20th February 2008
OceanaGold has started demolishing people's homes, standing in the way of its mining endeavours in Didipio - and is doing so without any court order. Ironically the homes include people who had previously supported the project, and were reportedly negotiating for compensation.
Following last year's NPA rebel attack on Xstrata's huge copper project in Tampakan, there seems to be an increase in discontent with the venture. Perhaps little wonder, then, that while the central government continues talking about militarising mine sites, local governments - such as that in Palawan - are instead actively considering moratoriums banning mining.
War on mining company’s demolition plans unites tribe
By Melvin Gascon, Northern Luzon Bureau, Inquirer
14th February 2008
KASIBU, NUEVA VIZCAYA – About 100 tribal folk, both belonging to the pro- and anti-mining factions of villagers, on Tuesday joined forces to defy the planned demolition of their houses by a foreign mining company that is pushing for a gold-copper mining project in upland Didipio village here.
Villagers belonging to the Didipio Earth Savers Multipurpose Association (Desama) and the Didipio United Peoples’ Association (Dupa) fenced off lots and guarded the premises against the entry of an 80-member demolition team. The team was escorted by about 30 heavily armed men from OceanaGold’s security agency and the Philippine National Police’s provincial mobile group.
The villagers assailed the company for allegedly using force, deceit and intimidation in its bid to continue dismantling houses of Dupa members, despite the failure of negotiations on their supposed compensation. Desama is a group of about 700 antimining villagers, who, for the past 14 years have been protesting the company’s entry into the area. They have vowed never to give up their land.
Dupa, on the other hand, is a group of about 200 Ifugao tribal folk, mostly miners, who have bought subdivided lots in the two-hectare property formerly owned by Peter Cayong and the site of the planned open pit for the mining project.
The members used to support the project but organized themselves in 2006 supposedly to guard their rights as landowners in dealing with the company. OceanaGold is trying to clear the land of houses to make way for its proposed Didipio gold-copper mining project, one of the Arroyo administration’s 23 priority mining projects.
The foreign firm is invoking its right to access all types of land in Didipio – whether public or private or even forest land – under the financial technical assistance agreement (FTAA) granted in 1994 to its predecessor company, Climax Mining Limited.
While the 1987 Constitution prohibits foreign individuals and companies from exploiting the country’s mineral resources, this was allowed by the Mining Act of 1995, under a number of methods, including the FTAA.
However, the Constitution also mandates that citizens shall not lose their land, even for a public purpose, without payment of just compensation to them. On Tuesday, OceanaGold’s wrecking crew demolished four more houses, to add to about 70 houses that were already destroyed since it began the clearing operations in December last year.
Many lot owners, however, complained that their houses were torn down even if they have not reached any final agreement with OceanaGold and have not been fully paid.
Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold vice president for communications and external affairs, said the company stopped negotiating with the Dupa members because the prices they were quoting for their land kept going up.
“Since our numerous attempts to come to a settlement with them have failed, we are now invoking our right to enter the lots and clear these of houses, pursuant to the rights granted to (the company) by the mining act,” he said.
Dupa sought Desama’s help following OceanaGold’s latest attempt to demolish clusters of about 200 houses at the foot of Dinkidi (pronounced ding-ki-dai) Hill, which sit directly on top of the mineral deposit that is estimated to contain 75,000 kilos and 350,000 tons of gold and copper.
Peter Duyapat, Desama president, said they were joining Dupa members in their cause, despite the fact that they used to be on opposite sides in the mining controversy.
Big Brother OceanaGold Mining Company Evicting residents in Brgy. Didipio
Demolishes Indigenous Peoples Houses
LRC Press Release
13th February 2008
"Development" is underway in Didipio as OceanaGold Mining Company demolishes houses of Indigenous Peoples. OceanaGold is doing this WITHOUT ANY COURT ORDER. Demolitions of houses continue up to this day. Six more houses were demolished last Feb 10 (see table 1). The initial clearing and demolition of houses in the project area of Didipio started in December of 2007 where 17 houses were dismantled until the first week of January 2008. (see table 2) OceanaGold is now forcibly taking properties of Indigenous Peoples after its failure to convince the majority of the residents to sell lands to them.
