MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Protest at the Mindoro Nickel project

Published by MAC on 2001-04-11


Protest at the Mindoro Nickel project

11th April 2001

WE, IN THE ALYANSA LABAN SA MINA (ALAMIN) AND THE PEOPLE OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, REQUEST THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO TO

PLEASE STOP THE MINDORO NICKEL PROJECT!

1.       The Mangyan's rights under the INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S RIGHTS ACT (R.A. 8371) and genuine sentiment against the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) MUST BE RESPECTED

The MNP is so located that about 12 Mangyan communities shall be displaced resulting to the loss of land sacred to their communities, their source of livelihood and cultural heritage.

The Mangyan rights under IPRA (R.A. 8371) is grossly transgressed when the KPLN-SANAMA-KAMTI's expressed opposition to the MNP was deliberately and maliciously ignored by the NCIP/MINDEX (CREW-AMC); when in its stead they proceeded to organize and forged a MOA with KABILOGAN ' composed of Mangyan employees of Mindex who are only a handful of the organizations-owner of CADC #R4CADC-024, CADC #R4CADC-085 and CADC (Alangan) now under encroachment of CREW (AMC) exploration activities under Mineral Production Sharing  Agreement (MPSA) # 167-2000-1V, MPSA   APPLICATIOIN #AMA -IVB-O97, MPSA APPLICATION # AMA - IVB 103.  

2.       As part the global unity of the environment and the human race, we propose the CONSERVATION OF THE MINDORO BIODIVERSITY, for us and the generations to come; for the Filipinos, her neighbors and the
rest of mankind.

MINDORO ISLAND is one of the five identified BIOGEOGRAPHICAl ZONES of the Philippines. The rich valuable biodiversity, recognized nationwide and worldwide, shall be wantonly endangered and may totally be lost should the open mining of MNP be allowed. The area under the MNP target is at the heart of a once proposed Mangyan Heritage Park which is inhabited by enumerable species of flora and fauna many of which are considered endemic; not leaving out the famous TAMARAW (Anoa Mondorensis). No amount of mitigation can
protect the current biodiversity from the destruction the open pit mining of MNP shall cause.

The main site of MNP is a part of the central range of MINDORO ISLAND which serve as a contiguous watershed to more than 15 river systems; draining on the northeast side into the rich agricultural plains of Calapan, Naujan, Victoria and Baco. The unnecessary risk of exposing the very fertile productive land and potable water sources of these communities to flooding, siltation and pollution could prove socially and economically devastating.

The ocean biodiversity shall be seriously threatened with the dumping of voluminous mine tailings in the deep seas of Pili, Pinamalayan.The Tablas Strait which shall cradle the toxic wastes of MNP is believed to be the migration route of schools of tuna and whales. It is the haven of various commercial fishes on which the fisher folks along the or. Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon coasts depend for their livelihood and living, recognizing the inter-independence of all life forms at the bottom of the sea and above the seawaters, this adventurous deep-sea tailings placement is not an acceptable alternative.

3.       We clamor and assert our right to self-determination. The right to decide on the kind of development people would opt to pursue belong to them. As majority of the people and the local government units of Oriental Mindoro has repeatedly and vehemently expressed their opposition to the MINDORO NICKEL PROJECT and opted to pursue community development through means less risky than mining, WE MUST ABIDE BY THE TRUE SENTIMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF ORIENTAL MINDORO.

The people of Oriental Mindoro believes that because the mining area is located up in the mountain ranges, the perceived benefits measured in millions is not commensurate to the risk being taken. In the face of high technology and modern mitigations any miscalculation or unforeseen error could lead to death, pestilence and destruction. The right to decide whether these risks are worth taking belongs to the people. It belongs to the many who will suffer the consequences of such risks; as well as to those who are in the mine site, in the plant site and the few who will stand to benefit from it.

4.       We denounce the mining company's duplicity and cunning in dealing with the people of Oriental Mindoro. The alleged "development" and miners' social responsibility in exchange for local
communities subservience and submission and the timing of the so-called development prior to their social acceptability bid is tantamount to bribery.

The deliberate attempt to mislead the people into believing that exploration is harmless and mining not at all destructive are miners lies that are conveyed through half truths being peddled by the mining companies. Principal adverse environmental consequence(s) of the facility/activity should it be operated to its specification was never divulged; neither was the worst-case scenario in case facility/activity fails to operate as designed or as planned.

For the people of Oriental Mindoro and the rest of the world, we reiterate our stand that the MINDORO NICKEL PROJECT BE STOPPED!

 


A STEP TOWARDS JUSTICE

The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources has declared that there is sufficient basis to revoke the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Aglubang Mining Corporation in his April 11 Memorandum to President Gloria M. Arroyo.

The MPSA was good for 25 years and covered  9720 hectares in Mindoro. The area is inside a watershed and includes land being claimed as ancestral domain by the Mangyans. Newly appointed Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez has already instructed the DENR Legal Department to take all the appropriate legal action to implement the said course of action.

