MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-09-03


Philippines Update

3rd September 2006

Greenpeace and Lafayette are squaring off after the group's campaign ship, the MV Esperanza, led a protest flotilla to the site of the Rapu Rapu mine - now given the go-ahead to enter the final stage of testing, prior to a decision to recommence operations. A documentary film, made by opponents of Crew Mineral's about their proposed project on Mindoro, has received further publicity while Crew is rapidly expanding its Philippine portfolio of projects (into another opposed project in the South Cotabato coalfield). The UK parliamentarian, Clare Short, has visited the Philippines to assess for herself the situation regarding large-scale mining investment and local opposition, with a fact-finding report to be published soon (although she has already issued an initial condemnation). As good examples of that local opposition, we carry two statements from communities in Eastern Mindanao.


Greenpeace to Lafayette: So sue us

Philippine Daily Inquirer

27th August 2006

Published on page A3 of the August 27, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

LEGAZPI CITY-Greenpeace activists have dared Lafayette Phil. and Sorsogon provincial officials to file charges of trespassing and prove their accusations that the international environmental group was out to sabotage the mining firm.

"We challenge them to provide evidence and give the names of people they are accusing of sabotage," said Beau Baconquis, the Greenpeace campaigner for Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace members on board the group's campaign ship, the MV Esperanza, paid a visit to Lafayette's controversial copper and gold mine on Rapu-Rapu island off the coast of Albay province.

There, the Greenpeace ship, which is here as part of a global campaign to defend the oceans, led a protest flotilla organized by local communities demanding that the mine be closed down.

Last Thursday, Greenpeace released a statement claiming that tests conducted by its scientists confirmed "very high levels of toxic metals" in water samples collected from a creek allegedly contaminated by the Rapu-Rapu gold mine.

The next day, Lafayette Phil. countered with a press statement saying it would take legal action against Greenpeace for trespassing and demand the expulsion of three members who climbed on the company's conveyor belt on Thursday to unfurl antimining banners for a photo opportunity.

Said Bayani Agabin, Lafayette's legal counsel and spokesperson: "Greenpeace has gone out of bounds in its irresponsible and counterproductive photo-ops that unfortunately some media outlets fall for. Recently they misrepresented themselves at the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) head office so they could go up the roof deck so photographers they had in tow could take pictures."

Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee has condemned the DENR incident. He said the antimining campaigners had become destructive and must be dealt with by the authorities.

Lafayette also cited an incident a few weeks ago in which "unidentified people poured a huge amount of pesticide into a creek that is the source of clean water for the residents and started sending out text messages that Lafayette was to blame."

Gina Rodriguez, Inquirer Southern Luzon


Save Our Seas (SOS) Alliance bares plan to file raps at the United Nations Human Rights Council

SAVE OUR SEAS, save our lives (SOS) Press Release

26th August 2006

Save Our Seas, Save Our Lives (SOS), an alliance of people's organizations, academic institutions, non-government organizations, concerned public officials and national personalities in the Philippines, is sending a communiqué to the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday expressing its intent to file a case against the Arroyo Administration, Petron Corporation and Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation for their roles in the biggest oil spill in the Philippines and Asia.

"SOS, through our member organizations in Guimaras and Iloilo, like PAMALAKAYA, and the Madia-as Ecological Movement is now in the stage of data gathering and documenting the situation to support the case to be filed at the UNHRC, " Andy Salatan a Chemistry professor in UP Diliman and spokesperson of AGHAM said.

"We are doing this because we are alarmed by the slow and inadequate response the national government has been giving to the environmental catastrophe," Frances Quimpo, speaking for Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment and SOS explained. "The Arroyo Administration has long lost its credibility; but we badly need to get to the bottom of this disaster! We find it suspect that a puny shipping corporation by the name of Sunshine Maritime has been conveniently taking all the flak and covering up for the possible culpability of MARINA, the Arroyo government and Petron Corporation. Meanwhile, they are letting our precious marine life, our fish and prawn industries, and tourism in Western Visayas perish!, " added Quimpo.

"At the rate things are going here, we might be ending up with a whitewash and token gestures for relief and clean up, so much like the past disasters we had. SOS calls on all concerned Ilonggos and Filipinos to continue helping in the relief work and clean up drive but keeping a close watch on how this disaster will unfold!," warned Andy Salatan.

"We hope the news about the release of the 300 Million Dollar Fund is true because the oil spill victims are growing in numbers and have been agonizing by the day! We are warning the international agency to ensure utmost transparency in the disbursement, " added Salatan.