The DEMOLITION of the Indigenous Peoples houses in Didipio is ILLEGAL on the premise
1. that NO DEMOLITION ORDER was issued by any regular court; 2. that residents houses in Didipio were evicted and demolished without the proper determination of just compensations which should be determined by the court, while other residents are still in the process of negotiations with the mining company; 3. that it is not clear where the wisdom of enforcement to dismantle houses in the community came from either an easement right or entry to land (Sec. 76) 4. that most of them still haven't agreed to sell or lease their lands, as well as most of them have yet to receive an offer and/or agree on payment for the sale or lease of land.
We hold accountable the participation of the Provincial Philippine National Police in aiding OceanaGold mining company for doing this criminal act. They should see to it that the demolition activity by the mining company is illegal for it lacks the necessary court order.
Human Rights of the people in Didipio was clearly violated in front of the eyes of our law enforcers, blindly obeying orders without proper verification of facts and simple procedures in enforcing the law. Would the PNP now provide shelter to those families whose houses were demolished?
We ask all our friends in the struggle against large-scale mining as well as defenders of human rights, to denounce the inhuman acts of OcenaGold mining company against the Indigenous Peoples in Didipio.
Table 1 Demolished Houses - 10 February 2008
1. Domingo Ballatong
2. Victoria Pa-it
3. Lolit Guimpayan
4. Emilio Guimpayan
5. Angelina Daulayan
6. Alfredo Bahnig
Table 2 - Demolished Houses - Dec 2007-Jan 2008
1. Peter & Josefa Lindawan
2. Ronald Dinumho
3. Efren Dulnuan
4. Cesar & Estella Maje
5. Dalluyon Lablabo
6. John "Emengan" Nablol
7. Eduardo Licyayo
8. Luis Duhalngon
9. Pablo Lunag
10. Malisa Nablol
11. Mauricio Lammao
12. Peter Dumangeng
13. Susan Nicano
14. Joel Aydinan
15. Antonio Donato
16. Donald Buyya
17. Roman Inlab
For more details, please contact Ronald at telephone numbers +63 2 434-4079, +63 2 926-4409 or firstname.lastname@example.org, +63 917-548 1674.
-- Ronald A. Gregorio
LRC-KsK/FoEI Luzon Regional Office
87 B Madasalin St., Teachers Village Quezon City
telefax: +63 2 434-4079
mobile: +63 917 548 1674
Antimining residents sue DENR-Vizcaya chief
By Melvin Gascon, Philippine Daily Inquirer
20th February 2008
BAYOMBONG, NUEVA VIZCAYA – The provincial chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was charged with abuse of authority at the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly using his position to harass antimining residents. Eight villagers from upland Didipio village in Kasibu town said Roberto Apigo abused his authority by summoning them to answer charges of alleged violation of forestry laws, but this turned out to be a strategy to force them to leave their land.
“Under the guise of an investigation for violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, what [Apigo] intended and attempted to accomplish was an ‘administrative dialogue’ in which he tried to facilitate the sale of complainants’ lands to a corporation,” the complaint said.
The complainants, who are officers and members of the Didipio Earth-Savers’ Multipurpose Association (Desama), have refused to sell their rights over lands that occupy portions of the 425-hectare primary impact zone of the proposed Didipio gold-copper project.
Apigo downplayed the charges, saying it was the work of nongovernment organizations that wanted to derail the Didipio gold-copper project of OceanaGold Philippines Inc., an Australian firm.
“We [at the DENR] are just doing our job. The complaint has been referred to our legal department and I assure you that everything will be put in order,” he said.
In a letter, the complainants’ lawyer asked Apigo to cite the legal bases of his actions, but he reportedly never responded.
OceanaGold has been trying to buy access to lands in Didipio to start its construction phase amid stiff opposition from residents there. Claiming it is acting as an agent of the government, OceanaGold has been buying access to private lands in the area, invoking the constitutional power of the state to forcibly acquire private property for government projects, the complainants said.
They said the DENR had been trying to eject villagers whom it found to be occupying what it classified as forest lands by filing criminal charges against them.
Desama officials earlier denounced the DENR for filing charges against their members to satisfy the needs of a foreign mining firm
Arroyo forms ‘investment defense force’
By Frinston Lim, Dennis Jay Santos, Mindanao Bureau, Inquirer
9th February 2008
TAGUM CITY -- President Macapagal-Arroyo announced the creation of an “investment defence force (IDF),” which she said would safeguard mining and power facilities and other infrastructure against attacks by communist guerrillas.