Local organisations in Mindoro warn to maintain caution and increase campaign pressure as "We still have to wait because we  believe that CREW-Mindex-Aglubang will give up just like that.  They (the company) have just inagurated a steel bridge and electrification for the mining village last Holy week (2001). The electirifcation project was opened by the Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines.

 


Brief Background

Aglubang Mining is a subsidiary of Crew Development Corp of Vancouver, Canada. This group bought up Mindex of Norway in 1999/2000 and with it the Mindoro Nickel prospect. This is a potentially large laterite nickel mining project. However the project has been consistently opposed by local organisations of Indigenous Peoples and other citizens groups since it was first revealed to be an advanced state of exploration in 1999. The proposed project has also been opposed by the Mayors league of Mindoro Oriental and the provincial Governor.

The project would require the stripping of at least 1000 hectares of the rare remaining forest cover in central Mindoro. This is the ancestral land of 2 Mangyan peoples the Alangan and Tadyawan. It is also a watershed for downstream farmers. The forest is home to rare and endemic species including the Tamaraw-Mindoro Buffalo. Mangyan farms, forests would be destroyed. Downstream farmers fear siltation and flooding and competition for water. Coastal communities are opposed to the proposal to dump the waste in the sea and to site a processing plant near the coast within a protested watershed and next to an existing community of Pili, Pinamalayan.

Despite this clear rejection the project has continued to progress under the Estrada administration in a most anomalous manner. When President Estrada and is notorious minister of the Environment Antonio Cerilles were thrown out it was revealed that Crew Aglubang had been granted a mining license despite not having completed an environmental Clearance process nor gaining necessary Social acceptability. This was one of the so called DENR Midnight orders signed by Cerilles just before leaving office.

Massive protests in the province have taken place. the latest in February involved more than 10,000 people. The project has heightened tension and conflict. The New Peoples Army (guerillas) burned down the company camp and "executed" the local Barrio Captain who was actively supportive of the project and reported to be in the pay of the company. After this incident the company called, in a letter to the President, for the militarisation of the area to protect their investment. A development opposed by the local Mayor, Governor and even then Minister of Defence!

The attempts of the company to gain local and higher level endorsements have repeatedly been linked to questionable payments and dubious practices. Elected Provincial officials were given watches. Local media men for local and national press outlets were recruited to an advertising/PR agency by the company with substantial and regular payments. A local pro company newspaper has moved from being a weekly to coming out 4 days a week. Each edition contains a full page ad for the project.

The indigenous Mangyan have been re-organised out of their pre-existing organisations into ones under the patronage of the company and the government's agency for Indigenous peoples the NCIP. Mangyan leaders with big responsibilities for indigenous decision making have been recruited by the company as "community liaison officers" gifts of rice, farm animals and others have been made to a small group of Mangyan on the site. The legality of these moves is under challenge from indigenous organisations and church groups. The company's Consultants Dames and Moore were thrown out of the province after it was revealed that they had forged an endorsement from the provincial Administrator- only to be replaced by Woodward Clyde a seemingly independent consultancy but in fact still controlled by Dames and Moore.

In a letter to the Government the Company has called for militarization of the mine site area  to protect their investment. The latest community development project- electrification was opened by the Canadian Ambassador and accompanied in the local Press by a headline announcing Canadian Government backing for the Nickel Project!

The Estrada Cerilles administration was removed from office for proven corruption. In the year prior to their removal both the President and the Environment Secretary endorsed the Crew project despite the fact that environmental assessments had not been completed or considered by the Department for the Environment and despite the fact that legally exactly these 2 officials hold  the final decision on the project once all evidence and reports are submitted. (Rather like the referee in a big sports match announcing before the start that he has placed a bet on one of the teams which explains why he is wearing their colours!.)

This latest announcement that the license of Crew/Aglubang is to be revoked is clearly a massive advance for the opposition to the project. However there are reasonable fears that the unwanted project is not yet dead and that the proponents are regrouping in private and may reemerge after the May elections.

There is a need to follow up with the company and clarify their response. Also it should be noted that the DENR secretary's comment is thought to be  a recommendation to the President and is not sufficient without her action on the issue.

Geoff Nettleton
PIPLinks

For more background information visit the website of Alamin

 


Please write letters to Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Republic of the Philippines Malacanang Palace, Manila, Philippines - welcoming the moves of Secretary Alvarez to withdraw the mining license of Aglubang mining in Mindoro Oriental by and calling for permanent suspension of mining plans in that area because of the strong opposition of the affected communities, civil society groups and local elected officials.

Please express support for the well founded concern of affected populations as to the damage the project would cause to the environment and economy of the province and the violation of the rights of the Mangyan people that would result from the project.

MR. JOHN M. DARCH,
President and CEO, Crew Deveopment Corporation,
615--800 West Pender St., Vancouver, BC, Canada

Please urge Crew Development to respect the wishes of local people in Mindoro including the affected indigenous Peoples and withdraw their mining plans and leave the Island of Mindoro.

also Hon. Jean Cretien Prime Minister, Canada

Please urge respect for the wishes of indigenous peoples and other affected communities in Mindoro Philippines threatened by the mining plans of Crew Development Corporation, and in particular calling for a halt to government backing for this unpopular and destructive project

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