MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-10-22

Philippines Update

22nd October 2006

Typhoon Milenyo recently hit the Philippines causing damage to various mining projects, and once again shutting Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine. It has since re-opened, but has caused further financial problems for the Australian firm, and once again shown how difficult it is to mine in the Philippines. At the same time the Philippine government has had to re-affirm its support for mining and being accused, sensibly, of 'having second thoughts' (especially as it has been forced to cancel the operations of Platinum Group Metals Corp. in Palawan for over-extracting minerals). Local communities are having no such second thoughts, with representatives from Mindoro travelling to Norway to challenge Crew over their proposed nickel project (with the company refusing to meet them) and the municipality of Buluan passing a resolution opposing the operations of Sagittarius Mines (Indophil) at Tampakan. Church partners in Caraga and Marinduque - the scene of the Marcopper disaster - have issued statements re-affirming their support for communities opposing mining, while DCMI in Zamboanga del Norte have re-affirmed their position on the eviction of farmers at TVI's Canatuan mine.


Philippine Misereor Partnership
Mining Study Conference
October 3-5, 2006

Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre

Boac, Marinduque 4900 Philippines

We participants of the Mining Study Conference from the Philippine Misereor Partnership Southern Tagalog Cluster, representing the communities directly affected by mining, various Peoples Organizations (POs), Social Action Centres (SACs) of affected dioceses, Non Government Organizations (NGOs,) Local Government and Church Leaders headed by His Excellency, Most Rev. Reynaldo G. Evangelista, D.D. Bishop of Boac, together with His Excellency Most Rev. Edgardo S. Juanich, D.D.,Vicar Apostolic of Taytay, priests and representatives who care for and defend the environment and our national patrimony, gathered together from 3-5 of October at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Boac, Marinduque, hereby declare the following:

The Present Situation Under The Mineral Policy Revitalization Programme of The Government

We witness the continuous displacement of our Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in many parts of the country and the serious disregard of their human rights and disrespect concerning their rights over their Ancestral Lands and right to self-determination.

We witness the continuous destruction of natural water bodies that are sources of livelihood for many of our fishermen due to the toxic mine waste (tailings) that have been dumped in water bodies like Calancan Bay and municipal waters in the municipalities of Sta. Cruz , Boac and Mogpog in Marinduque.

We witness the dislocation of our farmers and the effects on their lives of the destruction of their farmlands caused by siltation and mine waste.

We witness the evil effects of mining on the health of our people that have continued to claim lives as evidenced by the victims of heavy metal contamination in Sta. Cruz and the sustained threat to people in Boac and Mogpog in Marinduque and the health victims in Bataraza, Palawan.

We witness the massive destruction to many of our forests, water sheds, mountains, fields, seas and natural sources of life and habitat of our people, flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to several of our towns and provinces, including Palawan, the remaining frontier in the country.

We witness serious human rights violations, prevalent cases of kidnapping and summary executions of environmental activists and people who directly oppose mining operations and the wanton destruction of the environment, as well as non-existent justice for victims underlined by what is happening in Aurora and other Southern Tagalog Provinces.

Unified Assessment of Our Situation

Our joint study, sharing and assessment of our situation revealed that our experiences are not different or isolated from those of our brothers and sisters in many other parts of the archipelago. Mining in the Philippines is neither motivated by the need to improve the country’s economy or a genuine desire to improve the distressing plight of the Filipino people, who are living in extreme poverty. Instead, the interests of the large foreign corporations, in their constant quest for profit, are always the focal point of mining in the Philippines. We have observed many of the resulting tragic experiences of our people due to the mining operations carried out by Marcopper-Placer Dome in Marinduque and Lafayette Mining Limited in Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

In these cases, we witnessed how the national and local government, the national police and military, judges and legislators have all served the interests of foreign corporations. These groups desperately pursue the Mining Act of 1995 and implement the Mining Revitalization Programme of the Government, in spite of the serious opposition from the people and the Government’s supposed commitment to revise these anti-people and anti-Filipino policies. Moreover, such entities are pushing for changes to the Constitution which will only profit and further serve the interests of Mining Transnational Corporations (MTNCs), foreign investors and a few local corporations favoured by the government.

We also witness how the Government has become continuously insensitive and deaf to the appeal of ordinary people such as farm workers, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, other workers and sectors of society.

Our Unified Demands and Challenge

The people of Marinduque, led by the Diocese of Boac, in the spirit and inspiration of this “Year of Social Concerns” and the sustained and fearless struggles of the peoples of Mindoro, Aurora and Palawan, continue to challenge us to strengthen and broaden our alliance and agreement to stop the greedy, anti-people and destructive programmes, policies and mining operations in the country, particularly in the Southern Tagalog Region and Aurora province.

We strongly face the new challenges of the present situation with renewed strength and creativity, to pursue the following demands:

Exclude from the Arroyo administration list of priority mining areas, the provinces of Marinduque and Mindoro and commence the long delayed search for justice for due compensation for all the affected population in the province of Marinduque with the needed environmental rehabilitation;

Make the Mining Transnational Corporations (MTNCs) accountable and cancel the mining permits and contracts of foreign and local mining corporations that violate the rights of the people and give rise to massive destruction of the environment, seriously affecting the lives of our people;

Condemn and address corruption and make concerned government officials particularly of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) accountable for negligence and/or connivance with erring Mining TNCs.

Pursue proper investigations and bring to book concerned erring National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) officials and employees for their granting of falsified Certificates of Pre-Condition;

Implement a Moratorium in granting mining permits and ban large-scale mining operations and other mining activities that cause destruction to the environment;
Enact and implement an alternative pro-people and pro-environment mining/mineral policies;
Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and Stop the present Charter Change initiative.

Signed this 5th day of October 2006.

Signed by:

His Excellency
Bishop’s Residence
Boac, 4900 Marinduque

His Excellency
Vicar Apostolic of Taytay
Bishop’s Residence
Sta. Monica, Taytay 5312 Palawan

55 other Participants
From Southern Tagalog Cluster
Philippine Misereor Partnership

Against the Mining Act of 1995: Caraga Forum on Mining

PRESS RELEASE CABUSTAM Philippine-Misereor Partnership

12th October 2006

Butuan City, Philippines - We, the CABUSTAM (Cagayan, Butuan, Surigao, Tandag, Malaybalay) cluster of the Philippine-Misereor Partnership, a coalition of church, non-government organizations people’s organizations from different parts of the region, and the 700 participants of the forum united in our commitment to uphold our people’s interest and welfare amid present conditions of adversities to oppose the entry of multinational and transnational mining in the region.