The President made the announcement barely three days after communist rebels raided a gold processing plant in Compostela Valley and in the wake of bomb attacks against the towers of the National Transmission Corp. in Northern Mindanao .
Ms Arroyo, who inaugurated the P1.6-billion Kapalong-Talaingod-Valencia national highway that links Davao del Norte to Bukidnon, said the IDF will act as a “protective shield” for power and mineral assets such as electricity transmission lines and mining companies.
“We also have already identified additional investment assets in Mindanao that need more weapons and personnel as protective shields,” she said in a speech at the inauguration.
Sought for clarification about the creation of the IDF, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said he still has no idea what government agencies will be involved in it.
“I am not sure about the composition of the IDF yet, whether this will be similar to the special (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) or not,” he said.
Gonzales said the only thing he was certain about was that the IDF will be under the Office of the President.
In a separate speech before the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) held here, the President also reiterated her program of ending the communist insurgency by 2010.
She said her government was committed in “wiping out terrorists once and for all.”
She admitted that the government’s counterinsurgency program has suffered some setbacks such as in the recent clash in Davao Oriental, where at least five soldiers were killed.
“We regret and mourn with the families of those five soldiers... (but) victory is still ours for the rebels lost more (of their fighters),” Ms Arroyo said.
Talks start on 25-year mining ban in Palawan
By Redempto Andam Southern Luzon Bureau, Inquirer
14th February 2008
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – The provincial government of Palawan began formal debates on Tuesday for a proposal to declare a 25-year moratorium on mining in the wake of the rush for the vast nickel and copper resources mainly in southern Palawan.
Local legislators, who sponsored a resolution during the regular session of the provincial board, said they were worried about the onslaught of mining applications and the inability of the local governments to monitor them for “responsible mining.”
“There are so many applicants for mining projects who do not have the capacity to do responsible mining,” Board Member Modesto Rodriguez said.
Records of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial government showed there were at least 315 applications pending in southern Palawan alone, covering a land area of over 670,000 hectares.
The proposed mining moratorium, the first initiative of its kind on a provincial scale, calls for the rejection of any new mining project. A similar no-commercial mining policy was adopted late last year by the city government of Puerto Princesa.
Asked whether the call for a mining moratorium has a legal basis, considering the existence of RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Code that allows mining, Rodriguez pointed out that the local government code allows local government units to determine its development priorities. “In case of doubt whether which policy should prevail, the decision should always be in favor of local governments,” Rodriguez said.
Enough is enough
The proponents said they wanted to discourage more mining applications coming into the province.
“There has to be a limitation. There are too many applications already,” Rodriguez said.
The resolution came in the wake of a rally led by the local Roman Catholic Church scheduled Wednesday calling for a stop to mining in Palawan because of its perceived negative effects on the environment and the absence of benefits for the local population.
Rodriguez explained that very few mining projects in Palawan could qualify as “responsible” in terms of following strict mining regulations, including the requirement to rehabilitate mined out areas.
He noted that the largest nickel mining project in southern Palawan, the Coral Bay Nickel Corp., spends P9 million for rehabilitation of mined-out areas. He said most mining applications in Palawan are “small scale” and have “little or no capacity” to perform mining operations without destroying the environment. “They don’t have the resources like CBNC to rehabilitate and be responsible miners,” Rodriguez said.
Mining villages seek more 'tanods'
Sun Star General Santos
18th February 2008
TAMPAKAN, South Cotabato -- Foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. has "never won" the support of the general communities covered by the mines development site, a top local official said.
Acting Vice Mayor Relly Leysa made the claims amid plans of three villages here to train 60 to 80 barangay tanods or civilian volunteers' organization members to augment government security forces deployed at the mines development area. The official said the Xstrata Copper-led Sagittarius did not gain the support of majority of the community members because of the attack on the firm's base camp last New Year's Day by the New People's Army (NPA).
"That time people were in vacation and they are just in their houses. Yet they did not report to the authorities unusual movements. That assault could have been prevented had the residents relayed information," Leysa said, stressing such attitude show the community members' lack of concern on the firm. The attack cost Sagittarius at least P12 million in damages to several buildings that were razed to the ground.