Save Our Seas, Save Our Lives (SOS) was first formed on August 11 in Iloilo City. It identified three major tasks for the alliance – coordinate relief generation and distribution efforts, monitor economic and environmental rehabilitation, as well as sustain quest for justice for crimes on the environment and the people. Drop-in centers for Guimaras Relief Support are at CDRC, 72 Times St West Triangle, Quezon City or at CEC, 9209099##

Reference: Frances Quimpo
9209099

c/o KALIKASAN-PEOPLE'S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St.
Bgy. Central
Quezon City,
Philippines 1100


Greenpeace reports of contamination in Rapu-Rapu

Posted by, Vinia Datinguinoo - http://www.pcij.org/blog/?p=1140

24th August 2006

GREENPEACE today warned that mining on Rapu-Rapu island in Albay, if allowed to be operated full-scale, will result in “an ecological disaster for the local ecology.” The international environmental group issued its warning as it made public the results of its tests of the Mirikpitik Creek, in the vicinity of the mine site.

Their tests, Greenpeace said, found “very high levels” of heavy metals in the creek, particularly cadmium, copper and zinc.

“These metals were present in dissolved forms at many hundreds of times above general background levels for these metals in river water,” Greenpeace said. Cadmium and copper, the group said, are both “highly toxic” to plants, animals and humans, and exposure to zinc “can also impact aquatic organisms.” (View the Greenpeace report.)

Following Greenpeace’s public release of their inspection results, Lafayette Philippines said it was preparing to sue the group for trespassing. The firm is also seeking the deportation of “three Caucasians” identified as having climbed Lafayette’s conveyor belt to unfurl anti-mining banners.

In October last year, cyanide and other contaminants spilled from the mine into the sea, causing massive fish kills and prompting calls from environment groups for an investigation into the mine operations. The mine — run by the Philippines subsidiary of Australian mining giant, Lafayette — was suspended for several months; in July, a 30-day trial run was started with government’s approval.

The environment department at that time said the “acid test” will determine if Lafayette will be able to mine without violating safety measures. The test run was met by protests.

The Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic mine is considered by government as a flagship project, expected to bring in huge earnings for the country’s mining industry. The mine contains gold, silver, copper and zinc. (Click here for a profile of the mine project, and here for a satellite image of the site.)

Greenpeace scientists took water samples from Mirikpitik Creek on August 2, following reports, the group said, from local residents that there had been fish kills in the stream. Mirikpitik forks into two channels close to its outflow to the sea; samples were taken from both channels.

The samples were then taken for analysis to the group’s research laboratories in UK.

Greenpeace reiterated its call for Lafayette’s mining activities to be halted. “Toxic pollution from the mine would clearly affect the coastal and marine ecosystems of Rapu-Rapu Island,” said campaigner, Beau Baconguis. “Lafayette’s mining operations in Rapu Rapu must be permanently shut down.”

The group called for an immediate clean up and rehabilitation of the mine site and its affected areas.


DENR gives go-signal to Lafayette mining

Mark Ivan Roblas, ABS Interactive - http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=48888

30th August 2006

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday allowed Lafayette Philippines Inc. to proceed to the third stage of the test run in its polymetallic project on Rapu-rapu Island, Albay, preparatory to a resumption of full operations.

This development came inspite of the reported contamination of the waters at Mirikpitik Creek where the presence of cadmium, copper and zinc was detected.

In a four-page order, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes said the department is allowing Lafayette to proceed with the third stage of the test run at full capacity "but on a gradual process."

Reyes said he is allowing Lafayette to operate at 30-percent capacity on the first day, 60 percent on the second, 80 percent on the third until it operates at full capacity.

He said the third stage of the test run, which would last 15 days, would commence upon Lafayette's receipt of the order.

"The regional office shall continue to validate [Lafayette's] compliance and to monitor its operations 24 hours a day within the fifteen-day period," Reyes said.

Lafayette was allowed to conduct the third and final stage in its mining operations following the findings of the DENR's regional office that the mining firm's pollution-control program is sound.

The DENR regional office found out that Lafayette's lower tailing facility has the capacity to contain all the generated mill effluents even if the plant's rated capacity is increased.

It said the ideal treatment dosage used to reduce cyanide from mill tailings conforms with the effluent standards of the department.

The regional office attested that Lafayette has an adequate emergency-response system to address spills that may occur during operations.

