MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-07-29


Philippines Update

29th July 2006

Amid new allegations of yet a third spill at the notorious Lafayette mine, a Greenpeace worker has been arrested at gunpoint for independently sampling water near the site.

Chinese investment in mining on Mindanao may receive a boost following a visit by a Chinese trade delegation.

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, after junking with finality a motion for reconsideration filed by the Didipio Earth Savers’ Multi-Purpose Association Inc. (DESAMA).

Nevertheless, LRC - which supported DESAMA in the court action - considers the court's judgment a "victory" because it declared the entry of mining concessionaires onto private property as a form of "taking."

TVI Pacific is talking-up its expansion policy in the Zamboanga region, even as we publish the full declaration of a meeting of community leaders who oppose such an expansion.


Greenpeace worker arrested in Rapu-Rapu

By Nonoy Espina, INQ7.net

26th July 2006

GREENPEACE Southeast Asia (GP-SEA) protested what it described as the illegal apprehension, detention, and harassment by police of an employee of the environmentalist group that was collecting water samples from a creek near the controversial Lafayette mine site in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay province, on Tuesday.

GP-SEA campaigns director Von Hernandez said David Andrade, who works with the group's campaigns department, was at Rapu-Rapu to "validate recent reports of a fish kill which occurred in the area last week, and which Lafayette claims to be a case of sabotage."

Last week, Lafayette claimed unidentified persons dumped pesticide into a creek near the mine site and later sent text messages announcing a toxic spill had occurred and was killing marine life.

An Inquirer report at the time quoted Lafayette spokesman Julito Sarmiento as calling the incident "sabotage to scare people and is no different from the mercury hoax anti-mining and leftist groups carried out early this year."

The firm's operations were suspended late last year after mining spills killed marine life. However, on July 11, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allowed Lafayette to undergo a 30-day "test run" that critics said was a prelude for the complete resumption of operations of the controversial mining firm.

Hernandez said two policemen "invited [Andrade] at gun point for questioning at Pagcolbon's town hall where he was allegedly harassed by police, military, and several private security personnel who wore no proper uniform nor identification, and who refused to identify themselves."

The area where he was collecting samples was "unfenced public land," Hernandez stressed.

Andrade was then "illegally searched, his water samples and sampling sheets confiscated, and was escorted by armed policemen to their detachment in Rapu-Rapu town" without saying on what charge he was being held.

Hernandez said the incident and the "heavy police security deployed to protect Lafayette's operations" belied the firm and DENR's claims of "full transparency" of the mine operations, particularly during the test run.

"Rapu Rapu Island today, even public areas outside the boundaries of Lafayette mine, is apparently a high security zone, tightly guarded not just by the police and military, but also by private security personnel," Hernandez said.

"Monitoring and inspection by independent parties concerned about the negative effects of the mining operation is heavily discouraged and even prevented. "He accused the government of protecting Lafayette "regardless of the consequences it would inflict on the island's surrounding marine environment and the communities who benefit from these seas."

"Instead of defending a mining operation which is damaging and detrimental to the island's fragile marine ecosystem, the DENR should stay true to its mandate of upholding our citizens' rights to live in a safe and healthy environment," Hernandez said.

"The public has a right to know what real impacts Lafayette's mining operations have on the environment, and that right should never be thwarted by police and military harassment, especially in the service of myopic corporate interests," he said.

The waters of the Bicol region are acknowledged as the feeding grounds and migratory route of the whale shark, and home to five of the seven known marine turtles in the world.

Its rich sea grass beds and mangroves, which make for a high marine biodiversity index, have turned the area into exceptionally rich fishing grounds for the region's fishermen.

Greenpeace maintains that Rapu Rapu Island "is a dangerous place for a mine: not only is it situated along the country's typhoon belt, but also along a major fault, making it a high-risk area for mining catastrophes."


