MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-04-06

Philippines Update

6th April 2006

After a further Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act, the frustration of communities who are opposed to mining but cannot have their voices heard has once again come to the fore. In this specific case the question was over Climax Arimco, renamed to APMI, and their Didipio mine. As highlighted in last week's Philippines update rumours that opposition to that project could turn violent seemed almost prophetic when their offices at the mine location were burnt down.

Elsewhere there is an update of the six year legal battle of Timuay José "Boy" Anoy for damages against TVI, and of local opposition to Philex Mining entering other parts of the Zamboanga del Norte region. There are also further updates on anniversary of the Marcopper disaster, and news on the ongoing investigation into the cyanide spills at Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine.

Where is Justice in the 1995 Mining Act?

Defend Patrimony Press Release

3rd April 2006

"May we ask the Supreme Court, where is justice in the Mining Act of 1995 when it allows ownership and control of lands by foreign mining corporations, yet deprives and displaces our people and future generations from their very source of livelihood and life?" asks Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony, a broad alliance against mining liberalization and large-scale mining projects of the government. Concepcion raised the question as the Supreme Court upheld the law's constitutionality in a renewed challenge of the law and another agreement of the government and Arimco Mining Corporation.

The Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the Act by virtue of an earlier decision and Section 76 of the law which provides for the payment of just compensation. "In a way the Supreme Court is saying that there's "just compensation" when you surrender your patrimony and sovereignty to foreigners." Ms. Concepcion added.

"The decision of the Supreme Court manifests disturbing indifference of our courts to the realities of the social and economic impacts of large-scale mining on local people. In Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya alone, the mining operation of Climax-Arimco Mining Co. (CAMC) will result in economic loss rather than gain. In one of the studies of the economic impact of CAMC operation, the country will gain $1.2 billion as proceeds while it will lose a potential earning of $14.6 billion because of the destruction of the citrus plantation and local production," says Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE, an environmental organization calling for the repeal of Mining Act of 1995.

"Because of the threats of massive displacement, loss of livelihood and destruction of environment brought about by Mining Act and large-scale mining operation, Indigenous people are fighting tooth and nail to protect their rights and communities. It is one of the reasons why there is an increase deployment of military forces and incidence of human rights violation in mining-affected areas," adds by Mr. Bautista.

Kalikasan-PNE cited the study of Socccsksargends Agenda and In-Peace Mindanao that a total of 10,500 individual victims of human rights violations related with the Western Mining Corporation mining project in Far South Mindanao Region in the period of 1994-2005. The groups accounted for the rights violations in 60 documented cases involving 3,181 families in 30 communities, most of them B'laans, an indigenous group in the boundaries of Saranggani, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. The cases were documented by a solidarity and sympathy mission (SSM) led by the two organizations last September.

"The Supreme Court once again shows that there is not much to expect from them when it comes to conflict between the interest and welfare of foreign mining investors on the people and environment," Mr. Bautista concluded.

Mining firm office set on fire after SC ruling

By Abe Almirol, Manila Standard

Tuesday 4th April 2006

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya-Fire gutted a building at the Didipio field office of the Australasian-Philippines Mining Inc. (Apmi), the company cleared to operate mines in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, after newspapers bannered the news on the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act.

The fire started at 1:30 a.m. yesterday, and residents of Barangay Didipio in Kasibu suspected that it had been set intentionally.

Apmi's office was razed to the ground, but residents of Sitio Bacbacan were able to save the Community Relations Office and the office of the Barangay Development Council.

"The office had a separate kitchen and there was no way that the fire could have started from inside," one resident said.

The company's guards had been drunk the night before, a resident of Sitio Dinauyan claimed, but police were still on their way to investigate.

"We have sent our men to go up with the police to investigate," said Chito Gozar, a representative of the mining firm. "We don't want to speculate."

"We are saddened by this incident," said Councilor Peter Duyapat, a known critic of the mining company.