Earlier, residents in Rapu-rapu Island and nearby towns in Albay protested the resumption of the mining operations of Lafayette, saying that the firm has been remiss in providing safety measures in their plant.


Miners behaving badly abroad

By: Techa Beaumont

18th August 2006, www.newmatilda.com

Local protests have escalated over the impacts of Australian mining company Lafayette on the fragile island ecosystem of Rapu Rapu in the Philippines. Instead of enforcing or at least encouraging good corporate citizenship, the Australian government is uncritically promoting and defending the activities of Australian mining companies abroad.

The current global resource boom has Australian companies and investment agencies vying to cash in. At the same time, countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines are under intense pressure from international institutions, investors and overseas governments to show that they are committed to creating favourable legal regimes and a stable investment environment for foreign companies to exploit these resources.

Unfortunately this 'stability' is frequently a euphemism for the willingness of local governments to overlook the enforcement of environmental legislation and regulations that impact on the interests of foreign investors. Too often countries like the Philippines, which still pays about a third of its gross domestic product in debt repayments, have little choice but to bow to economic pressure and to foreign economic interests at the expense of their people and environment.

In the Philippines, with community opposition to the activities of Australian mining companies on the rise, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the backers of these companies, including both the Australian government and the financial institutions that invest in them, are failing to respond adequately to the problem.

Junior Australian mining company Lafayette is the primary owner and operator of what is termed the flagship project for the Philippines mining industry, the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Mining project on the small island of Rapu Rapu.

The Philippines President recently appointed a fact finding commission to look at the human and environmental costs of the mining operation in response to widespread community outrage over two major pollution incidents at the mine. These incidents led to major fish kills that extended into the coastal waters and seriously affected the local fishing industry.

The commission found evidence, not only of gross negligence by the company that caused the two avoidable toxic waste spills, but also of possible underreporting of mineral production, fraud in securing tax exemptions and the illegal use of various corporate structures. Other reports highlighted the minimal economic benefits of a project that had secured major tax holidays and exemptions. The Commission recommended that the operation not be allowed to reopen, and that a moratorium on mining on the island be instituted.

In response, unnamed foreign investors warned in the media that if the project did not succeed, confidence in the Philippines as a location for foreign investment would evaporate. The Australian ambassador to the Philippines went so far as to make public statements earlier this year urging the Philippines government to allow the mine to reopen as soon as possible. The statements sparked community protests outside the Australian embassy in Manila.

It apparently did not occur to the investors or the Australian government to express a lack of confidence in an inexperienced mining company whose conduct across a range of social, environmental and corporate issues was, based on the evidence unearthed by the commission, at the very least highly irresponsible.

Nor did they appear to question the appropriateness of mining on a small fragile island ecosystem when scientific evaluations had highlighted major long term risks to drinking water resources, existing livelihoods and industries, and where the existing impacts of the recently established mine were already unacceptable to a growing segment of the local population.

Instead, the crisis of confidence was directed towards the Philippines government's mining regime should they not permit Lafayette's operations to recommence.

The Philippines government went against the recommendations of its own fact finding team and allowed the mine to start a 30-day test run in mid July. Local community opposition to this move has now led to a class action court case seeking temporary and permanent injunctions against the resumption of operations, and protests around the mine continue from Manila to the Provincial Capital to the island itself, and are supported by church groups, scientists, NGOs and local level government bodies. Philippines TV personalities have even joined themselves to the class action on the basis that such decisions are matters of concern to the entire nation.

Interventions by the Australian government and investment interests in mining activity are not isolated events. The Indonesian government has experienced heavy handed tactics by Australian corporations several times in recent years. It bowed to threats of international arbitration should it not revoke legislation preventing open cut mining in protected forests in early 2003, and last year took the bold step of standing up to foreign pressure when it brought charges against the Newmont mining company for polluting a bay by dumping its tailing and toxic mine waste directly into the ocean. Questions in Parliament submitted by Greens Senator Bob Brown exposed the proactive role that the Australian government has played in lobbying the government in the region on behalf of Australian companies.

Blaming the Philippines government's mining regime policies for the possible failure of a project - rather than a corporate actor whose conduct has been found to be both unethical and illegal - is both misleading and immoral. This is particularly the case when it has the affect of pressuring a government to ignore its own people's concerns and when the health, wellbeing and livelihood of populations who rely upon a healthy and functioning natural environment for their survival is at stake.