Roy Antonio of Sagittarius earlier denied that the support of the communities to the Tampakan project is dwindling, but he conceded there has been discontentment from the residents.
Admitting the disenchantment from community supporters, Antonio stressed they have set up an "independent" grievance mechanism where community members can bring their complaints or dismay against the company.
Sagittarius' project area in this town covers the villages of Tablu, Danlag and Pulabato, which according to Leysa want to train more tanods than what is supposedly provided by the law.
"I have reservation on this proposal since each barangay is only allowed to maintain only 20 CVOs as they are a manageable number," Leysa said. He also questioned where the village officials would get the funding for training and allowances of the additional barangay tanods.
According to Leysa, the purpose of training more barangay tanods is to help military personnel secure the communities and Sagittarius base camp operations from attacks of communist rebels and other armed groups.
Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has warned of more attacks against Sagittarius and other foreign mining companies in the country.
Leysa said the local government unit (LGU) would bring back the "barangayan" program, where basic government social services are brought to the villages. He admitted the LGU has failed to effectively deliver basic social services due to limited resources.
The LGU has "entrusted" the development initiatives in the villages of Tablu, Danlag and Pulabato to Sagittarius in the contention that limited local government resources can be poured in other barangays, he added. (BSS)
"Lumads are perennial victims of militarization and LGU denial" - PASAKA
PASAKA Pewaa Release
12th February 2008
PASAKA, Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao, strongly condemns the massive and relentless militarization spanning Davao Region which greatly affects the lives of hundreds of Lumads in the hinterlands of Southern Mindanao.
Kerlan Fanagel, PASAKA Secretary General, is now in Mati City, Davao Oriental together with the more than 100 evacuees and human rights violations victims from Baganga and Cateel towns.
Fanagel said most of the victims of forcible displacement wrought by the heightened militarization in the countrysides are lumads. He expressed alarm at the widespread tragedy affecting lumad communities.
"This is a vicious cycle affecting lumad communities all over Mindanao. After Talaingod, now its Davao Oriental, home to the Mandaya lumads. The LGU plays an important role in protecting their constituents but like what happened in Talaingod, the provincial government in Davao Oriental and the military are denying the forcible evacuation," Fanagel said.
"Despite all the atrocities happening in their communities and the human rights abuses the lumads suffer, instead of getting help, their demands were just being dismissed and they were simply tagged as liars," Fanagel added. PASAKA said that the LGU is using the absence of 'physical evacuation centers' to deny the evacuation.
He said most of the evacuees in Davao Oriental sought refuge in their relatives' homes while in the case of Talaingod, the lumads felt safer to hide in the forests and risked getting starved than to approach their local government leaders.
Meanwhile, Ludinio Monzon, a Mandaya leader in Boston said he greatly suspects that the military operations in Boston is due to the combined initiatives of mining company and military to quell the local resistance against mining in Boston.
The Road 5 M Gold Project - Boston Mineral Mining Corp/Omega Gold Mining Company in Boston , Davao Oriental covers 338 hectares.
Last December (2007), the people of Boston, composed of more than 100 Mandaya lumads and farmers barricaded the Omega Gold Mining company and drilling sites to manifest their protest against the mining operations in their lands. PASAKA said this and the Pujada Nickel Project of BHP Billiton in Mati, San Isidro & Gov. Generoso, Davao Oriental (11, 799 has) are both under the 10-Point Legacy Project of President GMA.
PASAKA also attributed the military operations in Talaingod to the mining applications in the Ata-Manobo ancestral lands. He noted Mt. Apo Mining and MC Welt represented by Victor Ang and Joaquin Ang to be the companies with mining interests in conflict-torn Talaingod.
"We reiterate the call for the immediate pull out of military troops from Davao Oriental towns, from Talaingod and all other militarized communities. We decry the monstrous connivance of the military and mining companies in their greedy plunder of our natural resources and their wanton violations of the peoples' fundamental rights," Fanagel said.
PASAKA Secretary General
Media Officer: Contact Em Rodriguez at 0929-265-8967
PASAKA - Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao
c/o Diakonia Center , IFI Compound, F. Torres St. , Davao City
Contact telephone #s: 305-0824; CP #: 0929-2658967