Australian mine in Philippines accused over third spill

Catholic News - http://www.cathnews.com/news/607/141.php

26th July 2006

Lafayette, an Australian gold mining company which has been accused by a Filipino Catholic priest of attempting to pay off local government officials, is at the centre of new allegations over a pesticide spill and fish kill near the mine.

Communities from Rapu-Rapu island has filed a petition with the regional court for a permanent injunction to stop the operations of Lafayette Philippines amid allegations of another pesticide spill in Albay Bay, ENS reports.

The spill occurred over the weekend during test runs of polymetallic mining operations on Rapu-Rapu, located in the Philippines' Albay province, 350 km southeast of the capital Manila.

Over 800 signatures from groups and individuals are on the petition seeking to end the polymetallic operations of the Rapu-Rapu mine.

The petition for a permanent injunction comes one week after a class action lawsuit filed by environment and church groups on 20 July at the Makati Regional Trial Court asking for a temporary restraining order on Lafayette Processing's 30-day test run on Rapu-Rapu island.

Lafayette Philippines corporate secretary and spokesman Julito Sarmiento on Sunday alleged that the spill into Albay Bay was "sabotage." He told the Manila Times the company was being harassed.

The Rapu-Rapu mine was site of two consecutive cyanide spills in October 2005, and the mining company was ordered to stop operating by regulatory agencies last December.

The Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission, a body commissioned by Philippines President Gloria Arroyo after the cyanide spills and chaired by Bishop Aruturo Bastes, found in a report that Lafayette and a government department were responsible and liable for pollution and other environmental and social problems.

But contrary to recommendations of the Commission, the mine was given permission earlier this month to restart with a test run.

The legal action filed on Monday seeks a permanent halt to the company's operations, citing threats to people's health and livelihood. The petition also seeks to make Lafayette pay damages to the residents of Rapu-Rapu and nearby provinces who were affected by the two cyanide spills.

Meanwhile, according to another report in the Bulatlat magazine, Fr Felino Bugauisan, assistant parish priest of Rapu-Rapu and chair of an organisation opposed to mining operations in the island threatened to file charges against local government officials who allegedly accepted P100,000 (A$2500) from Lafayette in return for their support.


Big Chinese Mining Firms Set Eyes on Mindanao

By Germelina A. Lacorte, davaotoday.com -
http://davaotoday.com/2006/07/26/big-chinese-mining-firms-set-eyes-on-mindanao/

26th July 2006

DAVAO CITY - Three big mining companies in China, including the largest state-owned JinChuan Group Ltd., are now aggressively pursuing talks with Philippine-based companies for possible investments in the country's mining industry. Li Jinjun, ambassador to the Philippines of the People's Republic of China (PROC), said Tuesday that the JinChuan Group is seriously pursuing talks with Philnico Industrial Corporation, which used to operate the shuttered Nonoc plant in Surigao while ZTE Corporation, which is based in Shenzhen, China, is talking with members of the Filipino-Chinese community for the possibility of joint-venture arrangements in mining.

Another Chinese company, CITIC Resources, is also talking with local partners, according to Li after an investment briefing on Mindanao and the East Asean Growth Area, the growth polygon composed of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP), at the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO) office here.

"We have already established a strong presence in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. We plan to increase our presence in the Philippines," said Li. "Even in Indonesia, where the situation is not so good, we're putting much of our interests there." Chinese investments in the Philippines, he said, is still relatively low compared to other areas in the Asean but China wanted to increase its share, particularly in the areas of agribusiness, mining, tourism, fisheries and infrastructures.

"There's not much information about how it is to invest in the Philippines and Chinese investors are also a bit wary of the peace situation," Li told reporters. "That's why it's my duty to tell my own people about the real situation in Mindanao and encourage more companies to come."

Various environment groups, like Panalipdan and Church-based peoples' organizations, are strongly opposing mining in Mindanao, which, they claim, will displace indigenous communities and rob the people of their livelihood, derived mainly from farming.