Rather than defending the behaviour of irresponsible Australian mining companies, the Australian government and our investors should instead ensure that these actors are bound by standards which will make them acceptable and accountable to both the societies in which they operate and to the Australian public whose money is invested in their activities.

Canada is currently holding a roundtable looking at means of regulating Canadian mining companies abroad after a parliamentary inquiry recommended the government adopt concrete regulatory measures to end human rights and environmental abuses committed by Canadian companies in other countries. At the same time, international investors, constituting around 80% of project finance funding globally have signed onto common minimum standards, called the Equator Principles, for environmental and social issues in projects they support. In contrast, here in Australia efforts at addressing these issues in 2000 through a Corporate Code of Conduct Bill were dismissed by the major parties. Labour deferred the issues stating "Its time has not yet come", while the Liberal Party opposed it altogether. Meanwhile, only one Australian bank has signed up to the global social and environmental standards, and ANZ, the main Australian player in mining and forestry projects across the Asia Pacific has, as yet, refused to do so.

It appears that here in Australia we still have our head in the sand, or at least deep in a mine pit, on core issues of corporate social responsibility. How much destruction must Australian companies wreak, and how much must the resentment of populations in neighbouring countries grow before our governments, companies and investors stop backing destructive mining projects and take meaningful steps to address these issues?

If the situation at Rapu Rapu is any indication, and indeed it seems to be closer to the rule than the exception, such measures are well overdue.

About the author

Techa Beaumont is the Executive Director of the Mineral Policy Institute and a member of the IUCN (World Conservation Union) working group on the accountability of the private sector.

For more information on Rapu Rapu and the conduct of Australian mining companies go to www.mpi.org.au


2 docu films tell of Mindoro fight for environment

Philippine Daily Inquier - http://newsinfo.inq7.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view_article.php?article_id=16380

21st August 2006

CITY OF CALAPAN -- People residing in and outside Oriental Mindoro province will find two documentary films about the island a source of pride, belongingness and inspiration, according to its supporters and viewers.

One of the films, “Wailing of Paradise,” is a production about the care of the environment, culture and life of Mindoreños.

Directed by Fr. Romeo Villavicencio of the Communication for Evangelization and Development Center of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan and written by Fr. Edu Gariguez of the Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin), “Wailing in Paradise” shows the strong opposition of the Mindoreños against mining activities by Crew Minerals and their united campaign in the face of the national government’s insistence to allow mining in the province.

The second film, “Sa Dulo ng Paraiso,” shows the richness and beauty of Bulalacao, one of the poorest towns of Oriental Mindoro.

Located in the southernmost tip of the province, Bulalacao is considered a paradise by its inhabitants.

Also directed by Villavicencio, it has three segments. One is on the remains of an old church recently discovered by archeologists, written by Sharon Isla.

Another is on the traditional farm practices of farmers, written by Jon Sarmiento, and the third is on the Hanunuo Mangyan, written by Donna Virola.

The films were shown on the opening day of the Moonrise Film Festival 2006, a festival of environment films, which ran on Aug. 19-20 at the Gateway Mall Cineplex in Cubao, Quezon City.

Villavicencio noted the huge turnout, mostly by those who came from Mindoro who learned about the film showing through text messages.

“Our hope is that they would go back to Mindoro and help in the development of Bulalacao, for example,” Villavicencio said.

“Wailing in Paradise” was shown at the first Moonrise Film Festival last year, where it was given a citation for mining.

Bulalacao Mayor Neil Villas called on Mindoreños to remain vigilant and strong in their advocacy against mining and pledged the strong commitment of the League of Mayors to fight mining in the province.

“Please help us also develop the municipality of Bulalacao, which is still a fourth class municipality. It is a hidden treasure that is no longer hidden,” said Villas.

In a short program that followed the film showing, Gariguez reminded the audience that the paradise being alluded to in the films was in real danger because of the mining threat.

He claimed that despite the strong opposition of the Mindoreños, Crew Minerals still insisted on entering the province.

“Just a few months before the last presidential election, it was again granted a mineral production and sharing agreement,” said Gariguez. Marciano T. Virola Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon


Mining companies will ruin’ the Philippines, warns MP

By Paul Donovan, The Universe

20th August 2006

LABOUR MP Clare Short is warning that the natural beauty of the Philippines will be “systematically destroyed” unless international mining companies are stopped.

Accompanied by Columban Father Frank Nally and CAFOD country representative Carino Antequisa on a visit to the country, Mrs Short described her shock at how destructive the mining companies have been.