"We hope this will not be reason for the company to ask military and police forces to come to our village. The company has offended many residents due to the problem of providing just compensation for our land."

The Didipio Earthsavers Multi-Purpose Association had petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the deal granting Apmi the right to operate mines in the Philippines as unconstitutional, claiming it violated the residents' right to ownership of their land.

But the Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutionality of the Mining Act in a resolution en banc or in full court and with full judicial authority.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to enforce all safeguards on the mining industry after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of allowing foreign investors to tap into the country's $1 trillion mineral wealth.

Mrs. Arroyo praised the high court's decision to uphold the government's liberal policy on mining, but she would like to make sure the influx of foreign firms would not compromise the government's efforts to protect the environment, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.

"While President Arroyo welcomes the affirmation by the Supreme Court, she is equally determined to enforce all the environmental safeguards and standards to protect the welfare of our communities," he said. With Joyce Pangco Pañares


DCMI Mining update

31st March 2006

Rizal, Zamboanga del Norte – The Municipal Council of Rizal has vowed to find another way of preventing Philex Gold Philippines, a subsidiary of Anglo-American Mining Corporation, from pursuing mining exploration, according to Municipal Secretary Joy Anghag.

The Municipal Council, in a regular session was disappointed by the reply from Region 9 Director of the Mines and Geo-Science Bureau (MGB), Constancio Paye, stating that his office could not refuse approval of Philex's mining application. The letter states “This office is the agency of the government charged with the enforcement of mining laws, rules and regulations. Hence, we cannot refuse any application for mining whenever the applicant meets all the requirements and possesses none of the disqualifications for the mining contract”.

Ms. Anghag read the MGB reply before the council members, and noted their dismay over the contents of the letter, as the Municipal Council had passed a resolution on December 1 2005, requesting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to deny the application of Philex Mining for exploration permit of gold, copper and other minerals in Rizalina Hills. The Region 9 office of the MGB received the said resolution on January 11 this year and sent its reply to the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Rizal, dated January 23.

The Rizal LGU is unhappy with the MGB's reply, and has vowed to look at other ways to prevent Philex Gold Philippines, aka Philex Mining, from pursuing exploration activities and has called on the provincial government here to act further on this matter.

Last week, the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) office in Cagayan de Oro accidentally saw the request of Philex Mining for approval from the Region 9 office of the MGB for their mining activities of Sibutad, Rizal and Dapitan City, all situated in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. However, the City Council of Dapitan City, also passed a resolution last year vehemently objecting to the mining exploration applied by Philex Mining, more particularly in the Municipalities of Sibutad and Rizal and Dapitan City as shown in the notice of application dated October 17 2005. The Provincial Board of the province supported and adopted the resolution of Dapitan City through board resolution no. 169 dated January 30 2006.

The provincial resolution was based on actual observations of Philex Mining's activities at Libay, Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte - including environmental destruction and the dislocation of people’s means of living. The resolution noted that the mining site suffered massive soil erosion, with other materials from the mining site flowing into Murceillagos Bay. There were also several incidents of of flash floods and mudflows in 1996, when Philex constructed a diversionary road going to their mining areas.

The entry of Philex into the area was down to the previous Mayor of Sibutad, Benito Tolentino, but now the mayor wishes to block Philex from returning to operate, because of its failure to fulfill its initial promises of employment, economic development. He is allegedly now advocating small-scale mining under his management..

Tito Natividad Fiel Program Coordinator DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues G/F, Diocesan Pastoral Center, Sicayab, Dipolog City Philippines


DCMI Mining update

Siocon Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines – For almost six years now, the Branch 27 Regional Trial Court in Siocon has been waiting to hear the 1.1 million peso damages case filed by “Timuay” (Chieftain) José “Boy” Anoy, the legitimate ancestral domain holder, against the TVI Resource Development Philippines, a Canadian mining firm.