The entry of transnational corporation in the region led to the destruction of forest, agricultural lands, rivers, and deprivation of natural resources.

Realizing the massive mining operation resulted to the disruption and displacement of indigenous peoples communities and peasants, depriving them of their right to life and land.

Understand that the Philippine Mining Act as a scheme of the national government spells wholesale surrender of our natural resources to foreign companies;

Believing that large-scale mining desecrates the integrity of God’s creation and tramples upon the dignity of human persons;

We hereby:

Uphold the community resistance against mining;
Condemn the practice of mining for plundering our natural resources for profit, without holding responsibility to indemnify and rehabilitate the communities and environment;
Support the communities in their need to be vigilant in opposing the entry of foreign mining;
Support the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine’s Statement of Concern on large-scale mining.
We support the call of Tubay Community in Agusan del Norte
- The area is landslide prone and therefore an environment critical area as declared by DENR, watershed area by the Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA), Bird Sanctuary by the LGU of Tubay, ADB reforestation area, Community Based Resource Management Project (CBRMP) and Community Based Forest Management Project (CBMP) of Peoples Organizations;

- Violations of R.A. 7076 (Small-scale Mining Act. The three (3) mining companies are not qualified for they are not natural person or cooperative as required by the said law;

- That the mining activity in Tubay be stopped for the mining companies applied for small-scale mining activities but are presently and continuing to engage in large-scale mining activities;

- That the area is not declared by the DENR Secretary as suitable for small-scale mining area;

- The Sangguaning Bayan (SB) of Tubay fastracked the endorsement of the three (3) companies. The committee chair failed to recommend for a meeting/hearing for purposes of consultation.

We therefore unite on the following calls:

Cancel all Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements, and other related contracts and permits on mining explorations and operations;
Hold mining companies accountable for rehabilitation of areas ravaged by their operations;
Recognize and respect the rights of indigenous peoples to ancestral domain and to self-determination;
Assert the sovereignty of the Filipino people against imperialist globalization and plunder;
Uphold the future of our generation and generations to come.
Signed this 12th day of October during the CABUSTAM cluster meeting, at Urios University, Butuan City.

Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos, D.D.
Bishop Zacarias Jimenez, D.D.
Bishop Nerio P. Odchimar , DD, JCD
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J.

Bishops, environmentalists want future mining projects in Palawan banned

DENR cancellation of Palawan mining firm's permit welcome but insufficient


20th October 2006

While the DENR's recent nixing of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC) is a clear and partial victory for Palawan residents and environmental groups, the government should go further by stopping the operations of other abusive firms in Palawan and in implementing a moratorium on new mining applications in this last frontier, spokespersons from Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and Defend Patrimony said today.

Defend Patrimony and Kalikasan-PNE congratulated the Catholic bishops, people's and environmental organizations for their parts in the concerted campaign to expose and oppose the damage that the PGMC's operations have inflicted on the community. Defend Patrimony is a nationwide network of organizations supporting for the wise use of the country's mineral resources and calling for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995.

However, these environmental groups also said that canceling PGMC's ECC alone was not enough, as other abusive mining firms continue to freely operate in other parts of Palawan. "If the DENR was able to revoke permits for the PGMC, it must also be able to do so for other foreign multinational mining firms in which are wantonly guilty of similar ECC violations," Kalikasan-PNE Spokesperson Clemente Bautista said.

"In Palawan alone, other mining TNCs which may be guilty of similar transgressions continue to operate wantonly under the DENR's nose. For example, there have been human rights violations, displacements of indigenous peoples, and mine pollution related to the HPP Project in Palawan nickel processing and limestone mining in Bataraza, Palawan, financed by Rio Tuba Mining Corp. and Coral bay Mining Corp,' Bautista added.

Bishop Pedro D. Arigo D.D., Vicar Apostolate of Puerto Princesa issued a pastoral statement issued calling on government agencies, LGUs, and the DENR to impose a ban on new mining applications in Palawan. He reiterated the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines (CBCP) stand against mining, calling on his constituents to be aware and critical against of the existing mining practices and to work for the common good of the people.

Bishop Arigo also said that the 2% excise tax imposed on mining companies did not guarantee any improvement in the local populace's lives, noting that the areas with long-standing mining operations such as Benguet, Marinduque, Romblon, and even Bataraza in Palawan have remained among the poorest regions in the Philippines. "Maybe the people would benefit more if mining areas were used instead in other ways, such as planting Macasla and tuba-Tuba," he said.

"Palawenos primarily source their livelihood from the land and sea. The destruction of these resources for the needs and profits of foreigners also means the destruction of their hopes, futures, and lives," he said.

He also expressed concern for Palawan's status as a UNESCO Fish and Wildlife Sanctuary, World Heritage Site, and the largest protected area in the Philippines.

He also called for a genuine and responsible mining policy to be implemented in Palawan's existing mine projects, the inspection of existing mine tailings and rehabilitation of "mined out areas'.

Defend Patrimony Spokesperson Trixie Concepcion said that they were supporting Bishop Arigo's call to ban new mining applications in Palawan, stressing that "the DENR's action against PGMC would only be negated if it does not hold halt the inflow of new mining projects, especially at the rate at which new mining applications are being submitted and permits being farmed out to errant firms". Bishop Arigpo confirmed this by revealing that over 100 new mining applications are pending for the Palawan region alone.

Concepcion added that the DENR should also follow-up on its commitment to crack down on abusive firms by "taking long-clamored for action against Lafayette, currently the most prominent example of abusive mining firms in the Philippines".

"If the DENR was able to find a sound basis for the disapproval of the PGMC's ECC, then moreso should it find basis for the long-clamored for disapproval of Lafayette's Phil Inc. permit in Rapu-Rapu. Lafayette has caused the wanton environmental damage and has repeatedly violated clauses in its permits but has been allowed by the DENR and the Palace to get away scot-free to date," she said.

Concepcion added that more ecological disasters, human rights violations, and plunder of the country's natural resources would happen if the government continues to proceed with the Arroyo administration's Mining Revitalization Program. ###

Reference: Trixie Concepcion, Defend Patrimony Spokesperson;
Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE Spokesperson

26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756

DENR stops operations of Palawan mining firm

By Blanche Rivera, Jofelle Tesorio, Inquirer -

20th October 2006

Published on Page A18 of the October 20, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE GOVERNMENT has stopped the operations of Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC) in Palawan after the firm was found to have over-extracted metals during its year-long operations in the province.