Jinchuan Group, which operates from northwest China's Jinchang, Gansu Province, produces roughly 90 percent of China's domestic nickel output, said Li. It is currently China's largest producer of nickel, cobalt and precious metals, he said.

"The group is China's biggest state-owned nickel firm with huge expertise and experience on environment protection," said Li. He added that the company will take care of a number of social welfare projects, including medical and health care for affected communities, once they put up their investments here.

In her visit to Compostela Valley last month, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced that prospective Chinese investors will pour in an estimated US$4 billion as investments in mining in the country, particularly in the Nonoc nickel mines in Surigao and another one in Maco, Compostela Valley.


Mindanao's mining attracts investors

Sun Star Davao -
http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/dav/2006/07/27/bus/mindanao.s.mining.attracts.investors.html

27th July 2006

CHINESE investors believe that mining industry is the "ace" of Mindanao, the new Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Li Jinjun said in a briefing with national government officials Monday.

The Chinese envoy confirmed that there are two Chinese firms currently negotiating with the Philippine team specifically in Mindanao and are set to pour in $500 million as a start-up investment.

"Three to five years from now, we are expecting about eight Chinese companies to partner with Philippine mining companies due to the big potentials of the mining industry in this country," Li said.

China's biggest nickel company is already pouring in about $1 billion in Surigao.

Li added that there are four more Chinese investors who expressed interest of tapping Mindanao's mining resources.

Data showed that nickel reserves in Mindanao has a value of $215 billion, copper reserves with $6.49 billion, and $2.01 billion for gold. Mindanao, too, accounts 48 percent of the country's gold reserves and 83 percent for nickel.

China, seeing the potential, has started aggressive negotiations with the Philippine government most especially in some parts of Mindanao.

"However, besides promoting mining industry to Chinese investors, we also see to it that we maintain environmental protection," Li said.

He added that China will never develop mining at the expense of the environment. This has pushed both parties; from the China team as well as the Philippine team, to strictly weigh the costs and benefits of mining in particular areas in Mindanao.

"We are taking a big portion of the mining budget for environmental protection. This is a major component as we invite more Chinese investors to the Philippines," Li added.

Meanwhile, China is also eyeing Mindanao's tourism sector as it could lure more investors into the country.

The new envoy, alarmed by the decreasing number of Chinese visitors to Mindanao, is planning to drum beat information dissemination about Mindanao to be absorbed by the China market.

"I believe the reason for the decline is the lack of information of the Chinese people about Mindanao," he said.

The ambassador is also planning to create a new column of the Chinese embassy website that would show information about Mindanao.

Other potential investments in Mindanao that the envoy found attractive are the following: education, fisheries, culture, as well as agriculture.


SC reaffirms constitutionality of Mining Act

By Katherine Adraneda, The Philippine Star

27th July 2006

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 when it junked with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by the Didipio Earth Savers’ Multi-Purpose Association Inc. (DESAMA).

In a resolution dated June 14, the high court denied DESAMA’s petition regarding its March 30 decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Mining Act, saying that the basic issues have already been addressed and there is no substantial argument to warrant a modification of its decision.

The high court also denied for lack of merit the motion of another petitioner seeking to intervene in the case.

"We feel that a lot of questions remain unanswered and poses a threat to our rights," said lawyer Francis Joseph Ballesteros, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), a group helping DESAMA.

The LRC said the SC’s denial on their petition for intervention is contrary to a decision it previously rendered en banc in the case of the La Bugal B’laan Tribal Association Inc. where it allowed the intervention of the Chamber of Mines.

"We are disappointed, but we respect the SC decision," said lawyer Mary Ann dela Peña, also of LRC.

Nevertheless, the LRC considered the SC resolution as a "victory" because it declared the entry of mining concessionaires into private property as a form of "taking."

This declaration, the LRC noted, means that mining firms would not be able to start operating in an area until the owners sell their property for mine use. Citing Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution, the LRC pointed out that the valid exercise of eminent domain requires "taking for public use and upon payment of just compensation."