The case against TVI is very strong and the evidence is very clear, according to the legal counsel of Anoy, Attorney Rejoice Subejano. In the case, Timuay Anoy stated that in 1997, TVI by force, threat, intimidation, scheme and strategy entered into a portion of the ancestral land of his people at Mt. Canatuan, Siocon and immediately established checkpoints. He said, the company’s checkpoints, manned by armed men, continuously curtailed the movement of the people, especially those openly opposed to the company’s operation.

The case states that “The entry of the company into the Subanon Ancestral domain is illegal because it was in gross and grave violation of Presidential Decree No. 1818, Executive Order No. 122-C, and the other related laws”.

On October 19, 1999 at about 8pm, while Timuay Anoy was returning home to Canatuan from a conference in Manila, the motor vehicle he was riding was stopped by the armed security men and he was stopped from entering his ancestral domain. Timuay Anoy insisted on passing through the checkpoints, and the guards who manned it called the company’s security headquarters through a radio communication, but the security guard was instructed by the management not to allow him to pass through. He was had to charter a motorcycle and turn back to the where he had come from looking for another means to reach his home. Anoy was able to take an abandoned, rough and dangerous road with significant dangers, including the potential for ambush and robbery, in order to reach home.

Prior to the October 19, 1999 incident, Anoy’s followers were likewise stopped by the armed company security guards at their checkpoints, and stripped of their goods. This was seen as a 'food blockade', in order to ensure they quit their ancestral domain. The company’s acts prohibiting the ancestral domain holder and his followers to peacefully travel and live within their ancestral domain constitutes a gross and grave violations of the complainant and his follower’s constitutional right to travel and their liberty of abode and an infringement of their right under the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim.

The company’s acts caused a negative effect on his leadership and unspeakable shame, untold worries, serious anxiety, sleepless nights, social humiliation and excruciating wounded feelings, for which he demands that he be compensated by the company jointly and severally, in the sum of one million pesos as moral damages.

Anoy also demanded the company to pay the Attorney's fee of 80,000 pesos exclusive of travel, accommodation and other incidental expenses in connection with this case, 50,000 representing exemplary damages and another 50,000 representing actual damages.

Attorney Subejano is acting on behalf of DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI). DCMI as a church-based committee traversing all over Western and Central Mindanao Region who have supported the Subanon and been monitoring this case since it was filed in 2000.

Tito Natividad Fiel Program Coordinator DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues G/F, Diocesan Pastoral Center, Sicayab, Dipolog City Philippines


PRESS RELEASE - April 4, 2006

BOAC, MARINDUQUE -- In yet another historic move, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Marinduque convened on April 4, 2006 a special session jointly with all the six Municipal Councils of the province to unite and consolidate all efforts in coming up with urgent alternative solutions to the "imminent and present danger" posed by the Upper and Lower Makulapnit Dams in the abandoned mine site of Marcopper Mining Corporation.

The first historic move undertaken by the said body was the declaration of a 50-year large-scale mining moratorium on October 28, 2006.

According to the privilege speech delivered by SP Member and Environment Committee Chairperson Melecio Go which opened the Joint Special Session, the engineers of the mining company revealed in a meeting with his committee and other officials that there is indeed a seepage in a tunnel of the Upper Makulapnit Dam similar to the seepage of August 1995 which resulted to the infamous Boac River Environmental Disaster of March 24,1996, a week before the province celebrated its annual Moriones Lenten Rites.

Governor Carmencita O. Reyes, in her address, also informed the joint session that even the DENR officials who visited the province on April 3, 2006 confirmed the alarming condition of the tailings dam on top of Marinduque mountains which, in the unlikely event of collapse, will bring an immense catastrophe to the low-lying towns of Boac and Mogpog.

The two Makulapnit Dams have a combined volume of 34 million cubic meters of water and mine tailings. These materials, in case of any accident, will find their way into the Makulapnit and Boac Rivers which only have an estimated holding capacity of 11 million cubic meters. The 1996 Disaster involved only about 4 million cubic meters of contaminated water and mine wastes.