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes cancelled the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of PGMC and Olympic Mines and Development Corp., which leased its mining tenement to PGMC, due to various violations of the ECC.

"It is clear in the submitted report of the investigating team ... that the PGMC ... is overextracting beyond what are issued by the ECC," Reyes said in his order dated Sept. 25.

The investigating team, led by the Environmental Management Bureau, found that PGMC has already extracted 282,729.35 tons of nickel as of September, more than five times the 50,000-ton annual extraction rate allowed by its ECC.

There were recent reports that the PGMC was able to mine and export to Australia some 300,000 metric tons of ore in only two years of operations in Narra, Palawan.

Other violations

The DENR order also cited other ECC violations, including pollution generated by mining as evidenced from the farmers' complaint letters, mining outside the boundaries of its small scale mining permit, construction of a 6-km road in Sitio Jambangan without a permit, and mining contrary to the plan submitted by PGMC to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"PGMC is undertaking high-grading operation which leaves behind patches of valuable low grade nickel resources," Reyes said.

PGMC last year acquired a permit from Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes, chair of the provincial mines and regulatory board, to extract 10.3 million tons of laterite and saprolite nickel ores in Barangay San Isidro in Narra and Barangays Pulot Interior, Punang, Labog, all of Sofronio Espanola.

Appeal rejected

The EMB wrote PGMC's Benjamin Obra on Sept. 11 to inform the company of its violations. The PGMC appealed the notice of violation but it was rejected by the DENR.

"They immediately stopped when the order was served," DENR regional director Vicente Paragas said.

According to Elizabeth Maclang, project coordinator of the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), an umbrella organization of non-government organizations in Palawan, they received information that the ECC of PGMC was cancelled effective Sept. 25.

But PNNI has yet to send a request letter to Secretary Reyes for the copy of the order of cancellation.

Maclang said that the small scale mining permit issued to PGMC by Governor Reyes should have been canceled as well.

According to the communities living in the area where PGMC operates, the company has stopped extracting mineral ore since the issuance of the cancellation order.

In August, a network of NGOs in Manila composed of organizations like Defend Patrimony, Brigadang Berde and Concerned Citizens Against Pollution said they filed complaint documents at the provincial government and the regional office of the DENR pointing to environmental damage allegedly caused by the illegal operations of PGMC in Narra, Palawan.

PGMC officials, according to sources, are expected to appeal DENR's order.

11 Regions Hit by 'Milenyo' to Undergo Ecological Assessment

Manila, 2nd October 2006

Star -

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes has ordered a geological assessment in 11 regions affected by typhoon "Milenyo" last week.

In a memorandum dated Sept. 29, Reyes directed the executive directors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Regions I, II III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), and National Capital Region (NCR) to conduct a geological assessment in their areas of jurisdiction.

Reyes told the DENR executives to note slope failure or mass movement that is likely to occur due to the increase in pore water pressure because of heavy rain.

"(This) is to avoid further damage to lives and properties," he said. "If unavoidable, (they may) initiate evacuation in coordination with the local government units concerned."

Reyes instructed the DENR regional directors to coordinate closely with the regional disaster coordinating councils regarding the geohazard areas to forewarn the communities within or nearby of any impending catastrophe.

He ordered the evaluation of the structural stability of all critical mine facilities within the administrative jurisdiction of each DENR regional executive director.

Reyes particularly wanted the conditions of tailings dam and waste dumps checked for any possible damages or impending danger.

He also sought reports on the actions taken by the mine and cement companies to ensure the stability of their tailings dam or pond, and similar structures.

Reyes also asked the regional executive directors to submit their status report, including the damages inflicted by the typhoon, as soon as they finish their assessment.

The government's flagship mine project, the P1.4-billion Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic project in Albay, is in the Bicol Region while one of the biggest mining projects in the country, Philex Mining in Benguet, is in the Cordillera region.

The Australian-owned Lafayette Philippines Inc.'s Rapu-Rapu mine undertaking figured in two separate but consecutive mine tailing spillage in October last year due to heavy rains. - Katherine Adraneda

Disasters and Faulty Governance

"Development aggression" and "globalization" have contributed to the destruction of the country's ecosystem (considered one of the richest in the world), traditional protective barriers and once self-sustaining economies that used to enable the people to withstand even the most destructive calamities. Today, they spread horror, despair and hopelessness to high-risk communities across the country.


Posted by Bulatlat, Vol. VI, No. 35 -

Oct. 8 - 14, 2006

The devastation to people's lives and the economy wrought by the two recent major disasters should no longer be seen as a problem best left to government's disaster coordinating officials alone. Serious flaws in government's economic development priorities and faulty public governance have only led to the increase in the vulnerability of people and communities to calamities and, worse, in bigger number of lives lost and hopes for a better life shattered.

Question is, has the government been jolted out of complacency or gone beyond merely declaring affected provinces as "calamity areas" by undertaking bold policy reform? Is there really nothing that can be done to protect people's lives and their livelihood from future disasters?

In just a month, the Philippines was struck by two major calamities: The Guimaras oil slick, which hit several western Visayas coastal provinces third week of August, and Typhoon Milenyo, which devastated Luzon provinces including Metro Manila on Sept. 28. Being the world's fourth most disaster-prone country (after China, India and Iran) and also fourth in the number of persons killed or injured by calamities, such disasters, whether natural as in the case of Typhoon Milenyo, or man-made in the Guimaras tragedy, are often taken as nothing new.

Some alarming trends cry for attention, however. The impact of disasters, including typhoons, floods, monsoon rains, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides has worsened in recent years. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies report that some 5.9 million Filipinos were killed or injured as a result of natural or man-made calamities in 10 years (1992-2001). That's already about 5 percent of the country's current population.

The rising toll on human lives can also be attributed to the increase in the reported number of disaster incidents in the country: From 199 in 2001 it leaped to 313 in 2002 and 384 in 2005. The non-government Citizens' Disaster Response Center (CDRC) reports that the number of persons affected by disasters or calamities in 2005 was 528,151 families or 2.6 million individuals. In January-September this year alone, however, the total has reached 584,607 families or 3 million persons.

The CDRC report does not include the recent damage caused by Typhoon Milenyo: 200 deaths as of Oct. 3, 1.3 million people displaced including 171,000 evacuees and about 43 million kept in the dark by widespread power blackouts.