The court affirms the first, while the other two requirements remained unsettled, the LRC stressed.

"The Philippine Mining Act does not provide for a public purpose for such a taking nor does it provide for the payment of just compensation to affected landowners," the DESAMA argued in its motion for reconsideration. Climax-Arimco Mining Corp. (CAMC) is reportedly offering only P200 to P250 per square meter for use of land in areas it intends to set up mining operations. "Not all the owners of property have sold their lands. So, legally speaking, mining operations in Didipio should not proceed yet," Dela Peña said.

The indigenous peoples of Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya vowed to continue to defend their lands against mining firms. The DESAMA, with the assistance of the LRC, also said it would exhaust all measures to assert the people’s land rights and community control of the natural resources in their area.

"We will not stop, we will continue to fight for our lands and livelihood. Ang lupa ay para sa mamamayan, hindi para sa dayuhang minahan (The land is for the people, not for foreign mining firms)," said Peter Duyapat, a leader of DESAMA


Mining Law Stays, Weakens Community Land Rights

DESAMA Press Release

24th July 2006

The Didipio Earth Savers' Multi-Purpose Association, Inc. (DESAMA) is unfazed by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court's First Division in the case they filed against the DENR Secretary and Climax-Arimco Mining Corp. as they vowed to defend their lands against mining firms.

"Di kami titigil sa paglaban para sa lupa at kabuhayan. Ang lupa ay para sa mamamayan, hindi para sa dayuhang minahan," stressed Peter Duyapat, leader of the DESAMA, after learning of the Supreme Court's ruling on July 19. In the said case, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act even as it declared the entry of mining concessionaires into private property, as a "taking". Under section 9, Article III of the Constitution, a valid exercise of the eminent domain requires (1) taking for (2) public use and (3) upon payment of just compensation. The court affirms the first while the other two requirements remained unsettled.

DESAMA, in its Motion for Reconsideration, argued that the Philippine Mining Act does not provide for a public purpose for such a taking nor does it provide for the payment of just compensation to affected landowners.

Other concerned groups have also filed a petition for intervention on the case, claiming that the taking under Section 76 is a violation of the constitutional right to due process, However, this motion for intervention was also denied in the same ruling. This is all in contrast to a decision of the Court rendered EN BANC in the case of La Bugal B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. where it allowed the intervention of the Chamber of Mines.

"We feel that a lot of questions remain unanswered and poses a threat to our rights." says Francis Joseph Ballesteros of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc., counsel for DESAMA.

Despite the series of setbacks in the legal arena, DESAMA, together with other communities threatened by the large scale mining corporations as well as advocates for community control of natural resources remain resilient. The community spirit and resistance against the watering down of their rights to land and livelihood seeks out new venues and forms.

For questions and comments, please contact: Mary Ann Dela Peña or Francis Joseph Ballesteros,
0917-3229998 or (02)4344079.


Canada-based mining firm pursues expansion

Manila Bulletin - http://www.mb.com.ph/BSNS2006072870271.html

28th July 2006

Undaunted by its problems with informal settlers, TVI Resource Development Phils. Inc. pursues expansion and acquisition plans even as it expects to generate P3.4 billion in revenues this year doubling last year's P1.7-billion revenues due to good metal prices for its gold and silver mining operation in the Zamboanga, Peninsula. Yulo Perez, TVIRDP general plant manager, said the company is already in its advanced stage of negotiations with the Privatization Management Office for its interest in the North Davao mining project.

The 26,000-hectare copper and gold mining project in Compostela Valley requires $ 200 million for its rehabilitation. North Davao has also annual potential revenue of $ 300 million.

The company is confident it can offer expertise, capability and track record to run a large scalemining operation.

The company is also pursuing its expansion for the gold and copper exploration in Canatuan with an investment of $ 23 million that would prolong its operation for six more years. The existing god and silver mine is expected to last until 2008, Perez said.