Mayor Percival Morales of Sta. Cruz informed the joint session that he and the local officials of his town are "supporting the present move in order to emphasize that they are not after any economic gains from any mining operation but after the safety and security of their kababayans from other towns" especially because the unstable structures are within their jurisdiction. He called on everyone to support the move to press for the immediate conduct of any remediation works on the mining structures.

Meanwhile, in supporting the call of the day, Mogpog Mayor Jonathan Garcia reiterated the stance of his local government unit for the total decommissioning of all mining structures, especially the tailing, dams to ensure that they will not be used for any more mining activities and to have a stop to any other mining-related disasters in the province of Marinduque.

Msgr. Senen Malapad, Executive Chairman of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), emphasized during the joint session that while it may already be too late for local public officials to act for the best interest of the people, it is still necessary to unite and call the attention of the national government to stop the 'resale' of the province to foreign investors through its inclusion of San Antonio Copper Project in the 24 mining priority areas in the country, and instead take the responsibility of giving solutions to the mining-related problems in Marinduque. He also cautioned the officials not to allow submarine tailings disposal as a method of finally disposing the mine tailings in the event of the decommissioning of the dams.

The joint session declared all abandoned structures in the mine site as public hazards in order to enable the government to take up the necessary remediation works after almost 10 years of neglect on the issue, and after Placer Dome dumped its responsibilities over the remediation works.

The Joint Session also adopted a resolution requesting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to allocate funds for the immediate remediation works in Marinduque, assign technical teams from concerned national government agencies which will come up with comprehensive remediation plan in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Khlon Crippen and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports.

The officials also called on Marinduque Representative Edmundo O. Reyes, Jr. to help them trace the paper trail of the funds deposited by Placer Dome, Inc. through an escrow holder bank in New York. They also unanimously agreed that it is important to know the whereabouts and status of these funds in order to finance the remediation works in Marinduque.

The officials in the joint session also approved a resolution supporting the Marinduque Declaration which calls on the national government to 'delist' the San Antonio Copper Project from the Arroyo Administration's 23 mining priority list.

In order to carry out the proposals, the Joint Session appointed MACEC Executive Secretary Myke Magalang to assist the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in drafting a concept paper that would establish a local task force that will oversee the engineering, legal, health, public safety, and public information works related to mining issues and concerns in Marinduque.

Myke R. Magalang
Executive Secretary

Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns
2nd Floor, Sacred Heart Diocesan Pastoral Center,
Cathedral Compound, Boac, Marinduque
Tel. Nos. (042) 332-2713

Missing, despising Marcopper

April 06, 2006

By Gerald Gene R. Querubin, Inquirer

WHEN Marinduque Copper Mining Corp. (Marcopper) stopped its operation in 1997, the municipality of Santa Cruz in Marinduque came to a standstill.

Almost 2,500 employees were left jobless, businesses suffered from low sales; some even had to close shop.

The Marcopper mine site is situated at Mt. Tapian in Barangay Kilo-kilo, 12 km away from the town proper.

Municipal administrator Ruby Manay, who also worked as a civil engineer for the mining company from 1994 to 1998, said Santa Cruz dropped from being a first-class municipality (average annual income: at least P35 million) to third-class (average annual income: P21 million-P27 million).

"Records showed that the municipal government almost reached bankruptcy as income plunged downward instantly. When Marcopper was still operating, Santa Cruz used to earn from the income taxes of its employees," Manay said.

"Income from business establishments fell as customers suddenly became scarce and spending became less," she added.

Businesses thrived

Venancio Yu, former president of the Santa Cruz Chinese Chamber of Commerce and owner of one of the oldest grocery stores in town, agreed.

"Since we started our grocery store in 1970, our sales peaked during the 1980s up to the early 1990s. When Marcopper closed in 1997, sales were never the same," he said.