Flashfloods account for the biggest number of persons uprooted: In 2005, the total reached 344,378 families or 1.8 million individuals or half the total number directly displaced by all disasters that year, based on CDRC monitoring.

The CDRC adds drought, fires, red tide, fish kill, epidemic outbreak, infestation, tornado and armed conflicts in its disaster monitoring. Not included are other man-made disasters such as sea, air and road mishaps as well as oil spills.

Normally, government reports measure the impact of disasters based on economic losses, the number of persons killed or uprooted and damage to infrastructure, among others. Over-attention to quantifiable effects, however, tends to gloss over other indicators of impact that are often far-reaching and which are lost in the bureaucratic maze of government intervention - or lack of it. These include long-term effects on livelihood and employment, health, nutrition, education and other social and psychological impact that only the keen and compassionate policy maker is able to detect.

For instance, Central Luzon still reels from the impact of the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption 15 years ago notably due to mudflows that inundate farms, fishponds and whole villages. Among other reasons, income losses and destruction to farms have made the region one of the leading generators of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). This only shows that the more disasters strike every year the bigger the army of OFWs will leave the country that, in turn, will result in a bigger number of families torn apart or suffering long separation with breadwinners aside from other unimaginable social costs.

And yet all these and other problems can be stopped or at least prevented or mitigated.

Rise in people's vulnerability

The reason why the number of families, communities, lands and other productive resources affected by calamities, whether natural or man-made, has increased at alarming rates lately is because of the rise in their level of vulnerability. Contributing to the increase of vulnerability to disasters are poverty and unemployment, lack of land and shelter, lack of food security, poor access to health and other social services, and so on.

Big populations who face higher risks during disasters owing to their dire social and economic conditions are in the rural provinces especially those living near or on uplands, near logging and mining areas, coastal areas and other farm communities. In the cities, they are the urban poor who are forced to live by the riverbanks and coasts, under the bridges or beside waste dumps. And all these are high-risk disaster zones.

In fact the whole Philippine archipelago including its seas and marine grounds is a potential disaster area. This explains why of late whenever a major disaster happens - like the Guimaras oil slick - whole regions or one of the country's three major islands are declared "calamity areas." Natural disasters such as typhoons are obviously unavoidable but the hazards they as well as man-made calamities pose to populations and communities have been aggravated by flawed "economic development" policies and laws that have also become, coincidentally speaking, the culprit behind man-made disasters.

Except for a few small zones, for instance, the whole country has been stripped of its forests due to unmitigated logging and mining operations that, for several decades, have only benefited a few families and transnational corporations. Foreign-funded dams that were built purportedly to provide power for industries and irrigation for large farm estates now disgorge flashfloods that submerge whole provinces and ruin their economies.

The Mining Act of 1995, which the Arroyo government implemented last year in full swing, will subject 13 million hectares or 45 percent of the country's land area to mining exploration and extraction. Justified by Mrs. Arroyo as urgent in order to address the government's fiscal crisis, the Act will result in the large-scale displacement of communities and in the destruction of lands, deforestation and the flattening of mountains, erosions, siltations, desertification, pollution of rivers and marine life, and other ecological damages. In areas where new mining operations have started, disaster incidents have taken place including the spread of toxic pollutants and flashfloods.

Definitely, something is wrong when government economic programs are crafted principally to address the fiscal crisis and debt servicing regardless of their grim effects on people and their livelihood. State policies are aligned to international credit institutions' impositions and preferences for extractive production and commercial exportation while prying the domestic market wider for cheap imports at the expense of the country's farmers and other small producers. All these contribute to the further marginalization of the people and, consequently, to their exposure to disasters.

There are so-called "safety nets" that claim to minimize the adverse effects of corporate greed, development and infrastructure projects but the series of moratoriums on logging and mining, environment impact assessments, sustainable resource management, building codes, transportation safety measures and, not to forget, billboard advertising codes are followed more in breach.

"Development aggression" and "globalization," based on UNDP and World Bank reports, has only aggravated the country's poverty and widened the income gaps between the poor and rich. What these reports forget, however, is the destruction to the livelihood, property, lands and water resources, nay, the future of generations of Filipinos that such policies and laws have wrought making the nation's poor in worse shape and unable to shield themselves anymore from natural and man-made disasters. "Development aggression" and "globalization" have contributed to the destruction of the country's ecosystem (considered one of the richest in the world), traditional protective barriers and once self-sustaining economies that used to enable the people to withstand even the most destructive calamities. Today, they spread horror, despair and hopelessness to high-risk communities across the country. Posted by Bulatlat

GMA assures strategic investors gov't will maintain incentives

5th October 2006

Business, Balita -

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured investors Thursday that her administration will keep and enhance the incentives the Philippines offers to strategic and foreign investors, especially exporters, as the government strives to achieve its $ 3 billion annual foreign direct investment (FDI) target.

In her message at the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-organized workshop on FDI, "How the Philippines Can Attract $ 3 Billion a Year" held at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati, the President said the incentives may not be fiscal incentives but "competitive elements" such as infrastructure, reduction of red tape, technology, power and workers.

"The incentives need not be fiscal. The incentives you want are the competitive elements: the workers being paid well enough in terms of affordable food; the technology, in other words, our continuing knowledge worker richness in our economy, the infrastructure, the power and the reduction of red tape," she said.

She stressed that the investors and other businessmen in the Philippines "will not become less competitive in the fiscal incentive" that the government offers to both foreign and local investors.

The President also said she was aware of the concern of businessmen over the effect of the continuing strength of the peso on export. She added that while she leaves it to the market forces to determine the value of the country's currency, her economic team is undertaking concrete steps to assist the export sector.

She said her support for Charter change includes the removal from the Constitution of restrictions on foreign investments "because it should be Congress that should legislate them and not the Constitution."

"We want foreign equity rules to be done by Congress and the Department of Trade and not the Constitution," she added.

The President told the over 300 workshop participants that the FDI target of $ 3 billion a year for the Philippines is highly achievable given the latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that for the first semester of 2006, total net inflow reached 6 million.

"If the trend continues for the second semester, this will almost be $ 2 billion for one year and therefore, we only have to work for an additional $ 1 billion a year," she said.

The workshop participants projected some $ 8.5 billion FDI every year for the Philippines over the next four years, or roughly $ 34 billion in four years with the opening up of greater opportunities in the health care, mining, tourism, information technology and manufacturing sectors, among others.