“I’ve never seen anything as systematically destructive as what is going on in the Philippines,” she told The Universe.

“The programme envisaged would destroy much of the precious mountains and lakes - the rights of the people are being overidden.”

Mrs Short questioned the credibility of claims made by the Philippines government that it will abide by international standards.

“ These are clearly just words, they are not said sincerely or many of these developments would be ruled out’ she said.

The former international development minister was full of praise for the Philippines Bishops’ Conference for the role it has played in standing up for the indigenous people.

“The bishops are wonderful —they stand in solidarity with the people,” said Mrs Short.

Mrs Short questioned the development value of what the mining companies seek to bring to the Philippines.

She claimed the mining developments did not create more jobs than they destroyed in the indigenous economy and said profits were taken straight out of the country to the bases of the transnational companies in the west.

The delegation saw how the mining companies were encouraging local people to use cyanide as part of the extractive process.

In one area, the rice production had been disrupted and livestock had stopped reproducing.

Mrs Short promoted a policy that only tolerated mining operations if they operated in an environmentally sustainable way.

She urged financial institutions in the City of London not to invest in the mining companies involved, which are based mainly in Australia and Canada.

“The people in the City need to be made aware of what is going on so that they do not invest in these developments:’ she said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has stated that the Philippines’ Mining Act destroys life.

“The right to life is inseparable from to sources of food and livelihood” the statement read.

“Allowmg the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people’s right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life.


Crew - UK firm buys option of S. Cotabato coal project

Sun Star - http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/gen/2006/08/26/bus/uk.firm.buys.option.of.s..cotabato.coal.project.html

21st August 2006

UNITED Kingdom-based mining company has signed an option agreement to acquire 95 percent of the shares of a coal development project in the hinterland of South Cotabato.

Crew Gold Corp. signed the option agreement recently with Daguma Agro Minerals Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiary Crew Minerals AS.

The project, which is located in Lake Sebu town, is opposed by residents of Barangay Ned, a village affected by the venture.

Jan Vestrum, Crew president and chief executive officer, said the firm secured the option by paying a non-refundable option fee of $150,000 (about P8 million), which entitled it to conduct a due diligence assessment until September.

"This project is strategic as a stand alone project and further strengthens Crew's presence and commitment to the Philippines. A secondary key aspect is that a successful acquisition and ramp up of the Daguma Coal Project will enable Crew Minerals to undertake a phased development of the Mindoro Nickel Project without the need for external partners," he said.

To exercise the option, Vestrum said the firm must pay a total of US$10 million (some P510 million) in cash and equity of Crew.

"We believe the Daguma Coal Project and the Mindoro Nickel project represents major value," Vestrum also noted.

Crew and associated Philippine qualified partners will acquire 50 per cent of Daguma Agro and entitle the company to purchase the remaining equity, he said.

A final payment amounting to US$13.75 million (some P710 million) in cash and equity is to be made 18 months following completion of the due diligence period to acquire the remaining 45 percent of Daguma Agro, he added.

The Daguma coal project holds a 2,000-hectare license area under Coal Operation Contract No 126 and consists of two Coal Blocks No. 380 and 381.

The South Cotabato coalfield, and particularly the Daguma Agro area, is a recent discovery to the Philippines and now considered potentially to host the largest coal deposits in the country according to a comparative report by the Department of Energy.

A detailed resource evaluation by Toquero Geology and Affiliates estimated a measured resource of 28 million tons, an indicated resource of 150 million tons and an Inferred resource of 130 million tons Inferred resource has been delineated within a distance of maximum 1000 meters from last points of observation.


Caraga natives decry mining, logging

PIA Press Release - http://www.pia.gov.ph/news.asp?fi=p060823.htm&no=05

23rd August 2006

Davao City (23 August) -- Scared of the awful destruction that occurred in various places of the country, the indigenous peoples in Davao Oriental, particularly in the municipality of Caraga, came out with a very strong position against logging and mining.

The position paper was the apex of a two-day IP Coalition Assembly held at the Caraga Parish Development Center, on June 17-18, 2006.

In the said document, the IP's ascertained that despite the turbulent times, they will never allow their ancestral domains to be maligned, and destroyed at any cost.

Also, the "lumads" stressed that they will never allow themselves to be divided, displaced from their houses, and be disunited as a tribe and family.

As such, the IP's expressed worries and feared the threats of logging and mining that has engulfed their community.

They asked for the cancellation of the Mining Act of 1995, cancellation of permit, license, and agreement for the operation of logging and mining in the province, especially those that do not conform to the process as stipulated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act-IPRA, and other laws.

