mining revitalization program - is not the only one that is now commencing a massive and mad campaign to disembowel the earth and drive our people to the fringes. Upon the government's signal, the people in Siocon, especially the indigenous Subanons, led by Timuay (elder) Jose Anoy, are now being driven away from their land and ancestral domain.

After inauspiciously signing the government's Mineral Action Plan (MAP) last September, President Arroyo signaled what is now becoming a frenzied rush to mine all of Philippine mineral resources. Government justifies this as a means to resuscitate a moribund industry, but MAP is clearly not about lifting this industry or what is left of it.

All MAP projects, attuned with the Mining Act of 1995, are solely and exclusively for the profits of transnational mining corporations or mining TNCs. It is PLUNDER by no other name that the Supreme Court earlier rightly sought to curtail, but which President Arroyo and House Speaker Jose de Venecia are now treasonously praying the high court will reconsider.

The plunder, however, has not just continued, but by the government's designs, is intensifying.

Barely has newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Michael Defensor warmed his seat, and already, the latter has approved two new large-scale mining projects. The DENR's one-stop-shops for mineral applications processing are now busy churning out mining permits for mining TNCs. Even the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) does not stand in the way of the Mines and GeoSciences Bureau's goal to increase from 2 to 39 FTAAs on or before 2010. The government has earlier given the thumbs up signal to the full blast operation of the Australian Lafayette Mining Corporation in the fragile small island ecosystem of Rapu-Rapu in the Bicol region and the Rio Tuba nickel mining expansion in Palawan island. Meanwhile, President Arroyo reversed the cancellation of the permit of Crew Minerals, a Canadian company, in the watershed island region of Mindoro Oriental. The long-awaited rehabilitation of the massively destroyed island of Marinduque because of the excesses and abuses of Marcopper-Placer Dome, also a Canadian owned mining TNC, may even be overtaken by government plans to reopen large-scale mining in that blighted province, Marinduque's sick and dying people amidst a poisoned and still unrehabilitated environment notwithstanding.

Many more large-to-medium-scale mining projects are in the government's drawing board, not the least are the Mt. Diwalwal and Mt. de Oro gold finds, where the government itself decided to dirty its hands by parrying small-scale miners in an obvious gesture to prepare such finds for large-scale TNC profit-making.

On the other hand, even as the government parrots about a new era of responsible mining dedicated to sustainable development and environmental protection, a number of existing TNC projects, like those in Palawan and Samar, are by themselves intrinsically unsustainable and environmentally unsound by reason of their location and ecological makeup as protected high-biodiversity areas. Yet that is not within the purview of the MAP which even expresses concern for "rapidly expanding" protected areas, allegedly restricting opportunities for minerals development.

TVI, according to the government, is now being followed with keen interest by foreign investors. Developments on this front will allegedly determine future mining investments. But this is one investment that the Philippines can very well do without. We can mention three reasons:

1. TVI is an exemplar as an abusive capitalist free-rider. It does not bring in new and substantial investment, but is using borrowed resources from even local sources which it will use to exploit and gain profits from local natural resources. This is plunder, plain and simple.

2. It is not true that TVI is bringing about order in the host community, sustainability and protection to the environment that has been slowly degrading because of their mining operation. The community, indigenous people and local government units oppose their mining operation. On the contrary, TVI has brought all the displacements, human rights violations and ecological destruction that threaten to rip apart what remains of an environment previously ruined by foreign logging concessions, even as TVI likewise forcefully operates in the area.

3. TVI does not and will not engage in downstream industry development. All its operations will be hinged on extracting full profits from all the minerals it will extract from Mt. Canatuan and directly shipped to Canada, as is the practice of all mining TNCs in the Philippines.

The Kalikasan-People's Network Environment (K-PNE) supports the call of the Subanon people and the various sectors in Siocon for the withdrawal of TVI's permit and the immediate cessation of its activities in Zamboanga del Norte.

But even as we do, we are well aware that such a call can only prosper under a dispensation that will do away with the anti-people MAP and the anti-sovereign Mining Act. That clearly will not be under the anti-people and pro-mining TNC Arroyo regime.

Scrap the MAP and the Philippine Mining Act! TVI, Out of Siocon! Respect Indigenous People's Rights to Their Ancestral Domain!

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