With the projections and investment plan of investors for the country, "we will quite be able to succeed in getting that additional $ 1 billion a year," the President said as she thanked the investors for their confidence in the Philippine economy.

The Chief Executive also underscored the need to lure more foreign direct investments so as to create more jobs and stop the migration of Filipinos in search of jobs abroad.

"We know that the successful implementation.the implementation of the solution to the problem is our nation's biggest challenge," she said.

The President said the Philippine economy is on an extended bull run as she expressed confidence that the people would "keep the pace going" until the country achieves an economic takeoff.

She also called on the "business people, but specially the ordinary people, to sustain the momentum by upholding excellence, productivity and unity that will assure them of a fair share of the benefits of growth." (PNA)

Raging against Norwegian mining company: they conned us with a cup of rice [all translated from Norwegian c/o PIPLinks]

Published: 20th September 2006

The indigenous population was conned with a cup of rice into giving the thumbs up to Crew Gold Exploration's mining project in the Philippines.

By Lars Magne Sunnanå

Oslo Stock Exchange-listed Crew (CRU) is digging its way through grave sites and threatening water reservoirs in its pursuit of nickel, claims Ramil Baldo, a leader of the indigenous Mangyan people.

The indigenous people live on the remote Philippine Mindoro islands, where Crew wants to develop nickel production.

"They summoned people down from the mountains to a meeting. There everyone was offered a cup of rice in return for putting a fingerprint on the agreement," says Baldo to Næringsliv24.

Baldo is currently in Oslo. With support from inter alia The Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous People, Galdu, and The Future In Our Hands, he claims that the indigenous people agreed to the project after having been made false promises.

"Threatening our cultural foundations"

Crew has been among the fastest rising shares on the Oslo Stock Exchange in recent years. The Mindoro project in the Philippines has contributed to raising the share price sky-high. According to Baldo, Crew's mining plans will destroy the environmental and cultural foundations of the area's indigenous population. The company is digging its way through grave sites and its plans are threatening important water reservoirs, he claims.

Baldo says his people fear being driven off their own land if full-scale mining activities commence.

The local authorities on Mindoro are opposed to the mining project, which however has strong support from central government and the presidential office in Manila.

"Brought in a pastor"

The agreement between the Norwegian mining company and the Mangyan people was entered into in 1999. The contract, of which Næringsliv24 has a copy, is full of thumbprints from representatives of the indigenous population.

Mining company Mindex (now a part of Oslo Stock Exchange-listed Crew Gold Corporation) had brought in a local pastor to explain what the agreement entailed, says Baldo.

The local population believed, according to Baldo, that they were only giving their support to the taking of soil samples. The local population were reassured that important areas, such as grave sites and water reservoirs, would be protected.

Unable to read or write

But the agreement states clearly that Mindex (now Crew) has the right to exploit metals found in the area. In return, the Mangyan people would benefit from royalty incomes and funding for infrastructure.

In Baldo's opinion, however, the company is heading towards full-scale extraction on Mindoro - something to which the Mangyan people did not understand they were giving consent.

"Since they could neither read nor write, they believed what was said about the agreement," he says. Philippine law requires the affected indigenous population and local government authorities to be fully informed and to have given their consent before this type of project is commenced.

Taking Crew to court

Baldo will, with support from anti-mining organisations in the Philippines, fight against Crew's project in court.

Today Baldo and priest Edwin Gariguez, who is active in the anti-mining movement in the Philippines, met shareholders in Crew Gold Corporation.

They are also to meet members of the Storting [Norwegian Parliament]. They have previously laid their accusations before the Sameting [Sami Parliament].

Neither managing director Jan A. Vestrum nor other members of Crew's management have been willing to meet Baldo and Gariguez.

"They don't respect the law"

Vestrum told Næringsliv24:

"This group don't accept Philippine legislation. Therefore we have nothing to discuss with them. We have obtained a licence pursuant to Philippine law and have followed it meticulously. Period."

"Don't meet them"

Published: 20th September 2006

Crew boss Jan A. Vestrum in a letter recommended his shareholders to stay away from the meeting with the indigenous leader from the Philippines.

By Lars Magne Sunnanå

This emerges from a letter sent to Crew shareholders, to which Næringliv24 has obtained access. Vestrum brushes off criticism of Crew (CRU). In his opinion, indigenous leader Ramil Baldo and his travelling companions, who are currently in Oslo to put the Mangyan people's case against the mining project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, are not in any way representative spokesmen.

"We see this as a small group, not representative of the population, which is deliberately putting about erroneous information about the project," says Vestrum to Næringsliv24.

More news on Næringsliv24

"Conned with a cup of rice"

According to indigenous leader Ramil Baldo, the Mangyan people were conned into putting their fingerprints on a contract in return for an instant payment in the form of a cup of rice.

The contract, dating from 1999, allows Crew to extract metals from an area on the Mindoro islands, the home of the Mangyan people.

Baldo claims, however, that the indigenous people only gave their consent to the taking of soil samples. He says that Crew are digging up ancient grave sites and threatening water reservoirs in the area and that the payment Crew will make if the project proceeds to production cannot compensate for the losses his people have suffered.

"The aim is to humiliate us"

With help from The Future In Our Hands and indigenous people's organisation Philippines Indigenous Peoples Links, Baldo invited Crew's Norwegian shareholders to a meeting in Oslo on Tuesday.

Vestrum was not happy about this, as can be seen from the letter he sent to his shareholders on 8th September:

"We recommend that you do not participate in this meeting, since the aim seems to be to humiliate Crew's shareholders, management and, even more importantly, the authorities in the Philippines, by spreading erroneous information about the project."

The letter from Vestrum evidently went down well with Crew's shareholders, as Næringsliv24 has learned that only 4-5 attended the meeting, in addition to one stockbroking firm.

"The main problem is that this group doesn't accept Philippine legislation," says Vestrum. "We have obtained a licence pursuant to Philippine law and have followed it meticulously. Period."

"People affected may be against [the project]" Vestrum says new rounds of consultation will be held if Crew decides to go further with the mining project, which is still at an early stage.

"All those involved, including the local population, will be able to attend the consultations. This doesn't mean that everyone will be satisfied. There may be people opposed [to the project] amongst those who will be affected. This is no more or less dramatic than people reacting to an industrial project in Norway."