"People spent less and seldom made purchases. Businesses, most especially in the Santa Cruz public market, became slack."

Yu, who is also a former chapter president of the Marinduque Morion chapter of the Philippine Jaycees, said membership in the civic group was high. Many Marcopper employees joined since they could afford the expenses that went with being a member, he said.

In fact, the all-women chapter of the Jaycees of Marinduque, the Copper Queen Jaycees, was named after Marcopper.

But when the mining site closed, the organization's recruitment efforts took a dive.

Social costs

Employees used to have the highest income rate in the province, Manay said.

They and other Marinduqueños enjoyed the use of a hospital with first-class rooms, amenities and medical equipment, and provided with the best doctors in the province.

Their medical expenses were also subsidized by Marcopper.

The employees were provided free housing, water and electricity. Those who wanted to stay in their homes outside the mining community received housing allowance.

Marcopper had its own preschool, elementary school and high school, whose educational standards were patterned after De La Salle University. The schools were among the best in the province.

Tuition of some 1,200 students whose parents were working at Marcopper were subsidized by the company.

The elementary and high schools are still open, but present enrollment is only 250 and students who do not enjoy any subsidy. School administrators and faculty members depend solely on tuition for salaries and school maintenance.

Marcopper used to have a recreation hall, two swimming pools, a clubhouse, a community library, tennis courts, squash courts, a basketball court, and a golf course that could be used by employees and visitors.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. had its own branch within the vicinity of Marcopper, but this has since been transferred to the town proper after the mining company closed.

Marcopper's facilities have deteriorated and are now unusable. Some have been ransacked, while others were left without anyone to maintain or manage them.

"The good life that the people of Santa Cruz used to enjoy before is nowhere to be found now," said Manay.

What went wrong?

On March 24, 1996, the rock around the plug in the Tapian Pit drainage tunnel was fractured. The plug consequently failed.

Some 1.6 million cubic meters of tailings were released into the 26-km Makulapnit and Boac rivers in Tapian.

Considered the country's worst industrial pollution disaster, the mine tailings further polluted the Calancan Bay and affected the Boac, Makulapnit and Mogpog rivers and their surrounding communities.

The government closed the mining site following the accident.

Placer Dome Inc., which manages Marcopper, left the country without compensating the people.

According to the Marinduque Council for Environment Concerns (Macec), at least 36 women, children and men died in the Calancan Bay area from "mysterious" diseases.

The deaths were caused by heavy metal contamination from the mine wastes scattered in the area, said Myke Magalang, Macec executive secretary.

"We have to run after Placer Dome Inc., and when we found them in Nevada, USA, a civil case was lodged in that foreign country, a very expensive quest for justice," he said.

Black Friday

Commemorating the incident, thousands of Marinduqueños sporting black shirts and black armbands converged in Boac on March 24 to mark the 10th anniversary of the infamous Boac River Mining Disaster of 1996.

March 24 had been dubbed "Black Friday" in the province after a pastoral letter issued on March 16 by Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Boac declared a "Day of Mourning, Unity and Prayer."

As early as 5 a.m., bells tolled in all churches, followed by Masses that recalled the huge losses suffered by the entire province.

In a statement, Macec said that in the 30 years that it hosted large-scale mining projects, Marinduque had remained one of the only seven fourth-class provinces in the country, ranking 14th among the poorest provinces in the Philippines.

Magalang said that with a high poverty incidence of 71.9 percent, the plight of Marinduqueños should serve as a wake-up call to other provinces, lest they fall into the trap of "economic miracles" promised by mining projects.

Show of unity

Provincial officials led by Rep. Edmund Reyes Jr., Gov. Carmencita Reyes and five mayors of the six municipalities of the province showed unity in keeping Marinduque mine-free and in opposing the inclusion of the San Antonio Copper Project in Sta. Cruz in the list of mining priority areas of the national government.

