MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Is Oceana sinking in the Philippines?

Published by MAC on 2008-07-09

Environmental and human rights groups submit report against Australian
mining company to CHR

LRC/KsK Press Release

Philippines

8th July 2008

Environmental and human rights groups met with Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila De Lima today to submit a report by a Fact-Finding Mission they conducted to look into reports of human rights violations by an Australian mining company which holds a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the government covering thousands of hectares in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

CHR Chairperson De Lima, vowed to immediately act on the report by assigning one of the commissioners to personally oversee the investigation. De Lima also promised to come out with a "strongly-worded" statement to call attention to the issue, pending a more comprehensive CHR position on human rights violations in mining affected areas.

According to members of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/FOE-Phils.), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLINKS), OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. has been committing numerous human rights violations against residents of barangays Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, in an effort to silence opposition to its mining operations in the area.

"OceanaGold has shown blatant disregard for basic human rights and is responsible for the escalating violence in the area including the shooting of Emilio Pumihic, a long time resident and descendant of the first barangay captain of Brgy. Didipio. The shooting happened amidst the relentless demolitions of residents' houses, none of which were covered by a court order and in many cases, without full payment of  compensation," LRC-KsK Executive Director Judy Pamela Pasimio revealed.

To date, according to LRC-KsK/FOE-Phils., OceanaGold's demolition activities have resulted in the destruction of 187 houses. The demolitions have left dozens of families homeless, with some setting up makeshift shelters amid the debris of their former homes, and forced some residents to leave the area entirely.

"The incidents of violence and the continued harassment of the residents of Didipio by OceanaGold's security forces, with the apparent complicity of members of Nueva Vizcaya's PNP Regional Mobile Group, have caused an atmosphere of anxiety and paranoia to descend on the area. Community members avoid venturing out at night for fear of encountering either the security forces or the police," Ronald Gregorio of LRC-KsK/FOE-Phils told the CHR.

The environmental and human rights groups also urged the CHR to institute a mechanism to facilitate human rights complaints from indigenous communities.

Chairperson De Lima expressed grave concern over the situation in Didipio and said her office will study the possibility of creating a task force to look specifically into the most serious cases of human rights violations resulting from extractive industries like mining in the country.

For their part, environmental and human rights NGOs pledged to provide the CHR with all the necessary documents and to closely monitor the progress of the CHR's investigation.

For more information or a full copy of the report, please contact Ronald Gregorio at 434-4079 or Rovik at 928-1372.

Ronald A. Gregorio
Campaigns/ Paralegal
LRC-KsK/FoEI
Luzon Regional Office
87 B Madasalin St., Teachers Village
Quezon City
telefax: +63 2 434-4079
+63 2 926-4409
mobile: +63 917 548 1674

blog: www.lrcluzon.blogspot.com
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email: rgregorio@lrcksk.org
lrc.luzon@gmail.com


Mining project's rejection sets precedent for other provinces

GMANews.tv - http://www.gmanews.tv/story/104620/Mining-projects-rejection-sets-precedent-for-other-provinces

2nd July 2008

MANILA, Philippines - Nueva Vizcaya withdrew its support for a mining project undertaken by a New Zealand company *, creating a precedent for other communities beset by problems related to mineral exploration.

In a statement, an environmental group claimed Nueva Vizcaya's provincial board endorsed a resolution withdrawing support for OceanaGold's gold project in Dipidio.

Environmental groups led by Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) , the Center for Environmental Concerns -- Philppines (CEC-Phils), and Save the Valley Serve the People Alliance in Nueva Vizcaya welcomed the decision, saying it was a first of its kind.

Of the Philippines 23 current mining projects, the Dipidio project is considered as the "template" for the country's mining development, which is why groups have focused its efforts on the province, Allan Barnacha, spokesperson of the alliance said.

He told GMANews.TV that their initiatives in resisting mining projects could be replicated in provinces hosting mineral exploration activities.

"This is another blow to Oceana Gold and a step towards complete stoppage of their mining operation. The decision may lead to the withdrawal of financial support from banks and stockholders of OceanaGold as they become more unprofitable and unsustainable," Clemente Bautista Jr. of Kalikasan said.

The same statement added that "mining was never considered as a primary development strategy."

"The Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Comprehensive Development Plan (PCDP), for instance, clearly stipulates that Nueva Vizcaya, as the watershed haven of Region II, should embark on a development strategy while building on agriculture," Barnacha said. GMANews.TV


Green groups hail SP decision kicking mining firm out of Nueva Vizcaya land

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

2nd July 2008

On the third reading, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Nueva Vizcaya passed their resolution regarding the provincial government withdrawal of support to New Zealand-owned * Oceana Gold Didipio mining project. Voting eight in favor, three opposed and one abstained, the resolution authored by Board Members Atty Edu Balgos and Merlie Talingdan was approved.

Environmental groups welcomed the SP decision, saying it was a first of its kind and a compelling precedent for other mining-affected communities.

Allan Barnacha, spokeperson of Save the Valley Serve the People Alliance in Nueva Vizcaya, said "This is another victory for the people and the environment of Nueva Vizcaya. The message of the people is loud and clear, we do not want any large-scale mining in our province and Oceana Gold is not welcome here."

"This is an unprecedented decision. It's the first time in recent history that a Philippine provincial board overturned its original decision to support a mining project," said Clemente Bautista Jr. of the militant environmentalist network Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

"This is another blow to Oceana Gold and a step towards complete stoppage of their mining operation. The decision may lead to the withdrawal of financial support from banks and stockholders of Oceana Gold as they become more unprofitable and unsustainable," Bautista stressed. "There is no more legal basis for Oceana Gold to continue their mining development in the area. They will not only violate the local laws but as well as the Mining Act if they push through. Under the law, companies must get approval from the provincial government before they go into commercial production."

The Center for Environmental Concerns -- Philippines (CEC-Phils), a research, education, and advocacy NGO, also welcomed the SP decision. "We laud this decision by the SP. The communities of Didipio as well as neighboring areas have long asserted their opposition to the mining project; it's high time that the SP affirm these sentiments by the community through the resolution," said Frances Quimpo, CEC-Phils Executive Director. "It is a step towards redirecting the province's development plans away from large-scale and foreign-owned mining, Ms Quimpo said.

"Remember that mining was never considered as a primary development strategy. The Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Comprehensive Development Plan (PCDP), for instance, clearly stipulates that Nueva Vizcaya, as the  watershed haven of Region II, should embark on a development strategy while building on agriculture," Mr. Barnacha said. ###

References:
Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) -- 0922-844-9787
Allan Barnacha, Spokesperson, Save the Valley Serve the People Alliance (SVSPA) - 0926-691-5703
Frances Quimpo, Executive Director, Center for Environmental Concerns -- Philippines (CEC-Phils) - 0917-884-6325

Kalikasan PNE
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756; E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com url: www.kalikasan.org

* OceanGold is listed on the Toronto, Australian and New Zealand Stock Exchanges, and has its corporate headquarters in Australia

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