No comment on cup of rice

Vestrum refuses to comment on the allegations that Crew's agreement with the Mangyan indigenous people dating from 1999 was entered into in exchange for a cup of rice - and without the [Crew's] opposite party understanding what they were agreeing to.

"That was long before my time. I will not take a position on such allegations. The law states how one has to proceed. These are allegations that I do not recognise, because they have not been addressed to me directly."

The Crew boss thinks that opposition to such a project is natural.

"There are opponents and supporters. There are opponents of gas turbine power stations in Norway as well."

"Arrogant and serious"

Project leader Gunnell Sandanger in The Future in Our Hands thinks it is both arrogant and serious that the Crew boss recommended his shareholders to stay away from the meeting with the indigenous people's leader from the Philippines in Oslo on Wednesday.

"It shows that they are right when they say that it is difficult to open a dialogue with the company. This is not just arrogant, it is pretty serious," says Sandanger to Næringsliv24.

Gunnell says that Crew Gold Corporation has been working for a considerable time to damage the credibility of the representatives of the indigenous population who have travelled to Oslo.

Idyll - or uproar?

Published: 21st September 2006

Standing among smiling children on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines is a contented Jan A. Vestrum, managing director of mining company Crew. [NB - The photo was not from Mindoro, but Mindanao]

By Lars Magne Sunnanå

It is in this region that he, and Norwegian-owned mining company Crew Gold Corporation (CRU), aspire to exploit nickel, in a comprehensive project that is still far from a full-scale start up.

And Vestrum's conscience is clear. Children on the island have been given school buildings and a mobile phone mast has been put up at the mining site.

That is why Vestrum is up in arms after representatives of Mindoro's indigenous peoples visited Oslo this week to express their opposition to the project.

But the indigenous peoples' own pictures tell a different story: of thousands of demonstrators against the nickel plans, of a united band of mayors refusing to go along with Crew's ambitions, and despair over mining enthusiasts in central government in the capital Manila.

And the pictures tell of the peoples' fear of losing their environmental and cultural foundations.

Two worlds

Jan A. Vestrum has shares in Crew worth NOK 123 million and lives in London. Earlier this year he bought a detached house in Holmenveien in Oslo for NOK 23 million. The house is nearly 1000 m2.

Ramil Baldo, leader of the indigenous people on Mindoro, had to obtain funding from organisation Tebtebba in order to travel to Europe and put his people's case on the mining company's home ground. But Vestrum and Crew's management refused to meet Baldo and his travelling companions. In a letter to shareholders, they also called for a boycott of the meeting that Baldo wanted to hold with them in Oslo.

"Crew takes its social responsibility very seriously and does far more than Philippine law demands in respect of building schools, clinics, telecommunications, roads and other infrastructure", writes Vestrum in an e-mail to Næringsliv24.

"The group that is in Norway is a gathering of people who oppose mining on principle. They are in no way officially representative of local government bodies, the local population or the indigenous population. We are scarcely able to consider a loosely associated group that is to a large extent financed by international anti-mining activists," he continues.


Vestrum's cold shoulder has been met with dismay among the Norwegian indigenous population. The Norwegian Sami have also come into conflict with Crew.

Through their own network, the Sami are familiar with the situation in the Philippines.

Geir Tommy Pedersen is adviser to Sameting President Aili Keskitalo. He vouches for Crew's visiting opponents.

"They are representatives and enjoy full authority from the region. There is no doubt as to their representative status," says Pedersen to Næringsliv24.

He is shocked at the way Vestrum refers to the delegates from the Mangyan people.

"You would have thought that the time was past when indigenous peoples were treated like that. It's reminiscent of a type of colonialism that we thought belonged in another century."

"I would absolutely characterise their behaviour as scandalous."

Divide and rule

The Sami politician isn't impressed that Crew has built a school and put up a mobile phone mast in the area near the mine.

"Buying support is the usual way to proceed. Many mining companies go into these societies and operate a divide-and-rule policy, whereby they try to buy a section of the population, so that they can then claim that they have gained acceptance.

Will keep watch on the company

The Sami will now keep watch over Crew Gold Corporation with an eagle eye.

"We have a worldwide network of contacts. We will use them to bring this company under closer observation," says Pedersen.

"I call on them to enter into a dialogue with these groups, instead of behaving in this colonial fashion."

(Read Vestrum's reader's comment here [hyperlink]: "Incredibly patronising and insulting")

Apex appeals ruling on mining claim

Manila Times -

6th October 2006

LISTED Apex Mining Co. has appealed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s ruling that declares the company’s mining claim in Davao “void and illegal.”

In a statement, Apex said that MGB’s decision which favored North Davao Mining Corp. (NDMC) was a “mistake.”

Apex, in its motion for reconsideration, said NDMC’s application for a financial and technical assistance agreement should be dismissed because it is “not based on valid and existing mining claims” in Monte de Oro in Compostella Valley.

“This judicial mistake will only prolong the already tedious and long-delayed process to return NDMC to the private sector because we will definitely exhaust all legal remedies to protect our interest,” Apex said.

Apex and NDMC have overlapping claims and the dispute has been with the regional panel of arbitrators since 1996. Apex has the option to question the ruling through the Mines Adjudication Board, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

“We have a strong case and are determined to take this all the way to Supreme Court, no matter how long this might drag,” Apex added.

Crew Gold Corp., which owns 40 percent of the shares sold by the Puyat family in Apex, earlier offered to buy NDMC from the government before but was advised to participate in a bidding process to be handled by the state-owned Natural Resources Mining and Development Corp.

Despite the previous pronouncements of the state-owned company that it was preparing to bid out the property, there had been no signs that this would happen anytime soon, Apex said.

Apex said it is willing to invest more and take the risk even in the absence of a definitive survey on whether or not NDMC still has viable reserves left.

Apex also claimed in its motion that NDMC violated the law for failing to have tie points, or permanent markers, to clearly delineate its boundaries and prevent overlaps and conflicts.

Besides, Apex also alleged that NDMC’s mining claim is much larger than its previous area.

Apex earlier said that it has received capital infusion from its affiliates for the rehabilitation of the plant at its mine site.

In a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apex said that for the first three months of the year it received a total of P52.87 million from a number of its affiliates. The company, however, failed to mention what specific mine site it would start rehabilitating.

Of the amount, Apex said Mapula Creek Gold Corp. contributed P10.49 million; Teresa Crew Gold Phils. Inc., P23.44 million; and Crew Minerals Phils. Inc., P18.98 million.