Lawyers Walter "Skip" Scott, David Ammons and Reda Dennis, three members of a team of American lawyers representing the province in a case filed against Placer Dome at the US Federal Court in Nevada, joined the commemoration.

The suit seeks damages and just compensation for the province and its people.

The March 24 activity also marked the 30th anniversary of the start of dumping of mine wastes in the Calancan Bay in Sta. Cruz and the 13th year of the collapse of the Maguilaguila Siltation Dam in Mogpog, which resulted in a big flood that inundated the town. Two children died in the floods.

Lafayette Mining Inc. not a responsible miner, DENR Official admits

April 4, 2005

Defend Patrimony! Alliance Press Release

DENR Bicol Regional Director of Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) Reynolfo Juan admitted that Lafayette Mining Inc. (LMI) which operates a polymetallic mining project in Rapu-rapu Island Albay is not a responsible miner. "LMI did not do a "best practice" based on the two mine spills that happened last year. Because of this we suspended and penalized them," says MGB Director Juan to the Rapu-rapu Fact-finding Commission (RFFM).

The RFFM, headed by Bishop Arturo Bastes, was commissioned by the Office of the President to conduct investigation on the mine spill and operation of LMI. RFFM held their first public hearing at the PAWB office in Metro Manila this afternoon. Earlier they held similar hearings in Legazpi City, Rapu-Rapu in Albay province and Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon province.

In the Quezon City hearing, MGB Director Juan, also the head of the DENR Monitoring Team that checks the compliance of LMI with environmental safety and technical standards, admitted that they did not include the monitoring of weather condition in the mining area. Engr. Gregorio Tabuena, a mining engineer and a member of RFFM was surprised to know that the weather conditions were not monitored by the DENR Monitoring Team. He said that the weather condition was in fact a major factor for the mine spills in Rapu-rapu Island.

In the committee hearing, MGB Regional Director Juan said that they have not made any laboratory research on the presence of mercury and other heavy metals in the mine tailings sediments that spilled during the two incidents.

During the hearing, Dr. Aloysius Baes, a geochemist and member RFFM, questioned that there was no revalidation of mercury presence in the samples that Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) done in Sorsogon. "What BFAR did is a timeline sampling that determines the presence of certain chemicals in the environment, like mercury. The fact remains that the first laboratory results that BFAR made in November 3, 2005 that found mercury content in fishes beyond threshold level remains factual and valid," says Dr. Baes.

This was supported by the statement of BFAR National Director Malcolm Sarmiento that as far as BFAR is concerned, they have not made any allegation on the integrity of the samples submitted to them by affected fisherfolks in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon nor did they made any judgment beyond what the laboratory results showed.

There were 8 fish samples that were tested by BFAR last November 3, all were found to have high mercury content ranging from 0.600 parts per million (ppm) to 2.119ppm. The Food and Agriculture Organization threshold for mercury for fish is 0.500 ppm. BFAR conducted two other laboratory testings on December 6 and December 10, 2005.

"The statements made by the DENR and BFAR officials belie the allegations made by La Fayette Mining Corporation and the Vice Governor James Calisin of Albay that the the mine spill incidents last October 11 and November 1, 2005 were minor incidents and the mercury contamination is just a hoax," said Trixie Concepcion, spokeperson of Defend Patrimony. "There is much reason to believe that there was mercury contamination and the fish kill that happened in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon could be attributed to the operation of LMI and their mine spills," she added.

"We praise Bishop Bastes and the RFFM in their work to uncover the truth behind the mine spill and environmental destruction made by Lafayette Mining Inc in Rapu-rapu Island. We hope they could further show the culpability not only of LMI but also of the local environmental officials who colluded with LMI to cover the incident and failed to ensure the protection of the welfare and safety of the people of Sorsogon and Rapu-rapu as well as their environment," says Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of environmental activist organization Kalikasan-PNE. --

national coordinator
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

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