Perez said the company is sticking to its schedule for the expansion project to start commercial operation early next year.

Perez, however, admitted that the problem with the informal settlers in its 508-hectare lot in Canatuan where they have a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) is delaying some of its operations by three months.But the delays are not enough to affect its progress, he said.

The company is producing 170 ounces per day gold equivalent from its existing gold and silver mining operation.

TVIRD president Eugene Mateo said its problem with the informal settlers in its mining site was already blown out of proportion when the shanties of the remaining non-indigenous people in the area were dismantled.

"The demolition of the shanties was not done by TVI but by the legitimate IP people," Mateo said.

Mateo said the company has already paid a total of P13 million in royalty fees since the company started operations in 2004 including the P7 million in the first half of the year to 1,147 IP beneficiaries.

There are already 30 families remaining in the mining area engaged in small scale mining but most of these have already agreed to settle with TVI and be relocated to a community site prepared by the company except for the sensationalized situation of a particular couple.

The local government unit in Zamboanga has assessed the couple's shanty at P13,000 only as against the demand of the couple for P1.5 million settlement fee.

Pablo Bernardo, counsel for the Siocon Subano Association Inc. (SSAI) and an IP, said the IP association is already preparing to sue DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), a non-governmental organization, and the people behind a move to stunt the development of their ancestral domains.

SSAI claims to be the legitimate IP association in the area and composed of genuine IPs.

"Illegal small scale miners have occupied a large portion of ancestral domain," he said.

Bernardo said that DCMI has been undermining their right to choose its leaders by supporting a small group whom the IP Subanons had voted out.

TVIRD has also formally requested the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an inquiry into these recent events.

TVI's mining project is employing 650 workers including 300 indigenous people. TVIRD is 40 percent owned by TVI Pacific and 60 percent by Filipino firms.(BCM)


THE PEOPLES’ DECLARATION AGAINST TVI AND OTHER AGGRESSIVE MINING

OPERATIONS IN THE ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA DURING THE FIRST MINING CONFERENCE

We, the 61 delegates who participated in this three-day conference from the places of Canatuan, Siocon, Labason, Sindangan, Tamarok, Leon B. Postigo, Jose Dalman and Manukan from the province of Zamboanga del Norte; also together with the delegates from Molave, Dumingag, Midsalip, Bayog and Pagadian City from the province of Zamboanga del Sur and with the delegates from R.T. Lim, Diplahan and the Prelature of Ipil of Zamboanga Sibugay, together with the following organizations like the Pigsalabukan Bansa Subanon, Freedom from Debt Coalition – Western Mindanao, Apu Manglang Glupa Pusaka, Pigsalabukan Gukom de Bayog and the Parish Pastoral Council of Jose Dalman, stood as one in our position and in principle to protect our individual communities from large scale and aggressive mining operations here in the Zamboanga Peninsula. In line with this, we strongly declare the following:

1. That the mining operations of Toronto Ventures, Inc. (TVI) resulted to:
a. Human Rights Violation
b. Destruction of Nature
c. Division of Communities
d. Deprivation from their livelihood of the indigenous peoples, the farmers and the fisher folks affected by mining operations
e. Eviction of peoples from their homes
f. Use of armed forces (Special Citizen Armed Auxiliary) in the employment of cruelty , maltreatment and abuse which resulted to sorrow, anxiety, crying and fear

So, we strongly appeal to the recent Arroyo administration to cancel all Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of TVI in Canatuan, Siocon and all other MPSA/Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) holders in the whole ZAMBOANGA Peninsula.

2. We are united in principle that the real essence of development stems from the need of the people to give utmost importance to life, the right of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain and the right of the ordinary people to utilize their local means of livelihood.