For the first quarter of the year, Apex’s net losses almost doubled to P9.93 million from the P5.09 million in the same period a year ago.

In September last year, UK-based Crew Gold and its affiliate, Mapula Creek Gold Corp. offered to purchase all of Apex’s class “A” and “B” shares, and intended to buy all the shares for P0.6724 each.

With gold as its principal product, Apex Mining is primarily engaged in mining gold, silver, copper, lead and other precious metals. It traces its roots to Samar Mining Co. Inc., which was mining and milling large, though low grade, ore zones containing copper, gold and silver and magnetite.

Buluan town opposes SMI mining

Written by Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews

5th October 2006

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- The Sangguniang Bayan of Buluan in Maguindanao has passed a resolution opposing the operations of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in the mountains of Tampakan in South Cotabato, as it expressed fears mining would destroy the livelihood of thousands of residents dependent on Lake Buluan.

The resolution was passed unanimously and attested to by both the vice mayor, Datu Apan M. Piang, the presiding chair of the council, and Mayor Datu Esmael Mangudadatu, on September 21.

It noted that Tampakan is "only a few kilometers away" from the 6,300 hectare- Lake Buluan, the main source of livelihood of the people here.

"Looking into the possible ill-effect of the mining industry, as what had happened in some other part of the country, the fact that this will produce mercury, cyanide, arsenic and other poisonous toxic elements that will pour from the mining site, down to Lake Buluan up to Liguasan Marsh through Buluan river" was cited as reason for the opposition.

The Sangguniang Bayan resolved to "strongly oppose the continuous operation of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in South Cotabato area in order to protect the lives of the people of Buluan, Maguindanao and their source of livelihood, including the people in the nearby places."

A copy of the resolution was also furnished President Arroyo "for her Excellency's information and immediate action," and the Secretary of Environment. "for his information and comments."

SMI Tampakan project manager Rolando Doria declined to comment as yet because "we still have to receive and read the content of the said Buluan document."

But Doria reporters who visited the minesite last month that the concerns about water and pollution by people downstream would be looked into before full operations start. The firm has just completed its pre-feasibility phase.

SMI Corporate Affairs Manager Roy Antonio told MindaNews "we have no comment as we have not yet been officially advised of such a resolution."

At the lakeside where bancas are docked, fishers show off their catch of a variety of fish, including huge ones.

Last year, the Department of Agriculture-Southern Philippines Communications Group promoted Lake Buluan as a major source of tilapia in Mindanao.

Aside from tilapia, the DA-SPC team also documented the lake's other fish species such as bangus (milkfish) and larok or big head carp. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

Lafayette Mining rebounds in Philippines

9th October 2006

The Age -

Lafayette Mining Ltd has recovered from a direct hit by a tropical storm, confirming work has restarted at its Rapu Rapu operations in the Philippines and reliable production should be achieved in the next two weeks.

The polymetallic operations cranked back into action last Friday after Lafayette was able to restore the power supply to process water pumps.

"Reliable production of commercial grade concentrates is expected to be achieved within the next two weeks," the minerals exploration and development company said.

Operations at the site withstood a direct hit by typhoon Milenyo in early October.

"All critical operational areas, from the tailings dams to the processing plant, were undamaged despite the severity of the tempest," Lafayette added.

The only damage to the project was to non-critical areas such as the mess hall, portions of the perimeter fence, communications, and high-voltage power due to fallen electric posts.

Additional funding has been provided by project stakeholders, including the bank group, under the terms of a loan deal made in July, to provide working capital pending activation of certain stockpile financing arrangements and the establishment of project revenues from steady state operations.

The polymetallic project, located on Rapu Rapu Island 350km south of Manila, is 85 per cent-owned by Lafayette Mining.

The Rapu Rapu mineral resource currently supports an eight-year mine life capable of producing about 10,000 tonnes of copper in concentrates, 14,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrates, 50,000 ounces of gold and 600,000 ounces of silver annually.

Lafayette's shares closed up 0.6 cents to 8.5 cents.

Greenpeace to sue Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee; Demands public apology for defamatory accusations

Press Release, By GREENPEACE Southeast Asia -

4th October 2006

MANILA, Philippines - Greenpeace said Tuesday that they will sue Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee for defamation unless the governor publicly apologizes for misleading statements which he issued in a press statement last 12 August 2006.

Governor Lee's official statement, entitled "Anti-mining militants becoming destructive, irresponsible, says Lee," linked Greenpeace to Lafayette's claims of pesticide sabotage. The statement appeared in full in Lafayette Mining's corporate website last August and was also quoted widely in news articles in national dailies.

On July 21, 2006 Rapu Rapu residents reported a fish kill in Mirikpitik creek which leads out of Lafayette mine. This spill, along with several others reported by locals, occurred during the mine's test run. No explanations have been offered by Lafayette aside from allegations of pesticide sabotage which they have yet to prove.

In his statement, Lee was quoted saying "Pouring pesticide in a creek near Lafayette's Rapu Rapu project [.] was actually an act of economic sabotage" immediately after a paragraph referring to the Greenpeace banner-hanging at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) building last August 10. Greenpeace responded to the statement in a press interview where campaigner Beau Baconguis challenged Lee "to name names." There has been no response so far from the governor's camp.

"By merely casting innuendo on perpetrators of what Lafayette claims to be pesticide sabotage, Governor Lee's insinuations are pointedly malicious and clearly designed to put Greenpeace in a bad light," said Baconguis. "If this is not his intention, Governor Lee should publicly deny that his statement implicates Greenpeace in Lafayette's claims of sabotage."

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Emmy Hafild has issued a formal letter to Lee containing the said demand. "Greenpeace has always believed in being accountable for our actions. We identify ourselves prominently in all of our direct, peaceful, non-violent actions and take pride in the name and credibility we have built as an international environmental organization," said Hafild, "Greenpeace will not hesitate to take legal action against what appears to be an act of defamation."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.


TITO NATIVIDAD FIEL, Program Coordinator, DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues

4th October 2006

Dipolog City – The DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues (DCMI), headed by Bishops of Dipolog, Ipil, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Iligan and Marawi, last month reaffirmed the alleged lies of TVI Resource Development Philippines, a Calgary Canada based mining firm.

DCMI continues to refute the company’s repeated claims to the Mineral Development Council (MDC) - which is under the office of the Philippine President - that it has released a baseless accusation against the company for unauthorized demolition of the house of farmers in Mount Canatuan, Tabayo Siocon Zamboanga del Norte, two-months ago.