The indigenous peoples are also asking for respect to their ancestral domains, and the real implementation of the IPRA, and other laws for the protection of ecology.

And to show sincerity in protecting the environment and their ancestral domain, the IP's vow to disown members of their tribe who were used, and allow themselves to be used by people who showed interest in destroying the environment and considered such as a clear act betrayal to the tribe.

Other neighboring municipalities are also requested to show the same concern, and to strongly prohibit mining and logging, and other means of ecological destruction in their respective areas.

Sangab, Caraga Tribal Chieftain Copertino Banugan, in giving the rationale to the assembly, challenged his tribesmen to prove that they cannot be lured by money.

He said that logging concessionaires and mining companies think that their principles can be brought with money. The tribal chieftain confirmed that they are really facing a big problem now, because lumads have different views and are divided.

Accordingly, the thrust will never prosper, and it will be difficult for them to join in the coalition should they do not agree on one thing.

The participants came from the different municipalities of Caraga, assisted by TREES, INC., Lungga Center , Tanggapan ng Katutubong Pilipino, Sumancoda Tribal Council, Pantuyan Tribal Council, Pyaggaguwan Learning Center, Malibago Planters, Inc., FOMFI, and SMCAI, groups united for the noble cause of ecology.

Mayor Alice Mori of Caraga, and Indigenous Peoples Apostolate-IPA Diocesan Director Fr. Bert Ombon also attended the coalition assembly. (PIA XI and DXHM)


Statement from communities over Mining

Tubay, Agusan Del Norte

10th August 2006

Let it be known to our barangay, municipality, province of Agusan del Norte , and national government the existence of an illegal large scale mining operation in barangay La Fraternidad.

Sometime in 2005,during the Mining Forum held at the Municipal Gym, Our Mayor proclaimed before the residents of Tubay and Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, that, “There will be no mining in our Municipality as long as I am the Mayor.”

Relying on that promise, we continued to live our peaceful way of life, until we saw Barges unloading heavy equipments for mining.

Three mining companies: Galeo Equipment Corporation, SR Metal, Inc., and San R Construction Corporation were granted by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to engage in small-scale mining of nickel and cobalt on the same date. Their Environmental Compliance Certificates were also granted on the same date and the three companies are represented by one person, Mr. Jimwel M. Orpilla.

These corporations in reality are one and the same, organized purposely to circumvent the law on awarding of mining contracts. RA 7076 or the People’s Small Scale Mining Act of 1991 expressly provides that:

“ A peoples small scale mining contract may be awarded by the Board xxx, provided that only one peoples small scale mining contract may be awarded at one time to a small scale operations within one year from the date of award. Xxx.”.

The existence and the operations of these mining companies are highly anomalous, to wit:

1. The residents were never informed about mining activities even from the exploration stage. The Local Government Code mandatory requires the holding of public consultation by Government agencies prior to the implementation and enforcement of projects which may entail significant impacts on the environment;

2. Parts of the mining area are proclaimed watershed, reforestation site, and birds’ sanctuary, and below the mining site, is a fish sanctuary. Under the law these areas are closed to mining:

3. The permits of the companies are for small-scale mining, but the operation is large scale as evidenced by the heavy equipments and the methods of extraction. Small scale mining relies on manual labor using simple implements like sledge hammer, piko, pala, and do nor use explosives or heavy mining equipments;

4. By projecting as three separate corporations, the mining company was able to get a total of 60 hectares as mining contract area violating the 20 hectares limitation. They are presently working for the approval of their Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) involving 591 hectares on the same mining site.

We have several times brought this matter to our LGU leaders and before the courts, but to no avail. To assert our constitutional right to environment, we thus picketed in the private land of Mr. Aliore Page who was among the picketers.

Last August 5, 2006 while we were having our peaceful assembly exercising our right to freedom of expression, a the fire truck of the municipality of Cabadbaran came to our picket area and attacked us several times with water cannons in full blast. As a result, several picketers were injured. Until now, one member, Nelia Orjel, 61 year old is still confined at Butuan Doctors Hospital. Thus:

We condemn the illegal dispersal of our peaceful assembly.

We condemn the continued destruction of environment.

We condemn the illegal mining operations of Galeo Equipment Corporation, SR Metal, Inc., and San R Construction Corporation.

Tubay Communities through:

Fr. Jenor Luis Director Social Action Center Diocese of Butuan 09194187441

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