3. We strongly support the initiatives to prevent and stop TVI and other kinds of aggressive mining operations initiated by different organizations like:

a. Pigsalabukan Bansa Subanon (PBS)
b. Tamarok, and the whole municipality of Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte
c. Leon B. Postigo of Zamboanga del Norte
d. Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte
e. Save Siocon Paradise Movement (SSPM)
f. Bayog Parish Environmental Protection Task Force (SAM)
g. Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur
h. Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sut
i. Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur
j. Labason, Zamboanga del Norte (SAM)
k. Diplahan, and Prelature of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay
l. Apu Manglang Glupa Pusaka of Canatuan, Siocon
m. Sampoli, Zamboanga Sibugay
n. Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay

We further strengthened and affirmed our declaration by affixing below our signatures this 29th day of June, 2006 at the St. Augustine Parish, Jose Dalman,
Zamboanga Del Norte.

NAME ORGANIZATION/AREA SIGNATURE
1. Rudy Arpon SAC-Pagadian City
2. Leonila B. Belsa SAM-Bayog, Zamboanga Sur
3. Frank A. Mabulay AFUZS-Masipag
4. Julito D. Bohol Tamarok, Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
5. Basilia Y. Arcadio CPD-Dipolog City
6. Ricardo A. Toliño TUPUSUMI-Midsalip, Zambo. Sur
7. Raul Furigay Canatuan Farmers Association –Canatuan
8. Marlon Hingco DCMI-Dipolog City
9. Edgar Esperas P. Tubigon Poblacion, Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
10. Nitz Cabando DCMI- Dipolog City
11. Julieta B. Andang Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC)
12. Jose Wilmer B. Maglente Parish Social Action Team (PSAT)
13. Lucenio N. Manda Pigsalabukan Gukom de Bayog (PGB)
14. Fernando O. Lumido Kriska
15. Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy Apu Manglang Glupa Pusaka
16. Jimmy Acope Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte
17. Jerry S. Espinas CYM/ CSO-FED
18. Arcelito D. Gose PCL-Sindangan, Zamboanga Del Norte
19. Dominador A. Fabillar PSAT-Leon Postigo, Zamboanga Del Norte
20. Rolly B. Romero Canatuan Farmers Association (CFA)
21. Floro K. Galves CFA-Canatuan
22. Manolita Galves CFA- Canatuan
23. Bocenerjes Pangasian Dapitan City
24. Bartolome Ocam PYM-Labason
25. Nora Q. Java Save Siocon Paradise Movement (SSPM)
26. Francisco A. Ligtas Earthlinks
27. Jonie Sora SBC Tribal Association
28. Glean Batucan PYA-Dumingag, Zamboanga Del Sur
29. Eugenio Pungo Jr. BAKID-Dumingag, Zamboanga Del Sur
30. Evelina A. Taguibola Sinuyak, Katipunan, Zamboanga Del Norte
31. Vicente G. Hosli
32. Gadio M. Belogoh OM. P.H.
33. Ropal Charlito FMPP/Faculty
34. Ruberto Alcoriza Tamarok, Jose Dalman, Zambo Norte
35. Abundio Sumanay Tamarok Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
36. Catalino B. Romo Jr. Molave, Zamboanga Del Sur
37. Fortunato G. Urot, Jr., FDC-Western Mindanao Region
38. Henry Antipuesto Tamarok, Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
39. Edwin Antipuesto Tamarok, Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
40. Butch Cabilan FDC-Western Mindanao Region
41. Felomino T. Ango Bgy Councilor, Tamarok, Jose Dalman Zamboanga del Norte
42. Boy Magalso Pigsalabukan Bansa Subanon (PBS)
43. Danilo Sauclom Pigsalabukan Gukom de Bayog (PGB)
44. Ricardo Manago SAM-Prelature of Ipil
45. Godofredo D. Galos Save Siocon Paradise Movement (SSPM)
46. Rev. Fr. Nemesio A. Sayon Parish Priest, Jose Dalman, Zambo. Norte
47. Tito Natividad Fiel Coordinator-DCMI
48. Cirila B. Lopez SSPM-Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte
49. Maria Angelita d. Bendijo DCMI
50. Cristina Albarico DCMI

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