In a letter from DCMI Executive Director Charles Alferez to Under Secretary Soledad M. Cagampang-Decastro (the Executive Director of MDC) said that the information it published in the Internet was simply the true and factual circumstances of the inhumane eviction of the Galves family. DCMI strongly stands by the information and the issues raised by its partners in Manila.

The letter notes that TVI Resource Development claims that Mr Galves is a former small-scale miner and not a helpless farmers. But Mr. Alferez argues that his being former small-scale miners does not negate the fact that they are still helpless farmers.

“What made them helpless was the fact that their humble abode was demolished under the cover of darkness and without a court order while surrounded by a large number of heavily armed TVI Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) who eventually manhandled them”, the letter explains.

They are no longer small scale miners, as their mining activities were completely stopped by TVIRD in the year 2003, and they are now farmers who, after obtaining the consent from the legal and legitimate holder of ancestral domain Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, cultivated the piece of land that they were occupying.

Alferez on his letter explains that a day before the house was eventually demolished the surrounding plants were destroyed and bulldozed and made an island out of their house.

The letter notes that the traditional, legal and legitimate holder of the relevant Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) is Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, and not Erdulfo Comisas, as claimed by the company.

“Moreover Timuay Boy Anoy is the true Timuay and leader of the Subanon communities in Mount Canatuan not because he was elected to be so by the community that he represents, but because he is anointed by tradition and possesses the true and direct blood line of a descendant of the Apo Manglang, their revered ancestor,” Alferez explains in his letter.

Mr. Alferez explains that Erdulfo Comisas has been elected by the association that he represents under the supposed auspices and facilitation of TVIRD. But the association he represents does not represent the Subanon.

TVI claims that the Siocon Subanon Association Inc. (SSAI) was responsible for the dismantling of the house of the farmers, and not TVI upon the recommendation of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT). However, the letter asks if it were not TVIRD that was responsible for the dismantling of the house of the farmers why then was the heavily armed SCAA deployed against the unarmed civilians during the demolition, and why was the heavy equipment of the company used in bulldozing and levelling the house of the couple?

TVI cite the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights issued on June 10, 2005 and the resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor’s office which allegedly excuse TVI of committing human rights violations when its SCAA member Noel Manggubat fired towards picketers causing injuries on March 17, 2004. But the letter argues that even if the Commission on Human Rights and the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office egally exonerated TVIRD on human rights violations, they did not conceal the moral culpability of those who injured unarmed picketers as a result of the irresponsible “warning shots” fired by Noel Mangubat, as ordered by Ret. Col Valentino Edang. The incident did not also dispel the doubts of many of the true intention of the warning shot, as it was fired to the ground and not to the air.

The church, and the people of Siocon and the rest of Zamboanga del Norte cannot stand by when ordinary people like these farmers are easily deprived of their constitutional right of abode and to their livelihood, and especially when their cry for redress only falls on deaf ears of most government authorities.

The rights of the indigenous people to their ancestral lands is scared

Fr. Shay Cullen, Preda

18th October 2006

When Charlie Daylo was shot and murdered by an execution squad a few months ago, his name was added to a growing list of victims of committed people working for social development and justice. Charlie was a leader of an indigenous group of Filipinos whose ancestral lands are being violated by land grabbers and industrial mining corporations.

The Philippine business elite and their cronies in government are only to happy to satisfy these appetites no matter the cost to the environment and the lives of the impoverished Filipinos. While an estimated 200 families wallow in vast wealth and own almost everything, the majority of Filipinos owns almost nothing and is drowning in poverty. Those lucky to get an education flee abroad for decent wages and a life of dignity.

Charlie helped organize a protest campaign by the indigenous people and got legal help. Only then were the trespassing bulldozers and excavation machines pulled out. It was just a small victory but Charlie paid for it with his life, hundreds of activists, Christians and even more recently a bishop, have been murdered fighting for justice.

The Philippine constitution says that all foreign corporations investing in the Philippines must have a joint venture ownership, 60 percent Filipino and 40 percent foreign. This was designed to prevent the domination of the national economy, natural resources and land by foreign nationals. The Filipino wealthy prefers to give mining rights to international corporations for a fee and take on sub-contracting work themselves.

The elite industrialists through their tight control of congress passed the Mining Act in 1995 which gave one hundred percent ownership control to the foreign investment corporations. The vast earnings would be repatriated to their home countries after their Filipino cronies and officials got their kickbacks. The natural resources would be literally given away for a pittance and there would be little or nothing to elevate the poverty of the people. But they were thwarted in this immoral plan.

The Filipino people organized, rallied, marched, and rightly demanded the law be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and it eventually was. There was great rejoicing that justice had >been done. It was yet to be undone.

It was not until there was new membership of the Supreme court, some appointed by the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that a new move was made by Jose de Venecia, Speaker of the Congress to pressure and persuade the Supreme Court members to reverse themselves. Unthinkable to most people of the international community but yet anything is possible in the Philippines. On a International mining promotion tour with the leaders of the Philippine mining industry and other Filipino politicians speaking to investors in London in June 2005 he said in part: “…most difficult to overcome were the ideological constraints on mining and other commerce having to do with national Patrimony, prohibitions imposed by an inward kind of nationalism, protectionist provisions in our constitution which limit foreign participation to mining, agriculture, public utilities and even publishing have choked the foreign inflow of foreign direct investment.

Mr. De Venecia said he was Speaker of Congress when the Mining Act of 1995 was passed and felt insulted when it was declared unconstitutional and decided to mobile society and ...”we decided to mount a strong campaign to get the Supreme court to reverse itself. It was a difficult task, to get 15 proud men and women of the Supreme Court to reverse themselves but we succeeded. Finally the law was declared constitutional and this was the signal for the captain[s] of industry in America, Australia, and in Europe, in New Zealand, in Canada, in France, in England and the European community, in the international community (to) go back to the Philippines and take a good strong second look at our mining potential…”

Many people admire and know Filipinos as intelligent, hard working, well educated and wonder how a nation of 86 million people could suffer and live in such poverty ­now they know, everything is owned by greedy and avaricious elite that sell the nation for personal gain. End. (Fr. Shay’s book, Passion and Power, an Irish Missionary’s fight against child sex slavery will be published in Ireland 1 November. To reserve a copy write to Fr. Shay Cullen, Preda–Ireland, 84 Adelaide Road, Glenageary, Co. Dublin.)

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